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Restrict access to sections and activities

This guide explains how to add access and visibility restrictions and why you might want to restrict access to sections or activities.


Why would we want to restrict access to activities or sections?

The restrict access feature enables teachers to restrict the availability of any activity, resource or course section according to conditions such as date, grade obtained, group or other activity completion. For guidance on activity completion, please read the guide on Enable activity completion.

It allows gamification of courses and provides a way to guide students through a course in a specified order, creating alternative pathways and introducing repetition (for example).

Such mechanisms can allow teachers to offer learning experiences that cater more to individuals, providing reinforcement when it is needed.

Add a restriction

All activities and sections have a 'Restrict Access' option. These steps have to be followed first for all the methods below:

  1. Turn editing on.
  2. Click 'Edit' next to the item you want to restrict access for.
  3. Click 'Edit Settings'.
  4. Open the section 'Restrict Access'.
  5. Click 'Add restriction'.
  6. Choose the restriction type:
    1. Activity Completion
    2. Date
    3. Group
  7. Optionally, hide this restriction information (and the activity) from students.

Finally, restrictions can be set up as 'restriction sets' which offer the possibility of creating several criteria using all/any to create complex conditions.

Restrict access by activity completion

This is one of the more commonly used restrictions. It requires a student to complete another activity before this one is made available. The settings allow this to include completion of any one of a group of activities, or all of the selected activities.

  1. Follow the steps to add a restriction above.
  2. Click on 'Activity completion'.
  3. Choose 'Must' from the drop-down (i.e. that the student must have completed the activity).
  4. Use the drop-down boxes to:
    1. Select the activity that must be completed - this will show all activities in the Moodle space that have activity completion enabled.
    2. Select 'must be marked complete' (or 'must be complete with pass grade' if appropriate).
  5. Click 'Save changes'.

Restrict access by date

Another common restriction is by date which allows sections or activities to be made available at specific points through a course e.g. weekly readings or quizzes (or for them to be hidden after a specified date).

  1. Follow the steps to add a restriction above.
  2. Click on 'Date'.
  3. Choose 'Must' from the drop-down.
  4. Use the drop-down boxes to set 'from' or 'until' a specific date.
  5. Click 'Save changes'.

Restrict access by group

Where groups (and groupings) are being used, it is possible to restrict access to sections and activities to one or more of these groups. This option is available if there are groups set up in the Moodle space.

  1. Follow the steps to add a restriction above.
  2. Click on 'Group'.
  3. Choose 'Must' from the drop-down.
  4. Use the drop-down boxes to restrict access to students in a specific group, or to all students in groups.
  5. Click 'Save changes'.

For more information on restricting access via groupings, see the Create groupings guide.

Hide restriction information from students

Please note the eye icon to the left of each restriction. You can toggle this between the open and shut state for each restriction. In the event of a conflict, the shut eye always takes precedence and the activity or section will be not be visible to the student.

  • If the eye is SHUT then students who do not meet that part of the condition will not see the activity at all.
  • If the eye is OPEN the students who do not meet that part of the condition will see the activity but it will be greyed out and have information about why they can't access it yet.

Restrict access using a nested 'restriction set'

This opens up the possibility of having students complete one, all, or any of a set of activities. A good example would be having students have to complete either one of two groups of activities by nesting two 'student must match all of the following' restrictions (2 and 3) within a 'student must match any of the following' restriction (1). Students will have to have completed either group 2 or group 3 in order to access.

Example of nested restrictions

For more guidance on using 'restrict access' please see Moodle Docs - this page also has links to gamification examples that use restrict access in complex ways to encourage participation and engagement with materials.

The information on this page relates to Moodle v3.6 and was last updated March 2020.

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