|Read more about this book|
(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)
Categorization is an innate human behavior that allows us to perceive and understand the environment that surrounds us. Moodle designers must have recognized our tendency to categorize, because Moodle contains a flexible categorization system that allows for the creation of categories in which you may house additional categories and courses. Any educational program that offers courses of various varieties will invariably be using a categorization system like this for grouping courses into specific categories. A language program, for example, might group courses into skill-specific categories such as those of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. A larger entity, such as a college, would likely group courses into content-specific categories such as literature, sciences, speech communications, and the like, with additional subcategories used inside each of those main categories. No matter what the categorization system, Moodle is well-equipped to accommodate via its intuitive user-friendly course category creation interface.
Manual creation of course categories
We will quickly walk through the manual creation of a simple categorization system in the next few pages. It should be noted however, that course categories can be created automatically via the use of the Bulk Course Upload tool that will be introduced later in the next article. While the automated creation process is certainly a more efficient one, it is a good idea to understand how to create, edit, and adjust categories manually as the need to make adjustments may arise after categories have been created automatically, and at that point, the only practical method may be via the manual process.
Using the language program sample as an example, we will set up a categorization system that uses the traditional language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) as the highest level in the categorization system with subcategories for levels. In our example, our program will have four levels: Advanced, Intermediate, Beginner, and Basic, so we will set up each skill category such that it contains subcategories that coincide with the four levels.
Time for action – manually creating course categories
Let’s get started by first taking a look at the courses and categories that exist in the default installation of our MAMP package. We’ll proceed by manually creating the categories and subcategories we need for our language program example.
- Log in to your Moodle site as admin, or as a user with administrative permissions, and click on the All courses link found at the bottom of the Course categories block from your front page.
An alternative method for accessing the Course category window is to simply type the word ‘course’ into your browser at the end of your website address from the front page of your Moodle site. This will direct your browser to the default file, index. php, located in the course directory (for example, for the XAMPP package, it will look like this http://localhost/moodle19/course).
- The following screenshot is of a default MAMP installation. For Windows XAMPP installations, no courses or categories will exist.
- You will see the two default courses that are created in the MAMP package and no category. As shown in the following screenshot, the full name of the course will appear on the left side of the screen with a small icon of a person, below it. The icon, shown with an arrow pointing to it in the following screenshot, signifies that the course is set to allow guest users to access it. On the right side of the screen is the course summary.
- Click on the Turn editing on button from the All courses screen, shown in the previous screenshot, to reveal the course category as shown in the next screenshot. This editing screen displays the categories and the number of courses contained in each category. The category was not listed in the course view window in the previous screenshot because there is currently only one category.
- With editing on, now click on the Add new category button and, on the subsequent screen, type in the desired category title. For this example, we are going to enter the four skills mentioned previously. Also, as we want these to be our four main categories, we will set the Parent category to Top. Enter a category description and click on the Create category button to finish the process. The following screenshot shows our setup prior to creating the category:
- After clicking on the Create category button, the screen that you will see next will be an editing screen that will allow you to edit from within the Listening category you just created. As a result, you will not see the Add new category button. Instead, you will see an Add a sub-category button. Click on this button to access the screen that allows you to create a new category. After doing so, you will simply need to change the Parent category to Top. Repeat this process until you have created all of your top-level categories. After you have created all categories, turn the editing feature off and click on the Course categories breadcrumb link, found at the top-left of the screen, to see the result. It will look like the following screenshot:
If you wish to change the order in which the categories appear, you can turn editing back on and use the up and down arrows to move categories.
- In the following screenshot, which is the same screen as the previous one, with editing turned on, we have moved the Miscellaneous category to the bottom and rearranged the main categories into a different order.
- Next, we will create the four level categories using the same process explained for the main categories. The only difference is that we will create each of the four levels inside the main categories by designating the main category as the Parent category. From the editing screen shown in the previous screenshot, click on one of the categories and then on the subsequent Add a sub-category button, as shown in the following screenshot. Creating the category in this fashion will result in the parent category being automatically set to the main category to which you are adding the sub-category.
- In the same fashion as earlier when we created multiple categories in succession however, after adding the first sub-category, if you click on Add a sub-category again, you will need to then adjust the Parent category. If you do not do so, you will be effectively burying sub-categories within sub-categories. The alternative is to click on the Course categories pull-down menu prior to clicking on Add a sub-category. Create all four levels, Advanced, Intermediate, Beginner, and Basic, using this process, for each of the four skills (Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing).
- When you have finished adding all of the subcategories to the main categories and have returned to the main Course Categories window, your screen should look like the following screenshot:
What just happened?
You have just created a simple categorization system with four main skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing). Next you created four subcategories—levels, inside each of the main categories (Advanced, Intermediate, Beginner, and Basic).
As you followed the example used here or maybe created an even more intricate categorization scheme, you may have felt that the process was a bit time consuming and required quite a few mouse clicks. As mentioned in the beginning of this explanation, creating categories via the Bulk Course Upload tool is much more efficient and recommended when possible. There will be times however, when you need to create new categories after courses have already been made or to edit or rearrange categories. On these occasions, you may find it necessary to use the manual procedure so it is a good idea to be familiar with the process.