Solve 5 annoying Moodle problems, quickly

Moodle annoying problems


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




  1. Great post – boom!

    in Item 5 “Can’t upload multiple files to Moodle” it is worth mentioning that even in ‘old Moodle’ you can upload a zipped folder containing multiple files. Not as neat and satisfying as drag and drop but still saves plenty of time compared to uploading each file one at a time!

    Jim :)

  2. some gold nuggets Frederic, valuable post my friend.

    do you know an admin shortcut to set ‘complete’ digest type by default?

    chrome also supports the DnD block.


    1. Hey Metzy,
      thanks for your comment. Didn’t know the DnD block worked with Chrome, I knew 2.3 did but not the 1.9 version.
      I don’t know of an admin shortcut but a quick SQL query would solve this in a jiffy, site-wide :)

  3. Thanks for the useful tips! Some of the problems such as notification emails and uploading multiple files is faced by many educators. However, I want you to have a look on something I came across quite recently. It is a document viewer block for Moodle sites introduced by GroupDocs to view documents in the browser. You can further explore about it from the following blog:

    Let me know what do you think!

  4. Hi Saira,
    thanks for your comment. I noticed the plugin when it was released and had a quick look at the product offered by the company in question. Whilst it looks like a nice integration, the cost of the service is prohibitive at US$19 per month/user for a service that offers little more than the free Google Apps (for the education sector). Price alone will keep me out of this one, $19 is how much it costs to subscribe to Photoshop…

  5. Hi,
    i am using moodle 2.3, i am at times unable to upload multiple users at one go from .csv file (containing list of users). Could you tell me the reason of this problem & also it’s remedy.

  6. Hi Frederic,
    The positioning of the quiz timer is causing my users some grifef in Moodle 2.3.3. it is ok for small quizzes, but for final term there are close to 100 questions, it is oof the screen below the question buttons, since the Navigation block is in the fixed position. could u help to solve this problem? and the Navigation block should be Dynamic.

  7. Hi Prakash:

    We had a similar issue with the timer hiding at the bottom of the Nav block. After much researching, I found a solution on the internet. Here is the solution. Sorry, I don’t have the original link, from where I got the solution, but these steps have solved my problem. But be aware that next time you update your moodle, you need to go back and do these changes.

    Here it is.

    Look for file moodle/mod/quiz/renderer.php

    Under the navigation_panel() module, adjust the code by moving a couple of lines, so that the finished code looks like this:

    public function navigation_panel(quiz_nav_panel_base $panel) {

    $output = ”;

    // The following two lines were moved up from the bottom of this module
    $output .= html_writer::tag(‘div’, $panel->render_end_bits($this),
    array(‘class’ => ‘othernav’));
    // — end code change —

    $userpicture = $panel->user_picture();
    if ($userpicture) {
    $output .= html_writer::tag(‘div’, $this->render($userpicture),
    array(‘id’ => ‘user-picture’, ‘class’ => ‘clearfix’));
    $output .= $panel->render_before_button_bits($this);

    $output .= html_writer::start_tag(‘div’, array(‘class’ => ‘qn_buttons’));
    foreach ($panel->get_question_buttons() as $button) {
    $output .= $this->render($button);
    $output .= html_writer::end_tag(‘div’);

    $this->page->requires->js_init_call(‘M.mod_quiz.nav.init’, null, false,

    return $output;


  8. It would be great if there was an option of mass enrolling the students in all of the subcategory courses without creating a key. Our school moodle has 10th, 11th and 12th forms. Each form has about 13 subjects (courses), it would be great if I could mass enrol users while editing the whole subcategory.

  9. My trainers are still getting all the emails even when they are not assigned to the group- I even made a new group – ‘trainers only’ and still hasn’t worked…help!

    1. I realize this post is quite old; however, I am having the same problem. My trainers are assigned to separate groups, but still receive emails of forum threads from enrolled users assigned to different groups. Did you ever find a solution? If so, please advice. Thanks!

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