Moodle Student Guidebook

Site: HCC Moodle
Course: HCC Moodle
Book: Moodle Student Guidebook
Printed by:
Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 8:55 PM


In this guide you will find information about how to use HCC's Moodle to access resources and participate in activities posted by your instructor.

1. About this book/tutorial

Moodle is the primary course management system/e-learning program used by HCC for the majority of online and hybrid classes and as a Web-enhancement for a number of face-to-face courses.

This tutorial was designed in a book format, one of Moodle's resource types, which includes chapters and any sub chapters organized under the table of contents.

To navigate this book
You may move through the book using the arrows located to the top-right and bottom-right of the content or by clicking on the chapter name in the table of contents.

To print this book
You can print the entire book with all its chapters or you can choose a selected chapter to print. Click on the gear icon in the top right of this section to select the appropriate option. To save a copy of this book you could choose to "Print Complete Book" (or individual chapters) and then select "Adobe PDF" as the printer, if installed/enabled on your system.

HCC Moodle assistance:
Login specific issues:

This tutorial adapted from Loyola University Maryland, Moodle Docs, and Open LMS Resources.

2. Browser Recommendations

The following browser recommendations and settings should improve your experience using Moodle and ensure access to the activities and tools in your Moodle course sites.

Browser Versions
Moodle will operate using the browsers listed below, but typically runs best in the latest versions. Chrome or Firefox are the preferred browsers for use with Moodle.

Legacy browsers with known compatibility issues: Internet Explorer 10 and below, Safari 7 and below

You may find it helpful to have more than one browser installed on your computer. If you run into problems using Moodle, moving to another browser may resolve your issues.

Required Browser Settings
The following browser settings should be selected:

  • Enable Cookies
  • Enable Javascript
  • Do not block pop-up windows

Note: In some browsers, you can make an exception for Moodle if you don't want to use these settings for all websites.
Instructions for browser settings are available via the following links:

Recommended Browser Add-ons
The following add-ons may need to be installed if your browser is not already configured with them:

  • Java may need to be installed and enabled in your browser for features used by some Moodle courses. You will typically see a warning if you need to install or upgrade Java. Download/Check Java.
  • Adobe PDF Reader and PDF browser plugin will let you view PDFs in a browser window without opening a separate program. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader. The download includes the browser plugin. To install this plugin, just follow prompts.
  • Adobe Flash Player plugin for your browser will allow you to access Flash video and rich interactive media. Download Adobe Flash Player. If the most recent version of Flash Player is not working well with your browser, you can revert to a previous version.
  • Apple Quicktime provides easy access to multiple audio and video formats your instructors may post. Macintosh computers come with Quicktime already installed. Windows users may also install Quicktime. Download Quicktime.

3. Login Information

From the Moodle homepage, you will see the the Log in link on the top right as well as the Login block on the right (or beneath the main page content, depending on your screen size). To log in, use your Active Directory (AD) username and password, then click on the Log in button.

  • Your Moodle/AD username is just the first part of your HCC email address (before the @ symbol).
  • Your Moodle password will be your Active Directory password. Your initial AD password can be found on your acceptance letter, but you will need to change your password prior to logging in to Moodle and at periodic intervals throughout the year. When changing your password, remember that AD credentials are used to access several systems: Moodle, Email, campus computers, the HCC website, and Papercut. For more information visit the Password Change, Reset & Enrollment page. If you need assistance changing your password or unlocking your account, you should contact the HCC IT Department at or at 240-500-2891.

Not all instructors or courses will use Moodle. Accounts are only created for users who have at least one course using Moodle. Instructors will tell students if they have a Moodle course site. Updates to Moodle enrollment are typically processed within 1 business day of student registration activity.

Once you log in to Moodle, you will see any courses available to you. Click on the linked title to access the course materials. Students will only see course sites that have been made available by the instructor, often on or near the first day of the semester. If you log in before any of your course sites are made available, you will see the course catalog of all "Available Courses" instead of just your individual "My Courses" listing.

For questions regarding use of specific Moodle tools, you may contact HCC Learning Technology:
Email =
Phone = 240-500-2701

For login issues, AD account lockouts, or questions about student e-mail or WebAdvisor, you can contact HCC Information Technology:
Email =
Phone = 240-500-2891

For questions regarding specific course content, please contact your instructor.

4. Access and Navigation

Accessing your courses
After logging in, on the site Home page under the My Courses listing you will see all the available Moodle courses in which you are enrolled.
Simply click on the name of the course to enter the course site.

What is in a Moodle course site?
Course Resources and Activities posted by the instructor can be found in the primary area of the course site. On the left, you will see a collapsible Nav drawer with links to course Participants, course Grades, course topic sections, the site Home, your Dashboard, the Calendar, and your other courses. This Nav drawer may be opened and closed to free up space by clicking the icon at the top left with three horizontal bars. On the right (or beneath the main course content, depending on your screen size) you will see any available course Blocks, which are elements that add extra information or learning content to a course. 

Navigating your course
There are several ways to move around the course. If you are on a certain page and wish to go back to a previous page, such as the main page of your course or the Moodle Home page, the best way is through the internal Navigation bar at the top of a course site, also called the "breadcrumb trail."

Screenshot of student navigation

5. Course Formats

The primary content area is where your instructor will place the material that makes up the elements of your course site. A course homepage may vary in appearance depending on how your instructor has designed the course.

The three commonly used course formats are: Topics, Weekly and Collapsed Topics.

  • Topics Format: Course material is organized according to topics. Under each topic (1, 2, 3 ...) you will find different information.
  • Weekly Format: Course material is organized according to the dates you are to complete the associated activities. To and from dates are listed as a title.
  • Collapsed Topics: Course material is organized according to topics or weeks, but each topic section can be expanded and collapsed. Users just click the pointer icon to the left of the topic titles to expand and see the resources and activities in each section; or they may use the Open all or Close all options above the topics.

Screen shot collection of examples of the most popular course formats

6. Course Blocks

Your instructor can choose to enable a variety of course blocks in his/her course site to provide links to features relevant to each particular course. Blocks will typically appear on the right of the Moodle page or they may appear beneath the main course content, depending on your screen size.

Some popular blocks include:

  • The Activities block lists and allows navigation between the different activities available in your course (Forums, Quizzes, Assignments and so forth).
  • The People block provides a Participants link that will list all participants in the course.
  • The Quickmail block allows you to Compose Email to send to your instructor, or other students in your class.
  • The Calendar block provides quick access to some upcoming activities.
  • The Latest News block displays news and announcements created by your instructor. You can click on more... next to each topic to read the entire news item, or click on Older topics... to view past news items.

7. Assignment Activity

The Assignment module allows teachers to collect work from students, review it, and provide feedback including grades. Using assignments, students can submit any electronic files (e.g., word-processed documents, spreadsheets, images, audio, video clips) or type their response directly into Moodle. Note that instructors may enable a setting so that students will have to click a Submit button to declare their submission as final.

Please note: Because network connections can break down, if you are composing an online text Assignment be sure to "Save changes" frequently. You can click "Edit submission" to add more content before you "Submit Assignment." If you have been typing your online text response for a good while (15 minutes or more), before you click to "Save changes" consider selecting your text and copying it to your clipboard or a word-processing program. If there is an error with the submission, you will still have a full copy of your response and can resubmit it after the network connection is re-established.

Refer to the following documentation for further information on the Assignment activity:

8. Forum Activity

A forum is a place where class or group discussions can occur. In forums you can add a discussion topic and reply to others’ postings, depending on the forum settings the instructor chooses. Your instructors may choose to use a regular Forum or an Open Forum activity. For more information, refer to:

Please note: Because network connections can break down, if you are working on a forum posting for a long time, before you click "Submit" for your response, consider selecting your text and copying it to your clipboard or a word-processing program. If there is an error with the submission, you will still have a full copy of your posting and can resubmit it after the network connection is re-established.

There are five main types of forums your instructor may choose:

  • Standard forum for general use: An all-purpose forum that allows for multiple posts. Any user may post a new discussion/topic at any time.
  • Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format: An all-purpose forum that allows for multiple posts. The author's profile picture displays next to the post, which has the look and feel of a blog post. It's also easier for students to read each other's comments—it saves them additional clicking.
  • Each person posts one discussion: Every student can only post one topic, but may reply to multiple others.
  • Single simple discussion: This is a forum about a single topic, all on one page. Instructors start the discussion; students reply.
  • Q and A: This type requires participants to post their own perspectives before viewing other student posts. Instructors post the question(s); students reply. Note: there is a 15-minute editing window after posting a response in which the users may re-read and update their posting. It is not until after that editing time passes that they will then be allowed to view other students’ postings and respond.

For additional information, refer to the Moodle Docs - Using Forum tutorial and the Forum Subscription tutorial.

9. Quiz Activity

The Moodle Quiz activity allows teachers to design and set assessments consisting of a variety of question types. Each Quiz has different settings which can be selected by the instructor. Quizzes can be set as self-assessments, allow for multiple attempts, or a single attempt scored course work activity. Your instructor may also choose to have an exam on Moodle that requires a password to be entered by a proctor in a secured testing environment. See the following links for more Quiz information:

Please note: If you answer a number of questions and then want to save your questions along the way or complete the quiz at a later time (within any given time limitations), click "Finish attempt" in the Quiz navigation block. When you return to continue the quiz attempt, Moodle will remember which page you were on and allow you to continue from there, having saved your previous questions.


finish attempt options

Instructors may allow you to see your Quiz grade and some feedback right after you submit or at a later time. See the tutorial on How to Review a Completed Quiz.

10. Grades

Your instructor may choose to use the Moodle Gradebook to keep track of student work.

The Grades area for a student displays the User report and the Overview report. The User report generally shows a students grade in either a numerical, text, or percentage format in addition there is also an area to view feedback. Whether or not a student is able to view a course total grade and the format in which it is displayed depends on the settings each instructor has selected.

The Grades link can be found in the Nav drawer, as shown below.

Screenshot of Grades link in Nav drawer

Students can also access Grades via their user menu from the top right of the page. Click on your name for the drop-down menu to appear.

Screenshot of Grades link in Student User menu

In addition, the Open Grader allows students to review Assignments and Open Forums that have been graded by a teacher, and it allows the exchange of comments about a particular grade or submission. If your instructor uses these activity types, then you can view the Open Grader tutorial.