Solve 5 annoying Moodle problems, quickly
Moodle is the best VLE/LMS, but as with every other system there a few quirks that can be rather annoying. In this post I share quick and easy solutions to 5 annoying Moodle problems. Let me know in the comments if you want more posts like this.
1. The ‘News forum’ won’t go away!
So you have tried a million times to delete the ‘News forum’ at the top of your Moodle course to no avail. The thing is tougher than a cockroach and simply won’t die! Sure you could hide it from students, but that’s cheating.
Problem in context: whenever you create a new Moodle course, you get a ‘News forum’ created at the top – whether you want it or not. I tend to remove it as my colleagues find it confusing (students cannot post to it).
Solution: Delete the ‘News forum’ on your course page, then visit your course settings (Administration > Course settings), set ‘News items to show’ to zero. Go back to your course page, the ‘News forum’ has disappeared. It will reappear if you set the news ‘News items to show’ to 1 or more.
2. Moodle course with multiple groups, all teachers receive the notification emails
Moodle has a great notification system – it is possible for a teacher/student to be notified of new forum posts, assignment uploads, etc. A significant number of schools decide to have multiple groups share one course, in order to limit the amount of course maintenance. This can lead to issues if not dealt with properly.
Problem in context: 1 course, multiple groups and multiple teachers (for the sake of simplicity, 1 teacher per group). If not setup properly, all teachers receive notification emails from students of all groups.
Solution: Make sure teachers are assigned to the correct groups. Go to your course, Settings block > Users > Groups. Once there, select the group you want to add a teacher to (list on the left), highlight it, locate the teacher in the list on the right, click on her/his name and click ‘add to group’. See here to learn more about groups in Moodle.
3. It takes a long time to enrol students in courses
In an ideal World, your Moodle administrator has come up with an authentication method that enrols students automatically in the right courses, nothing for you to do. Most don’t live in an ideal World.
Problem in context: it’s the beginning of a new academic year, you’re crazy busy and you have to enrol your 150+ students into Moodle courses (worse, in groups!).
Solution: create an enrolment key (like a password) for your course and give it to your students, see here for instructions. The first time they try to access the course, they enter the key – boom, they’re enrolled. Better yet, if you share a course, assign a unique key for each group. Students access your course entering their respective keys – boom, they’re enrolled in the course, in the correct groups.
4. Moodle sends too many notification emails
If you rely heavily on forums, chances are that you use the email notification system to keep track of new messages. This can quickly become very annoying, as you may be receiving hundreds of emails a day.
Problem in context: you have a course with a forum and you encourage students to comment on each other’s posts. If you have a class of 25, this can easily generate over 500 messages and as many notification emails.
Solution: edit your profile (click on your name usually at the top right of your Moodle page) and locate the ‘Edit profile’ option. You then need to scroll down to ‘Email digest type’ and set the option to a more sane ‘Complete’ or ‘Subjects’ daily emails. I personally prefer the ‘Complete’ option as I don’t actually have to visit the forums (if I only need to double-check content).
5. Can’t upload multiple files to Moodle
Even if you decide to not use Moodle just as a file repository, chances are you will need to upload a few files to your courses now and then. Moodle used to be a pain to manage files. Moodle 2.3 onwards allow for multiple drag and drop multiple file uploads.
Problem in context: blank Moodle course page, final exams fast approaching and you have a bunch of PDF examiner reports you want to share with students, fast. You don’t fancy uploading each one by one.
Solution: if it’s not practical for you to upgrade to Moodle 2.3 (or above), you can ask your Moodle administrator to install the fantastic ‘Drag and Drop’ plugin. This will enable multiple file upload in your courses (Firefox only)
Thanks to Jim (comment 1) for suggesting Zipping a folder full of files, uploading it to Moodle and then unzipping it in your course. This is great if you cannot add any plugins to your site.
The best place to get help if you have a problem using Moodle is to go to the forums. If you have a simple solution to an annoying problem, post in the comments and I’ll add it to the list