Add Quiz Questions to Canvas by Converting CSV Files to QTI ZIP Files

by Kristina Wilson

It can be time-consuming to add questions manually to a quiz or exam in Canvas, and it is easy to accidentally omit portions of a question, introduce errors such as typos, or improperly identify a correct or incorrect response.

Drafting questions directly into Canvas can also be slow and unwieldy. If you’ve been writing your questions in a word processor, you have a long copy-and-paste session ahead of you before your quiz is available to students. When you have lots of quizzes, an extensive exam, or are planning to build question banks, it is more efficient to automate the process.

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to format and draft quiz and question bank questions in a .csv file, convert the CSV file to a QTI ZIP file, and upload the file to your course in Canvas.

Note: Canvas quizzes have many types of questions available, including fill-in-the-blank, matching, numerical, essay, and file upload. This process works only for multiple choice, true/false, and multiple response questions. 

File Types: CSV, QTI, and ZIP

Before we get started, let’s  review a few key terms. (However, you can still work through the process without knowing what all of these file format acronyms are.)

  • CSV stands for Comma-Separated Values. This is a text file format readable by spreadsheet programs that uses commas to organize tabular information.
  • QTI stands for Question and Test Interoperability format. QTI “enables the exchange of item and test content and results data between authoring tools, item banks, test construction tools, learning platforms, assessment delivery systems, and scoring/analytics engines.” (IMS Global Learning Consortium)
  • A ZIP file is an archive file format that contains compressed data and files. 

Acknowledgement

The CSV template and QTI conversion tool are both made available by Kansas State University. The copyright for the conversion tool is held by Dane Miller and Alexandre Adams, ITAC Help Desk Developers at Kansas State University (2014). All reference texts are cited at the end of the post.

Step 1: Prepping the Template and Writing the Questions

  1. Download the CSV template.
  2. Add your questions to the template using Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet tool.
  • Column A is the type of question: MC (multiple choice) and MR (multiple response). For True/False questions, use MC.
  • Column B is not used but must be there.
  • Column C is the point value of the question. It can be between 0-100 and up to two decimal places (3.33)
  • Column D is the question body. 
  • Column E is the correct answer. The numbers 1-5 each correspond to the one of the possible answers listed in column F-J. Use 1 to indicate a, 2 to indicate b, 3 to indicate c, 4 to indicate d, and 5 to indicate e. For True/False questions, use 1 for True and 0 for False. Clear any unused cells.
  • Columns F-J are the possible answer choices. You can have 2 or more. 

These directions are reproduced and modified from How to build a Quiz in K-State Online to use with Scantron.

  1. Save the CSV file.

Step 2: Convert the .csv File to a QTI .zip

Use the Kansas State Classic to Canvas (QTI 2.0) Converter to convert the CSV file to a QTI file in the form of a ZIP file. 

  1. Click Choose Files and select your CSV file.
  2. Click Perform Conversion. A ZIP file will be saved to your computer. Do not unzip the file.

Step 3: Import Into Canvas

Follow the instructions in the How do I import quizzes from QTI packages? Canvas Guide. These directions will guide you to create a new question bank if desired. 

Note: Importing to a question bank will also create a quiz containing all of the questions in the bank. 

If you would like to pull just a small selection of questions from the bank:

  1. First, delete the imported quiz from the Quiz or Assignments tab (the question bank will remain).
  2. Create a new quiz. 
  3. Follow the instructions in the How do I create a quiz with a question group to randomize quiz questions? to select a subset of questions from the question bank.

References

IMS Global Learning Consortium (n.d.). IMS Question & Test Interoperability (QTI) Specification Overview.

Instructure – Canvas Community. (2021, May 15). How do I import quizzes from QTI packages?

Instructure – Canvas Community. (2021, May 15). How do I create a quiz with a question group to randomize quiz questions?

Kansas State University (n.d.). How to build a Quiz in K-State Online to use with Scantron.

Miller, D., & Adams, A. (2014). Classic to Canvas (QTI 2.0) Converter.

Yancey, K. (2020, March 24). Transferring Existing Exams to Canvas Quizzes. TechTalk.



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