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Using Moodle for Managing Roles in the Classroom

In this second part of a four-part series on Moodle, an open source course management system for the classroom, you will learn how to override roles when necessary, and how to assign roles to activities. This article is excerpted from chapter four of Using Moodle, Second Edition, Teaching with the Popular Open Source Course Management System, written by Jason Cole and Helen Foster (O'Reilly; ISBN: 059652918X). Copyright © 2007 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher. Available from booksellers or direct from O'Reilly Media.

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November 23, 2010
  1. · Using Moodle for Managing Roles in the Classroom
  2. · Assigning Roles in Activities

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Using Moodle for Managing Roles in the Classroom
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Role Overrides

The capabilities within a given role can also be overridden within a specific context. Let’s say you want to create a forum in which students can rate each other’s forum posts. (By default, only teachers can rate forum posts.)

The way to achieve this is through a role override. As long as the capabilities you want to allow your students to have in your course (or within a module in your course) aren’t prohibited at a higher level, you can override the permissions. Within your course, for example, you can override roles at the course level or in a particular activity. If you want to change what students can do anywhere in your course, override the role at the course level. If you want to create a different set of permissions for a given activity, override the role in the activity itself.

Overriding roles is itself a permission. By default, teachers are unable to override roles so this ability must first be granted by your system administrator for the course or site as appropriate. They must also set which roles can be overridden by the teacher role. If you don’t see the “Override roles” link in the Roles tab, ask your system administrator.

The override interface will only show you the capabilities for the context you are overriding. So if you want to allow students to rate forum posts, you can override the student role in a particular forum. You will only see the forum capabilities in the interface, as shown in Figure 4-2.

To set a role override for an activity:

Figure 4-2.  A role override

  1. Click the Update button for the activity for which you want to create the override.

  2. Click the Roles tab and then click the “Override roles” link just below the tabs.

  3. Choose the role you want to override, e.g., student.
  4. Modify the permissions for the override on this activity. (The permissions the role currently has are highlighted in white.)

    Be sure to read the security risks (indicated by the yellow triangle on the right side of the permissions list) for each capability. Some capabilities can present severe risks to student data if you are not careful.
  5. Click the “Save changes” button. Anyone with the role you have just overridden will now have those capabilities in this activity when they next log in to Moodle.

To set a role override at course level:

  1. Click “Assign roles” in the Administration block.
  2. Click the “Override roles” link.

The remaining steps are the same as for setting a role override for an activity.

Overrides allow you to create a lot of variation in the way students interact with an activity. However, before digging into the overrides system itself, be sure you have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve educationally with the override.

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