Sunday, August 14, 2011

Refreshing Moodle for new school year

    School starts soon, so I am resetting my Moodle courses so that they are ready for my new students.  I don’t want this year’s students to see last year’s students’ discussion forum posts, for example.  

    Moodle has a nice feature called Reset that takes care of this.  Per Moodle docs, reset “allows you to empty a course of user data, while retaining the activities and other settings.”   (I'm using Moodle 1.9, but the directions seem to be the same for Moodle 2.0.)

    First, make a backup of your course.  Don’t skip this step.  Example: having the backup turned out to be useful for me, first, because I thought I might want to reset the course differently.  Later, I wanted to get content from forums that had been deleted by the reset. Having the backup made these options possible.

    Then, in the Administration block, click on Reset.  You’ll then be given a dialog with lots of possibilities to choose to reset. 

    You can reset events (in the calendar).  I just added calendar events for the new school year, so I don’t want to reset events. You can also reset  logs (student activity) and notes (about students – but if you have the students more than one year, you might want to keep the notes).  Under Roles, you can unenroll specific roles – like students; if you have a whole new crop of students for this course, you want to unenroll last year’s students.  Your students aren’t deleted from the Moodle, just from the course you are resetting.

    You can reset grades and grade settings; you definitely want to reset grades to remove last year’s grades.   You can reset groups; each year I use groups differently, so resetting groups makes sense.  You can reset assignment submissions so last year’s submissions are deleted, and reset chats so last year’s chats are deleted.

    You can also reset forum posts.  Even if you’ve unenrolled the students, their posts will still be there if you don’t reset forum posts, so you want to reset – and thus clear – the forum posts.  This ends up making extra work for me, since I use separate threads for vocabulary words within a discussion forum about a vocabulary unit.  I’ll have to add these threads again.  But removing individual forum posts would take longer than forever (for each post: delete…are you sure?... wait for it to happen…), so resetting forum posts makes sense. 

    At the end of your selections, you click on Reset.  Then go into the class to check Participants, Forum posts, and so on, to be sure all that you wanted removed was removed. I'm using this opportunity to change things, like switching the type of forum I'm using.

    I’ve never used Reset before, because in the past I made such major changes in my courses, I wanted to start from scratch (and also compare one year’s work with the next).  I’m at the stage now where I want to tweak, so Reset makes a lot of sense.

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