Five tips for using the new File Repository System in Moodle
Moodle 2 has introduced numerous enhancements in the past couple of years and one of the most relevant changes has happened in the file system. Files are now saved in repositories instead of being placed inside course or site files folders. File repositories are places where files are stored and organized; such areas exist inside or outside of Moodle and the access to repositories will vary depending on the administrative settings of each site. In today’s blog I am going to discuss updates to the File repository system for the Winter 2012 release of Joule and point out five best practices that can help you understand and take advantage of those changes.
Our recent release of Joule included Moodle Core 2.3.3 and several new enhancements to the File repository system. The File picker has a nicer looking interface that allows users to browse through files in different views and check the details of the files hosted in each repository. Users can drag and drop files directly from their desktop straight into file areas and it is now possible to copy or create an alias (shortcuts) of a file depending on the repository.
The new changes made to the File repository system have the potential to ease the management of files used inside Moodle courses. Teachers now have the capability to share common files among multiple courses and trigger updates that will be reflected in every alias location.
Following are five best practices to help you utilize the newest features of the File repository system to their fullest.
1. Familiarize yourself with the new interface. The File picker opens every time you click on a button that asks you to add a file to Moodle. When the File picker screen appears it lists the available repositories on the left side. Once you select a repository you can change the control the view of the files by clicking one of the icons located in the upper right-hand corner of the dialog box. Experiment with the different options to find your preferred path of navigation among files.
2. Drag and drop files to your courses: Drag and drop is available in almost every location where you can load files into Moodle but it is important to remember that you can also drag and drop files to the front page of your course. Simply turn editing on and drag a file from your computer to the desired topic area in your course. The file uploads and is then automatically turned into a File resource without the need of adding a resource and uploading the file through the File picker. The maximum size of a file is defined in the course settings. If you drag a zip file the system will ask if you want to create a new folder keep it as a file resource or add a SCORM package.
3. Easily manage your files via the Private Files repository: Each user has a private area for uploading and managing a set of files. The Private files interface is the most convenient place to create aliases because it allows for the updating of source files via the File manager/File picker. Once you are in your private files you can select any of the files name to see or change the information of the files saved inside the repository. It is also the safest place to store your files if you want to avoid surprise updates to the aliased files. Only the owner of the private file has the capability of overwriting the source files saved in the repository.
4. Reuse files used in previous courses: The Server Files repository is the place where files are located in a site-specific context not just the course. It is a way for teachers to navigate within the site’s file database and find the files used in their own courses. By using the File picker you can create aliases of files placed in one of your existing courses. If a file needs an update you just need to return to one place and overwrite the original activity/resource where the file was created.
5. Take advantage of the storage space of External Repositories: Site administrators can set up multiple options where users can pick files from external repositories. Use external repositories to copy or alias files that have been saved to the cloud or on a private network. External repositories usually have a higher storage capacity than the Private files repository and files added via an external repository are saved and overwritten outside of Moodle. The creation of aliases is only available for certain repositories so please check with your site administrator to see if that is a viable option for you.
These are just few tips that can assist you in the management of files inside Moodle. I recommend you to attend the File Repository System webinar in case you want to learn more about the file system changes.