by: Kristin Isler, Product Development Coordinator
Availability restriction plugins allow instructors to lock activities and resources until specific conditions are met. For example, an instructor could use an availability restriction plugin prevent students from attempting a quiz until all lessons in a course are marked as complete. These availability restriction plugins are some of the most important tools in online learning because they allow instructors to easily modify instruction for specific users or groups of users.
Although there are basic choices built into both Moodle and Totara, the Moodle community offers many quality availability restriction plugins that can help to improve instruction and outcomes.
This plugin is a simple way to ensure that students complete all course completion requirements before accessing an activity or resource. Completion reports give instructors a great overview of student progress as well as provide learners with visual completion marks to help them track their progress. Once course completion criteria are set up, this plugin can be used to unlock resources such as final assessments or certificates.
This plugin allows instructors to have course sections or activities automatically unlock based on the number of days since the course start date. In a blended learning environment where instruction may also be delivered in person, this can be used to limit learner access to materials or activities until a specific time. This differs from Restrict Access By Date in that it would not need to be updated for each new semester or class. Content that learners would need on the 21st day of class would automatically unlock whether the 21st day is in September or January.
This plugin allows resources, activities, and course sections to be restricted to only users with a specific role. Materials like answer sheets or speaker notes can be viewed by non-editing instructors such as teacher assistants or substitutes. Extra study guides can be included in course content for parents to work with their children. And depending on how custom roles are used in the course, this plugin allows for differentiated instruction for individuals based on academic level or department.
Gamification continues to be a favorite instructional strategy for both learners and instructors. The Level Up! plugin allows learners to earn points and increase levels based on the actions they complete in a course or site. This availability plugin requires learners to reach a specific level before they are allowed to access materials or activities.
While most paid-courses are sold in full, it can be useful to allow users to access some but not all content. For example, a user might be able to access a course but would have to pay to access the quizzes and certificate specifically. Another scenario could be giving free access to the first section of a course but require payment for the other sections. The Paypal Availability plugin allows for more granular control over what is can be accessed after payment.
Availability restrictions give greater control to online Instructors and help provide the best content and experience for their learners. Whether it’s based on activity completion, enrollment, user information, or e-commerce options, these plugins provide a way to individualize content for each individual learner.