Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bulk enrolling Moodle users

It used to take me hours and hours to bulk upload my users and set up groups.  This year, it took less than an hour, even though I’ve expanded from 8th grade to include 7th grade students.  Having done it already made it go so much faster this time.  It does get easier!

I create a spreadsheet with the necessary fields (first name, last name, user name, password, email (I use a dummy email).  I use the CONCATENANTE command in Excel to link the first and last names together to make the user name.  This is also the same user name students use to login to school computers, so students have one less thing to remember. 
   “What’s my user name again?”  
   “Same as your login.”  
   “Oh, yeah!”

I start everyone with the same password, because they are all opening their accounts at the same time in the computer lab in front of me and must change to a new password at that time.  If a student is absent, I change their password.  If my students were working remotely, I would give each a unique password.

The host of my Moodle, Global Classroom, lets me use a dummy email, none@local, since many younger students don’t have personal emails.  (Students can add their actual emails later.)

It’s easy enough to type in first and last names for each student.  In the first record I use CONCATENATE to create the user name, then enter the password and fake email (see sample).  Then I just copy the rest of the information down the spreadsheet. 

After that, I save as a CSV file and upload; each Moodle installation seems to be a little different when it comes to uploading, so ask your Moodle administrator/host or use a little trial and error.  Also check out

While many Moodle books and Moodle Docs will recommend that you have students enroll themselves in your courses, I don’t do that. 

Why?  Because I work with young adolescents who are absolutely stellar in their ability to ignore directions, plunge ahead, and then need individual assistance when they get derailed.  It’s a lot easier to bulk upload students than to spend a frustrating period or three just getting kids enrolled.  And then there is at least one wise guy in every class who deliberately “doesn’t get it” just to jerk the teacher’s chain. My job is to help kids who need help, but I do object to kids who play dumb as a deliberate game, and yes, I do have a few of those. 

Bulk enrolling students minimizes time spent getting kids started, so we get to the good stuff! 

More on what this looks like in class next time.