Recurring courses are a commonly used learning tool for many reasons. Certain organizations or industries may require regulatory compliance or certifications that need to be renewed on a regular basis. Instructors at universities may teach the same course every semester or school year. These courses often teach important fundamentals or are required to be re-taught regularly in order to thoroughly understand and comply with specific principles or practices.
With a Learning Management System (LMS), recurring courses can be much more easily managed and rolled out when needed. Depending on whether you’re copying a course for a new set of users or setting up your course to recur for the same set of users, the two scenarios require different processes.
Luckily, the open-source learning platform Moodle allows you to easily build a recurring course in a fraction of the time by using either the original course as a template and the platform’s Import features or backup/restore options.
Building a Recurring Course in Moodle: Import or Backup/Restore
Using the Import feature
Moodle makes building a recurring course easy. To get started, you will want to create a new course shell for the course. We recommend instituting a naming convention for both the Full Name and the Shortname of the course to distinguish it from other courses. Many of our higher education clients use the course year and the term as part of the course names.
Go to Site Administration>Manage courses and categories (Note: depending on the theme used by your Moodle site, this view may look different).
- Choose or create a category for your course. For more information, see Course categories. (Note: Another way to create a new course within an existing category is to navigate to that category and select the “Add a new course” button at the bottom of the page).
- Click the “Create a new course” button.
- Enter the course settings, then click the “Save and display” button.
- On the next screen, choose your students/teachers to assign to the course.
From within the new course shell, import the content of your original course (your course template) by accessing the Course Settings button and using the Import feature. (Note: your course does not need to be a new and empty shell. Content chosen to import can be added to a course that contains pre-existing content. This feature is awesome for teachers/course creators who want to share a resource or course activity).
After selecting Import, you will then be given a list of courses and asked to select the course from which you will be importing content (your course template). Select the course template and then select Continue. (Note: If you don’t see the course listed, use the search box to find it).
You will then select which elements of the course content you would like to import. If you would like to import the entire course, you can select the Jump to final step button giving you the ability to import a whole course in only 3 clicks!
You can also select only certain elements from the course by clicking the “Next” button. From the subsequent screen, you can select the elements that you want to include in the import. (Note: you will often want to deselect Announcements since your newly created course will contain its own announcements).
After reviewing the elements that will be imported into the new course, you can finish by selecting Perform Import.
After the import is complete, select the “Continue” button and you will be taken to your new course complete with the imported elements.
Using Backup & Restore
Using the import feature as illustrated above is one way to copy activities between courses; however, to truly duplicate a course, a backup and restore is arguably the safest and simplest option. Backing up and restoring a course retains course settings such as the course format and course completion criteria. Importing activities into a new course means that those settings would have to be redone in the new course.
To use the backup and restore method to create a recurring course…
Navigate to the course you want to use as the backup and from the course settings, and select “Backup”.
On the next screen, you will be able to choose generally what you want to include in the backups. You will get to choose specific elements later in the process. For the most part, you will only want to uncheck the “Include enrolled users” setting since most of the time you will be creating this course for a new batch of learners.
If you want to include all the elements in the course, you can select the “Jump to final step” button (this will create a backup of the course right away). If you need to only select a few of the course elements, select “Next”.
If you selected “Next”, you will be able to choose which sections/elements you want to include in the backup. Uncheck the boxes next to the sections/elements to be excluded and click the “Next” button.
The next page will present a review of all the elements that are being backed up including the general settings (not shown in the screenshot). After reviewing, click on the “Perform Backup” button if you are satisfied; otherwise choose “Previous” if you need to make changes.
After the backup is performed and you click on the “Continue” button, you will be taken to the Restore course screen. From here, you can restore:
- The backup file you just created
- A backup file that you created previously
- A backup file that you upload from your computer or other repository
You will notice that the backup files that you create on the site are listed in the “User private backup area” in descending date/time order. To restore the course that you just backed up, click on the “Restore” link on the right side of the page.
The first page in this process (not shown) is an overview of the file that you have chosen. After reviewing this information, click the “Continue” button at the bottom of the page.
This will take you to a screen on which you will have to decide how you want the course restored. In most cases, you will want to choose the top option, “Restore as a new course”. We will use this setting. (Important note: If you are Restoring the backup file into an existing course, make sure you choose whether to merge the backup or delete the current content of the course.)
Be sure to choose the correct category to restore the course into. If you choose the wrong category, that can be corrected after the course is restored. Also, if you don’t see the category listed, please use the search box to find it. Click the “Continue” button.
For the most part the next page, Restore settings, can be left alone with the defaults. After clicking Next, you will have a chance to choose the Course Name, the Course short name and the Course start date. You can also choose the elements you want to have in the new course (Not shown).
After you are done with this page, click Next.
The next page (Not shown) will let you review all the settings for the restore, and if they meet your needs, click on the “Perform restore” button. Otherwise click “Previous” and edit the settings.
After clicking on the Continue button, you will be taken to the new course. You might want to go to the Course settings to review and change any relevant settings.
And there you have it! By using either the Import or Backup/Restore options, you can successfully build a recurring course in Moodle.
For more information on features and functionality in Moodle, check out our Comprehensive Moodle LMS guide.
To learn more about Moodle and Totara tips and functionality, explore the other resources on our blog.
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