Moodle is a popular learning management system that can be used by businesses, corporations, hospitals, schools, and nonprofit organizations for online learning and training. In this tutorial, we'll walk you through the process of installing Moodle, adding your first course, and customizing your site.
Before You Install Moodle
Before you dive head first into the installation process, here are some things you need to know.
You can install Moodle manually or via an application installer like Softaculous or Fantastico. The process you use, will depend on your hosting company and whether or not they have an application installer available. This tutorial will walk you through both methods.
Moodle relies on Cron jobs to synchronize all the activities and updates on your site. In layman's terms, a cron job is a PHP script that runs different tasks at scheduled intervals and must be run regularly in the background for your site to work properly. While it is recommended to set the cron job to run every minute, it's best to contact your host's support team and ask them how cron is configured and have them assist you in setting it up so you don't inadvertently overload your hosting server.
How to Install Moodle Using Softaculous
To install Moodle through Softaculous, follow these steps:
- Login to your cPanel.
- Scroll down to the Software or Services section in the cPanel home screen. Click on Softaculous > Education > Moodle.
- Click Install.
- Select the version you want to install and the protocol in the Choose Protocol box. If you have an SSL certificate enabled for your site, choose https, otherwise choose http.
- Choose the domain where you want to install Moodle on. You also need to select the directory where to install the software. If you're installing Moodle on a site that already has content, you will need to install it in a subdirectory which will be created during the installation process. If you're installing Moodle on a completely new domain without any content, leave the directory field empty.
- By default, Softaculous will prefill the name for the Data directory. Moodle needs this directory to store all the data related to your website. You can change the name here to something less obvious or you can leave it as is.
- In the cron job section, leave the values at default, unless you are familiar with it and know how often you want those tasks to run.
- In the next section, enter your site name and the description.
- Optionally, change the database table prefix or leave it as the default value.
- Choose your admin username and password, fill out your name and email fields, and select the language of your installation
- In the Advanced section, select how often Softaculous should backup your installation and how many backups you want to keep. It's recommended to leave the checkbox selected for email notifications about application updates.
- Review all the information you entered and ensure it's correct, then click Install.
Once the installation is complete, you will be able to log in with your chosen name and password.
How to Install Moodle Manually
If your host doesn't have an application installer, you'll have to install Moodle manually. To do so, follow these steps:
- Download Moodle from: Moodle Downloads
- Create a database for the installation.
- In your cPanel, scroll down to the section called MySQL databases or Databases.
- Click on Create new database.
- Enter a name for your database in the New Database field and click on the Create Database button. You'll get a confirmation screen that the database has been created.
- Click on the Go Back button to return to the database management screen.
- On this screen, scroll down to the MySQL section and enter the username for the new database user and choose a strong password. Click on Submit to save your MySQL username.
- Click Go Back again and scroll down to the Add User to Database section. Choose your newly created user and the new database from the dropdown menus. Click the Add button.
- On the next screen, select All Privileges and click on the Make Changes button.
Make sure to write down the name of your database and the username and password as you will need it later on.
- Create a data directory to hold the Moodle files. In your cPanel click on File Manager and then click on +Folder or Add New Folder or Create New Folder. Name the directory moodledata or a name that you prefer.
- Upload the Moodle package to your server under your public_html directory, which is the main one for the web site content. If you're installing Moodle on an existing website, create a subdirectory for it first and upload the package there. You can upload it via the File Manager in your cPanel or using an FTP client such as FileZilla. Note that if you use File Manager, you will need to upload the files one by one. Therefore, it's recommended to use an FTP client.
- Once you've uploaded the package to your server, navigate to the URL of your Moodle site. It will look like this if you've installed it in the root directory:
- On this screen, choose the language for the installation and click on the Next button. The script will check if your server is configured properly and alert you of any possible problems. Clicking next will bring you to another screen where the installation package will check the installation paths for Moodle.
- When all the checks are completed, you will be brought to the screen where you need to enter your database name, username, and password.
- The following screen will check all the configuration details again after which you can click on the Next button to complete the configuration.
- Accept Moodle's Terms of Service by clicking on the Yes button. Once you've accepted them and selected Continue after reviewing the latest release information, the database will be populated and Moodle will be installed.
- The last step is to enter your username, password, and email for your Moodle site. You will also be able to select your timezone, country, and fill out the site name and description.
After you've filled that out, you will be brought to the main web page of your new Moodle installation. Before you begin using your site, talk to your hosting provider and ask them how the cron is configured and if they can help you set it up properly.
Setting Up Your First Course
Now that your Moodle site is installed, you can begin adding courses to it. To add your first course, follow these steps:
- Log in to your site if you're not logged in already. Go to Administration > Site administration > Courses > Manage courses and categories.
- Create the category for your course by clicking on Create new category. Enter the category name and description and then click on the Create category button.
- Select the link that says New course.
- Fill in the following course settings: course name and shorthand name, category, start and end date, course ID, summary, and an image that will be used to distinguish your course from other courses.
- Choose your course format by selecting for either a weekly format, topics, or social format. You can get a brief explanation of the different course formats by clicking on the question mark next to the Format box.
- The next few sections will allow you to configure additional options for the course such as displaying the gradebook, maximum filesize for uploading course files, enabling completion tracking, and customizing role names such as Teacher, Student, etc. Fill them out as per your needs.
- Once you're done configuring all the options, click on the Save and display button. You can now begin enrolling students, adding content, and assigning teachers to the course you just created.
Adding Course Content
With the course created, it's time to add course content. The following instructions show you how to add lessons and resources.
- In your site dashboard, click on the name of your course. Once the page loads, click on the cogwheel and select Enable Editing.
- Click on the Add an activity or a resource link. You can select various activities such as lessons, assignments, glossaries, quizzes, or you can add a resource such as a book, an online article, a file on your computer, and more.
- For this tutorial, we are adding a lesson so select Lesson and click on the Add button.
- Enter the name for your lesson in the Name field and then add the contents in the description box. You can add headings, paragraphs, lists, bullet points, embed links to other sites, and add video or audio content.
- After you've entered the content for your lesson, you can configure additional settings for it such as adding a progress bar, making the lesson available only during a select period, configuring the grades, and more. When you're done, click on Save and return to course.
Now, you can keep adding lessons or other content to your course.
Customizing Your Moodle Site
For the last section of this tutorial, let's go through the options to customize your Moodle site.
Customizing the Appearance
Click on the Site Administration link in your Moodle dashboard and select Appearance. On this screen, you can upload a logo for your school, configure calendar and blog settings, access the documentation, and switch between different themes that control how your site looks on the front-end.
To upload your logo, click on Logo and then drag your logo file into the designated box. The full-size logo will be used on the homepage of your school or course site. You can also upload a compact version of your logo such as a sub mark or an icon that will be visible once students log in and are in the dashboard area.
If you want to switch the theme, click on Themes > Theme Selector. Moodle comes with three pre-installed themes: Boost, Clean, and More. To Change the theme, click on Change Theme and select either one of the two other pre-installed themes. Alternatively, you can download a new theme from the Moodle theme directory. Once you've downloaded your desired theme you will need to add it to your site by following these steps:
- Unzip the theme's archive in your local computer
- Upload the folder in the theme subdirectory located in your Moodle installation folder. You can use FTP to upload the theme folder to your account.
- Choose your new theme from the Site Administration > Appearance > Themes > Theme Selector. Click on the Choose button next to the theme name.
- Customize the theme by clicking on Site Administration > Appearance > Themes > Theme Settings. On this screen, you can upload your logo if you've not done so in the previous section. You can also enter your brand color and change the colors for the text and links, upload a custom background image, or choose a background color. If you're familiar with CSS, you can also enter custom CSS code in the appropriate boxes.
A number of plugins are already installed along with your Moodle installation, including plugins such as Quizzes, assignments, PayPal integration (so you can set up paid courses), integration with various online file storage systems like Google Drive and Dropbox, and more.
If you want to extend the functionality of your course site, you can install additional plugins either by uploading a zip file of the plugin or install them directly from the directory via your site's dashboard.
Create Your First Course With Moodle
Installing Moodle and setting up your course is the first step towards creating your online course or employee training. Use this tutorial to walk you through the process of creating your Moodle site today. Then, happy teaching!
Further Reading and Resources
We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to technology and learning:
- Moodle Introduction and Resources: learn the basics of Moodle and how to learn more.
- Moodle Hosting Information: find out your options for specialized Moodle hosting.
- Educational Websites for Kids: a great list of websites to help kids learn.
Fun Ways Kids Can Learn to Code
Want to get your students interested in programming? Check out our infographic, Fun Ways Kids Can Learn to Code