User:Olli Savolainen/Suggestion to develop Roles popup help text

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I thought we could do better with the current Roles help popups, which seem to be written from the point of view of the system, and not that of the user. I tried to bridge the needs of the users to the language of the system a bit, by explaining the concepts in the order they need to be understood since understanding some depends on some others.

Issues (discussion):

  • I could not figure out where to put this so placed it under my profile.
  • The names of the permissions are probably just wrong so suggestions are welcome.
  • There may also be outright mistakes, since I am learning this myself
  • The links point to whereever right now, sorry about that.

The top-level headings start new pages, that is, are page titles for pages in the popup help system.

Roles overview

I pretty much rewrote this page. --Olli Savolainen 17:11, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

Roles are Moodle's way of determining which user can do what, and in what situations.

There are two other key concepts that help in understanding Roles: Context and Permission. In addition, there are Overrides, which is a bit more advanced topic.


Can be thought of as a situation a user is in. In other words, it is a specific place in Moodle, such as a specific activity module, or a course. Each Permission is related to a given context.

More information: Contexts


Capability is a single thing that is feasible in a given Context (remember: in a specific place in Moodle). For example, students are usually allowed to Post to forum but teachers can also Delete posts.

More information: Permissions (?)


Usually, people are naturally acting in a certain role when using Moodle. A Moodle Role is a set of capabilities defined appropriate for a specific real-world role, such as student or teacher.

Example: Jim wants to enroll as a student in the course English Literature I. The goal, then is that so he can View course and Post to forum but that he can not Modify course. This is expressed in Moodle as: The user Jim should be assigned the role of Student in the (context of the) course English Literature I.

Example 2: You may have a Role called "Teacher" that is set up to allow teachers to do certain things (and not others). Once this role exists, you can assign it to someone in a course to make them a "Teacher" for that course. You could also assign the role to a user in the course category to make them a "Teacher" for all the courses under that category, or assign the role to a user just in a single forum, giving that user those capabilities just in that forum.

A more advanced feature is that Roles can be assigned to users just for a given Context. More information: Assigning roles

Moodle allows you to also define your own roles, so, for example, you can give a group of students more responsibility than others.

See also Contexts, Permissions, Assign Roles, Creating and Modifying roles, and Overrides.

Page: Assigning roles

Modified/added parts are in italics

By assigning a role to a user in a context, you are granting them the permissions contained in that role, for the current context and all "lower" contexts.


  1. System (the entire installation)
  2. Front page (the "site course")
  3. Course Categories
  4. Course Sub-categories
  5. Courses
  6. Blocks and Activities

Example: if you grant a Student role to a user in a Course, they will have that role for the course, but also all Blocks and Activities inside that course. Their actual permissions may depend on other roles and overrides that have been defined.

Example 2: Even if someone is “just” a student on a course, the teacher of the course may allow them to act as a teacher in a given forum in the course. He or she then assigns that student the teacher role in the Context of that forum.

See also Contexts, Permissions, Assign Roles, Creating and Modifying roles, and Overrides.

New page: Creating and modifying roles

Suggestion: move the stuff that talks about the more specific details 
about modifying roles, on a page of its own (this page here)
This page should mention where the controls/options are, of which it is talking.

A role must have a name. If you need to name the role for multiple languages you can use multilang syntax if you wish, such as

  <span lang="en">Teacher</span> 
  <span lang="es_es">Profesor</span> 

If you do this make sure the setting to "filter strings" is on for your installation.

The shortname is necessary for other plugins in Moodle that may need to refer to your Roles (eg when uploading users from a file or setting enrolments via an enrolment plugin).

The description is simply to describe the role in your own words, so that everyone has a common understanding about the role.

See also Contexts, Permissions, Assign Roles, Creating and Modifying roles, and Overrides.