Moodle overview for faculty

If you are new to Moodle, please view the Moodle navigation page before proceeding. If you do not find your answer here or elsewhere in the DePauw KnowledgeBase, contact Faculty Instructional Technology Support (FITS) training and additional events may be found by browsing to Student Technology Support for classroom visits and open lab times are available throughout the year. To request support for a class, email

Courses, Sites and User Accounts

A Moodle course is automatically created for every class offered through the Registrar’s Office. (Note: The course is a shell that faculty build a course or restore content from another Moodle course.) Every faculty member, staff member and student is automatically setup with a Moodle user account.

A Moodle site may be requested for a University recognized department or organization for information sharing, collaboration and/or communication that promotes the department’s or organization’s official mission. These extracurricular Moodle sites are intended for academic departments, administrative departments, committees, reading groups or other groups. The faculty or staff member responsible for the department or organization must provide consent, apply for the Moodle site, supervise the process and agree to be responsible for the site. To request a site in Moodle, please fill out the Moodle request form.

Materials uploaded to Moodle courses/sites are only copies of original materials. Original materials should be maintained by the author outside of the Moodle environment. The faculty or staff member managing the course/site is also responsible for saving a backup copy of his/her Moodle course/site at the end of each semester.

A guest user account can be created in instances where a Moodle participant is not a DePauw student, faculty or staff member by emailing The faculty or staff member responsible for the course/site will need to include the participants first name, last name, email address, course/site the guest is participating in and designated role (e.g., student, non-editing teacher, etc.) in their email. After the guest account is created, the Moodle administrator will send the account information to the faculty or staff member who requested it. This faculty or staff member is responsible for sending the guest their user account information and any information relevant to accessing the University’s Moodle site.

To reset a lost Moodle (DePauw) password, DePauw students, faculty and staff can browse to e-Services and click Forgot password? in the upper left side of the screen. In the next window, follow the instructions to reset your password. If a guest user has lost his/her password, they should email and request to have their password reset.

Library Course Reserves

Library Course Reserves are available as a link in Moodle and are only accessible during the semester for which they are requested. Information about Library Course Reserves can be found on the Library’s Reserves & Coursepacks page.


During the drop/add adjustment period, changes in enrollments will be completed hourly. There may be a short lag (1-2 hours) between the time the Registrar processes the drop/add request and the change is seen in Moodle and in Library Course Reserves. Students needing access to class materials before they are enrolled in a Moodle course should contact the faculty member for those materials.

Your Course Home page

Your course home page is divided in sections – the top section, the middle section and the bottom section.

Top Section

The top section includes the following:

  • Moodle help.
  • Login information – Lists your login information and a link to logout.
  • Course navigation bar – Secondary navigation/breadcrumb trail that allows you to click on any of the active links to go back to a previous page.
  • Turn editing on – You can turn editing on to make changes to your course. When you are done, toggle it off to remove the editing icons.

Design of Outside Columns

The outside columns of your course contain blocks that have a title, the show (+) /hide (-) toggle button and a content area.

Default Blocks in the Left Column

  • Navigation block – Where you navigate throughout the Moodle site.
  • People block – Where you find the participants that are enrolled in your course.
  • Administration block – Where course administration (i.e., editing) is located that includes tasks such as where you click to make the course visible to your students, backup and restore courses, change roles, change profile settings etc. A student’s Administration block only provides a link to his/her grades and profile settings.
  • Activities block – Provides links to activities in the course.
  • Search Forums block – Is a simple search engine that allows participants to search for words in the titles and text of forums.
  • Filtered course list block – Contains a list of your courses for the current semester.

Default Blocks in the Right Column

  • Latest News block – Lists the latest items you have posted in the News forum.
  • Upcoming Events block – Links to the Calendar,  a list of deadlines that are coming up and other calendar entries.
  • Recent Activity block – Lists changes to the course since the last time you logged in.
  • Library Course Reserves block – Enables you to request and view Library Course Reserves. Enables your students to view Library Course Reserves.

Other Blocks

There are numerous other blocks available for you to add

  • Calendar block – Lists activities taking place during the month.
  • Course/Site Summary block – Provides a description of your course.
  • HTML block – Allows you to add blocks of text that can include images, links, videos, etc.
  • Online Users block – Reveals the participants that are currently logged in.

Design of middle column

The middle column is the core section of your Moodle course. Faculty members usually set up a course by topics or by weeks although other formats are available. The first or top section is designed for course information that is useful to your students throughout the entire semester, such as the course syllabus, office hours, a welcome statement, etc. The News forum is intended for general news and class announcements. This forum is automatically set so all participants are subscribed to it, which means everyone will receive an email when a new post is made to the news forum. Also, it has a default setting that allows only those participants with the role of a teacher to post to it.

Default settings of the middle column – The middle column’s default setting is Topics format; however, you can change this to a Weekly format. Also, it is setup for three (3) topic sections, but you can change this setting to the number you need. To change these default settings, click on Edit settings in the Administration block.

Other Content and Material – The middle column is where you will add the content of your course as either a Resource or an Activity.

  • A Resource is static content that you want to provide to your students.
  • An Activity is interactive content you want to provide for your students that allows them to interact with you or with one another.

Bottom Section

The bottom section contains

  • Moodle Docs for this page – An active external link that provides detailed information for using Moodle.
  • Login information – Lists your login information and a link to logout.
  • Home button – An active internal link to your Moodle home page.

Managing a course at the start of a semester

With your course goals in mind, start thinking about how you want students to navigate through the course and  what extent you want to use with Moodle in your teaching. You decide how much or how little you use Moodle.

After making changes to any Moodle page, remember to click Save changes that is located at the bottom of the page.


Course Settings determines how the course behaves and what it looks like to students. For a more complete explanation of course settings, view the Managing Course Settings page.

To change course settings

  1. Click Edit settings in the Administration block.
  2. Edit course settings page.
    1. Full name, Short name, Course category, Visible, Course start date, Course ID number – Information regarding your course received from the Registrar’s database.
    2. The default for Visible is Hide. Be sure that Show is selected next to Visible for students to see the course when you are ready for them to access it.
    1. Course summary – You can add a summary or brief description of the course.
    2. Course summary files – You can add files to the summary.
    1. Format – Topics format is the default setting.
      1. Topics format gives you a course with content areas that allow you to organize your materials without the constraint of a time table.
      2. Weekly format allows you to organize your materials into predefined weekly sections with Week 1 automatically being set to the first day of classes.
      3. Single activity format allows you to display a single resource on the course page.
      4. Social Format displays a forum on the course page.
    2. Number of Sections – Determines the number of sections for Format.
    3. Hidden Sections

      1. Hidden sections are shown in collapsed form.
      2. Hidden sections are completely invisible.
    4. Course layout – The default is set to all sections on one page.
      1. Show all sections on one page – Makes all topic sections appear on one scrollable page. Topic names in the Navigation block are not active links.
      2. Show one section per page – Makes each topic section appear on a separate page with forward/backward navigation. Topic names in the Navigation block are active links to their respective topic pages.
    1. Force theme – Enables you to change the look or theme of your course. The DePauw theme is the default. The number of themes for Moodle 2.7 is greatly reduced, so that it can be easily used on mobile devices.
    2. Force Language – When you force a language for you course, the Moodle interface will be displayed in that particular language. This setting will override the preferred language of each participant. (Note: Some Modern Language faculty members allow their students to view their course in English for the first two weeks of class so they can get comfortable using Moodle before they force their students to view the course in another language.)
    3. New items to show  – Select the number of new items to display in the Latest news block. If Zero items is selected, then the Latest news block will not be displayed.
    4. Show gradebook to students – Allows you to determine if students have access to the Moodle gradebook.
    5. Show activity reports – Allows you to see the activity and contributions to the course made by each individual participant.
    1. Default display options for files – Allows you to select the default display for new files added to the course.
    2. Maximum upload size – Allows you to select the maximum size of a file that can be uploaded to the course.
    1. Group mode – Select the default grouping for each activity in the course from one of the following three options:
      1. No groups – There are no sub groups; everyone is part of one big community.
      2. Separate groups – Each group member can only see their own group. Other groups are invisible.
      3. Visible groups – Each group member works in their own group, but can also see other groups.
    2. Force group mode – If group mode is forced, then the course group mode is applied to every activity in the course. (Note: The default grouping is set to none
  3. Click Save changes.


Automatic enrollments are completed hourly during the drop/add adjustment period. There may be a short time lag (i.e., 1-2 hours) between the time the Registrar processes the drop/add request and the change is seen in Moodle. Students needing access to class materials before they are enrolled in a Moodle course should contact the faculty member for those materials. Groups can be found in the user’s drop down menu. Moodle allows you to create and manage groups. For more information about using groups, view the Creating Groups page.


Moodle’s online gradebook has multiple steps you should follow when setting it up. For more information and instructions on the gradebook, view the Using Gradebook page. For one-on-one help with the gradebook, email

Building a Course

As an academic professional, you know the best pedagogical approaches for teaching and learning in your field. Moodle does not replace your pedagogical approach: Moodle simply provides you with online tools that can help you deliver effective learning solutions to your students.

Turn editing on

To begin building your course, enable the editing functions by clicking Turn editing on. This will display available editing options that enable you to

  • Edit the item’s title.
  • Move item to another area in the course. (Note: Areas are shown with a box made of dotted lines.)
  • Edit scroll bar contains options to Edit settings, Move right, Hide, Duplicate and Delete.


Activities enable the students to participate actively in a course. The following activities are the most common ones used at DePauw.

  • Assignments – Allows students to submit work through Moodle. For instructions on assignments, browse to the Creating Assignments page.
  • Forums – Enable participants to have an online dialogue about particular topics in Moodle. More information about specific forums available and detailed instructions can be found on the Creating Forums page.
  • Glossary – A list of terms with definitions specific to that course, which can be linked to where the word is used elsewhere in the course. Glossaries contain images, Web links, etc. The two types of glossaries that are available are
    • Main glossary – Primary glossary for the course maintained by the teacher and allows him/her to add secondary glossary entries to it.
    • Secondary glossary – Created by the students and approved by the teacher.
  • Quiz is an assessment that can include text, images, audio files, movie files, etc. A Quiz can be timed, which displays a floating timer on the screen for the student to keep track of how much time is left for the completion of the quiz.
    • Types of quiz questions
      • Calculated
      • Calculated multi-choice
      • Calculated simple
      • Embedded answers (Cloze)
      • Essay
      • Matching
      • Multiple choice
      • Numeric
      • Random short-answer matching
      • Short answer
      • True/False


A resource is static course content you want to make available for your students.

  • File
    • Enables you to provide a file as a course resource.
    • Displayed within Moodle when possible; otherwise, students will be prompted to download it.
  • Folder
    • Allows you to display a number of files in a single folder.
    • A zipped folder may be uploaded and unzipped or an empty folder may be created and files uploaded in to it.
    • To order files within a folder, rename the files with an alphanumeric prefix.
  • Label
    • Used as an additional level of organization.
    • Can be text, images or video that are embedded directly on to the course home page.
  • Page
    • Creates a separate page for information to be displayed.
    • Provides a text editor that allows you to easily format your text.
    • A page can display text, images, sound, video, Web links and embedded code.
  • URL
    • Enables you to provide Web links as a course resource.
    • Links can include external Web page, documents or images that are freely available online.

Managing a Course at the End of the Semester

Evaluate the Effectiveness of Using Moodle

You can consult with an instructional technologist to do this by emailing Finding out from your students their perception of what went well and what could be improved can be a valuable resource as you prepare your next Moodle course.


Some faculty members like to leave their Moodle course visible for students to use as a resource in future semesters. Other faculty members prefer to make their Moodle course invisible to students, which removes it from their students’ Current Courses List. Making a course invisible curtails cheating by preventing students from sharing information from a previous semester with a current student.

Create a backup (archive) of your course

Faculty members are advised to backup each course at the end of every semester. This backup can be used as a template for the course later on if it only contains course data and excludes student data (i.e., user data). You may wish to make a separate backup that includes student data. Faculty members are also advised to export their gradebook in the event of grade disputes. For instruction on exporting the gradebook, browse to the Using gradebook article. Remember that after making a course backup and exporting the gradebook, you need to save them to the computer. We also highly recommend copying the course to another device (e.g., external hard drive, thumb drive, etc.). For more information and instructions on creating a course backup, browse to the Moodle Course backup and restore page.

Things To Consider

You may want to start out using one (1) or two (2) activities or resources you are comfortable with, and then add additional ones later in the semester or the next time you teach the course. Keeping in mind your teaching goals will help you focus on how you want to design your course in the most effective way for your students’ learning. Storyboarding can be an effective method to help with the planning process.

Questions you may want to consider as you prepare materials include the following:

  •  What is it I want my students to know?
  • When do I want to present this to my students?
  •  What should my students be able to do?
  •  How will this affect my students’ learning experience?

While students may be savvy with social online interaction, their casual approach may not be suitable for their course work. Providing students with course guidelines will communicate your expectations to them. Consider letting them know at the beginning of the semester how long they should expect before you might send them a response. Do not be afraid to experiment in Moodle. Experimenting may help you find that extra something that will engage your students.

Updated: 1/17/2017