Moodle Super Student role: an update

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Moodle comes with a number of pre-defined roles.  A role defines what a particular user can do in the system [1].  ‘Out-of-the-box’ roles include Manager, Tutor and Student.  These roles are both generic and clear, and largely meet the needs of College. 
However, many students may benefit from personalised access to resources and activities. Moodle offers opportunities to support learners with a range of learning difficulties or disabilities in ways that would simply not have been possible in the past. These include medical and other conditions, including dyslexia [2].
Providing early access to specific materials, both easily and discretely, to students with declared Special Educational Needs (SENs) within a Moodle course is an important issue.
The e-learning team responded to this in 2009 by creating a new role, the Super Student, which extends the permissions and powers of the default student role.  The Super Student role initially allowed those students with the role assignation to see resources and activities that are otherwise hidden from the cohort.  The role was extended in 2010, to allow access to quizzes without time limits.

New development

In 2012, a new function in Moodle 2 - the quiz User Override - allows course owners to provide bespoke additional time for SEN students. This function is independent of roles and is applied to Moodle activities.  It has already proven to be a useful tool, with successful usage in History, Biological Sciences, and the School of Management.


The Quick Guides that cover the assignation of the Super Student role, and demonstrate the quiz User Override function are located at - Section 5 (RHUL only)

Challenges & solutions

Challenge 1

The provision of unlimited additional time to take a quiz is a somewhat blunt tool. There are a number of cases where students have been able to take as much time as they wanted to complete a quiz.  Unchecked use of the Super Student role can put the integrity of Moodle quizzes- and therefore the validity of results - into doubt.

Solution 1

Remove the unlimited additional-time setting of the Super Student role.  The Moodle Team would carry this out at systems-level.  The quiz User Override function offers a much fairer and efficient method of providing tailored support for those that need it.

Challenge 2

A limitation of the Super Student role is that it allows a student with the role to see ALL the hidden files in a course.  This is exacerbated by Moodle 2, which does not offer a repository service (file manager) to store files beyond a course front page.

The Super Student role can conflict with courses where editors upload and then hide files from students until a certain time.

Solution 2

Super Students can see only those HIDDEN files that have been uploaded to VISIBLE weeks/topics.  To prevent Super Students from viewing hidden files to which they should not have access, upload the files to HIDDEN weeks/topics.
For example, if materials for Week 5 of a course should not be seen by anyone on the course, the tutor should hide the week.  This will then hide all the resources within that week.  If a Super Student requires access to the materials in advance, then make the week visible and then hide each of the resources/activities as required.  The Super Student will then be able to view the hidden materials.


The Quick Guide that demonstrates the hiding/revealing Moodle topics, resources & activities is located at - Section 2 (RHUL only)

[1] Moodle Roles & Capabilities:
[2] CAMEL: Exploring Tangible Benefits of e-Learning:                      

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