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Control Access to Resources and Activities in Moodle

Instructors can control access to resources and activities based on dates and times, on grades earned on previous activities, or they can simply hide items from students until they are ready to be used. Instructors can also release activities and resources exclusively to specific groups of students.

There are two basic ways to control access to course content:

  • Date and time
    Date/time settings are available for most Activities, but not for Resources. Date/time settings determine when students may submit to an activity, but still let them see the activity page and any grades that have been posted after the due date has passed. Examples of date/time settings are open and close times for quizzes, and due dates for assignments.
  • Visibility
    Restrict Access settings and the Hide/Show icon (Moodle hide icon) are available for all Activities and Resources, and affect the visibility of an item to students.
    Important! Hiding activities using Restrict Access or the Hide/Show icon prevents students from viewing anything about an activity, including grades and due dates. We do not recommend using Restrict access or the Hide/Show icon to end access to graded activities, as grades for the activity will be hidden from students. 

You should carefully consider before you use both date/time and Restrict access settings for an activity. If you do combine them, be sure they do not conflict. 

Release an Activity to Students Based on Date/Time

For most Activities, you can use date/time restrictions to control when students can submit work, while still allowing students to open the activity page to read the activity description, see due dates, view grades, etc.
Note: Resources do not have date/time settings. To schedule the release of Resources, see Schedule the Visibility of an Activity or Resource using 'Restrict Access', below.

  1. On your course home page, click Turn editing on (top right). Editing icons appear next to each editable item on the page.
  2. Add or locate an Activity, and click the update icon Moodle edit icon for activity. The Edit settings screen will open.
  3. On the Edit settings screen, immediately below the Description options, look for settings for start and end times. Settings vary for different Activities and are not available for Resources.
    Note: Date/time settings (if present) are separate from the Restrict Access options that appear further down the Edit Settings screen.
    Assignment
    • Available from: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date and time when students may begin to submit the assignment. If not enabled, submissions are allowed as soon as the assignment is added to the course.
    • Due date: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date and time. The due date will automatically be added to the course calendar.
      Note: Due dates do not necessarily prevent further submissions (see the next setting, Prevent late submissions).
    • Prevent late submissions: Select  No to allow late submissions (default ), or Yes to prevent late submissions.
      Note: When set to No, late submissions are allowed but show in red on the Grade Assignment Submissions screen. All submissions are time stamped, so you'll know exactly how late a submission was made.
    Chat
    Chat times do not schedule access to a chat room, they only publish the times in the course calendar.
    • Next chat time: Use the drop-down menus to select the date and time for the chat (or the initial date for a repeating chat).
    • Repeat sessions: The Chat can repeat at the same time daily, or weekly.
    Choice
    Unlike most date/time settings, with Choice you must use both a start and end date.
    • Check Restrict answering to this time period. Then, for Open, use the drop-down menu to select a date and time to begin student access to the activity, and for Until, select a date and time to close the activity.
    Database
    Student access to a Database is controlled by date only. You can't select a specific time to start or end access; it will always be at start of the day (12:00 a.m.) on the date selected.
    • Available from: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date when students can begin to access the database. Access will begin at 12:00 a.m. on that date. If not enabled, students may access the database as soon as it is added to the course.
    • Available to: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date to completely end access to the database. The close date will be at the start of the day (12:00 a.m.), not the end of the day on the date selected. Because most students would expect the due date to refer to the end of the day on the due date (i.e.,11:59 p.m.), you may want to emphasize in your activity Description that the close time is actually 12:00 a.m. (e.g., "You must complete contribution to this database by the end of the day on December 1st. The activity will close at 12:00 am on December 2nd.")
    • Read only from: check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date after which students will no longer be able to contribute to the database, but will still be able to view it. Students will no longer be able to add to the database after 12:00 a.m. on the selected date.
    • Read only to: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date before which students can view what's already in the database, and after which they can contribute to the database (if other settings allow).
    • Entries required before viewing: Select a number of entries students must post before being allowed to see other students' contributions to the database.
    Forum
    There are no date/time settings on the Edit Settings screen for a Forum, but we recommend the following methods to control access to a forum activity:
    Group Self-selection
    • Open from: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date and time when students can begin the activity.
    • Open until: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date and time after which students can no longer select a group to join.
    Questionnaire
    • Use open date: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date and time when students can begin access to the questionnaire. If not enabled, students may access the questionnaire as soon as it is added to the course.
    • Use close date: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date and time to end student access. If not enabled, access is allowed indefinitely.
    Quiz
    • Open the Quiz: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date and time when students may begin taking the quiz. If not enabled, submissions are allowed as soon as the Quiz is added to the course.
    • Close the Quiz: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select a date and time to prevent further submissions. The close date will be automatically added to the course calendar.
    • Set time limit: Check Enable, then from the drop-down menu select the duration in minutes allowed to each student to complete the quiz.
    Turnitin Assignment
    Instead of working from the Edit Settings page for the assignment in Moodle, date restrictions are set within the Turnitin assignment itself.
    1. On your course page, click the Turnitin assignment link, to open the activity.
    2. On the Summary tab, click the Pencil icon ( In Turnitin the Edit/update icon looks like a pencil over a sheet of paper). The Turnitin assignment settings page opens.
    3. Select dates and times for a Start Date, Due Date, and Post date.
      Note: The Post date determines when grades are released, and MUST be later than the Due date.
    4. Click Submit. 
  4. Once you have selected date(s) and time(s), click Save and return to course.

Hide/Show an Activity, Resource, or Section using the 'Eye Icon'

To quickly hide an activity in your course, use the Hide/Show icon (Moodle hide icon) on the course page. The item will appear grayed-out to instructors, but for students the link to the activity will be invisible.  
Note: Graded activities that are hidden do not show in the Grade report for students. To prevent submissions without hiding the activity, see Release an Activity to Students Based on Date/Time, above.

  1. On your course home page, click Turn editing on (top right). Editing icons appear next to each editable item on the page.
  2. Locate the resource, activity, or section you want to hide, and click the hide/show icon (Moodle hide icon) next to it. The item will turn gray, and the eye icon will change to appear closed (Moodle show icon).  The link (or entire section) will not be visible to students.
  3. To un-hide the item, click the closed eye (Moodle show icon). The eye will appear opened, and the item will again be visible (and clickable) for students.

Schedule the Visibility of an Activity or Resource

Use Restrict Access settings to prevent all access to resources or activities outside of a scheduled time frame. During the period when access is restricted, you can choose to have the link appear grayed-out, or to have it completely hidden from students (as when you hide a link using the Hide/Show icon).
Note: During the period when access to a graded activity is restricted, grades do not show in the grade report for students. If your goal is to close submissions to an activity, do not use Restrict Access settings; instead, see Release an Activity to Students Based on Date/TIme, above.

  1. On your course home page, click Turn editing on (top right). Editing icons appear next to each editable item on the page.
  2. Add or locate an Activity or Resource. Click the edit icon Moodle edit icon for the activity. The Edit settings screen will open.
  3. On the Edit settings screen, scroll down to the Restrict access area of the screen.
  4. For Allow access from, check enable, then select the date and time for the activity or resource to become available. If you do not enable this setting, the item will be available as soon as it is added to the course.
  5. For Allow access until, check enable, then select the date and time access will end. If you do not enable this setting, the item will remain available for students to view until the course closes at the end of the semester.
  6. For Before activity can be accessed, use the drop-down menu to determine how the link to the activity will appear before the item is available:
    • Show activity greyed-out with restriction information (default): The link will be grayed-out, and will not be clickable for students, and the release date will show below the link.
    • Hide activity entirely: The link will be invisible, with no message for students (and grayed-out but clickable for instructors).
  7. Click Save and return to course.

Control the Visibility of an Activity or Resource Based on Grade

Use Restrict Access settings to release an activity or resource to students based on the grade(s) they receive on a previous activity or activities:

  1. Click Turn editing on on the top right of your course page. Editing icons appear next to each editable item on the page.
  2. Add or locate an Activity or Resource. Click the edit icon Moodle edit icon for the item. The Edit settings screen will open.
  3. Scroll down the settings screen to Restrict access, and in the Grade condition pull-down menu, select an activity you want to use as a condition for releasing the activity or resource you are editing.
  4. In the fields for must be at least __ % and less than __ %, enter the % value  each student must have scored on the conditional activity before receiving access to this activity. For example, if you want to provide a make-up activity for students who scored between 50-75% on a previous quiz, enter 50 in the first box, and 76 in the second box.
  5. If Activity completion is enabled in the course, you will see the option to set an Activity completion condition. Select an activity, and from the drop-down choose between:
    • must be marked complete
    • must not be marked complete
    • must be complete with pass grade
    • must be complete with fail grade
  6. (Optional) To add more conditional activities, click Add 2 grade conditions to form.
  7. For Before activity can be accessed, use the drop-down menu to determine how the link to the activity will appear before the item is available:
    • Show activity greyed-out with restriction information (default): The link will be grayed-out and will not be clickable for students, and the release date will show below the link.
    • Hide activity entirely: The link will be invisible, with no message for students (and grayed-out but clickable for instructors).
  8. Click Save and return to course.

Release an Activity or Resource to Specific Students

You can release or extend access to activities and resources for one or more particular students by assigning the activity to a Grouping. This method of releasing activities can be useful for accommodations, make-up work, advanced work, extra credit, or independent studies.

Note: There are more efficient methods for accomplishing the following tasks:


To create a Grouping and assign an activity only to its members:

  1. Create a Group and add only the user(s) you want to be able to access the activity or resource. For instructions on creating groups, refer to Create & Modify Groups in Moodle.
  2. Create a Grouping containing this new group. See Create Groupings in Moodle.
  3. Add or locate an Activity or Resource, and click the edit icon Moodle edit icon for the activity. The Edit settings screen will open.
  4. Under Common module settings, click Show advanced. Additional settings will display.
  5. From the Group mode drop-down, select separate groups. (For more on Group modes, see Group Modes in Moodle.)
  6. In the Grouping drop-down menu, select the name of the grouping to use.
  7. Check Available for group members only. This prevents students not in the group from seeing a link to the activity on the course page.
  8. Click Save and return to course.
  9. Important! To avoid inadvertently revealing the existence of groups created for special access to all the students in the class:
    • If the Group mode in the Course Settings is set to Visible groups, any activities assigned to the entire class should be assigned to the Grouping in your course named LECTURE SECTIONS, and should be made available to group members only. Otherwise, on activity pages, students will see drop-down menus for sorting by group that will reveal the presence of groups you may wish to remain private.
      Note: The LECTURE SECTIONS grouping is automatically added to all courses and contains a group for each Lecture section in the class (e.g. ~Lec 01, ~Lec 02, etc.). It therefore includes all students enrolled in the class, but does not include any custom groups whose existence you may not want to reveal. 
    • After an activity is finished, DO NOT delete any Groups  or Groupings you have used to release activities to selected students, as the existence of those activities would be revealed to the rest of the class.
  10. (Optional) If you want to hide the activity from appearing in the Gradebook, see Control Visibility of Grade Items in Moodle.