What's New in Moodle for Fall 2023

On Tuesday, June 6th, 2023, Moodle received an upgrade from version 3.11 to version 4.1. Please see below for an overview of the new features, and also please note current known issues and retired plugins as of June 2023.

Moodle 4 has been redesigned with a goal of improved usability, navigation, and accessibility. The new look may take a little getting used to, but we do think it is ultimately a more intuitive interface for both faculty and students.

The following video gives a good tour of editing a course in Moodle 4. Also, please see below for improvements we think will be most useful for Amherst faculty & ADCs.

Faculty are welcome to email askIT@amherst.edu and request a consultation if you'd like a quick tour of the new version, would like help getting your site set up for Fall, or have any other type of Moodle question. 

New Features & Improvements in Moodle 4

Search for Courses in the Dashboard

You can now search within your courses in the “Course overview” block in the Dashboard. For faculty teaching iterations of the same course, include the term code in your search and leave out any dashes (for example “ENGL 115 2223S”).

search courses

More Intuitive “Edit mode” Toggle

The previously green “Turn editing on” button is now an “Edit mode” toggle at top right.

edit mode

“Course Index” Sidebar

Within a course, the left sidebar now lets you jump to sections or specific activities. As you scroll down the main course area, it will highlight your current section. In courses using the Tiles format, this sidebar will only appear to instructors with editing mode turned on, otherwise it's hidden.

course index


Move Items with Ease

Moving items across multiple sections in Moodle has always been really difficult. No more! Check out this video segment about moving items in Moodle 4 or see below.

With editing turned on, instructors can use the new course index sidebar to move items around within the course. You can still move them in the main course sections too, but this feels a little easier.     

move within sidebar

The game changer: for moving items a long way (for example, from the bottom of the course to the top) you can drag them between the sidebar and the main course area. Have one area scrolled to the top, other other to the bottom, and just drag across (either way).      

move top to bottom

Collapsing Sections

All sections within a Moodle site are now collapsible. We think this will make our Moodle sites much more navigable for students and faculty alike, especially in courses with lots of content. Faculty are still welcome to use one of our custom course formats, but we think this default format will work well for the majority of courses.

collapsing sections

Course Management Menu

Course settings, participants, grades, and other management options for courses are now in a readily available menu at the top of your course page. If you are viewing an activity or resource, this is where you will see options specific to that activity or resource (which previously were very hidden in a sub-menu). 

course management menu

Content Change Notifications

This is a feature faculty have been asking about for years. Now when you add or make changes to a resource or activity in Moodle, you can send an email notification to students that the item has been added or changed.

content change

Timed Assignments

You can now set a time limit for a Moodle assignment as well as open/close dates (previously, timed assessments were only possible with the Quiz activity). This is useful for scenarios where you want to run a timed assessment but have the students turn in a file. If you provide students a file to work on, you can choose to make it available only after the student begins their time window.

times assignments

Gradebook and Quizzes

Faculty using Moodle gradebook and quizzes may want to check out the changes and improvements made to those areas.

Course Images

With the update to Moodle 4, we are using a more accessible theme called "Boost" which unfortunately does not support course banner images (these were only used in 30% of courses anyway). Faculty can still add a course image to display in the Dashboard and on their Moodle site- here's now!

Other than these changes, the core concepts and features of Moodle are the same and the process for building your course will be the same (just, we hope, a little easier!)

Thanks and as always please contact askIT@amherst.edu for assistance.

What's New in Moodle for Fall 2022

On Thursday, June 7th, 2022, Moodle received an upgrade from version 3.10 to 3.11. Below is a list of improvements and changes. Please contact askIT@amherst.edu for help, or with any questions!

Participants List

Recent improvements to Moodle have enabled us to use the default Moodle Participants list exclusively, providing us with better long-term sustainability and security for the site. The Participants list previously accessed from the sidebar was an Amherst-developed customization, which we had because Moodle previously did not have a way to display pronouns or preferred names (which it now can- see below).

When you access the Participants list for your Fall course, look for a pop-up tour which will walk you the features (including how to send an email to students). Also please see our full write-up and feature tour here.


Photo Roster

This additional screen, linked to from the sidebar, provides large photos of students, as well as an option to toggle names on and off to help learn student names.

photo roster

Preferred Name and Pronoun Display

participants list showing pronouns

Option to Show Activity Dates for Assignments and Quizzes

Instructors can change their course settings to display open/close/due dates of an assignment or quiz on the main course Moodle page. 

activity dates

To enable this feature, in the course settings set the "Show activity dates" menu to Yes in the Appearance section. 

show activity dates

Note that the Tiles format currently has a bug where this information is displayed even when this setting is Off.

Quiz User Overrides: Better Visibility for Instructors

User Overrides allow instructors to grant certain students different conditions for an assignment or quiz- for example to give a student an extended time limit, etc.

In the new version of Moodle, if a quiz has user overrides set, instructors will see this indicated on the quiz page. Previously this information was only visible on the user overrides screen.

quiz override display

Completion Tracking Information Visibility

Moodle has had a Completion Tracking feature for many years, and this upgrade provides added visibility for completion tracking criteria.

In the course settings, both "Enable completion tracking" and “Show activity completion conditions” must be enabled.

completion tracking settings

Then, when an activity or resource has completion requirements set, students will see those requirements, and their status, below the activity on the main Moodle course page. If students can manually mark an item as completed, they will see a “Mark as Done” button (previously this was a little check box).

activity completion information

Visibility of eReserves in Spring 2021 courses and before

In Fall 2021, Amherst transitioned to a new eReserve system called eReserve Plus. Starting this semester, only eReserve links created with eReserves Plus will be visible in Moodle. This means that eReserve links in Moodle sites from Spring 2021 and before (which used the old system) will no longer be visible. For this semester, we will be able restore access to view old eReserve links in a course if needed- please askIT@amherst.edu.


What's New in Moodle for Fall 2021

New eReserve Tool

eReserves have a new look this fall. Students will continue to access assigned articles, chapters, and e-books within Moodle. The new system, eReserve Plus, will have all the readings that faculty have used in the past, so that the library can easily migrate them into the current semester, once faculty members' requests are received. Professors will also be able to organize their readings into folders or add them anywhere in their Moodle site. Please see these instructions for organizing readings with the new system. More information on Course Reserves is available here. 

3.10 Upgrade

On Thursday, June 3rd, 2021, Moodle received an upgrade from version 3.8 to 3.10. This upgrade contained just a couple new features and improvements. Please contact askIT@amherst.edu if you'd like help trying anything out!

Activity Chooser improvements

The activity chooser appears when the editing is turned on in a course and you click the link 'Add an activity or resource'. It has been redesigned and enhanced for 3.10, and is now more user-friendly and customizable. The “recommended” tab will show you the resource and activity types most frequently used at Amherst. 

Quiz improvements

There are a few minor improvements to the Quiz activity, including:

  • Better visibility of quiz timer for students
  • Option to mark a quiz “Complete” before it is graded
  • Size limit option for Essay Question file uploads

Font & Highlight Colors - Improved Accessibility 

The color options available to faculty and students when adding text have been adjusted so that any text added to a Moodle site will be more accessible in terms of color contrast and visibility. This is an important improvement for people with color vision deficiency or other visual disabilities. 

Folder improvements 

Image and HTML files added to a folder resource will now display directly in the browser, instead of being downloaded. To enable this feature, you will need to un-check the box for "Force download of files" in the Folder settings.

Participants list filtering

The Moodle participants page (Course Management > Participants)  has an  improved filtering feature  to view students by role and other criteria. Note that this does not apply to Amherst’s custom participants page (Sidebar menu > Participants).

Download course content 

Faculty will have the option to download all course content that was added as File, Folder, Page or Label resources. You will also have the option to enable this feature for students in your course. 

Farewell to the Mass Actions Block

The Mass Actions block was occasionally used by a handful of faculty for moving or deleting resources en masse.  Unfortunately, it has reached the end of its useful life: it has not been updated since 2018 and no longer works in this version of Moodle. We are looking into alternatives for this functionality.


Spring 2021

Retirement of Quicksets Block

IT was recently made aware that the Quicksets block had reached the end of its useful life, and it has now been retired to maintain the integrity of our Moodle system. The Quicksets block was visible to faculty only, and provided shortcuts to change course and grade visibility settings. Unfortunately, it was a 3rd-party plugin that had not been updated since 2014, and while we kept it around as long as we could, the time has come to say goodbye.

If you were accustomed to using the Quicksets block to change your course or grade visibility settings, you can easily access these options on the course settings page instead.

This block was seldom used, so we hope this will not be too inconvenient. A side benefit will be a more streamlined Moodle page with one less block in the mix!

January 2020

Teaching a January term course? Please check out our list of Moodle tips specifically for January Term sites and courses.

Summer 2020 

New Theme

On July 9th 2020, Moodle will switch to use a new theme with a goal of providing students and faculty with a more attractive, intuitive and simplified interface. A Moodle theme generally impacts the look and feel of Moodle but does not change core functionality. This particular theme does change the location of some Moodle features and navigation links, for improved usability.

Everything else about Moodle will remain the same (aside from other new features on this page), and course formats like Tiles and Collapsed Topics can still be used. This particular theme is called “Fordson” and is also used by our colleagues at UMass and Mount Holyoke.

Preview the Fordson Theme Here

3.8 Upgrade

On Thursday, June 4th, Moodle received an upgrade from version 3.6 to 3.8.  This upgrade contains just a couple new features and improvements. Please contact askIT@amherst.edu if you'd like help trying anything out!

Improvements to Forums

  • Forum Grading: Instructors can now assign a grade for the entire forum to students.
  • Private replies: Instructors can reply privately to students' forum posts.

H5P Interactive Content

H5P allows faculty to add interactive learning activities to their Moodle sites, such as videos with embedded quiz questions and images with pop-up notes. New in 3.8, H5P content can be embedded into any text area on Moodle. 

Spring 2020

This semester we have a couple new features and improvements. Please contact askIT@amherst.edu if you'd like help trying anything out!

Google Assignments

Google Assignments is a Google/Moodle integration that lets students submit Google Drive files (docs, sheets, etc) as assignments in Moodle. The submitted files remain “live” in Google and all the great collaborative features of Google Docs, such as comments, are preserved. The grading interface has a useful "comment bank" feature. We had a few faculty members test it out last semester and it was generally well-liked. 

H5P Interactive Content

H5P is brand-new to Amherst this semester. It allows faculty to add interactive learning activities to their Moodle sites, such as videos with embedded quiz questions and images with pop-up notes. 

Adjustment to Email

Email messages sent via Moodle will no longer appear in your Gmail “Sent” folder. This is in response to community feedback we received last semester.

For email messages sent through the Participants List or Quickmail Block, the “from” field of an email will now contain the sender’s name, but the email address will be “noreply@amherst.edu”. If you reply to the email, however, the sender’s correct email address will appear. Emails generated from forum posts will also contain the sender’s name and the noreply@amherst.edu address in the ”from” field, but to reply in Gmail you will need to re-enter the correct email address.


Fall 2019

    1. System-Level: Cloud Hosting & URL Change
    2. Navigating Moodle & Finding Your Courses: The Dashboard and Navigation Block
    3. Classroom Assistant Enrollments
    4. Course-Level Improvements: Quickmail and Course Formats
    5. Other New Features to Try: NameCoach and Audio/Video Recording 

System-Level: Cloud Hosting & URL Change

In order to ensure the best service and experience for everyone who uses Moodle, Moodle has moved to a cloud-hosted provider effective July 29th, 2019. Moodle users should not notice any difference aside from a few changes and improvements noted below. 

The base URL for Moodle has changed to the more intuitive “moodle.amherst.edu”, from “lms.ats.amherst.edu”. Old links will redirect to the new system, but we recommend updating any links to specific Moodle sites or activities that you may have on the Amherst website, in documents, or as bookmarks. 

Navigating Moodle & Finding Your Courses

The new Moodle Dashboard provides a customizable home page with several useful features to help you easily access and organize your Moodle courses and activities. Anyone logging into Moodle after the upgrade will see an interactive pop-up tour of the different features. 

We strongly encourage everyone to try the “Filter” feature in the Course Overview block. To find your Fall 2019 courses, for example, select “Future” in the filter menu. Note that on the first day of classes, Fall 2019 courses will switch to appear under “In progress”. Faculty are welcome to add custom thumbnail images for their courses.


For more information, please check out Moodle's videos on the Course Overview block and the Dashboard in general.

Navigation Block

The Navigation Block will contain an improvement where courses are grouped by semester. Note that Moodle bumps semesters with hidden courses toward the bottom, and semesters with visible courses bump toward the top, so if the sort order of the semesters seems off, this is why.

Navigation block


Classroom Assistant Enrollments

In order to streamline workflows surrounding Moodle enrollments, faculty and ADC’s can now enroll classroom assistants (such as TA’s) directly into their Moodle sites. While the Classroom Assistant Request form will remain available for the time being, we encourage everyone to try this new method. TA’s are added instantly to Moodle, with no wait times!

Course-Level Improvements: Quickmail and Course Formats

Other New Features to Try

We also encourage you to check out these features that were new to Amherst last year.


The Amherst Moodle has an integration of NameCoach, a service that aims to solve the common problem of name mispronunciation. Here's how faculty can add NameCoach to their Moodle sites. 

Audio/Video Recording

Wherever you can type in Moodle, you can record video or audio. This means you can have students record videos in forum posts, assignments set to accept online text, quiz essay questions, etc. Here’s more info on how it works and supported browsers. Note that instructors can also record audio or video to leave as assignment feedback!

Thanks and as always, please contact AskIT with any questions!