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Important Settings for your Moodle Course

The Quick Settings block provides easy access to the most frequently used course settings. More settings for your course are found on the Edit course settings page.

The Quick Settings Block

Screenshot of the Quick settings blockThe Quick settings block is added by default to new courses, but if your course does not have it, you can add the block. The block provides an easy way to check, and change, the most important settings for your course:

  • Course availability for students
  • Gradebook visibility to students
  • Number of visible course Sections

The block also includes a link to the Edit Dates report, where you can change due dates or release dates for multiple activities at once, plus a link to the full Edit Course Settings page (below).

Note: Editing does not need to be turned on to use this block. Also, the block is hidden from Students, and shows only for Teachers and Course Designers.

Edit Course Settings

To edit course settings:

  1. Open your Moodle course, and from the main course page, locate the Settings block.
    Note: By default, the Settings block is usually located in the left column. If you have rearranged the Blocks in your course to all appear on one side, you may need to scroll down the screen to find the Settings block.
  2. In the Settings block, click Course administration, then Edit settings. The Edit course settings page opens.
    Note: the Settings block is context-aware; it changes based on your location in your Moodle course. For example, to edit the settings for your course, you need to be on your Course home page. If, for example, you open an Assignment activity, and click Edit settings in the Settings block, it will take you to the Assignment settings.
  3. On the Edit course settings page, you will be presented with a long list of options to set for your course.  Choose your options, for example:
    • Format the course sections to collapse (Collapsed Topics, default), or stay open (Topic or Weekly format) .
    • Choose whether to show all course sections on one long page, or show each section on a separate page (Course layout).
    • Choose a visual style (Theme).
    • Make grades visible to students (Show gradebook).
    • Hide or show the course to students (Course availability)
      Note: When courses are created, they are NOT set to be available to student. If you request a course before the start of a semester, OIT will automatically make the course available to students the business day before the first day of classes, but you can override that here. If you request a course after classes are underway, you'll have to release it yourself.

      Screenshot of course settings page  (click to enlarge)
  4. Once you have set the course options, at the bottom of the screen, click Save changes.

Course Setting Details

The most important options are starred (*) in the list below:

  • Course full name *
    The Course full name appears in the banner at the very top of your Moodle course page.  This name is provided by SPIRE (where there are character limits on the length of a course name).  If the course name is truncated, you may want to edit it for readability. This name also appears in the My courses block and in reports. 
  • Course short name

    (not editable) The Course short name (dept-number-section-semester) cannot be changed. The Course short name appears in the Navigation block as the link to a course.

  • Course summary
    The summary appears on the course listings page for the entire Moodle site. The course description from SPIRE is pre-filled into this field. You may edit it, but we suggest you keep it short.
  • Format *
    Choose a Format to determine the behavior of the Sections on your course page:

    — Collapsed Topics (Default)
    This format allows individual users to expand and collapse the course Sections down the center of the main course page. For courses that contain a lot of material, this format avoids the need to scroll down a very long page to access the bottom sections of a course. By default, sections are named either Topic 1, Topic 2, Topic 3, etc., or  Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, etc., depending on when the course was created. We recommend giving the sections more informative names (you can do this from your course page: turn editing on and click the Update icon at the top of each section).
    Note: Additional settings for the Collapsed Topics format can be accessed from your course page when editing is turned on. For example, you can choose Collapsed Weekly format, a collapsible version of the Weekly format (see below), or Highlighted section at top.

    — Weekly format
    This format organizes course Sections by week, with a clear start and finish date. Moodle creates and names a section for each week of your course (see Number of weeks/topics below, to control the number of weeks). The sections do not collapse, are always  open.
    Note: If using the Weekly format, make sure your course start date is correct. If the start date is not, the course Sections will be named with the wrong dates. This is especially important if you are reusing a course from a previous semester. (See Course start date, below)

    — Topics format
    With this format, course Sections do not collapse, and are always open. By default, sections are named either Topic 1, Topic 2, Topic 3, etc., or  Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, etc., depending on when the course was created. We recommend giving the sections more informative names (you can do this from your course page: turn editing on and click the Update icon at the top of each section). This format is great to use if your course is objective based, and each objective will take different amounts of time to complete. An example of this would be scaffolding where the students are building upon the knowledge from earlier topics.

    — Social format —
    This format limits the course to a single forum; the social forum, which appears listed on the main page.
  • Course start date
    This setting affects names of Sections when the Weekly course format is used, but does not affect courses using the Social or Topics formats.
    If you use the Weekly course format, the start date will appear in the first section of the course. You may want to select the Sunday or Monday of the first week your class meets as the start date, rather than the actual first day of classes.  For example if you choose January 20th as your start date, the Section will be named January 20 - January 26
    This setting also impacts the display of logs for all courses: The start date will be the earliest possible date the log activity will display when viewing logs by date.
  • News items to show
    This setting controls how many News forum posts show on the Latest news block. If set it to 0, the Latest news block will not appear.
  • Show gradebook to students *
    By default, when an activity has been graded, each student can see their grade on the Grades page. If you do not want to use grades in a course, or wish to hide the Grades page from students, set this option to No. The instructor will still be able to use the gradebook.
    Note: If set to No, even though the Grades page will not be available to students, depending on the activity settings, students may still be able to view grades from within an activity itself.
    For more, see An Overview of the Moodle Gradebook.
  • Show activity reports
    Activity reports are available to each student. Each student sees a report of their own activity and contributions to the current course, including their detailed access log.
    Student access to Activity reports is controlled by the instructor via this course setting. For some courses, these reports can be a useful tool for a student to reflect on their involvement and appearance within the online environment, but for other courses, this may not be necessary.
    Instructors always have access to these reports. Instructors can use the button or tab visible on each person’s profile page or use the Reports link in the course administration block.
  • Maximum upload size
    This setting defines the largest size of an individual file that can be uploaded by students in this course. Teachers can further limit the file size for uploads within each activity. If your students will be submitting large files (e.g. videos, Powerpoints or large PDFs), be sure to set the maximum both here, and in the Assignment settings.
  • Legacy course files
    Allows instructors to import a Moodle course built in an older version of Moodle.
  • Force Theme *
    Choose from among several visual designs and color schemes for your course. 
    Note: If set to Do not force, your course will use the theme from the Moodle at UMass Amherst entry page and will not show the "course long name" in the banner at the top of the page. For details, see A Guide to Moodle Themes.
  • Number of weeks/topics
    Determines how many Sections are stacked down the center of your course.
  • Hidden sections
    Control how hidden Topic or Weekly Sections in your course display to students. The default, Hidden sections are shown in collapsed form, displays the names for hidden Topics or Weeks (grayed-out), but completely hides any activities and resources that are within the section. This is particularly useful in the Weekly format, so that non-class weeks are clear. You also have the option to completely hide a hidden section.
  • Course Layout
    This setting determines whether the whole course is displayed on one page or split over several pages. For more, see Moodle 2.3 Highlights, New Course Design Options.
  • Additional Formatting Options for the 'Collapsed Topics' Format
    When a course is set to use the Collapsed topics format, additional options appear.  For example, you can choose collapsed weeks or topics, or customize the color of the section name bar.
  • Guest Access
    Instructors can create a password to share with colleagues who they want to be able to access their course.  Guests have limited abilities: they can view content, but cannot participate in activities, view student contributions to the course, or see grades or rosters. For more information, see Roles in Moodle.
  • Groups
    Setting the Group mode will set the default results for group activities in the course (Separate—students only see and contribute to their own groups activities, or Visible— students can contribute to their own group's activities, and they can view all groups' contributions), but individual activities can be set in various ways. Force group mode will apply the Group mode set above to all activities, and cause settings made at the activity level to be ignored. For more on using groups, see An Overview of Managing Groups in Moodle.
  • Availability *
    Moodle courses will automatically be released to students three days prior to the beginning of courses. Instructors can use this setting to hide or show a course outside of the institutional schedule. For more, see Make Your Moodle Course Available to Students.
  • Language
    (not editable) Presently there is only one Language Pack (US English) available in Moodle.
  • Student Progress
    If set to Enabled, control via completion and activity settings, you and your students can track progress using check boxes next to required activities in course Sections.  Within each activity's settings you'll have the option to let students check the boxes when they have completed an activity, or the box can be checked automatically when an activity is submitted or graded.
    Note: The Completion tracking begins on enrollment, option is for ongoing rather than semester-based courses.

* These are the most important options to set.