Moodle – Frequently Asked Questions

Moodle – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I change the look and feel of my Moodle site?

Moodle sites have a little less flexibility than courses, but there are still quite a few changes that can be made to customize your site. Your Moodle administrator will be able to discuss these with you. One of the more important features is Categories and Subcategories, which will layer your site instead of simply displaying every single course on the site off the first page.

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You can also display arbitrary blocks of text, HTML, images, audio or web links.

Can I change the title of a teacher/tutor in Moodle?

Not easily. Each Moodle site has a number of “Roles” set up (e.g., Staff and Student). The site administrator can set up additional roles with any name and with appropriate permissions. Once available users can be assigned to these new roles within courses.

Additionally, you can change the names of existing Roles in a Course’s settings page.

Can I change the look and feel of my Moodle course?

Yes. Moodle courses, when created, have several blocks by default as well as a news forum. When you turn the editing on for your course, you will see arrows that allow you to move each individual block or delete individual blocks that you feel are unnecessary for your purposes. There are also additional blocks from a drop down menu that may be better suited to your course. (Any deleted blocks can be re-added at anytime from the block drop down menu which never disapears). You may also move the blocks around the page so that you have two columns instead of three. You can choose to present your course in weekly, topic or social format. Finally, you can add images and a variety of other tools to shape your Moodle course the way you want to.

The Educators support team can offer further specific advice regarding course design upon request.

Can I edit things in Moodle easily?

You can always go back and edit a resource or an activity that you have created in Moodle by choosing the ‘update’ option (once your editing is turned on). You can also move resources or activities in Moodle by choosing the up/down arrow icons beside the resource or activity (again, once your editing is turned on). If you have uploaded a document to the Moodle files section and wish to make a change, you will need to make the change locally and then re-upload the file. If you don’t immediately see the changes, you may need to empty your cache/history in your web browser.

Can I have more than 10 choices in the Choice Activity?

Yes. Complete the first 10 and save the choice. Go back and update the Choice and you will see you have more choices. You may have to do this multiple times if you have large numbers of options.

Can I hide sections of a course from students and reveal them one at a time?

Yes. Beside each Topic Block in a Moodle course (and each individual resource or activity) you will see an eye icon (when your editing is turned on). If you click the eye so that it is closed, this entire block will be hidden from students on a course. Clicking the eye again will open it. This can not be done automatically, however.

Can I let people from outside to look at and participate in my Moodle course?

Yes. Increasingly, lecturers and course teams are interested in inviting expert guest lectures to participate in a Moodle course for a given period of time, or to invite colleagues from other institutions to collaborate in a Moodle environment. 

Can I look at the content of a course in Moodle without enrolling in the course?

Generally, no. It is possible to set up a Moodle course to allow guest access, but this is rare and guests can not participate in activities. External users to your Moodle courses and programmes can be given a manual ID account that authenticates their user information and details appropriately.

Can I move things in Moodle easily?

It is generally the case that there is nothing in Moodle that becomes set in stone. You can always go back and change things later. Resources and Activities in courses can be moved about at will. With editing on, look for the double arrow icon to the right of each resource/activity/block. Once you’ve clicked the double arrow icon your screen will change and you will see several blank boxes. Click on the blank box where you wish to move your resource/activity/block.

Can I put audio files into Moodle?

Yes, you can upload audio files into Moodle like any other file resource up to the maximum file size allowed for your Moodle site. You should ensure that the files have been recorded or re-encoded as MP3 files. Moodle contains a built-in player for MP3 files. 

Can I put video into Moodle?

Yes, you can upload video files like any other file resource up to the maximum size allowed by your Moodle site. As video files can be large this probably means that they will need to be small, short and of low resolution. You are strongly recommended to encode video files in Flash Video format (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_Video). For larger video files you may wish to consider using YouTube.

Can I put my Power Point files into Moodle?

Yes. Note, however, that there are issues with the size of PowerPoint files. They tend to contain additional information that is not required for display only and embedded graphics are often much larger than they need to be. In extreme cases your PowerPoint may be too large to upload to Moodle. Microsoft has some advice on reducing file sizes here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint/HA011168821033.aspx

Can I put plain text or formatted text into my Moodle course without having to use a resource?

It is not possible to put text into Moodle without using a resourse or activity. You can, however, use labels from the resource dropdown to add text to the front page of your Moodle. Each topic box in a course also has an area or adding header text.

Can I upload multiple files to Moodle at the same time?

Uploading files in Moodle is, unfortunately, not as easy as weí would like (However, feature requests for drag and drop in future have been made). You can upload several files to Moodle at once if you use zip. Zip the files on your PC and upload the zip file to your Moodle course. In your course sites files in Moodle, you will see an “unzip” option next to the file. This can be used to transfer (for example) whole websites into Moodle.

Can I share my Quizzes with other courses?

Yes. Quizzes in Moodle are made from banks of questions that you create. You can then sort them into categories which can be ‘published’.

By default all questions that you create will go into the “Default” category, but you can (and probably should) create new categories to organise your questions. A questionbank can be shared with other courses – this must be done by your Moodle administrator. If you wish to share questions with another moodle site, a category can be exported. There are a number of formats but the Moodle XML format is the most comprehensive. These can then be imported at the other site.

Can I upload multiple files to Moodle at the same time?

Uploading files in Moodle is, unfortunately, not as easy as weí would like (However, feature requests for drag and drop in future have been made). You can upload several files to Moodle at once if you use zip. Zip the files on your PC and upload the zip file to your Moodle course. In your course sites files in Moodle, you will see an “unzip” option next to the file. This can be used to transfer (for example) whole websites into Moodle.

Can Moodle handle diagrams, mathematical symbols and foreign character sets?

Yes. Moodle has the ability to display complex mathematical formulae, diagrams etc. using TeX. This uses the Moodle “filter” feature, so the TeX filter must be enabled for you by your Moodle Administrator. The TeX filter generates graphical representations so no additional software or fonts is required on viewing computers. Moodle is fully Unicode and can handle a huge range of international characters. Note, however, that you still need to ensure that the required fonts are available on the client computers.

Can students download and print Power Points, Word Documents, etc in Moodle?

Yes. However, lab set-ups and individual PC settings can create minor difficulties with this. If you have experienced a problem with this, please contact the IT Services Help Desk.

Can Students upload documents in Moodle?

Yes. Students can upload documents in the assignment, database and the forum activity, as long as you (as tutor) have set the activities to allow for this.

Can you be anonymous in Moodle?

Generally, no. However, some areas are more private than others and certain information will be kept from other Moodle users (for example, fellow students). An exception to this is the Feedback activity which can be set to be anonymous.

Can you have a live conversation in Moodle?

Live conversation (also called synchronous communication) is possible with the Moodle Chat Activity

Can you have separate groups of students in a Moodle course?

Yes, a feature called ‘groups’ allows you put students into different groups which can either be ‘visible’ or ‘separate’. In the former other course members can read, but not interact or respond to the contributions of other groups, in the latter case the other groups are effectively invisible to non-members. Students can be in multiple groups in a course. Look for the Groups option in the course Administration block.

Do I have to be on campus to login to Moodle?

No. Moodle is web-based which means that you can login from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection and the appropriate Login, Password and enrolment key (if required). Moodle courses can be set up to be inaccessible off campus for security, but this is rare.

Do I have to have forum posts emailed to me?

No. Most forums should give you the option of having posts emailed to you. This is called being ‘subscribed’. If your forum has been set up to force subscription then ask whoever set it up if this is intentional. If you are going on holiday or will otherwise be unable to respond to Moodle emails you can set an option in your profile to stop all emails. You can also set an option in your Profile to receive a “digest” (once a day) of all forum posts generated.

Access your profile by clicking on your name at the top or bottom of each screen once you are logged in.

Do I have to know HTML to format my Moodle pages?

No. the HTML editor (similar to the tool bar for formatting in WORD) turned on (although you can choose to disable this within your own personal profile if you prefer to write your own HTML).

If you do choose to disable the HTML editor in your personal profile then you have other choices such as Plain Text (no formatting), Moodle-Auto Format (once you save your resource Moodle will do such things as make URLs and email addresses into live links) and Markdown (tries to make it easy as possible to type well-formatted XHTML pages using nothing but text).

Do staff see the same thing that students see in Moodle?

Yes and No. Everyone in a Moodle course will see Resources (PDFís, Word Documents, Moodle Resources, Websites) in roughly the same manner, depending on the web browser you are using and the various settings on your computer. However, activities (Quizzes, Assignments, Lessons, Forums, etc) can look dramatically different from a staff and student view.

Each course page has a “Switch role to…” drop-down at the top right, which will let you see what other types of user see (e.g., Students). Note that this is not completely accurate for Administrators and is not available to Students at all.

Does it matter which browser I use to access Moodle?

Moodle supports all popular browsers. You are strongly encouraged to upgrade to the latest version of the browser you use. There are some pros and cons, for example Mac’s Safari browser has built in spell-checking yet will not support the HTML editor. The best all-round recommendation is probably Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com/firefox) but ultimately it is a personal choice.

Does Moodle have a questionnaire function for online feedback?

Yes. Moodle has an optional activity module called Feedback which can be used to create online questionnaires or feedback surveys for your courses.

Does Moodle have drag and drop features?

Moodle does have some drag and drop features but these can be disabled by the administrator.

Does Moodle keep logs on your participation? Can we turn this off?

Yes, Moodle does keep logs, and no it cannot be turned off. This information is required to ensure that the system provides information based on your login details and activity logs are a side-effect of this.

Enrolment - How do I join a course?

Once you have logged in successfully you can select the course you want to participate in. You will be prompted to make a payment, If you are prompted for an enrolment key use the one that your lecturer has given you. This will enrol you in the course. You can now access the full course. From now on you will only need to enter your username and password to log in and access any course you have already enrolled in.

Note that the enrolment key can only be provided by your lecturer or administration.

External Access - I have problems logging in from home.

You might have problems logging in if your computer has a firewall, for example ZoneAlarm or Norton Security. For those using ZoneAlarm, here is the fix:

1. Open ZoneAlarm Privacy properties
2. On the Site List tab click Add button and add the VLE site to the list
3. Once listed, right click the site and select Options from the context menu
4. In the Site Options property window uncheck everything on the Ad Blocking tab and then click Apply.
For those using Norton firewall, the fix is available at the Symantec Support website.

External Access - Is it possible for me to access the course from my home computer?

Because Moodle is web based, access is not limited to campus.

How do I unenroll from a course?

If you are enrolled in a course that you should not be on or wish to unenroll from a course you should contact the course tutor and ask to be manually removed.

 

How do tutors get access to their Moodle course?

Moodle administrators will add the appropriate tutors to the appropriate courses. Alternatively, those already with tutor access can give access to additional tutors.

Tutors should not attempt to access a course using the Enrolment Key as this will make them a student in the course.

How does email work with Moodle?

There are several activities within Moodle that have an email function. It is possible to set up Forums, Glossaries and Messaging in Moodle to automatically email you to alert you to communications within these activities. As a tutor, you can force some of these options, should this be appropriate.

Most sites also have the Quickmail Block (you can add this to your course via the Blocks block with editing on). This allows you to mail all students or groups of students on the course.

You should never rely on email for important communications with students. There is no way to ensure that they have received and read the communication.

I am having trouble with my Power Point files in Moodle?

If your Power Point files  gives the error message that says “a required parameter is missing”.  This means, the file is probably larger than the maximum permitted by your Moodle Site. If this is the case you will need to reduce the size of the file. Microsoft has the following information: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint/HA011168821033.aspx. The LTU can provide further advice.

What are the optional features that can be added to Moodle?

Moodle is “plug-in” based and there is a large library of additional features that can be added to a Moodle installation. Decisions about additional plug-ins for Moodle sites are made by the Learning and Technology Unit. If you have any specific requirements or requests regarding additional plug-ins, you should contact the the support team.

I used to be able to login to Moodle but now when I enter my password, it comes up invalid.

There are two possibilities with this:

1.) At the start of the new academic year, you are given 6 opportunities on campus machines to change your password. If you have not done this, your password will expire and you will no longer be able to login to Moodle.

2.) If your name has changed for any reason then you may find you can no longer access your courses in Moodle once Registry have updated your details. There are two steps you should take: (1) Contact the support team and ask them to update your Moodle profile.

Please note that this can take a day or two to sort out.

Is my Moodle course backed up automatically?

Moodle sites are backed up regularly. Please note that this is a disaster recovery backup – you will not be able to restore an individual course if you make a mistake. Moodle has a built it backup facility that enables any course to be downloaded in a proprietory backup format. You are encouraged to do this before making drastic changes to a course.

Is there a limit to the size of a file you can upload to Moodle?

Each Moodle Site has an upload limit. This is typically 64MB. However, this can be reduced in a number of different places in Moodle (e.g., course, forum attachments), so you may be further restricted. You should speak to your site’s Administrator if this is a problem, but do remember that very large files may be problematic for users with slow Internet connections. It is good practice to keep file sizes as small as possible.

Is there a spell checker in Moodle?

Yes, but it is not currently turned on. We would recommend the use of a browser such as Firefox 2 (http://www.mozilla.org/firefox) or Safari (http://www.apple.com/safari) that has it’s own spell checker built in. Add-ons for Internet Explorer to provide spell checking are available. These client solutions are generally much more satisfactory than server based ones.

Scrolling up and down in Moodle is annoying when you are working on a large course. Is there a way to make this easier?

Yes. When you turn the editing on in a Moodle course you will see that each Topic Block has two small square icons (to the upper right). Clicking on the top one will collapse your Moodle course, allowing you to just view and work on a single Topic Block. Clicking on the icon again will return all your Topic Blocks to view.

What are all those blocks in Moodle?

When a Moodle course is created it automatically generates several blocks that allow you to control how you navigate or find information in Moodle (examples of these include the ‘participants’ block, the ‘search forums’ block or the ‘calendar’ block). In addition to the blocks that automatically appear, you will notice that you have several options for further blocks of tools (from the Block drop down menu when your editing is turned on) to add to your course (examples of this include the ‘RSS’ block, the ‘Quickmail’ block or the ‘Blogs’ block). Similarly, you can delete any of the existing blocks if you feel they are unnecessary to your course and you can also move the blocks so that they appear on a single side rather than on either side of the middle content (this can only be achieved using the move or delete buttons with the editing turned on).

What are Roles?

Roles are superficially things like “Students”, “Staff”, “Administrators”. Users are assigned to a role within parts of of the Moodle site (for example and usually, a course). The role is just a large collection of permissions (for example, “user is allowed to post in a forum”). The site Administrator can create new roles if needed.

What are the summaries in Moodle for?

The summaries section that appears when you are building a resource and (sometimes) an activity is mostly for navigation purposes and for ease of use. Moodle courses can often become very large and rich with documents that may be difficult to wade through. If you have filled out the summary box effectively, then users can click on the ‘Resources’ or ‘Activities’ list and see, at a glance, a full list of every resource or activity, complete with a quick summary of what each one entails.

What do I do with my Moodle course when it is finished and I want to run it again in the next academic session?

The first thing you must decide is whether or not the user information that is stored in your old course is worth keeping (for your department, for your students, for the sake of records, etc.) Often when a Moodle course has had interactive components such as quizzes, forums, etc., then it is a good idea to allow students to have continued access to this information after the course ends. If this is the case for you, then there is a backup and restore feature in Moodle that will allow you to make a copy of your course that is clean (ie. without user data, but keeping all the content you have created). Typically, Moodle Administrators will create a category called Archive on your Moodle site and you can request that they move your older copy of the course into that category, leaving your newly restored course where it was.

If, however, you do not wish to keep an archive of the course, there is also a course reset feature that removes users and user content from your course (NOTE: UNTICK TEACHERS IN THE RESET OPTIONS displayed after you select the option in the Course Administration block, or you will remove yourself).

What does it mean if I get an error message that says ‘This course is not enrolable’?

If you are trying to access a course and Moodle tells you that the course is not enrolable, then there are a few things to try:

1.) Check with websurf to ensure that your information is correct and that you really are a student in this course.

2.) Check with your tutor to ensure that they have not set up the course as a ‘metacourse’ and sent you to the wrong location (metacourses do not allow individual students, but rather, child courses, therefore you must be enrolled in one of the child courses to access the metacourse).

What is a metacourse in Moodle?

A metacourse is a special kind of course that does not accept students/participants, but rather “child courses”. An example of a good use of metacourses can be seen when they are used as Common Rooms for programmes such as Honors or Post graduate courses where students are taking many options within a programme but still need a single space to come together and access information, socialise, etc.

A further and more detailed explanation of metacourses can be found here: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Metacourses

What is a profile in Moodle?

Each user has a profile – a list of information about them. Only a small number of items are compulsory. The compulsory fields are required to complete your profile. Even if your profile is created automatically it is a good idea to check the information it contains.

What is a staff role in Moodle?

A staff role in Moodle is typically a tutor or teacher, but can sometimes be administrative staff. A staff role gives full access to write, alter, upload and create content within a given Moodle course. Staff in a Moodle course can also add additional tutors to the course. Moodle allows this name to be specified on a course by course basis.

What is a student in Moodle?

A student in Moodle is a role that gives student level access to a given Moodle course, allowing a participant in this role to view materials and participate in activities that have been set up in advance by the course tutor. The role you are assigned is on a course by course basis (ie, you can be a student in one course and a lecturer in another).

What is a VLE?

VLE stands for Virtual Learning Environment, and refers to an online, web-based tool that allows staff and students to communicate, collaborate and build communities around learning. Other terms used interchangeably are LMS (Learning Management System), OLE (Online Learning Environment) and CMS (Course Management System).

What is an administrator in Moodle?

An Administrator in Moodle is a particular term and should not be confused with regular Administration staff at the institute. The Moodle Administrator for a given Moodle site is the person who has full access to all settings and panels within the site, the power to grant access, create courses, make alternations at a technical level and adjust some code.

What is an enrolment key?

An enrolment key is one way of securing your Moodle course . The Key is a onetime key, usually an appropriate word, that students/participants are given to access the course. Typically lecturers advise students of this key word in a face to face lecture.

What is Mahara?

Mahara provides the tools to set up a personal learning and development environment. It is available for you to use during your time at the University. It can provide a wide-ranging view of your learning and development over different subject areas and throughout your studies.

Where can I find Moodle documentation?

There is a great deal of context sensitive help built into Moodle. In many places (especially next to where choices can be made) you will see the help button – a small question mark in a (normally yellow or blue) circle. This will provide immediate help on that issue. There is also a comprehensive documentation site available at http://docs.moodle.org.

What is Moodle?

Moodle is an online learning tool or VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). It is used to communicate, collaborate and build communities around learning. It is the most widely used VLE in the world and has been adopted by several leaders in online education. Moodle can be seen as an online course workspace to store course files and build interactive learning activities. It is an easy way for staff and students to use the web for teaching and learning and can be accessed from any internet connection in the world.

Who has the ability to alter the content in my Moodle course?

Anyone who is listed as staff in your course and has editing rights can alter the content. Moodle Administrators or Course Creators typically set up courses and add staff as requested.

Why do I get a blank screen when I try to open a Powerpoint or other Office documents in Internet Explorer?

If you are finding that PowerPoint documents (and Word, Excel etc) don’t display well in your Internet Explorer (IE) browser, either prompting you for a password or just showing a blank screen, then you are encountering a well-known problem with IE.

The best solution is to alter your settings so that IE doesn’t try to embed the Office documents within it’s own display, and instead, will download the document and tell PowerPoint to display the document normally (as a helper application).
Here’s how to change the setting (in Windows):
1. Double-click My Computer.

2. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options.

3. On the File Types tab, in the Registered file types box, click to select the file type that you want to change. For example, click to select PPT Microsoft PowerPointPresentation.

4. Click Advanced.

5. In the Edit File Type dialog box, click to clear the Browse in same window check box, and then click OK.

6. Click Close to close the Folder Options dialog box.
Alternatively you can use a different browser like Firefox, Mozilla or Opera.