Why are Moodle Quizzes Slow AND What to do about it

Why are Moodle Quizzes Slow AND What to do about it
March 7, 2019 Adarsh Singh
In General, Moodle

Moodle is something we’ve been using, not just for product development, but even training our freshers. In the process, we often came across complaints of quizzes loading slowly on our Moodle.

We researched the issue, and found something really interesting!

Trust me when I say it, it’s something that has had thousands of Moodle admins perplexed. And that’s a considerable number.

Before we go ahead and discuss the possible reasons for slow loading, let’s quickly recap about a Moodle quiz.

Quiz in Moodle

Moodle, as indisputably the most popular LMS platform, is a complete package. Teachers can deliver knowledge and assess the performance of students in various ways.

One such way is by the Quiz activity.

Teachers can design and build quizzes comprising of a variety of questions types, like true-false, multiple choice and long answer questions. The questions in quizzes are kept in a common question bank and can be re-used in different quizzes.

Given the versatility a quiz offers, most course creators include quizzes in their courses. However, more often than not, there are reports of Moodle quizzes loading slowly.

Why is it so much of an issue? And what can you do to prevent it? Let’s look at the parameters related to a Moodle site.

#1 Operating System

While Windows works for a home-based or personal venture, Linux is a more popular choice for classes, universities and corporates alike! This, because Linux is a cheaper option that is more versatile technically, with more control.

#2 CPU

The more the number of cores, the higher load your Moodle site can handle.

#3 Memory

The number of concurrent users, as well as processes your site can handle, depends on the memory capacity of your server system.

#4 Storage

Goes without saying, the storage capacity of your server is one of the most important parameters you need to monitor.

Often ignored, there’s another aspect that plays a crucial role in how a Moodle quiz performs.

#5 Number of Users

You might not agree right away, but the load your Moodle site can handle also depends on the number of concurrent users accessing your site. A thumb rule people generally follow is to have 1GB RAM per 50 concurrent users.

‘Concurrent users’ refers to the users accessing a common resource (page/activity) at the same time.

This number becomes even more significant in quiz scenarios. We’ve seen that the load time raises by 30% when a quiz takes place.

Why so? Because…

Quizzes Need More Resources!!

There’s no doubt that Moodle is a powerful web application. However, it is very demanding, to say the least. Every time a user accesses a page on Moodle, it is fetched by your server, and an instance of it is created.

For 10 students accessing a quiz having 10 pages, 100 instances are created on your server.

Every time a student clicks on “Submit” or “Next”, your Moodle server calls for the next page or set of pages. This puts a lot of load on the server, for concurrent users in a Moodle course.

I’ll leave it for you to imagine what happens when a thousand people participate in a quiz at the same time.

A server’s nightmare isn’t it?!

In a quiz, a good number of your students are taking up a quiz in their course. In simpler words, your server can’t handle so many requests at the same time, hence starts loading slowly, or even crashes at times.

What can You do about it?

There’s no questioning the fact that the quiz activity on Moodle is a resource-intensive process. Achieving a balance is the only way out when it comes to effective resource allocation.

Here’s a checklist we’ve prepared just for you, to ensure your Quizzes run smoothly!

  • Always keep an eye out. Keep tracking how your website is performing.
  • Have multiple easy questions on one page and have only 2-3 difficult questions per page. If only one easy question is on one page, there are higher chances of many students clicking on “Next” at the same time.
  • Have multiple servers for load balancing. This helps distribute the load among multiple servers.
  • Implement Caching on your Moodle site. When a student accesses your Moodle site, the cached version will be displayed unless it has changed since the last cache.

Following this checklist would ensure you have better control when it comes to managing quizzes in Moodle or Exams. But a bird’s eye view of these performance parameters is an amazing addon, isn’t it?

Solutions like Edwiser Site Monitor help you keep track of important performance parameters on the go. This, in turn, ensures a seamless Moodle experience for your users.

By being updated of the status of different parameters, you can take necessary steps and precautions to ensure your site is always up & running smoothly!

P.S. You can stay updated with the latest happenings in the Moodle world, and also interact with like-minded Moodlers, by joining our Facebook community Moodle Tips & Tricks.

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