One Course – Multiple Moodle LMS Categories

Wouldn’t it be great if you could create one course and have it appear in multiple Moodle categories? Unfortunately, a Moodle course can only be placed in one Moodle category at a time. But there is hope. Sure, you could make copies of the course. It can get pretty messy to manage dozens or sometimes even hundreds of copies of the same course. Today, we get to pull up our big kid socks and creatively create a pseudo course that simply redirects the student to the real course. You can think of it as a course link, a course shortcut or a course stub.

It just takes a few minutes to create a pseudo course. Once done, copying it into as many categories as you want is easy-peasy using the Course Copy feature available since Moodle 3.9.

Steps to creating a pseudo course

Tip: Create a hidden category called “Shortcuts” and place all your master pseudo courses in it. From there, you will be able to simply copy them into as many other categories as needed. If your Moodle LMS displays courses in hidden categories, you will need to set the pseudo courses to hidden.

Start by navigating to the existing course. Then make a copy of the following:

  1. The URL of the course’s main page. It should look something like: https://example.com/course/view.php?id=4
  2. The Course Full Name. Example: The Art of Walking.
  3. The Course Summary. Example: “Having trouble putting one foot in front of the other because one of them is in your mouth? This course is for you!
  4. Download the Course Image from your course. If you don’t have one handy, you can borrow this one – just so that you can follow as we walk through this process together.

Next, create a new course.

Set Course Format to Single Activity, URL type activity
  1. Paste the course name into the Course Full Name field. If you have the FilterCodes plugin installed, you can use {coursename #} instead. Example: {coursename 4}.
  2. You will need to specify a unique short name. I recommend that you prefix the short name consistently with something like “link:” to make it easier to find all of the shortcuts across all of the categories in a custom SQL report.
  3. Paste the course description into the Course Summary field. If you have the FilterCodes plugin installed, you can use {coursename #} instead. Example: {coursename 4}.
  4. Upload the Course Image. If you do not use a course image, the random image will not match that of the original course.
  5. Set the Course Format to Single Activity format.
  6. Set the Type of Activity to URL.
  7. Click Save and Display.

Note: Using the {coursename #} and {coursesummary #} tags from FilterCodes plugin, currently only included in the version on GitHub, provides a way to keep this pseudo course information in sync with the real course, just in case you modify the original course’s full name or description. Unfortunately, this is not currently possible using the Course Image.

On the Adding a new URL page…

  1. Paste the Course Full Name in the Name field. If using FilterCodes, you can use the {coursename #} tag here. Example: {coursename 4}.
  2. Paste the URL of the actual course in the External URL field.
  3. Under the Appearance section, set the Display field to Open. This will cause a redirection to the URL instead of displaying the URL activity page.

The last step is to enable access to the pseudo course for everyone. There are several ways to do this. Start by disabling any enabled enrolment methods for the pseudo course. Then either:

  • Enable the Guest Access enrolment method. While a simple solution, this option will generate an enrolment record for each student who uses it. It will also make the course visible to users who are not logged in. OR;
  • Leave all enrolment methods disabled. Then navigate to the course’s Permissions page and scroll down to the View Courses Without Participation capability (or search for Moodle/course:view). Add Authenticated User to the Roles with permissions column. This will enable access to the pseudo course without registering in the course which also will only be visible to logged-in users.
  • If you want to automatically enroll users in the real course using this pseudo course, take a look at using the Course Meta Link enrolment method. You will need to enable it first as it is typically disabled by default when you first install Moodle. The Course Meta Link enrolment method enables you to enroll all users enrolled in one course automatically into another.

Either way, when students try to access this pseudo course, they will simply be redirected to the real one which will have its own enrolment methods.

Once you finish creating a pseudo for a course, be sure to test it before you copy it into as many categories as you need.

Fixing mistakes and making changes

Hopefully, you noticed any mistakes before you made copies of the pseudo course. Otherwise, you may need to modify all of the copies, especially if you did not use FilterCodes.

You may find it difficult to make a change because each time you try to navigate to modify the single activity URL, you end up redirected to the real course.

To modify the settings of a single activity format URL:

  1. Change the course format to Topics. You can access the course settings by navigating to Site Administration > Manage Course and Categories.
  2. Navigate the categories and courses to find your pseudo course and click on the gear next to the course name.
  3. Set the activity type to Topics format.
  4. Click the Save and Display button at the bottom of the page.

Now turn editing on and modify the URL activity as you would normally do. Once you are done, repeat the above steps setting the Type of Activity type back to URL.

Enrolling learners in the course

Since we set this up as just a pseudo to the real course, you should enroll students in the real course using whatever method you normally would use.

Hope you found the information on how you make one course appear in multiple categories in Moodle LMS helpful. You can practice creating pseudo Moodle courses by going to the official Moodle Sandbox Demo site.

Post a comment if you have any questions or suggestions on how to make this even better. See you next month!

Michael Milette

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Michael Milette

Michael Milette is the owner and an independent consultant with TNG Consulting Inc. in Canada. He works with government, non-profit organizations, businesses and educational institutions on Moodle-related projects. Michael writes about implementing Moodle LMS, developing in Moodle, Moodle administration, using the FilterCodes plugin (his own project), creating multi-language Moodle implementations and courses, and WCAG 2.1 accessibility.

One thought on “One Course – Multiple Moodle LMS Categories

  • 20th March 2022 at 7:32 pm
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    That’s a nice ‘workaround’ for the behaviour that generally means a Moodle course can only exist in one Category.
    On some Moodle sites the structure of showing Categories and Courses on the Front Page may be completely hidden, and a Custom Menu for example provides all the navigation required. This of course needs manually updating, and only admins can do this.
    I seem to recall some plugin that was like a Catalog, and allowed admins to decide where courses could be listed, in various / multiple places with the Catalog but I can’t recall what it was now 🙁

    Reply

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