Prevent students from requesting Moodle courses

Moodle for admins

You have learnt how to allow users to request for courses to be created. However, all users are able to request courses, including students and that can be a problem in some settings. This short tutorial will show you how to prevent some users from being able to request courses.

This tutorial works with Moodle 2.0.x, Moodle 2.1.x, Moodle 2.2.x

Step 1 – Login as an administrator


You know you are logged in as an administrator as the ‘Site administration’ link is availble in the ‘Settings’ block. It is a good idea to have separate accounts for teaching & administration purposes.

Step 2 – Settings > Users > Permissions > Define roles


Find the ‘Authenticated user’ role. To be safe, you could duplicate this role so that you do not lose any ‘core’ settings. I must warn you that you might mess things up a little so you might want to duplicate, just to be on the safe side. You have been warned!

Step 3 – Modify the ‘Authenticated users’ role


Moodle comes with a pre-defined set of actions that certain users can perform. This is the place where you can modify the actions users can perform. Admins are allowed to do everything, teachers a little less, students a little less and ‘authenticated users’ even less. What is funny about this system is the precedence. For example, if an authenticated user is allowed to ‘Request a new course’, then so are students by default, as they take precedence over authenticated users. Confused? Doesn’t matter, just follow the steps below.
Click on ‘Edit’ to be able to modify the presets. If you haven’t yet, please click on ‘Duplicate role’ just to be sure.

Step 4 – Look for the word ‘request’


Using Ctrl F (or Command F on a Mac), find the word ‘request’ on the page. It is somewhere near the top of the page

Step 5 – Untick ‘Allow’


Make sure you untick the ‘Allow’ box for the ‘Request new courses’ capability. As this action is not set for the ‘Student’ role, whatever we have set it to for the ‘Authenticated user’ role will cascade to the student role.

Step 6 – Save changes


Make sure you save the changes and you are good to go. You should login as a student just to make sure that it works as expected (there might be some roles in your system that you have forgotten about and that interfere with this).


Course request for Moodle

Moodle for admins

Teachers often need new courses, may it be at the beginning of the academic year or new semester/term. It is therefore very important that they can request courses as easily as possible, Moodle allows users to request courses but this setting is not enabled by default. This tutorial will show you how to enable this service in 2 simple steps.

This tutorial works for Moodle 2.0.x, Moodle 2.1.x, Moodle 2.2.x

Step 1 – Login as an administrator


You know you are logged in as an administrator as the ‘Site administration’ link is availble in the ‘Settings’ block. It is a good idea to have separate accounts for teaching & administration purposes.

Step 2 – Settings > Site administration > Courses > Course request


A new dialogue box opens – all of the options are self-explanatory. If you want only teachers to be able to request a course (by default all users can request a course), please view this tutorial.


  • Make a link and make it available somewhere on the homepage. Your link will be something like http://yourmoodle/course/request.php
  • Create an extra category named ‘requested courses’
  • Course request notification emails should be sent to the right people. By default, all administrators will be displayed on this list.

Step 3 – Manage your course requests. Settings > Site administration > Courses > Pending requests


If you have setup the notifications you will receive emails whenever someone requests a course. This is the screen where you can approve or reject courses. I would recommend you to educate your users and be as detailed as possible in their requests, so as to make your life easier – remember that by default every user can request courses, so you might end up with some pretty weird course requests.

Step 4 – Approve


If you approve a course, it will take you straight to the course settings page. This is useful as you will probably have to change the course short name and then add an ID etc.
Once the course has been approved, the person who requested the course will be sent an email.

Step 4′ – Reject


If you decide to reject a request, you will be taken to a screen where you have to send an explanation to the person who requested the course. I find this screen very useful, although I wish there was a third option such as ‘approve conditionally’, this would allow a Moodle administrator to ask for more information to the person who requested the course.
As soon as the course is rejected, the person who requested the course is sent an email.

How do I request for a Moodle course to be created for my class?


Your administrator may not have setup a Moodle course for you, and it is possible that you do not have the ability to create a course by yourself. There are a few things you can do to request for a course to be created.

  • If you work in a small organisation and see the Moodle administrator quite often, just ask him/her face to face – we still like human contact 🙂
  • If you would rather not talk to him/her, then send an email, or leave a note on their desk
  • If all else fails, your Moodle administrator should have setup a course request system – keep reading.

Step 1 – Login to Moodle


This sounds silly but you would be surprised as to how many teachers forget their Moodle credentials (or simply the address and end up on the website).
Your Moodle might look different – if it does, then go to the ‘Stop wasting time’ step below.

Step 2 – Waste some time…


Depending on how your Moodle administrator has setup your Moodle, and whether you already have courses in which you are a teacher, it might take you a while to find the coveted ‘Request a course‘ button. If you are like me and very impatient, then just skip to the ‘Stop wasting time’ step below. If you are brave, then click on every category until you find the ‘Request a course‘ button shown in the next step. More often than not the button will be available under the ‘Miscellaneous’ category.

… to find the button, or…


If your administrator has read this tutorial, then he/she would have created a category with a name that makes sense…
If you are already a teacher in a course, you can visit Navigation > Home > My home and the button will be on that page.

… stop wasting time!


OK so you are impatient – here is what to do; Once logged in, you can simply type the address to the course request page in your web browser. I cannot give you the exact address as I don’t know what your Moodle address is but it will be something like

Step 3 – Request your course


You have found the page, well done! All of the options are fairly straightforward but here is a break down anyway.

  1. Course full name: Check if there are any naming conventions in your school/organisation. Don’t worry too much though, the administrator will be able to override this setting later.
  2. Course short name: again, check for any naming conventions.
  3. Summary: you don’t have to fill this one in, but you must know that users will be able to see that so a good description of your course might come in handy. There is a HTML editor so you could make it look pretty by adding images.
  4. Reasons for wanting this course: Only your administrator (or the person who will accept/reject your course) will be able to view it. I would recommend you to be as detailed as possible here. Some ideas of what you could include are: start/end date, groups of users who will take part in the course, purpose for the course, etc.

Problem – Course requests have not been enabled


If you get this screen, you will need to ask your administrator to allow course requests, or simply ask him/her for your course. Either way, it looks as though you’re stuck and you’ll need to talk to him/her.

Top 10 Moodle third-party plugins

[pulledquote]The ‘M’ in Moodle stands for ‘Modular’, or the ability for third-party developers to create their own blocks, modules, assignments, question types, etc. Whilst it’s relatively easy to find third-party Moodle plugins using the database on Moodle, I decided to compile my own list of favourites.[/pulledquote]

10. Online Audio Recorder

The Online Audio Recorder is an assignment type that can be used to let your students record audio directly into their web browser. It uses Flash so it won’t work on iPhones or iPads (the iOS app allows students to record in other places). This third-party plugin would be further up in the list if I could get it to work in my current Moodle installation – working on it. I had it working (effortlessly) in the past and it was great. You can read my review of this assignment type here


9. Gmail

The Gmail block is part of a wider Google Apps integration. There are quite a few flavours hanging about but I used the one provided by Catalyst and so far it works great, a bonus is that it will work even if you don’t want to enable Single Sign On. This integration comes with a ‘Google Apps’ block giving you links to Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Docs & Google search page. It also adds a ‘proper’ repository for Google Docs, allowing you to easily share your Google Docs with your students. Only problem is that it’s not super easy to install for lack of instructions – it’s well worth the effort though.


8. Slideshow

The Slideshow module has helped me get teachers who were not so keen on Moodle to actually use it. The idea for this module is simple – you upload a bunch of photos, it resizes them and makes them available in a… slideshow. Although it is simple, it is extremely useful and the possibilities are endless. You can use it to showcase your students’ work if you are an art, DT, drama, any creative subject teacher; You can use it to show steps to complete a particular task (photos come with captions) in science, DT, etc.; You can use it as a social tool, sharing photos of trips, assemblies, sports days, etc. ; Using the power of permissions, make students ‘be the teacher’ for this activity and let them upload their own photos so that you can use it as a dropbox. Those are only some of the things you can do with this great module.


7. Aardvark Postit theme

My focus is on teaching & learning so some of you might be wondering why I am listing a theme as useful third-party ‘plugin’. The reason for me selecting the Aardvark Postit theme is simple – it looks great. If that sounds shallow to you, take a look at the survey I conducted 18 months ago and you’ll find out that students prefer courses that look good. My High School students think it looks great, staff think it looks good (also a big help to get staff to use Moodle), so I’m happy.


6. Open University question types

In the spirit of sharing, the Open University has made available the 15 question types they have created for Moodle 2.1 and newer. Question types include ‘drag n drop into text‘, ‘drag n drop markers‘, ‘drag n drop onto image‘, ‘OU multiple response‘, ‘Pattern match‘. This set of question types adds to the already very capable Moodle standard question types. 


5. Certificate

The certificate module has been around a while but I only started using it when I upgraded our Moodle installation to Moodle 2.x and it was an instant hit. In Moodle 2.x you have the ability to make activities/resources available if certain conditions have been met e.g. little Johnny has completed activity B, he can now ‘see’ activity C; or little Jimmy scored 67% in test A, he can now ‘see’ resource B. This is perfect to only make certificates available to students who have met certain conditions.

The certificate module does one thing – it awards certificates to students who have completed specific activities. I use it to reward students when they finish certain modules and so far they have been very responsive to it. 


4. Quickfind list

Ever needed to email a student? Check extra information about that student? Login as that student? Or do anything that requires you to go to the student’s profile? The Quickfind list block allows you to quickly search for students & get to their profile page. You start typing a student’s name and it starts showing you a list of possible entries – very much like Google instant search; you can then click on the student’s name and it will take you to their profile page. The block can also be setup to show other users than just students.


3. UploadPDF

Providing informative feedback to students when they have completed an assignment is vital for their learning and the UploadPDF assignment type allows you to do just that. Students must first save their work as a PDF before they can upload it to Moodle (hence the name). Once uploaded you will be presented with a marking interface with pre-defined settings (ticks, crosses, smiley face, etc.) that allow you to mark your papers quickly. You also have the ability to write comments, and even better ‘save’ your most used comments and make them appear in a drop-down box for easy & quick marking. This will save you HOURS in marking time.


2. Checklist

I cannot imagine (teaching) life without the checklist module. I teach MYP technology and my students need to produce a very long document for each unit of work they complete. Although I make detailed level descriptors available for each unit, students still find it difficult to remember/understand all of what is required in the documents. This module is a life saver – it will allow you to create checklists for students to use and will allow you to view your entire class at a quick glance & see their progress. Check out my (very old) review for this great plugin – the module has been updated since and some features have been added.


1. Drag’n’drop upload

The drag’n’ drop upload block has helped me so much it deserves first place. I recently had to re-introduce Moodle to the near 100 staff at my new school. Moodle had somewhat of a negative image in the school and I actually heard a ‘wow’ in the crowd when I showed how easy it has become to make files available in Moodle thanks to this block. You’ll have guessed with the name, the drag’n’drop upload block will allow your users to drag files onto Moodle, and it will upload them at once (yes, that is files – plural). Check out my recent review for this great block.


How about you?

Davo Smith has snatched first, second and third place! That’s quite impressive considering I am a big consumer of third-party plugins; I reckon I’ve tried all the plugins in the Moodle database. What are your favourite third-party Moodle plugins? Please drop a comment with your favourites and why they are your favourites. Please try and give links so that we can download and try your gems.