Search Google Appliance

Information Technology

Moodle F.A.Q. for Instructors

I am having trouble logging into Moodle.  What should I do?

  1. Anyone with an active IT Account should be able to log into Moodle. Make sure you are using the correct NetID (IT Account user name) and password.
  2. Make sure the computer you are using meets IT's Recommended and Minimum Computer Configurations (Windows) (Macintosh)
  3. Make sure you don’t have any viruses or malware (a.k.a. spyware and/or adware) on your computer. To learn more about malware, visit our Security Center.
  4. If you have a firewall enabled (or you are not sure whether you do or not), ask your IT administrator or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) how to set it up so you can access Moodle.

If these steps do not resolve your problems, instructors and TAs can contact the Instructional Media Lab at or 545-2823. (Students should contact the IT Help Center: A109 LGRC, 413-545-9400.)

I can log in to Moodle, but why I don't see my course listed under My Courses?

  • You must request a new Moodle course every semester you wish to teach a class using Moodle. For more, see Request Your Moodle Course - Overview.
  • Make sure you are trying to log in to the correct learning management system. UMass Amherst instructors and students may have courses in more than one system:
    •  Moodle - the current system for on-campus courses
    •  UMassOnline - the system for fully online courses offered by Continuing & Professional Education.
    Visit our Learning Management page and follow the link to the appropriate system.
  • At the beginning of the semester before courses are open to students, click Show hidden courses (at bottom of My Courses block) to access unreleased courses. For details, see Working in a Moodle Course that is Hidden from Students.

How do I get a course in Moodle?

Primary Instructors can request a Moodle course in SPIRE. The request form must be filled out each semester you wish to use Moodle for a class.

After you submit the form, Academic Computing will process your request and inform you via email when your course is created. Because this is a manual process (your course is not automatically created when you submit the form), it may take a day or so before your course is ready. Please plan accordingly.

Some things to keep in mind when requesting a Moodle course:

  • Only Primary Instructors may request Moodle courses. If you are not a Primary Instructor for a course, the course will not appear on your list of Moodle-eligible classes in SPIRE.
  • The Moodle course request form gives you the option to combine multiple sections into one Moodle course, or ask for a single-section Moodle course.
  • Moodle course request generally opens at the start of the pre-registration period (midway through the previous semester) and remains open until the close of the semester taught.

How long will my course remain on Moodle?

Courses are deleted from Moodle 18 months after the close of the semester taught to make room for future courses. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to maintain long-term storage of Moodle courses due to limited physical space and resources. This allows ample time for students to resolve incompletes and for faculty to make their own archives of course work for future reference.

Moodle courses are automatically made available to students 1 business day before the start of the semester and student access is removed two weeks after grades are released.  Instructors can access courses that are unavailable to students by clicking Show hidden courses (at bottom of My Courses block on the Moodle entry page).

How do co-instructors or other instructional staff get access to my course?

  • Graduate and Undergraduate Teaching Assistants must be must be enrolled in SPIRE.  See Access to Moodle for Teaching Assistants.
  • Co-Instructors must be enrolled in the class in SPIRE as a Primary or Secondary Instructors, and instructional staff such as Librarians or other staff who do not have teaching responsibilities but need to coordinate student activities or grade, must be enrolled in SPIRE as Section Assistants.
  • Staff assistants who only need access to build a course, instructors can request Designer Access.

How do students get enrolled in my course on Moodle?

Once a Moodle course has been requested and created, students who are enrolled in the class in SPIRE, including 5 College students, are automatically added to the Moodle roster. Moodle rosters are updated each hour with enrollment data from SPIRE. For more, see Access to Moodle for Students.

When does student access to Moodle courses begin at the start of a semester?

Moodle courses will automatically be released to students one business day prior to the beginning of classes. However, Moodle gives instructors the ability to hide or show their courses outside of the institutional schedule. This can be used by instructors to hide courses that are not ready for use or to open courses prior to the beginning of the semester.

Why is a student who appears on my SPIRE roster unable to access my Moodle course?

There are a few possible situations that could be causing a student who is registered in SPIRE to be unable to access a Moodle course. Some troubleshooting to consider:

  • Make sure the student is logging in to Moodle and not UMassOnline (there are links to all on our Learning Management page).
  • Consider how long ago the student officially registered for the course in SPIRE. Moodle course rosters are updated automatically every hour with student data from SPIRE. There may be up to a 1 hour delay between when a student registers for a course and when that student is enrolled in a Moodle course.
  • The student must have an active IT Account. Students can get help with their NetID and password by coming in person with their student ID card to the IT Help Center (A109 LGRC). Professors should direct student problems to the Help Center.

Do 5-college students have access to Moodle?

To access a Moodle course, 5-college students must:

  • Be registered in SPIRE for the course.
  • Log in to Moodle using their NetID (IT Account user name) and password.

5-college students who are enrolled in a UMass course will be sent a NetID (IT Account user name) and password via email as soon as their enrollment appears in SPIRE. More about IT Accounts.

Can my teaching assistant(s) get access to my Moodle course?

TAs must be listed in SPIRE as a Teaching Assistant or Undergraduate Student Assistant (Student Assistant Moodle Only) in order to have access to the Moodle course for the class.

By default, TAs and Student Assistants automatically receive access to Moodle in the role of Non-Editing Teacher, which allows them to access student resources and activities and read and grade student submissions. If a TA needs to upload materials or add activities to a Moodle course, the instructor can add the Course Designer role for that individual. For more see Access to Moodle for Teaching Assistants.

How do I add an auditor or guest to my Moodle course?

  • An individual who is registered for a class in SPIRE as an Auditor will be automatically enrolled in the Moodle course for that class.
  • For visiting scholars, on-campus guest speakers, student assistants who are not registered in SPIRE, students repeating the online component of a course, or students participating in the course as part of an Independent Study, instructors can request Contributor Access. Contributors must have an IT NetID and are allowed to participate in course activities and interact with students.
  • Instructors can request Temporary Speaker access for guest speakers who do not have an active IT Account. Temporary access is granted for a maximum one (1) week and enables a guest to participate in online discussions or chats.

  • Instructors can enable limited Guest access to their own courses.  Guests have read-only privileges and cannot interact with students or view student contributions to a course. Guests do not need to have an IT NetID.

I have a student who is working on an Incomplete. How can the student get access to my Moodle course?

  • To allow a student to access a Moodle course from a previous semester that is currently unavailable to students, do not reopen the course for all students. Rather, you can give a particular student who had been enrolled in the course a special role, Student - with Incomplete. See Assign Roles to Individuals in your Moodle Course.
  • To enroll a student in a course from the current semester so that the student can participate with the current semester's students, complete the Request Contributor Access form.

I am co-instructing a course, or have a Course Designer in my course.  What happens if we both edit something in Moodle at the same time?

Moodle does not warn users who are both editing the same item—rather, the last person to Save will overwrite the other person's work. We recommend coordinating with your co-instructor or designer to avoid editing items simultaneously. Either plan which activities and resources "belong" to each of you, or e-mail each other when editing.
Note: Exception: In a Wiki activity, only one person at a time can edit a Wiki page.

Why do I (or my students) get an error message when attempting to upload a large file?

Each Moodle course has a course-level upload-limit that the instructor can control in the Course Settings. The default Maximum upload size is 50 MB but you can increase it if needed.  For details, see Important Settings for your your Moodle Course.

In addition, some activities such as Assignments, have an upload-limit determined in the the activity Settings. For example, the default Assignment maximum size of 1 MB is generally adequate for text-based documents, but if students are submitting video or audio files you may need to increase the file size allowed. If your students are experiencing errors when trying to upload files, check to make sure the upload limit is adequate for the type of assignment. 
Note: The upload limit for an activity cannot be set higher than the limit for the course, so you may need to change the course settings first.

When I (or my students) try to open files I posted on Moodle, nothing appears to happen. How can I fix this?

The results of clicking on a link to a File in a Moodle, will depend on the options you chose when you added the file, the configuration of the browser you are using, and the file type.

  • When an instructor adds a File resource to a Moodle course, there are several options for how the file will Display. We have made Forced download the default display because it behaves the most consistently between browsers. (The file will download to the location on your computer where the browser is configured to save downloaded files).
  • Check your browser preferences/options to see where files are saved.
  • If your browser is set to prevent files from downloading automatically unless you approve, you may need to confirm the download in a notification bar or pop-up.  Where this notification appears will vary from browser to browser. Check the bottom or top of the page, as notifications may appear there.

For more troubleshooting tips, see Download Files in Moodle.

Where is the File Manager in Moodle?  Is there a way to download all the files I've posted to a course at once?

There are multiple ways for an instructor to add files to a course (for details, see Add a File to a Moodle Course).

  • For files uploaded (or added using drag-and-drop) directly to your Moodle course page, there is currently no interface to download all files. When you add a file, it is stored in the Moodle System files, and when you delete a file from the page, it is deleted from Moodle.To download files from your course, you will need to download them one at a time from your course pages.
  • Files uploaded to an instructor's My Private Files area before being added to a course can be downloaded all at once.

Note: We recommend as a best practice keeping copies of the files you post to Moodle, or collect from student submissions, well-organized on your own computer.