setting up a moodle site

aims of the site

This description is about a new installation of the latest moodle (4.2.2) at . The site is going to be aimed at Russian-speaking users interested in methodology for online teaching and helping teachers to use moodle. I want the site to have open access to courses for visitors, although they will need to register to interact with the materials, post to forums, see profiles of other users and suchlike. Registered users should also be able to increase their involvement by getting the right to request courses and see materials that are hidden because they are still in development.

before installing

For reference, I’m going to list the steps in setting up the site here:

  1. in the server add the extension “sodium” in php, this is something to do with passwords and security. Everything else I needed was included by my hosting service by default. The version of php is going to be 8.1


I am not going to cover this here. How you do this will depend on each server. Many hosting plans offer a service that will carry out the installation automatically, such as installatron or softaculous. I think these usually offer the latest official release of the program. There’s an argument that it is preferable to download the latest stable version which is offered prominently on the downloads page.

after installation

(To have a fully functioning site you need to set up a cron job which runs cron.php once a minute. Again the way to do this is going to depend on the characteristics of each server.) 2. install the language pack for Russian, I want that to be the default language of the site. This in in the section general > Language> Language packs, where there is a special installer. 3. in site administration > general > language settings I put the new language as default for the site. 4. I’m starting with the default theme “boost”, but I always find it reassuring to put my little green spiral in place as a “favicon” that’s the little symbol that appears on a browser tab or the favourite links in your browser. You can add this, and bigger versions of your logo for webpages in the “Logos” page at Site Administration > Appearance > Logos.

uploading and restoring courses from old back-ups

  1. Prepare for uploading your backups by doing these two steps: (a) Work in the Site Administration page at courses» Manage courses and categories. It is convenient to create a structure of categories and sub-categories for courses. For example on my site there are going to be three main categories: “pedagogical” (or learning) design, English for academic purposes, and courses for teachers using moodle. (b) install any extra plug-ins that were used to make the courses. In my case this means “Hot Potatoes” for making interactive practice exercises. This should be done before restoring any courses with Hot Pot exercises in them.

  2. uploading courses in the moodle backup format which I had saved from my previous installation. This is done on the “restore course” page in administration. Don’t be confused by the upload courses page, which is for uploading a csv file with names of large numbers of courses. To “restore” a course you need the backup file with mbz extension… which hopefully will contain all of the content for your saved course. I’m uploading to an empty site so my only option is “restore to a new course”. At this point you can choose the category you want the course to appear in, and the start date. Both of these points can easily be changed later.

improvements to the home page

  1. Using the “settings” tab on the front page, I change the way courses are shown. I want a user who is not logged in to see the list of categories and also the site announcements forum. This will change to the “combo list” for users who are logged in.
    This means that a visitor to the site can choose a category that interests them, and then they will go to another page with details of the courses in that category.

With the home page in edit mode a section on the right appears where you can “add a block”. Here I add the “latest announcements forum” which will allow me to put out news in a forum.

To make a “hero” space for general explanations, I choose “add an activity or resource” in the central area and add a “text and media area”.

a special role for members of staff

I usually create single sites that can be used both by students and also as a place for members of staff or collaborators to work on new courses. There is a site role for people who have the right to create new courses: “course creator”. But I think it’s better to have some kind of central oversight over this process, so I like to give staff a right to request a course… and there’s a specific permission to do this as described in the documentation. The documentation states that you need to take away the permission from ordinary “authenticated users”, however I don’t think it’s correct that this permission is given by default…so here is how to achieve step 8:

8. create a “member of staff” role:

a. go to site administration > users > Permissions > Define roles and click on the button “add a new role”.
b. choose “authenticated user” in the “role or archetype” box.
c. give a name to the role…in my case it’s going to be “научный сотрудник”, the short name has to be in Latin letters so make it: naucnyjsotrudnik
d. edit the role by adding these permissions:


giving maximum access to the site and to courses

I want visitors to the site to see as much as possible of the materials without having to register. However, I also want to encourage a deeper engagement, so there should be a possibility to self-authenticate in the site using email. This will be allowed with a “captcha” to cut down on spam:

  1. open the site to search. In general>site security settings> I flag yes to “open the site to search”

follow the instructions to enable guest access.

  1. visitors to the site will be able to authenticate themselves using email. There are good instructions for this in the moodle documents. The Captcha system I am using is v2 invisible available from google here:

Once users are authenticated in the course they will be able to enrol as students in courses. This allows them to participate in activities and get grades etc… So for each course in participants > enrolment methods I open the “guest access” and the “Self enrolment (student)” options.

security and data

In site admin > users / privacy and policies – change the policy handler from the default (core) to Policies (tool policy). After you have saved the change, a new section appears called “manage policies”. I’m also adding an age requirement in the “privacy settings”. Fill in the data registry at Site administration > Users > Privacy and policies > Data registry