Glossary module

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 1.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Glossary module.

The Glossary activity allows participants to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary.


Glossary can be used in many ways. The entries can be searched or browsed in different formats. A glossary can be collaborative or entries only made by the teacher. Entries can be put in categories. The autolinking feature, will highlight any word in the course which is located in the glossary. Autolinking can be turned off in the quiz module. It is possible to import and export entries from one glossary to another. Site wide (global) glossaries can be created that work in all courses. An entry can be linked to more than one key phrase.

Creative glossary practices

While a basic glossary is important, creatively applying the glossary can really make an impact on your class.

Collaborative glossaries

Instead of creating a glossary on your own, why not have the students create them as they encounter unfamiliar terms? A collaborative glossary can serve as a focal point for collaboration in a course. Each member of the class could be assigned to contribute a term, a definition, or comments on submitted definitions. Multiple definitions can be rated by you and by the students, with the highest-rated definitions accepted for the final class glossary.

When students are responsible for creating the definitions, they are much more likely to remember the word and the correct definition. Engaging in the process of learning, debating, and refining a glossary can go a long way toward helping students begin using new terms.

You can also structure multiple glossaries over the course of a semester. Break them up by unit, chapter, week, or any other organizational structure.

If you have a large class, assign student teams to come up with definitions and answers. One strategy for managing large courses is to make each team responsible for one week’s worth of definitions, while all the other teams must rate and comment. Alternatively, each team could be responsible for one definition per chapter and then rate and comment on the other teams’ work.

Credit for word use

This is a combination strategy using the forum and the auto-linking feature of the glossary. After you and your students have defined the glossary terms, it’s important for students to begin practising using the words in realistic contexts. Students, however, are usually reluctant to experiment with new terms. With the auto-linking feature, it’s easy to spot when a glossary word has been used in a forum or in a posting on the web site. To encourage word use, assign a portion of the credit students receive for their forum postings for correct use of glossary terms. As you or other students rate posts, you can quickly scan for highlighted glossary words and award points for usage. You may even want to break the score down further. Perhaps award one point for using the word and two points for using it correctly.

Links to glossary terms

  • In places such as forum posts and quizzes, terms will be automatically highlighted and linked if they are in the glossary. Sometimes, this may be unwanted. To avoid this on a case-by-case basis:
    • In the HTML editor, select the term and press Ctrl-Alt-N. (You will see no visible change but the code below will appear in the HTML source.)
    • If not using the editor, you can type the tag manually. In Moodle 1.9+, use:
<span class="nolink">...term... </span>
In older versions of Moodle, use:

See also

Using Moodle forum discussions: