Want to add interactivity to your boring PDF files? Check out this awesome Plugin #Moodle

You might have created a lot of study material and published it in the form of PDF files but your students are not finding it interesting. How you can make those boring PDF files into interesting, interactive and more engaging  content resource?

Today, I am going to show you how you can convert your existing PDF files into creative, fun-filled interactive activities in your Moodle course. Mask is a new activity type plugin for Moodle which is developed by Edunao – Moodle partner from France. The Moodle plugin is compatible with all Moodle versions from 2.7 to 3.2.

The intention behind the development of Mask plugin is to offer a simple solution for teaching staff to create an interactive experience from existing PDF files by converting them into images using the pdf2svg library. The teacher can upload their PDF file to Moodle, lay down masks that obscure parts of the underlying document and add questions for the students to answer to make the masks disappear.

Before proceeding further, please note that this plugin needs additional pdf2svg application which is available as a standard debian and ubuntu Linux package and is also freely available for Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX.

Want to add interactivity to your boring PDF files? Check out this awesome Moodle Plugin #Moodle
Using the Mask Plugin:

After installing the plugin and the external dependency on your server, you will see a new activity in the Add an activity/resource pop-up window termed as Mask. When added to the course page, you need to give the name for the Mask activity and configure other settings. In the next page, you can add questions and lay down masks to obscure the content underneath.

The student is encouraged to try to answer questions correctly and receives a corresponding grade in the Moodle grade book when they have found the correct answers to all the questions in the document. As a teacher you can also add hints to be displayed in case a student answers incorrectly to help them find the correct answer.

Each Mask activity is based on a single PDF file and you can’t attach multiple files to a single activity. You can add 4 different types of masks to the PDF file.

  • Simple Question – This is a question for which the student must provide a short textual answer.
  • Multiple Choice Question – The Simplest and most widely used question type. The option will be displayed to student in shuffled order.
  • Dismissable Note – This is actually not a question type. You can use this to display
  • Permanent Note – The mask type that never vanishes – it is intended for providing information pop-ups.

Edunao team have also created a good documentation for getting started with the Mast activity plugin. Check it out here.

P.S. – Don’t use this plugin for assessments it is important to know that a student who is technically advanced can find out the answer to the questions in the overlayed masks.

Download the latest version of the Mask activity plugin from this link.

I am loving this plugin because of the interactivity it can bring to all your existing PDF files and make it more engaging for the students. What do you think about the function of this plugin? When are you going to test it out? Let me know in the comments below.

Jaswinder Singh

Jaswinder Singh, passionate about using Moodle in improving the Indian Education System and reaching the students in far flung areas where still education seems to be a impossible prospect of life. He is the author of the popular Moodle Book "How to use Moodle 2.7". In October 2016, Jaswinder was elected as the Moodle User's Association Committee member - the first to make it from India.

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