Category Archives: Building and Managing Courses

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.

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).


How to Use Course Merge Helper in Moodle

Please note: To use the Course Merge Helper feature in Moodle, you must have the role of Teacher in each course you would like to include in the merged course. If you do not have a Teacher role, you can ask another Teacher in the course to give you that role, or EAST can merge your courses for you (please fill out this form to request).

  1. On your Moodle dashboard, click on one of the courses you would like to merge.
  2. Once in the course, click Course settings at the top right (gear icon). At the bottom of the menu, click on “Create merged course shell.”
  3. In the box that says “Courses to merge,” start typing the name of the course (i.e. CHEM B200.001) and you should see courses in which you are a Teacher appear. Select the course you would like to merge, and it should then show up in blue above.
  4. To add another course, in that same box, search for the next course (i.e. CHEM B200.002). Select that, and you will see both courses in blue above the box.
  5. In the “Course full name” box, type or paste the merged course name (i.e. Organic Chemistry I Merged).
  6. In the “Course short name” box, type or paste the course short name in the following format: bmc.chem.b200.merged.f20 (or for Lab sections: bmc.chem.b200.labmerged.f20).
  7. Once you have entered that information, you do not need to change any settings below the course short name. Hit the Create button at the bottom.
  8. You should be taken out to the shell for your new merged course with the title you gave it. The original course shells will now be hidden and students will only see the merged course on their Moodle dashboard.
  9. To add a Panopto block to your merged course, please follow the directions Adding a Panopto Block to a Moodle Course. You can also contact if you need assistance with adding Panopto videos to a merged course.

Bulk Edit Course Activity Dates in Moodle

Moodle’s Dates Report lists all course items with date settings on a single page, where you can adjust start dates, due dates and activity completion dates. This can be very helpful if you are reusing material from a previous semester in a new course.

To open the Dates Report:

  1. Click (Actions menu) and choose More … to open the Course administration page.
  2. Click Reports.
  3. Click Dates.

The Dates Report lists all of course items with date settings:

  • It is divided into sections, with a “Course” section containing the course start and end dates, followed by each section in your course.
  • Expand a section to change the dates of all activities and resources in that section.
  • Click Expand all in the upper right to open all sections.
  • You can use Activity type menu in the top left filter for a particular kind of activity, such as Forums.

Adjust dates as needed, clicking Save Changes as you go.

Schedule Appointments using Moodle

A helpful tool to schedule online or in-person office hours and other appointments within a Moodle course is the Moodle scheduler.* All teachers can add a scheduler to their course by following the steps below:

Note: It is also possible to schedule Zoom meetings on Moodle when using the Zoom Moodle activity. Learn how to add Zoom meetings to Moodle here. 

  1. Turn editing on in your course (use the button located at the top right of your course’s main page).
  2. Click +Add an activity or resource.
  3. In the box that appears, choose Scheduler and then click the Add button.
  4. A page called Adding a new Scheduler will appear. On this page, type in the name of the scheduler, You’ll be able to change this name later on, if needed.
  5. On this page, you will also be able to adjust certain settings of your scheduler, including the duration of each appointment, how many appointments students can schedule, and whether you would like scheduling to be available for pre-determined groups.
  6. To allow students to submit a message to you when scheduling an appointment, go to Booking form and student-supplied data. Here, you can also allow students to submit documents.
  7. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage and click Save and display.
  8. You will see a webpage with the name of your scheduler at the top. On this new page, click Add slots.
  9. A drop-down menu will appear that allows you to add repeated slots or add a single slot. Click on the link to add repeated slots, which are the most frequent option when creating a scheduler.
  10. After you have added all desired slots, close out of the scheduler and save your settings, by clicking Save and return to course.


New: Collapsible Topics in Moodle

In previous versions of Moodle, course content for all week or topic sections had to be displayed on the main page of the course. For large sites, this resulted in a “scroll of death” to get to sections and resources at the end. The new Collapsible Topics format helps by making all sections (except section ‘0’ at the top of your page) collapsible links, that viewers can expand to see content.

To change your course to the Collapsible Topics format:

  1. Open your course, click the gear icon in the top right, and choose Edit Settings.
  2. Scroll down and click Course Format to expand that section.
  3. From the Format drop-down menu, select Collapsed Topics.
  4. You can (optionally) use the settings below this menu to customize the look and behavior of the collapsed topics menu, for example:
    • Icon position (left, right)
    • Icon set (arrow, folder, etc.)
    • Whether to show the section summary when collapsed
    • Instructions for using collapsed topics
  5. Click Save and Return to Course to view your changes.
  6. The top section of the course should now be followed by a collapsed list of the remaining sections, as shown below. The exact look of the list will depend on your settings choices.

Known Issue

There have been very alarming cases in which Teachers have returned to a Moodle course with a Collapsible Topics format and find a significant chunk of content missing.

  • Instead, the number of course sections was reset to fewer than the actual number in the course, and the remaining sections were hidden from both students and teachers.
  • The workaround is to change the Course Format to Topics, save, and then change it back to Collapsible Topics.

Create Checklists for Students on Moodle

The Checklist activity on Moodle allows a teacher to create a checklist, to-do list or task list for students to work through. The teacher can monitor each student’s progress as students tick off each of the items in the list.

Checklists can be helpful for students navigating course content independently or in a self-paced way. They can help teachers keep track of the work students have completed, and can also help students track their own progress within a course.

Features of the Checklist include:

  • Choosing whether students or teachers can check-off items
  • Students can add their own notes to their checklist
  • Dates can be added to items (and exported to the calendar)
  • Teachers can comment on an individual student’s items
  • Progress can be exported to the gradebook
  • Teachers can choose colors for each checklist item

To create a Checklist:

  1. On your Moodle course, Turn Editing On and navigate to the section of the course where you wish to add the checklist.
  2. Click on +Add activity or resource. From the list of activities, select Checklist and then click on Add.
  3. Give your checklist a title and a description (optional).
  4. Select the settings for your checklist. You may allow students to add their own items and update the checklist, enable comments by teachers, and add checklist due dates to your Moodle calendar.
  5. Save your checklist and return to your course’s main page.

Adding Checklist items:

  1. Click on the title of your checklist. This will take you to the checklist preview.
  2. Use the first box allows to type in the text for any one item in the checklist.
  3. Use the second box to include a URL to which the text will link students (this second box is optional).
  4. To add a date to the checklist item click on Edit Dates and select the desired date.
  5. Click Add to finish adding an item
  6. Follow the same steps for every item you wish to add to this activity.

Editing item settings:

  1. From your Moodle course page, click on the title of your checklist.
  2. Use the menu appearing directly above each item. Here, you can choose the color of the checklist item, access item settings via the gear icon, or delete an item using the delete icon.
  3. Use the tabs near the top of the page (View checklist, View progress, and Edit checklist) to navigate through your checklist.
  • View checklist will allow you to see how the checklist will be displayed to users
  • View progress will show you the progress each student has made on this checklist
  • Edit checklist will bring you back to your checklist item setup options

Changes to the checklist will be made when you save each item using the Add button. To exit the checklist editor, simply navigate back to your main page.