How do I securely share files in Quizzes and Assignments?

If you're uploading files to your quiz, the following recommendations will ensure the highest possible security for your files. These guidelines are of particular importance if you are uploading a file to an area that is locked or unpublished, except for a specific availability window.

To avoid accidental release and/or access of course files (especially high stakes files like exam questions and solutions), we highly recommend that you hide the "Files" navigation link (see How do I modify the menu items on my course navigation menu? Scroll down so that you don’t forget to save your changes!).  

2. Avoid sharing all the questions as a single file in the Quiz instructions

Sharing all the quiz questions as a single file on the quiz instructions page will give students access to that file as soon as the quiz availability dates open. This means that if you have set up your quiz as a timed quiz, students can download the questions before they enter the quiz, and circumvent the quiz time limit for writing the quiz.

You can see in the example below that even before the students select "Take the Quiz" they can see the file that has been uploaded. Instead, upload your files to specific questions within the quiz (following the guidelines like hiding Files and using availability dates), not on the Quiz Instructions page.

2.1. Example: File uploaded to Quiz Instructions

3. Share files inside a special time-released folder in Files (preferred option)

If possible, before you link your files to your quiz, upload them to a new folder in your Files area. This allows you to set availability dates for multiple files (those contained within the folder) at one time.

  1. Create a folder in Files area (see How do I create a folder in Files as an Instructor?)
    1. In the Files area, create a folder and pre-add all your assessment files and images to this folder (see How do I upload files to a course?)
  2. Set availability  dates on the folder
    1. Manually set availability dates on this folder to match the dates on the assessment availability window. The availability dates set for the folder will be inherited by the files inside that folder. However, you can also manually set availability dates on each file (if needed).
  3. Upload files to the quiz questions
    1. Upload files to the quiz questions via the “Course Document” [1] or “Course Image” [2]
  1. Course Documents: Used for uploading files like PDFs, documents, and other text files.
  2. Course image: Used for uploading image files like .jpgs, .pngs, and other image file types.

4. Author the question using Quercus’ interface  

Where possible, author the question directly into the Rich Content Editor of the question. For some formats of questions, this may be just too time consuming or not possible.  However, for questions where it is possible, entering the question directly into the question field, without using files, is preferred.

5. Example: Authoring questions in Quercus using rich text editor

  1. Use the functions in the rich text editor to author questions directly in the Quercus interface. The bonus of authoring questions this way is also that they can be used as part of your question banks, enabling you to randomize your questions to create unique assessments (see How do I create a question bank in a course?)
  2. You can expand the rich text editor to display even more tools and functions, including an option to insert Math Equations using LaTeX (see How do I use the Math Editor?)

6. Share time-released files inside the default Uploaded Media folder  

If you have already uploaded your files, and do not want to move them, you should still make sure your availability dates are set for each individual file. Depending on your number of files, this can be time consuming, which is why we recommend creating a new folder and using that to bulk define your availability window.

  1. Upload files to quiz questions
    1. Upload files to the quiz questions using the “Upload Document” or “Upload Image” [3] options in the Rich Content Editor. This will add the files to an Uploaded Media Folder inside the Files area. Anything inside this folder is available with a link by default.
  2. Set availability dates on files
    1. Manually set availability dates on each file that you uploaded inside the Uploaded Media folder, to reflect the dates on the assessment

7. Remove contextual information from the file/image

Use a hybrid approach – text Quercus inserted in Quercus, supplemented by images of content that is harder to author in Quercus. E.g. you could use an image that does not contain the question, or useful context, so that even if the image/file was accessed, it would not be useful until they could see the question as well.

8. Promote Academic Integrity

This would include having students sign an academic integrity statements and explicitly stating that accessing files outside of the quiz window is an academic violation. We've tried to capture other ideas on promoting academic integrity on our support site, too.

9. Select an alternate assessment tool

An alternate assessment tool would be something like Crowdmark (see our guide to getting starting with Crowdmark), which works for certain kinds of exams (but does not provide automatic grading via machine grade-able question types; it is geared towards submission of digitized handwritten responses).

10. Implement other techniques that help to promote academic integrity.

You can select quiz settings to maximize security without hindering student learning. You might also want to review all the options that you can specify in a quiz.