Category Archives: Moodle

Accessibility Block in Moodle

The Accessibility Block allows you to customize the font size and color scheme of Moodle pages to better meet your accessibility needs.


screen shot of accessibility block

Hover your cursor over the buttons for an pop-up label of what each does.

  • Buttons in the top row increase and decrease the font size. If you change the font settings, the Reset Font Size button becomes active; click to reset to the site’s default font size.
  • Buttons in the bottom row change the color scheme to lower contrast or dark (high contrast) modes. If you change the color settings, the button to reset to the Default Color Scheme (black text on white background) becomes active.
  • If you want to keep the font size and color scheme changes you’ve made for the next time you open Moodle, click the Save Settings button.

The Launch ATbar buttons opens an Assistive Technology toolbar developed by the Mada Center which includes additional style customization options and assistive technologies like a text-to-speech reader.

  • Click (Help and Instructions) on the right end of the toolbar for details on the different features.
  • By default the toolbar disappears when you open a new Moodle page, check the (always?) box next Launch ATbar to automatically relaunch it instead.
  • Note that any style and color change will be reset when the tool relaunches however; if you need them to persist consider downloading Mada’s Chrome browser extension, which can apply style settings persistently across all webpages you visit.
  • We also recommend checking out the Read and Write Chrome extension, which has more robust text-to-speech and text prediction functionality and additional accessibility features like screen masking.

Convert Documents with the Sensus Access Activity in a Moodle Course

The Sensus Access activity enables Moodle course participants to upload documents directly from the course into Sensus Access for conversion to file formats that meet their accessibility needs. (If you have a email address, you can also use Sensus Access outside of Moodle; see Convert Documents to More Accessible Formats with Sensus Access.)

Before you begin:

  1. Click on the  Sensus Access Document Converter activity.
  2. Click the File Selection drop-down menu and choose a file from the list.
Note: This menu should list all course documents that Sensus Access can convert, including those attached to forum posts or assignments. If you aren’t seeing the file you want, however, you can save or download it from Moodle to your computer and follow Convert Documents instructions to manually upload it to Sensus Access instead. Check the input file types listed in that guide to see if your document’s type is listed; if not, you will need to convert the file to a type that is listed before uploading it. If you need help, please contact the Help Desk (7440,
  1. Under Requested Conversion, click the target format for this document (not all will be available for every type of file):
    • Accessibility conversion — converts image files or image-only PDFs into files with screen-readable text
    • MP3 — uses text-to-speech software to create an audio file of text in a document
    • E-book — reflowable-text (with or without synchronized audio) formats used by e-book reader devices and software, e.g., Kindle, Nook, Apple Books, Kobo, Bluefire, etc.
    • DAISY — creates a Daisy talking book file; note that fewer languages are supported than for other conversions
    • Braille
  2. Depending on the format you chose, you may prompted to set Conversion Parameters:
    • Accessibility conversion parameters
      • Target format: Select a file format for the converted file. If you are uncertain, choose TXT file if you do not need to preserve any visual formatting and a PDF, RTF or DOC if you do.
    • MP3 parameters
      • Language: Select the language the file is written in. For some languages, you may also have a choice of recording voices.
      • Speed: Choose the speed at which you would like the text read.
    • E-book parameters
      • Format: Choose MOBI if you will read the e-book on a Kindle or Kindle app; otherwise choose EPUB3 with media overlay (for a e-book with a synchronized text-to-speech audio recording), EPUB3 (no audio) or EPUB (for very old devices)
      • Base font size: Set a default font size
    • Braille parameters — see the Producing Braille with SensusAccess guide for information.
  3. Under Delivery method, choose Campus email (recommended) or Download. 
We STRONGLY recommend having files delivered to your campus email! The conversion and download process can take awhile, especially for long documents and/or more complex conversions. If a download hangs or never completes, repeat the steps above using the campus email option.

Add the Sensus Access Document Converter to a Moodle Course

The Moodle Sensus Access Document Converter activity makes it easier for course participants to convert course documents (including files attached to forum posts and assignments) into the alternative file formats that work with their assistive technology devices.

Before you begin:

  • You must have a Teacher role in the Moodle course to add activities.

  1. Log on to Moodle and open the course.
  2. Click Turn editing on if it isn’t already on.

Turn Editing On

  1. Navigate to the section where you want to put the activity — we recommend either the top (General) section or the section that contains your course readings if you use a single section for this.
  2. Click +Add an Activity or Resource.
  3. Click the Sensus Access Document Converter activity.

  1. Type “Sensus Access Document Converter” in the Activity name box, then scroll down and click Save and return to course.

See Convert Documents with the Sensus Access Activity in a Moodle Course for instructions for course participants on how to use this activity to convert documents.

Restore Recently Deleted Activities from the Moodle Recycle Bin

As a Teacher in a Moodle course, you can restore activities (including assignments, files, and quizzes) that have been deleted from your Moodle course within the last 14 days through the Recycle Bin feature.

  1. Once in your course, click Course settings at the top right (gear icon). At the bottom of the menu, click on “Recycle Bin.”

Moodle course settings menu, with "Recycle Bin" highlighted

2. This will bring you to the Recycle Bin page, which shows you all activities that have been deleted within the last 14 days. Note: Any activities in the Recycle Bin will be permanently deleted after 14 days.

List of recently deleted files in the Moodle Recycle Bin

Note: It may take a few minutes for an activity to appear in the Recycle Bin after being deleted.

3. To add a deleted activity back to your course page, click the arrow icon in the Restore button next to the activity name.

4. You can manually delete the activity permanently by clicking the trash can icon. You can also click “Delete all” at the bottom of the box to remove all activities in the recycle bin.

Collecting Audiovisual Assignments using Panopto

There are a few different methods for students to upload audio/video files to Panopto to submit a class assignment or project:

  1. Using Panopto’s Assignment Folder
  2. Giving Students Creator Access to a Panopto Course Folder
  3. Using a Moodle Assignment for Students to Link to their Panopto File

Below, we will outline these different processes as well as the pros and cons as to choosing one method over another.

1. Using Panopto’s Assignment Folder

(Prefer video? Panopto has one on this topic)

An Assignment folder is a special sub-folder of a shared folder that gives Viewers permission to create and upload recordings. The Panopto Assignment Folder gives instructors an easy way for students to submit or share audio and video recordings for a course. These can be edited, polished podcasts or videos that they create with other tools and upload to Panopto or video or audio presentations they record with Panopto itself.

You can only have one Assignment folder active at a time. If your course includes multiple audiovisual assignments, you can EITHER

  • Create a single Assignments folder and instruct students on how to name their recordings so you know which assignment they belong to
  • Close each assignment folder when students no longer need to submit or see videos and create a new one for the next assignment.
Setting Up an Assignment Folder
  1. Log in to Panopto
  2. Find your course folder and click the gear (Settings) button.
  3. On the Overview page, click Create Assignment folder.

  1. By default, the Assignment folder is titled with the Folder name and [assignments] as shown below; click on this name to edit the folder.

  1. To rename the folder, click Overview and type a new name in the Title field. You can also add a description with a recap of the assignment instructions, deadline information, etc.

    1. If you want students to be able to view each other’s videos, click Settings and check the Allow viewers to see each other’s sessions box. If you don’t want students comment on each other’s videos within Panopto, check Disable comments on all sessions in this folder.

Submitting and Viewing Recordings

Students can submit to recordings to this assignment folder by choosing it as the destination when they upload or create a video. For example, to record a video using Panopto Create (the browser-based recorder that doesn’t require you to download software) a student would:

  1. Log into Panopto.
  2. Click Create and choose an option. In this case, I’m choosing Panopto Capture, but I could also choose Record a new session to record from the desktop or Upload media to upload a video or audio file.

  1. To make sure the video goes to the right place, select the appropriate assignments folder for the location to save or upload it.

Teachers and students can view student submissions by browsing to the assignment folder within the course folder on Panopto, and starting the videos as they would normally.

Closing an Assignment Folder

When you are ready to stop collecting and viewing submissions:

  1. Navigate to the assignment folder and click the gear icon.
  2.  On the Overview tab, under Assignment folder, click Close.

Once you’ve closed an Assignment folder

  • Teachers/Creators will still be able to open it and view the videos, but Students/Viewers will no longer be able to submit or view it.
  • You will have the option to create a new Assignment folder.
Pros and Cons of this Method
  • Pros: Makes it easy for students to upload work for stand-alone assignments or projects. It can be set so that students can see/comment on each other’s work.
  • Cons: Only one assignment folder can be open at a time. The instructor must close one assignment folder in order to open another. Students lose access to the folder contents once an assignment folder is closed (instructor does not lose access to student submissions).

2. Giving Students Creator Access to a Panopto Course Folder

Anyone with a Teacher role in Moodle can give students Creator access to a Panopto course folder so that students are able to directly upload video/audio content into the Panopto folder for that course.

Giving Students Creator Access via the Panopto Block in Moodle
  1. Turn editing on in the Moodle course
  2. In the Panopto block, click the gear icon (settings) and choose “Configure Panopto block” from the dropdown
    Configure Panopto Block
  3. Under “Change Panopto role mappings,” in the block next to Creator, press Ctrl to select more than one option, and select Registered student

    Change Panopto Role Mappings
    4. Click the Save changes button at the bottom of the screen

Students enrolled in the Moodle course should see the Panopto course folder when they log into Panopto and can upload video directly to it, or to subfolders within the course folder.

Pros and Cons of this Method
  • Pros: Makes it easy for students to upload directly to the course folder and any subfolders that the instructor creates for different projects/assignments throughout the semester. Folders also remain accessible while students still have access to the Moodle course.
  • Cons: Students will be able to see each other’s videos and will continue to have upload access to the course folder as long as they have access to the course in Moodle (instructor may want to change Creator rights to Viewer rights when the semester is over to prevent accidental uploads).

3. Using a Moodle Assignment for Students to Link to their Panopto File

As a Teacher, you can create an Assignment in Moodle where students can paste a link to their Panopto video. This avoids them having to upload the video to the Panopto course folder or to Moodle itself, as video uploads take up much storage space on Moodle. Students use the online text option in a Moodle assignment to paste a link to a Panopto video that they’ve added to their My Folder in Panopto.

Giving students access to link a Panopto file in a Moodle Assignment:
  1. Create an Assignment in Moodle (see Creating and Managing Assignments in Moodle)
  2. Under Submission Types, make sure “Online text” is selected. Deselect “File submissions” (unless you also would like them to submit a corresponding document (i.e. PDF, Word Doc) with this assignment. If that is the case, you can leave both boxes checked off.).
    Online Text
  3. When students submit their assignment, they will copy the Share link to their video/audio file in Panopto and paste it into the textbox in the Moodle assignment (see Sharing Recordings in Panopto).
  4. When the Teacher grades the assignment, they should be able to click on or copy/paste the link that the student provided, and this will take them to Panopto to view the video.Grading Assignment
Pros and Cons of this Method
  • Pros: Only the student submitting and the instructor will be able to view the video
  • Cons: The video will remain in the student’s personal folder and not in the course folder, unless it is requested to be moved by a Panopto admin.


Piazza is a standalone discussion board or “Q and A” platform, with free, ad-supported and paid, ad-free license tiers. At faculty request, Bryn Mawr College is piloting an ad-free site license for Piazza for the 2021-2022 academic year. We will ask instructors and students who use this license to help us evaluate it in order to determine whether the College should permanently subscribe.

IMPORTANT: Unlike Moodle, which the College hosts internally on its own servers, Piazza is a third-party platform that Piazza maintains on servers they control. Use of Piazza is subject to their terms of service and privacy policy. Be sure you understand and are comfortable how they use your and your students content and data before using the service.

Before you Start, You Need:

  • A Piazza instructor account to create classes in Piazza.
    • Instructors who create their account with a Bryn Mawr email address should be added to the College’s Piazza license automatically.
    • Instructors who have a Piazza license connected to a different email address can add individual Piazza classes to our license instead; email for the necessary code.
  • A Teacher role in a Moodle course to set up a link between a Piazza class and a Moodle courses

Connecting Piazza to a Moodle Course

You can use the College’s Piazza license without connecting it to Moodle, but adding an LTI connection can make it easier for instructors and students to find and enter the right Piazza course.

  1. Log in to Moodle and browse to your course.
  2. Click Turn editing on.
  3. Click +Add an activity or resource.
  1. Select External tool from the Activities menu.
  1. Under General tab, give enter an Activity name, select Piazza from the Preconfigured tool menu, then click Save and Display.
  1. Use the link you just created to log into Piazza. You will land on a Piazza Setup page; check that your email is correct and click Continue.
  1. If needed, Piazza will email a verification code to that email address; when you receive the code, paste it into the box provided and click Confirm.
  2. Once you’ve confirmed your email address, you will be able to either:
    • Create a new Piazza class for this Moodle course by entering the Class Name, Class Number, Estimated Enrollment, and Term and clicking Create New Piazza Class, OR
    • Search for a Piazza class you already created by and attach it to the Moodle course.

Next Steps …

Accessibility File Scan in Moodle

The Moodle Accessibility FileScan tool checks and reports on the accessibility of PDF files added to a Moodle course. (Student Assignment submissions and PDFs provided as Feedback to individual students are excluded from the scan.)

Table of Contents


File Scan Summary Block

The File Scan Summary block on the course page summarizes the results.

Screen shot of FileScan summary block

Accessible — how many PDFs passed all accessibility tests.

Inaccessible – how many files lack searchable, text-to-speech readable text.

Partially accessible – how many files have searchable text, but lack one or more of the other key accessibility features.

File error — how many files the tool could not scan (e.g., due to password-protection or corruption).

Click View File Details for a list of PDF files found in the course and information about what accessibility issues are reported.


Fixing Inaccessible and Partially Accessible PDFs

Files that are inaccessible or partially accessible need to be fixed and replaced.

  1. Click View File Details to find out which files are inaccessible or partially accessible.
  2. You can fix most PDFs using Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard.  Adobe Acrobat is part of Adobe Creative Cloud and available on all college-owned computers. Faculty and staff can also install copies on personal devices.
  3. However:
    • If the PDF is a copy of a file you created in another program (e.g., Microsoft Word), it is usually faster to make that original document accessible, and then re-save as a PDF. See Create Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word and Create Accessible Slides in PowerPoint, for info on making files accessible in these programs.
    • If the PDF is an old scan or download of a print journal article, check whether a newer, accessible version is available in repositories like JSTOR or ProQuest. Most have been working to improve the accessibility of their holdings over the past few years.
  4. Once you have an accessible version, delete the files in Moodle and replace them with the fixed copies.

Time-saving tips:

  • Also replace any copies you store outside Moodle with the accessible versions as well, so you have them to use in future courses.
  • Consider adding an abbreviation to the filenames (such as “_av”, “access”, “_rev” etc.) of PDFs you’ve fixed so you can easily identify them.
  • Bibliographic tools can make it easier to organize and manage PDF libraries. Some, like Zotero, enable people to group libraries, which can be an easy way for departments or disciplinary colleagues to share accessible PDFs of commonly taught texts.
  • Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will apply OCR to file that lack text, but it will have difficulty with scans that are highly skewed, made from poor photocopies, blurry, shadowed, obscured, underlined or annotated. Finding and rescanning a clean, unmarked original is usually much faster than trying to fix the OCR errors in a bad scan.


File Details Explained

The detail report indicates when each file was scanned and which accessibility tests it passed or failed using the following icons:

(green check mark) — passed

(red X) – failed

(blue question mark) — file has not yet been scanned or an error is preventing it from being scanned (e.g., it could be corrupted or password-protected).


This column indicates the document’s overall accessibility. Files with a (green check mark) passed all accessibility tests, files with a (orange exclamation mark) or (red X) did not and need to be fixed.


A PDF will fail this test if it lacks text. Documents that fail are typically scans of print documents. Scanners only create an image of a page; OCR (optical character recognition) software must convert the pixels within that image into text that can be searched, highlighted, and read by screen readers, text-to-speech software, and other assistive technologies. Because text is fundamental for accessibility, documents without text are flagged as completely inaccessible.


A PDF will fail this test if the title field is blank or missing from the descriptive metadata — or data about the file — that is stored with it. The title of the document is different from the file name and is used by screen readers to identify documents and windows. A clear and accurate title helps screen-reader users identify which document they are reading and navigate between windows.

  • Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will prompt you to add a title to the metadata.
  • You can also edit the Title on the Description tab of the Document Properties window (click File, Properties …, then Description).


A PDF will fail this test if the language field is blank or missing from the descriptive metadata for the file. Screen reader software and other assistive technologies need language metadata to ensure proper text-to-speech recognition and pronunciation.

  • Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will prompt you to specify the language of your document
  • You can also edit the language on Advanced tab Document Properties window (click File, Properties …, then Advanced).


A PDF will fail this test if the document has not been “tagged” with structural information about headings and sections. These tags ensure screen readers read text in the proper order and helps all readers navigate within a document.

  • If you created your document in a program like Word, and used built-in heading styles to add information about the structure of the document, these will be converted to the appropriate tags when you save as a PDF. See Create Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word.
  • If the PDF does not already have tags, Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will attempt to “autotag” it. You will need to check this auto-tagging as the final step and fix any errors.

Add the NameCoach Activity to Your Moodle Course

The NameCoach activity allows participants in a course to record the pronunciation of their name for other participants to hear, helping both teachers and students learn each other’s names quickly.

Add the NameCoach Activity to a Course

You must have a Teacher role to set up the NameCoach activity. 

  1. Log into your course and Turn Editing On if it isn’t already.  Turn Editing On
  2. Click + Add an activity or resource where you want to place the NameCoach activity (we suggest the top section). Section of a Moodle page with a red box around the "+ Add an activity or resource" link
  3. Click NameCoach (you may have to scroll down to the bottom of the list).
  4. Give the activity a name (e.g., “Record your name”) and click Save and return to course.A section of a Moodle page with an activity labeled "Record your name"

NameBadge tool

Prefer video? Click here for a demonstration of how to record your name and include it in your email signature.

In addition to the NameCoach activity for Moodle course pages, NameCoach also provides the free NameBadge tool, which allows users to embed a recording of their name in their email signature. This help article from NameCoach support provides instructions for creating your own NameBadge (Mac users using the Apple Mail application – see this article for additional support).


Record Your Name in a Moodle NameCoach Activity

The NameCoach activity allows participants in a course to record the pronunciation of their name for other participants to hear, helping both teachers and students learn each other’s names quickly.

Recording your name in NameCoach

  1. Click on the NameCoach activity on the course page (the teacher may have given it a different name, but it should still describe the activity). A section of a Moodle page with an activity labeled "Record your name"
  2. Click the purple “Record Name” button. Purple button labeled "Record Name"
  3. You will have three options to record your name: Phone, Web Recorder, or Uploader
    1. Phone: enter your phone number and the NameCoach system will send you an automatic call prompting you to say your name for recording – this option functions much like recording a voicemail message.
    2. Web Recorder: Click the “Record” button – you will be given a countdown before the recording begins – say your name, and then press the “stop” button.
    3. Uploader: You can upload an audio file made in a separate recording program, but please be advised that the maximum file size is only 150KB, so we suggest uploading only .MP3 files, not .WAV files.
  4. Click the “Submit and Call Me” or “Submit and Finish” button (depending on which recording method you chose) to save your recording.
  5. Once you have saved your recording, you will have the option to edit your recording if you would like to re-try.

If you are having difficulty recording your name, please visit this troubleshooting article from NameCoach support. If you encounter further issues or require assistance, please contact the Help Desk.

NameBadge tool

Prefer video? Click here for a demonstration of how to record your name and include it in your email signature.

In addition to the NameCoach activity for Moodle course pages, NameCoach also provides the free NameBadge tool, which allows users to embed a recording of their name in their email signature. This help article from NameCoach support provides instructions for creating your own NameBadge (Mac users using the Apple Mail application – see this article for additional support).

Hiding Grades from Moodle Gradebook

Hiding a Moodle Assignment column in the gradebook allows you to hide the grade throughout your course page, including when a student looks at their assignment submission. By hiding a grade, you will also hide any feedback comments or files you have added to that grade. However, students will still be able to see the assignment activity link in their grade report.

To hide a grade column from your gradebook:

  1. On your course’s left-side panel, go to Grades.
  2. From the tabs in your Grades page, select View > Grader Report > Setup. The gradebook will open to the Gradebook setup page.
  3. Locate the grade item or category you wish to hide and, under the Actions column, click Edit. From the drop-down menu that appears, select Hide. You will see the grade item turn to a light gray color, indicating that the item is hidden.

When you are ready to show grades to students, simply navigate back to the same page of your gradebook (following step 2, above) and, under the Actions column, select Edit > Show.