7.4 Create an Annual Cycle of Courses

In the previous article, we explained how to use the Moodle Course Creator plugin to copy our course template to a different category to create a real course. We also explained how to make a course backup file to move a course template from one Moodle website to a different one. In this article, we will explain how to create an annual cycle of courses and then use a Moodle Reports plugin called Dates to change the dates of our Fall Quarter template to Winter Quarter and or Spring Quarter. We can then use these new templates to create our Winter Quarter and Spring Quarter actual courses.

Divide your courses into an Annual Sequence

We have already divided our 12 courses into three Moodle categories. Change these categories to Fall, Winter and Spring Courses as all are essential skills.


Next add the 12 Week dates table for all three quarters.

Do 36 times 5 equal 180 days: It is actually yes!

Change the slideshow around again to place the Moodle course into Spring quarter with the books and vps course and community network into Winter so that all Winter courses are Joomla courses.

Create the Curriculum for Each

Add Dates plugin to change assignment dates
Ideally, the only difference between our Fall Quarter course structure and our Winter and Spring Course structure is the due dates on selected course assignments. We can use the Moodle Dates plugin to change the dates on our Winter and Spring Quarter course templates. This report plugin is a tool that lets you edit all the dates for all the activities in each section and sub section of your course on a single page.

7.3 Complete and Copy the Course Template

We are nearly done creating the course template. There are 2 more plugins we should add. At 5 activities per lesson and 4 lessons per week times 12 weeks, a college level course can involve hundreds of activities. To help students see their progress in completing these activities, we will install 2 completion progress plugins.

Moodle Completion Progress
Completion Progress is a way to help students quickly see tasks they have and have not yet completed and when uncompleted tasks should be completed by. The normal Moodle Completion Progress plugin assumes that your course only uses Moodle Assignment and Quiz activities – both of which include precise due dates. However, many courses have a mixture of activities that include some tasks with either Weekly Due dates or Monthly due dates. For example, our Reading and Video Assignments have weekly due dates – but there is no way to set these weekly due dates in the URL activity settings.

In addition, rather than setting up a Completion Progress for the entire course – with 240 activities, we want to set up 12 Weekly checklists – each with 20 to 24 activities. Therefore, rather than using the normal Moodle Completion Progress plugin, we will use a more flexible progress organization tool called the Checklist Activity. Download the latest plugin version from this link:

One or more custom checklists can be created by a teacher and then the students or teachers can check-off each item as they are completed. In addition, the Checklist Progress Bar can be displayed as a Block by downloading the Checklist block plugin from this link:

Then install the Checklist Module plugin using the Moodle Plugin installer. The checklist module will end at a Settings page. Accept the defaults and click Save changes. Then skip the notifications page. Then click Plugins and install the checklist block plugin.

Add a Week 1 Checklist activity to the Course Template
Go to the Course Template Home page and turn on editing. Then go to the Week 1 Topics Section. Click Add an activity or resource. Then select Checklist. On the Adding a new Checklist page, enter a name for the checklist. We will call it Week 1 Checklist. In the Introduction field, provide instructions for your students. For example, copy and paste: This is a checklist of all course activities you should complete this week along with the date each activity should be completed by.

7.2 Set up your Course Grade book

For many teachers, grading is a large part of their time commitment for each course. While most college students should be internally motivated, it is helpful to have objective grading scores to help them see that they are actually making progress in learning complex skills. Grading is an important activity not only in helping promote student engagement and understanding with the weekly topics – but also important to help instructors assess course topics and activities in terms of whether topics were actually understood by students and skills were actually developed. In other words, grading not only helps students learn but also helps instructors identify areas of their course that need improvement.

It is not uncommon for instructors of a 5 credit college level course with 5 contact hours to spend 5 hours per week per course grading student assignments, projects and quizzes and another 5 hours per week revising the course curriculum based on the feedback from student success or failure on the previous weeks assignments, projects and quizzes.

Create your course syllabus
Setting up a fair and easy to understand grading system typically consists of two parts. First, you explain in your course syllabus what activities will be graded and assign weights or points to each activity. A course syllabus is a summary of all course goals, activities and assessments. Second, convert your course grading system into the Moodle grading system which will help you more easily generate student grades and course reports.

7.1 Link Key Concepts to Quiz Questions

In this article, we explain how to define key concepts for each lesson and then use key concepts to create quiz questions for each lesson.

Define Key Concepts for each lesson
Previously, we used Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligence to advocate for including a variety of learning activities to assist students who have different learning styles. Here we will look at a different theory of learning drawn from brain development research. It has become clear that there are different areas of the brain for short term and long term memory. One of our goals is to help students develop a long term memory of the most important concepts in our course.

One way of increasing long term memory is to cover the same key concepts in different contexts. Most people need to be exposed to key concepts at least three times in order for the brain to move the concepts from short term to long term memory. It is also important to limit the number of key concepts introduced with each lesson.


We have previously created a reading activity that includes about 5 to 10 pages of text and 5 to 10 images. We also included a 30 minute video that covers the same content and a 60 minute video conference that answers questions students may have about the same content. Thus, students are exposed to the content of each lesson 3 times.

However, it may not be clear to students what the key concepts of the lesson actually are. To make the key concepts of each lesson clearer, it is a good idea to summarize key concepts at the beginning of the reading assignment and include a review of key concepts at the end of the reading assignment.

The beginning summary can be statements and the ending review can be the same statements turned into questions. These questions can be followed by answers. Finally, the quiz on each lesson can include Key Concept Questions to further help students place key concepts for each lesson in their long term memory.

The number of key concepts may vary depending on the age of the student and the complexity of the course. For a grade school course, each lesson may have only one key concept. For a college level course, you might include up to 5 key concepts per lesson. Assuming there are four lessons per week, a college level course might introduce 20 key concepts each week. These 20 key questions are placed in a Moodle Question bank and then used to create the quiz associated with each lesson as well as monthly or quarterly quizzes which also help students move key concepts from short term to long term memory.