Return to Moodle Assists Tutorials for Moodle 1.9


Dr. Richard L. Bowman
Harrisonburg, VA, USA  22802

I. Introduction

This tutorial addresses several items that any Moodle user, novice or experienced, needs to remember in order to effectively use Moodle (version 1.9) for courses. These reminders are divided into the following categories.

  • Settings - there are those that must not be changed, those that could be changed, and those that must be changed.
  • Back-ups - remember to export the backed up course to another drive.
  • Files - each course has an associated file structure; get acquainted with it.

To move to the Settings for a course, to make a Back-up of the course, or to explore the Files associated with the course, go to the Administrative menu on the left-hand side of that course's main page and choose the appropriate link. This menu is shown at right for one theme in Moodle 1.9.

  Administration menu  

II. Changing or Not Changing Settings

A. Settings that Absolutely MUST NOT Be Changed

  1. Do not change the "Category" of the course.
  2. Do not change the "Full name" of the course.
  3. Do not change the "Short name" of the course.
  4. Do not change the "Course ID number" of the course.

These are the four entries at the top of the Settings page. At most schools these are generated from the administrative software course system used by the college. Changing them means that students cannot be added or removed correctly from the course in Moodle.

B. Settings to Be Changed Rarely, If Ever

Only when absolutely necessary should any of the following be changed.

  1. "Course start date"
  2. Any of the items in the "Enrolment" section
  3. Any of the items in the "Enrolment expiry notification" section
  4. Any of the items in the "Roles" section
    If roles need to be changed, such as adding an additional teacher to the class, this should be done through the "Assign roles" link in the Administration menu on the main page of the appropriate course.

C. Settings to Be Changed Very Cautiously

  1. The "Force theme" option may help set the look and feel of Moodle for a given course. The caution here is that if one uses a theme that was designed for a different version of Moodle, not all of the icons (and therefore options) that one could expect may appear. This is particularly noticeable in the Gradebook which is the item that is most different in version 1.9 as compared to earlier version. So be careful!
  2. Allowing "Guest access" along with setting an "Enrolment key" may seem like a good thing to try, but be careful. consider whether you want to give those not on your class list access to class discussions and even whether this is a breach of privacy. Be cautious!

D. Settings that Could Be Changed as You Wish

  1. Select either "Topic format" or "Weekly format" as the "Format" for your course. This sets how your course will appear in chunks, that is, by topic (for examople, by chapters) or by week. The other options under this setting are generally not appropriate options.
  2. The "Number of weeks/topics" may easily be adjusted as the course goes along. A default of 15 may have been set to match the "Weekly format," but don't be afraid to add new weeks or topics as the course grows. Beginning with only four or six topics is a reasonable approach. Remember, also, that each topic or week may be hidden or shown with the "eye" icon when editing is turned on in the main page of a course.
  3. Turning on the "Group mode" option will allow one to set up groups in the course for projects and discussion.
  4. The instructor may also "Force language" to a particular choice for appropriate upper level foreign language courses.

E. Settings that MUST Be Changed

  1. The "Availability" must be set to "This course is available to students" in order for any of the students enrolled in the course to be able to read, access and complete assignments. By default at many schools, new courses are set not to be available so that faculty members can set the course up properly before students can view it.
  2. Finally, don't forget to press the "Save changes" button. Smile! We all knew that already.

III. Backing up a Course

  1. Follow the tutorial, "Back up and Restore Courses in Moodle." Read and follow all of the instructions carefully.
  2. Remember to save the zipped back-up file to another computer drive. This is most important. When created, the zipped file containing the back-up of the course is placed in the file system of the course itself. Thus since courses often only remain through one semester or term, this back-up will be lost unless it is saved to another location.

IV. Exploring the Files System

  1. Get acquainted with the "Files" system of each course. It is often easiest to upload any files needed in a course through the Administration's menu option called "Files." Then when the assignment or resource is created that uses that file, it is already in the course and does not have to be uploaded specially.
  2. Remember that each course has its own "Files" system. That means that any time something is copied from one course into another course, if it refers to some file in the original course, the new link will point to the original course and the new students will not be able to access that file.

V. But Don't Be Afraid; Use Moodle Creatively!

©2009-11; Dr. Richard L. Bowman

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Created and maintained by: Richard L. Bowman ( ); last updated: 5-Sep-11.