ELIS Concepts Overview

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 2.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version of Moodle may be available here: ELIS Concepts Overview.

Overview of ELIS Concepts

Course Description (CD):

This defines the meta-data, credits, frequency, pre-requisites and co-requisites etc. for a course of study. This is a software implementation of the Course Descriptions that are frequently published in a Course Catalog or listing of required compliance, skill, or competency courses of a corporate Learning Office. In ELIS, in addition to containing information about the course, CDs also have settings that are used by the software to determine credits, learning paths, requirement status, and learning objectives. These settings are used in other parts of the program automatically. Users are not enrolled in CDs themselves, rather they are enrolled in Class Instances. There may be several (or many) instances of a CD. For example, the Course Description for Biology 101, might have four classes instances: Fall 09, Winter 09, Spring 09, Summer 09. Or an Introductory Sales CD might have class instances for different departments: Milwaukee Introductory Sales, Philadelphia Introductory Sales, etc. In documentation Course Description is often referenced as CD.

Class Instance (CI):

An instance of a Course Description. The CI is where students are enrolled, and where results are recorded and stored. Class Instances can be associated or connected with Moodle courses or can be a record keeping and reporting tool for face-to-face courses which have no online component. A class instance can also have elements from a Moodle course and have elements recorded manually from face-to-face meetings or other external events, providing support for blended learning. A Class Instance is often referred to as a CI. The CD the CI is created from determines many of the settings for the CI, enabling batch creation of new CIs for a program via Tracks (see below) and the batch enrollment of users in a Program via User Sets.


A program in ELIS is a series or group of Course Descriptions. Often these are termed Learning Paths, Programs of Study, etc. Basically it is a set of linked courses. For instance, a student might have to complete a series of courses to get a certificate, to demonstrate their competency for a job, or to maintain their certification on a critical skill. Programs are used to define these series, independently of date or a particular set of users. By using ELIS Programs, a learning manager can batch create a new list of online Moodle courses and/or offline Classes for learners with a few clicks. For example a retailer needs to train new hires for the Holiday season. They have already set up a program from new hires, that contains CDs such as Closing the Store, Operating the Cash Register, Customer Relations, Workplace Behavior, etc. The Learning Manger can now create a new Track of this program, enroll all new hires in it via a User Set, and have all Class Instances (and associated Moodle courses) created automatically. New hires now see their list of classes when they login, and they and their managers can see their status in the New Hire Training Program. Reports can be generated showing who has completed the program, and notifications can be sent automatically to remind new hires (and optionally their managers) that they need to complete classes. Finally, an optional online (PDF) certificate can be generated so that new hires can demonstrate their completion of the program. Similar program structures can be used for any other field where completion of programs of study are important.

Course Set:

A sub-group of courses that are assigned to an ELIS Program that share common characteristics. Each course may be defined as required or elective within the sub-group. At the ELIS Program level each sub-group may be assigned a number of ELIS Credits that must be completed within each sub-group.


A track is a given instance of a Program - a set of Class Instances that are given on a particular schedule, with a particular set of users. Tracks are used to manage enrollments, start and end times, reports, etc. For example, ACME Co. has a training program that all employees must take for compliance with company information security policy. When a new office is opened in Scranton, PA. all new hires must take the Information Security program, so a new track of the program is created for Scranton staff. This can automatically create all class instances for that track, enroll all staff who work in Scranton, and provide the Scranton manager(s) with reports on how well their staff are doing in completing the program. Likewise, a track of a required program might be created for all new hires on a given date, worldwide. In any case where it is required that a group of users take a particular program of study, a track is quick way to create classes and manage enrollments for that program.

More Examples: MyUniversity.edu has a Program that leads to a certificate in online teaching. Each year, a new track is created with the classes of the program that will be taught that year.

In this example, a Program leading to an online teaching certificate is comprised of 3 CDs. In the 2009-2010 academic year, a track of this program is created, with specific classes leading to a specific certification for that year.
elis programtrack example.png
The program is the overall description of the course of study that results in a certificate - for example it is what an institution might publish in a catalog. A track of a program is the specific courses a student might sign up for for a particular period of time. Other uses of tracks in a non-traditional settings would be to version the course content in a rolling enrollment system.

Summary: Course Descriptions are added to a Program to build a learning path, program of study, etc. Class Instances are the instance of a course that is being taught at a given time, date, with a given set of students, etc.

Learning Objectives:

Learning Objectives operate at the ELIS Course Description level as a method for assessing learner competencies, the key concepts or ideas that learners should take away from a course. They exist outside and above the Moodle course content level, at the ELIS Course Description level. Learning Objectives can provide flexibility for instructors - for example at the Moodle course leave one instructor might decide that a particular Learning Objective for the course would be met by a quiz, while another might decide it is met by a series of assignments. Learning Objectives also work with the ELIS Results Engine coming in the next release of ELIS 2. The Results Engine updates profile fields, enrolls in classes and/or tracks, etc. based on the results on Learning Objectives. Learning objectives also provide mileposts in the course for various ELIS Reports that measure learner progress, for example the Course Progress report that looks at the number of completed learning objectives as a measure of overall learner progress. Finally, Learning Objectives can be used with ELIS Class Instances that are not linked to Moodle courses, for face-to-face classes that have more than one assessment point. For example a face-to-face class where learners are assessed on attendance, performance on a oral presentation, and an on-paper test, can all be recorded in an ELIS class as Learning Objectives.

How are Learning Objectives different from Moodle 2 course conditional activities?
In addition to the points noted above regarding operation at the Course Description level and use in site level reports, Moodle's course level conditional activities and completion tracking are used to manage access to course content to manage learner flow through the content and track progress at the content level. For example an instructor might decide that learners can't take a quiz until they have completed an assignment, so they can set the quiz to be hidden until the assignment is completed. At the ELIS level completion of the the quiz and assignment together might be used to demonstrate that the student has achieved mastery of a particular concept, and so has completed one of the Learning Objectives of the course. As mentioned above, a different instructor might (if they have permission to edit the course content) decide that a different set of activities meet that same Learning Objective.

Learning Objectives support Pedagogical Flexibility:
Because Learning Objectives can be satisfied by scores in Moodle gradebook categories as well as individual activities, people building Moodle courses can also use Moodle's gradebook to set up the course so that completion of any of several activities meet a Learning Objective. This enables learners with different learning styles meet course objectives. For example someone building a Moodle course that provides the content for an ELIS Course Description might set things up in the gradebook so that one learner can choose to satisfy a Learning Objective with an essay, one with a video assignment, and another might satisfy the same objective with a summative test.

User Sets:

User Sets are flexible site level groupings of users. They can be used to setup up hierarchies of users, for example to mimic an organizational structure. These hierarchies can be role and permission based, for example to give an adviser, sub-administrator, or manager permission to change user information, view reports on a specific group of users, manage Program, Class Instance, and Track enrollment, etc. User sets can also be setup purely for reporting purposes, for example to show the CPR certification status, of all Nurses for a Health Care organization, to show the level of competency on a company's Products for all Sales Staff, or to show the progress against state standards for all students of a particular school in a district.