8 min read

 

(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)

There are a number of additional plugin types; namely, Enrolments, Authentication, Message outputs, Licences, and Web services.

Plugins—an overview

Moodle plugins are modules that provide some specific, usually ring-fenced, functionality. You can access the plugins area via the Plugins menu that is shown in the following screenshot:

 

Plugins overview displays a list of all installed plugins. The information shown for each plugin includes the Plugin name, an internal Identifier, its Source (Standard or Extension), its Version (in date format), its Availability (enabled or disabled), a link to the plugin Settings, and an option to Uninstall the plugin. The table is useful to get a quick overview of what has been installed on your system and what functionality is available.

Some areas contain a significant number of plugins, for instance, Authentication and Portfolios. Other categories only contain one or two plugins. The expectation is that more plugins will be developed in the future, either as part of the Moodle’s core or by third-party developers. This guarantees the extensibility of Moodle without the need to change the system itself.

Be careful when modifying settings in any of the plugins. Inappropriate values can cause problems throughout the system.

The last plugin type in the preceding screenshot is labeled Local plugins. This is the recommended place for any local customizations. These customizations can be changes to existing functionality or the introduction of new features. For more information about local plugins, check out the readme.txt file in the local directory in your dirroot.

Module plugins

Moodle distinguishes between three types of module plugins that are used in the courses—the front page (which is treated as a course), the My Moodle page, and the user profile pages:

  • Activities modules (which also covers resources)
  • Blocks
  • Filters

 

Activities modules

Navigating to Plugins | Activity modules | Manage activities displays the following screen:

The table displays the following information:

Column

Description

Activity module

Icon and name of the activity/resource as they appear in courses and elsewhere.

Activities

The number of times the activity module is used in Moodle. When you click on the number, a table, which displays the courses in which the activity module has been used, is shown.

Version

Version of the activity module (format YYYYMMDDHH).

Hide/Show

The opened eye indicates that the activity module is available for use, while the closed eye indicates that it is hidden (unavailable).

Delete

Performs delete action. All activities, except the Forum activity, can be deleted.

Settings

Link to activity module settings (not available for all items).

Clicking on the Show/Hide icon toggles its state; if it is hidden it will be changed to be shown and vice versa. If an activity module is hidden, it will not appear in the Add an activity or Add a resource drop-down menu in any Moodle course. Hidden activities and resources that are already present in courses are hidden but are still in the system. It means that, once the activity module is visible again, the items will also re-appear in courses.

You can delete any Moodle Activity module (except the Forum activity). If you delete an activity or resource that has been used anywhere in Moodle, all the already-created activity modules will also be deleted and so will any associated user data! Deleting an activity module cannot be undone; it has to be installed from scratch.

It is highly recommended not to delete any activity modules unless you are 100 percent sure that you will never need them again! If you wish to prevent usage of an activity or resource type, it is better to hide it instead of deleting it.

The Feedback activity has been around for some time as a third-party add-on. It is hidden by default because it has been newly introduced in the core of Moodle 2, due to its popularity. You might probably want to make this available for your teachers.

The settings are different for each activity module. For example, the settings for the Assignment module only contain three parameters, whereas the settings for the Quiz module allow the modification of a wide range of parameters.

The settings for Moodle Activity modules are not covered here, as they are mostly self-explanatory and also dealt with in great detail in the Moodle Docs of the respective modules. It is further expected that the activity modules will undergo a major overhaul in the 2.x versions to come, making any current explanations obsolete.

Configuration of blocks

Navigating to Plugins | Blocks | Manage blocks displays a table, as shown in the screenshot that follows. It displays the same type of information as for Activity modules. Some blocks allow multiple instances, that is, the block can be used more than once on a page. For example, you can only have one calendar, whereas you can have as many Remote RSS Feeds as you wish. You cannot control this behavior, as it is controlled by the block itself.

You can delete any Moodle block. If you delete a block that is used anywhere in Moodle, all the already-created content will also be deleted. Deleting a block cannot be undone; it has to be installed from scratch.

Do not delete or hide the Settings block, as you will not be able to access any system settings anymore! Also, do not delete or hide the Navigation block, as users will not be able to access a variety of pages.

Most blocks are shown by default (except the Feedback and Global search blocks). Some blocks require additional settings to be set elsewhere for the block to function. For example, RSS feeds and tags have to be enabled in Advanced features, the Feedback activity module has to be shown, or global search has to be enabled (via Development | Experimental | Experimental settings).

 

The parameters of all standard Moodle blocks are explained in the respective Moodle Docs pages.

Configuration of filters

Filters scan any text that has been entered via the Moodle HTML editor and automatically transform it into different, often more complex, forms. For example, entries or concepts in glossaries are automatically hyperlinked in text, URLs pointing to MP3 or other audio files become embedded, flash-based controls (that offer pause and rewind functionality) appear, uploaded videos are given play controls, and so on.

Moodle ships with 12 filters, which are accessed via Plugins | Filters | Manage filters:

 

By default, all filters are disabled. You can enable them by changing the Active? status to On or Off, but available. If the status is set to On, it means that the filter is activated throughout the system, but can be de-activated locally. If the status is set to Off, but available, it means that the filter is not activated, but can be enabled locally.

In the preceding screenshot, the Multimedia plugins and Display emoticons as images (smileys) filters have been turned On and will be used throughout the system, as they are very popular. The TeX notation and Glossary auto-linking filters are available, but have to be activated locally. The former is only of use to the users who deal with mathematical or scientific notation and will trigger the Insert equation button in the Moodle editor. The Glossary auto-linking filter might be used in some courses. It can then be switched off temporarily at activity module level when learners have to appear for an exam.

Additionally, you can change the order in which the filters are applied to text, using the up and down arrows. The filtering mechanism operates on a first-come, firstserved basis, that is, if a filter detects a text element that has to be transformed, it will do so before the next filter is applied.

Each filter can be configured to be applied to Content and headings or Content only, that is, filters will be ignored in names of activity modules. The settings of some filters are described in detail in the Moodle Docs. As with activities and blocks, it is recommended to hide filters if you don’t require them on your site.

In addition to the filter-specific settings, Moodle provides a number of settings that are shared among all filters. These settings are accessed via the Filters | Common filters menu and are shown in the following screenshot:

Setting

Description

Text cache lifetime

It is the time for which Moodle keeps text to be filtered in a dedicated cache.

Filter uploaded files

By default, only text entered via the Moodle editor is filtered. If you wish to include uploaded files, you can choose any one from the HTML files only and All files options.

Filter match once per page

Enable this setting if the filter should stop analyzing text after it finds a match, that is, only the first occurrence will be transformed.

Filter match once per text

Enable this setting if the filter should only generate a single link for the first matching text instance found in each item of text on a page. This setting is ignored if the Filter match once per page parameter is enabled.

 


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