Ask Mr. Moodle: Can I access Moodle and not be listed in the course participants?

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Here’s a question from a student of the American University of Beirut (check out their Moodle at http://moodle.aub.edu.lb/);

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I would like to know if there is a way to be able to access Moodle without being listed in the participants’ page.

Well, yes and no.  For the most part, allowing anonymous access is controlled by the editing teacher of the course.

Guest access:

It’s possible to access Moodle without being listed in the participants page if the course and site you’re accessing has allowed guest access.  With guest access you can tap into Moodle course resources and view web pages, books, glossaries, etc. with read-only access.  However you cannot interact with activities (add content to forums, glossaries, or upload files to assignments).  Your course instructor (editing teacher) has a few options for allowing guest access (requiring an enrollment key for example) which are accessible through the course settings.

If guest access is not allowed then there’s really no way not to access a course without getting listed in the participants list.

Shared access:

As an alternative, shared access could be provided as a “test user” account that provides more than one person to login with the same account information.  There are limits and dangers to this approach however, especially if this shared user can interact with activities and post to forums (as there is limited accountability).

Limited access to the participants list:

One final note is that hiding or deleting the participants list is can limit how students can get to the participants list (though it is indirectly accessible by clicking on a classmate’s name, say, in a forum, and then clicking the breadcrumbs to enter the participants list).

If you have a way to allow student access to course content without adding them to the participants list, share it in the comments.

UPDATE: Inspector Role

This one is courtesy of Mary Cooch in the comments:

The Inspector role is a bit like this http://docs.moodle.org/en/Inspector_role.

This is the process of creating a new role within a site which users can be assigned to and who do not show in the participants list.  Note that a teacher or administrator will need to take several actions to enable/set this up.