Embed/iframe/something inside shared stimulus?

Greetings all,

I'm very new to TAO and rather excited about the possibility of having institution-wide assessment data that genuinely reflects the learning needs of the students! Many thanks for everybody's hard work. Open source truly is King.

Before I embark on persuading the rest of the leadership team, I'd like to have a proof of concept test that closely aligns with our curriculum and demonstrates that TAO is more powerful than some of our existing, proprietary systems (which are also fragmented across faculties).

To give it a little 'wow' factor, I'm envisaging some items which ask questions based around the well-loved HTML5 PHET simulations (eg.

I realise I could simply link to these but I would prefer to host them myself (they too are open source), so that we can simply 'whitelist' the TAO server on student devices, but prevent access to the rest of the web, during assessments.

I have downloaded and played around with the example shared stimulus archive from here and can change images, text, etc, but I was hoping somebody here might be able to advise on the possibility of embedding something more exciting!

Kind regards,



  • Hello Tim,

    I had been looking at HTML5 PhET and as far as i can tell TAO and HTML PhET are two entirely different systems. In TAO-Land, a stimulus is an instructional part of an item, really just a partial document. It doesn't interact with the result server in any way. Therefore, even if you managed to embed items into a stimulus somehow, they would never produce any results.

    I wonder if PhET follows the QTI standard or if their items could be converted to QTI. They are listed as an affiliate on the IMS member page but I wouldn't be able to tell you, how far this affiliation goes.

    Let's assume for a moment PhET items would be QTI compatible or could somehow be converted with a reasonable effort. In that case, they could be imported into TAO and then be used like regular TAO items. Given that their items types look very different from the standard QTI interactions in TAO, I suspect that this would not be a task that could be done without additional development work, though.

    What I would do in your situation, is to talk to the folks behind PhET and ask them about compatibility. Maybe they want to answer in here so that we could follow up on this issue.

    I hope this helps

    Kind regards


  • Hi there, I believe that the PhET simulations are not designed as interactions. However it would be interesting to have the simulation as a stimulus. Let the students interact with the embedded iframe in order to determine something without that information leaving the PhET domain and then have a simple Text/Number/... interaction.

    So would it be possible to have an embedded iframe in the prompt for an exsiting interaction?

  • Hello again,
    I exported a qti package and modified the prompt in the qti.xml to include the iframe of a phet simulation:

        <![CDATA[<p>Use the following simulation to find out what a light ray does when it hits water at an angle of 60°</p>
            <iframe src="" width="800" height="600" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    you can try it out by importing the attached qti item.
    There is a trailing ]]> in the preview and editing is not possible in the tao interface, but it works as a proof of concept.

  • Many thanks for this. Exactly the kind of approach I was hoping for, and a great step forwards.

  • I exactly want to use iframe to create an item pf Tao through my can I achieve this? please share your experience

  • Just to update that I managed to get rid of that CDATA closing tag..

    Used an object tag instead, which can seemingly go directly inside the prompt element.

    <object data="" width="800" height="600" type="text/html"></object>

    Attached item. Thanks again to bkasel.


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