About Courses

Courses in Valamis are scopes of your environment that help divide your content and users into specific areas.

Courses are only created through the Course manager. Created courses can be saved as a draft, meaning that only certain members will be able to access it (for construction purposes), or be published immediately or later. The course status is indicated in the main view.

Liferay sites are visible in Courses manager and marked as Non-Valamis sites. They can be filtered out of the list. They are also not visible in the Course browser for learners, which only shows courses.

One user can be a member of one Course and join another, if it is available. 

Non-Valamis sites can be converted to Courses by publishing them in Course Manager.

There are two tools related to Courses: Course Manager and Course Browser.

Course Manager is mostly an instructor tool, but it can be made accesible to normal users, if needed - for example, you can allow learners to create their own subcourses (for current course) for their collaboration needs.

Course Browser is a tool for listing available courses for users.

Creating a course

To create a new course, open Course Manager, and click the New Course button.

In the creation window, you will see a number of fields to be filled:

  1. Course Name: create a name for your course.
  2. Upload a Cover image, or choose it from the Media Gallery. A 4:3 JPG or PNG image under 200kb is recommended.
  3. Summary: briefly describe the course in this field.
  4. Categories: categorize your course with tags.
  5. Choose an URL to be used for that course, e.g. typing "valamis" here will make your URLs look like this: <domain name>/web/valamis
  6. Choose a membership type. There are three membership types: 
    1. Open: any user can join by clicking the Join button.
    2. Restricted: any user can send a request to join by clicking Send Request. The instructor either approves or dismisses the request.
    3. Closed: the instructor assigns the users; the course is not visible to everybody.
  7. Course completion criteria (1 or more have to be selected):
    1. Manual approval required means that the instructor needs to give a course grade for that course to count as completed.
    2. Lessons required - means that all lessons on the course need to be completed.
    3. Learning paths required - means that all learning paths on the course need to be finished.
  8. Active: set the active status of the course.
  9. Instructors: choose the instructors for this course.
  10.     Availability period - set the dates from and until which it will be available to the users.
  11. Maximum number of participants: set a limit on the number of concurrent participants in the course.
  12. Prerequisite learning paths: list the prerequisite learning paths that are required to be achieved in order to access the course.
  13. Create a user group for members - all members of the course are automatically assigned into a new user group. You can use this feature in various ways - for example, when you create a Learning Path and add this user group to it, later, when the course gets new participants, they will automatically also become participants of this learning path, due to being in the user group. It helps you avoid adding new users manually to the learning paths relevant to the course.
  14. Visual preset: Template or Theme. Note that you can only choose your Site Template once during creation. After that, you can only change the applied Theme.
  15. Course pages: Private, Public, or both. Private pages are not visible to guest users. Depending on the choice, you can add descriptions separately for Public and/or Private pages for the Landing Pages. You can also choose the course templates for these types here.
    1. Under both Private and Public templates you can toggle the setting Allow propagation of changes from template. This means that if you disable it, your course will be untouched even if the original course template has been edited.
  16. Create organization course - this course will be used for organization of user hierarchy purposes, like in Liferay. Organization itself is also created.
    1. You can't create an organization site as a subcourse to a normal course, because it's a different type of site.
    2. For an existing organization site, you can create subcourses (suborganizations)
  17.  For subcourses: Limit membership to members of the parent course
  18. Allow manual membership management - this defines the user management scope for instructors, allowing them to add and delete members in courses. It's more relevant for organization courses.
  19. Course credits - assign the number of credits granted for completing the course. This is not displayed anywhere, but it is stored for use in Analytics.
  20. Course PD (professional development) hours - The number of hours granted upon completion is defined here, and will be stated in an xAPI Statement when the user completes the course. This data (and credits) can be used in learning analytics.
  21. Keywords - Keywords can be used to index courses. If you want some topic to be relevant to the course, but don’t want to mention it in the title, description, or categories, you can use keywords for this purpose.

To add a member to a course, choose Edit Members in the Action menu. In the following dialog, choose Add users. Select the users you want to add to the course. The users should already exist in the environment.

Additionally, in the Actions menu, you can set permissions for user roles on available courses, and go to Private or Public pages directly. 

Course Manager preferences

The Preferences in the Course Manager contain several settings that may be useful for administrators who work with the Liferay part of the environment.

The first part is related to the course list that is shown in the main view of the Course manager.

  1. Show child courses only - Course manager will only show subcourses of a current course
  2. Display organization sites - defines whether Organization type of sites are shown in the Course manager
  3. Use the custom portlet title from Look and Feel settings - allows you to define a different portlet title for Course Manager by defining it in the Look & Feel settings. 

The following settings define some default values for created courses. It means that, if set up, these fields will not be available when creating a new course, and the default values will be used.

  1. Predefined template for public/private pages- a default site template for different types of pages.
  2. Course pages - Public, Private, or Public & Private.
  3. Predefined membership type - Open, Restricted, or Private
  4. Create organization course
  5. Allow manual membership management for courses
  6. Allow manual membership management for organization courses
  7. Course completion criteria
  8. Created course should be active - forces the newly created course to be active immediately
  9. Preset categories - show courses of only specific categories

Role assigned to course creator define the following:

  1. Predefined site role
  2. Predefined organization role

Configuration fields visibility defines what type of field are available during course creation, such as course credits, logo, URL, and more. 

The rest of options include:

  1. Limit membership to the members of the parent course 
  2. Enable user group creation - allows the possibility to create a user group for course members as described above.

Course Browser

Course browser provides a simple list of Courses for learners to join or browse.

In the Preferences of Course browser you will see the following settings.

Course list settings:

  1. Show only child courses - shows only the subcourses for the current course
  2. Display organization courses - include organization courses in the list.
  3. Show courses with these templates - filters the course list according to selection.
  4. Show courses with these categories - only displayed the courses of the selected categories.
  5. Replace dropdown menus with action buttons - if Simplified view is disabled, this setting switches between Actions dropdown and separate Action buttons for Join, Leave, and Send request.

Simplified view - if enabled, a more minimalist view will be used. The following settings are available if you enable Simplified view:

  1. Show courses - choose My Courses or Available Courses
  2. Show Actions buttons - enables Join, Leave, and Send request action buttons. If disabled, users will only be able to view Courses.
  3. Show number of participants
  4. Show ratings
  5. Limit the number of courses shown

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