To use iLearn effectively you will need to know how to create activities for your students to complete. These activities can include online assignments, journals, peer review tasks, Wiki pages, as well as glossary, database, and lesson activities. Use the links below to learn how to implement these activities using the iLearn system.

Assignment: creating and grading online assignments

The assignments activity allows tutors to collect work from students, review and provide feedback including grades. Students can submit any digital content such as documents, spreadsheets, images, audio and video clips. There are numerous assignment, submission and feedback settings available to allow you to customize the assignment.

Scenario: Different assignment types were set up on the unit page to facilitate weekly online assignment submissions. The assignment type varied week-to-week however the majority of assignments required submissions of completed computer programs so the assignment type that enabled uploading files was utilized the most.


  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Go to the week/topic you wish to add the assignment to.
  3. Click Add an activity or resource and select Assignment.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter an Assignment name.
  6. Enter a Description giving details of the assignment.
  7. Tick Display description on unit page box for the Description (entered in step 6) to appear below the Assignment link.
  8. Set Allow submissions from, Due date and Cut-off date. If you do not wish to enforce a timeframe for submission then un-tick all Enable fields.
  9. Use the options under the Submission types to determine the assignment type.
    • Tick the box for Online text for students to type text directly into an editor for their submissions.
    • Tick the box for File submissions for students to upload one or more files as their submissions. Assign the Maximum number of uploaded files and Maximum submission size from the available options.
  10. Use the options under the Feedback settings to determine the method for providing feedback comments.
    • Tick the box for Feedback comments to leave feedback comments for each submission.
    • Tick the box for Feedback files to upload files with feedback when marking the assignments.
  11. Use the options under Submission settings to determine how submission attempts are reopened. For Attempts reopened the available options are:
    • Select Never if the student submission cannot be reopened.
    • Select Manually if the student submission can be reopened by a teacher.
    • Select Automatically until pass if the student submission is automatically reopened until the student achieves the grade to pass value set in the Gradebook (Categories and items section) for this assignment.
  12. If using Attempts reopened, select the number of Maximum attempts of submissions that can be made by a student.
  13. The remaining options can be left as the defaults for setting up a basic assignment. Click Save and return to unit or Save and display to view.

To grade submitted assignments:

  1. Click on the relevant Assignment link within a week/topic or on the Assignments link in the Activities block(this will take you to the list of all assignments).
  2. Click View all submissions to view a list of all submissions for that assignment.
  3. Click on the link to an individual submission to download/view. Alternatively, select Download grading worksheet to download all submissions to a single zip file.
  4. Click on the Grade button  for the assignment you wish to assess.
  5. Enter a Grade.
  6. View the Current grade in gradebook if the assignment has already been graded.
  7. If enabled, enter Feedback into the HTML editor.
  8. If enabled, attach a file with feedback comments.
  9. Click Save changes.

To use quick grading:

  1. Tick Quick grading.
  2. Depending on Feedback settings, columns for Grade, Feedback comments, and Feedback files will appear.
  3. Enter a grade/feedback into the textbox.
  4. Once you have completed marking, click Save all quick grading changes.
  5. You will see a message stating changes have been saved. Click Continue.

To grant extensions for assignment submissions:

  1. Tick the first column for the student name/s you wish to grant an extension to.
  2. Select Grant extension for With selected… and click Go.
  3. Set the Extension due date and tick Enable.
  4. Click Save changes.

Choice: creating an online poll

The choice activity allows the teacher to ask a question and specify a selection of multiple responses for students to answer. This can be useful for finding out what topics students would like to discuss more often, signing up for group or research projects, and more.

To set up a choice:

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Go to the week/topic you wish to add the choice to.
  3. Click Add an activity or resource and select Choice.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter a Choice name . This will be the name of the link within your week/topic.
  6. Enter the question you would like to ask into the Description field.
  7. Tick Display description on unit page box for the Introduction text (entered in step 6) to appear below the link to Choice.
  8. Change the Display mode to Display vertically.
  9. Assign Limit the number of responses from the available options. If no is selected then any number of participants can select each of the options.
  10. Assign Options to specify the answers students can select from.
  11. You can fill in any number of these options. If you leave some of the options blank, they will not be displayed. If you need more than 5 options, click on the Add 3 fields to form button.
  12. The remaining options can be left as the defaults for setting up a basic choice. Click Save and return to unit or Save and display to view.

Conditional activities: setting conditions for access to activities and resources

Conditional activities allow you to scaffold students’ learning progress by making access to resources or activities conditional upon meeting set criteria such as grade obtained, dates or activity completion. For example, students may only be able to access quiz 2 after obtaining at least 80% in quiz 1.

You need to complete three steps in order to set up conditional activities:

  1. Enable completion tracking for the whole unit.
  2. Set the criteria for a resource or activity to be considered as ‘complete’.
  3. Set the conditions to restrict access to a resource or activity.

To enable completion tracking for the unit:

You must enable completion tracking in your unit, before you can set up conditional activities.

  1. Go to the Tools block and select Edit settings.
  2. Scroll down to Completion tracking .
  3. Select Yes to Enable completion tracking .
  4. Click Save changes.

You must then assign the conditions for an individual resource or activity to be considered ‘complete’.

To set completion criteria for a resource or activity:

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. To edit click on the Edit settings next to the resource or activity link or go to the Tools block and select Edit settings from within the resource or activity.
  3. Scroll down the page to the Activity completion section. The available options will be different according to the type of resource of activity. For example, you can require students to simply view a URL before it can be marked as ‘complete’:

    Or you can require students to make a certain number of postings in a forum before it can be marked as ‘complete’:

  4. Click Save and return to unit.

To restrict access to a resource or activity:

  1. Go to the editing page of the resource or activity you wish to restrict access to by following steps 1 and 2 above.
  2. Scroll down the page to the Restrict access section.

To restrict access according to dates:

  1. Click Add restriction and select Date to activate date menus.
  2. Assign dates using the drop down menus for Allow access from and Allow access until.

To restrict access according to a Grade condition:

  1. Click Add restriction and select Grade to activate grade menus.
  2. Assign an activity for Grade condition from the available options and a grade that must be obtained.

To restrict access according to the User Profile:

  1. Click Add restriction and select User profile field to activate user profile field menus.
  2. Assign a field from the available options to get a User profile field, which helps to control access based on fields within the student’s profile.
  3. Assign is equal to from the available options.

To restrict access according to an Activity completion condition:

  1. Click Add restriction and select Restriction set.
  2. In the Restriction set box click Add restriction… and select Grade.
  3. Assign a field for Student must/must not match the following for the activity.
  4. Select the activity from the drop down list and tick either must be > % or must be < % and enter the grade student need to achieve to complete open this activity.
  5. Click Save and return to unit.

Database: creating a database activity

The database activity allows students to create customised entries using a range of formats and structures including: images, files, links, dates, numbers and text. A database can be used to: build a collection of web links/books/journal references related to a subject, display student-created photos/essays/websites/poems for peer comment and review, and gather comments and votes on a shortlist of potential project ideas.

Scenario: A database was set up on the unit page to enable students to store bibliographic details of scholarly articles they had used for their literature reviews. This database became a searchable resource for researching assignments later in the unit, as well as in future offerings of the unit.

To create a database:

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Go to the week/topic where you wish to add the database to.
  3. Click Add an activity or resource and select Database.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter a Name. This will be the name of the link within your week/topic.
  6. Enter a Description. This may include instructions on adding entries.

  7. Tick Display description on unit page box for the Introduction (entered in step 6) to appear below the Database link.
  8. Click Save and Display .
    (The remaining options can be left as the defaults. Options include allowing students to comment, or requiring teacher approval for entries.)
  9. Click on the Fields tab.
  10. Under Choose… select a type of field from the available options. Follow the prompts to set up each type of field.
    Eg, fields for a database of websites might include a Text field for title, a Url field for the site link and a Textarea for a description of the site.
  11. Repeat step 8 to add more fields. Alternatively, you can select a predefined set of fields and modify those to your needs.
  12. The database display templates (for list, single entry views etc), accessed under the Templates tab, will automatically display your fields, but you are also able to manually alter the templates.

    Attention If you edit or add fields in your database after the initial setup, you must use the Reset template button, or manually edit the template, to ensure the new fields are displayed correctly.

Adding a database entry

  1. Go to the Database to which you wish to add an entry.
  2. Click on the Add entry tab.
  3. Fill in the database field/s to create the entry.
  4. Click Save to add more entries.

Depending on permissions, entries can be created, edited , deleted ,  commented on, rated and exported. Entries can be viewed individually  or as a list, searched and sorted.

Using the database as an assessed activity

You can use a database as an assessed activity by assigning a grade for database entries. You can keep the submissions hidden from other students initially, and then share the submissions after grading.

To set up the database as an assessed activity:

  1. Set up a database as described above up to step 7.
  2. Select 1 for Entries required for completion (or as many entries as is required for completion of the activity).
  3. Select Yes for Allow comments on entries if you want students to be able to comment on other student posts.
  4. Select Yes for Approval required?
  5. Assign an Aggregate type for Ratings . If there is only one entry, ‘Maximum rating’ is fine. (Check the descriptions of the other types by clicking on the grey question mark.)
  6. Assign a value for Scale. This is the grade for the activity.
    On saving, this will add the activity as a column in the Gradebook.
    The rating will only be visible in the Gradebook to the student who authored the submission. Students will not see other students’ grades. You can hide the results from students by hiding the column in Gradebook.
  7. Click Save and display and continue to set up as outlined above.
  8. To grade students’ entries, click on the View single tab and grade each submission via the rating drop down menu.
  9. Students will be able to view their grade via the Gradebook. If you add comments via the Database they will be visible to everyone when entries are published. If you wish to provide grading comments, enter these directly into the Gradebook.
  10. Once submissions are graded, you can either publish them individually (if students are given the option of keeping submissions private) by clicking on the tick icon  (in the list or single view for the entry). If you wish to share all database content with students, change the Require approval? setting to No.

Database presets: creating a quick database using presets

You can set up a database easily using database presets. These presets are a set of fields that have been put together to create a database that serves a particular purpose e.g. image repository. You can either choose from a number of available presets or create and store your own. This quick guide will demonstrate how to set up a database using the URLWeblinks preset.

Using URLWeblinks preset to setup a database:

  1. Click on the Presets tab.
  2. You will see four sections on the page, two for exporting and two for importing.  To apply an existing preset, click one of the radio buttons in the bottom section titled Use a preset.
  3. Click Choose.
  4. A summary of the fields in this preset will appear for review.
  5. Click Continue.
  6. The following message will appear.
  7. Click Add entry to view the form for entering an image in this preset.
  8. The database templates for presets will be formatted as shown in the image below, however, if you wish to edit these go to the Templates tab and customise the templates to suit your needs.

Glossary: creating a glossary activity

Glossary is an interactive activity that allows students to create and comment on entries using text and images. Glossary entries can be displayed, searched, or browsed in many different formats and can also be linked from other places within your unit page.

Scenario: A glossary was set up on the unit page to help students to become familiar with technical terms that are used throughout the course. Having all of the terms in a glossary gave students a resource to go back to for revision on terms and concepts relating to the course.

Creating a glossary

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Go to the week/topic you wish to add the glossary to.
  3. Select Glossary for Add an activity...
  4. Enter a Name .
  5. Enter a Description.
  6. The remaining options can be left as the defaults for setting up a basic glossary. Click Save and return to unit or Save and display to view.

Adding an entry to a glossary

  1. Go to the Glossary you wish to add entries to.
  2. Click on the Add a new entry button.
  3. Enter a Concept. This will be the name of the glossary entry.
  4. Enter a Definition. This can include text and or images of the glossary entry.
  5. The remaining options can be left as the defaults for setting up a basic entry. Click Save changes.

Adding a category to a glossary

  1. Go to the Glossary you wish to add a category to.
  2. Select Browse by category.
  3. Click on the Edit categories button.
  4. Click on the Add category button.
  5. Enter a Name.
  6. Assign Automatically link this category from the available options.
  7. Click on the Save changes button.

Lesson: creating a lesson activity

The lesson activity presents a sequential series of pages. Students are usually asked to make choices to navigate from start to end. The choices will determine the pages that will be visited. Lessons consist of three key features: content pages, question pages, and navigational buttons.

To set up a lesson:

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Go to the week/topic you wish to add the lesson to.
  3. Click Add an activity or resource and select Lesson.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter a Name and Description. This will be the name of the link within your week/topic that students will click to begin this activity.
  6. Click to expand the  Availability heading.  Enter a Time Limit if you wish to allocate a certain amount of time for completion of the activity. The lesson will remain open after time has lapsed, however, the marks will not be recorded. You can also selectively release the activity using the date fields. For both of these options, be sure to check the Enable box.
  7. Click to expand the Appearance heading.  Assign Maximum number of answers from the available options.

  8. The remaining options can be left as the defaults for setting up a basic lesson. Click Save and display .
  9. The following page of options will appear:


  • Import questions: Questions can imported in the below formats and uploaded into the lesson.  Choose file format and upload your compatible file.
  • Add a content page: A simple HTML page with more detailed content.
  • Add a cluster: Introduces a group of hidden choices and pathways for the lesson.
  • Add a question page: A question or questions that link with content page(s).


To add a content page:

  1. Click on the Edit tab.
  2. Select Add a content page.
  3. Enter a Page title.
  4. Enter Page contents in the HTML editor.
  5. Enter a Description that will then become an active link to another page.
  6. Assign Jump from the available options ie to select the page that the content Description text will link to.  If this is the first page created then select This page for Jump.

To add a question page:

  1. Click on the Edit tab.
  2. Select Add a question page here.
  3. Select Question type.
  4. Click Create a question page. 
  5. Enter a Page title. This is required on all question types
  6. Enter Page contents. This is the question to be answered.

    Then, depending on which question type you choose, there will be differing options to be completed. These could include any of the following.
  7. Enter a Response. This is the feedback you give for correct and incorrect answers.
  8. Assign Jump from the available options ie select the page the given answer will direct the student to.
  9. Enter an Answer (or Answers), both correct and incorrect – if applicable.
  10. Click Save page to save and continue.

OU blogs: creating an online journal

The OU blog activity facilitates collaboration across the course, within groups, as well as individually. An OU blog can be used to keep a journal or personal reflection; share tutorial ideas and presentations; or complete an assessment task.

To create a blog:

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Go to the week/topic where you wish to add the OU blog.
  3. Click Add an activity or resource and select OU blog.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter a Blog name. This will be the name of the link within your week/topic.
  6. Enter an Intro. This will appear in a block next to entries and could be a short intro to the purpose of the blog.

    The next three drop-down menus set the parameters for posts in the blog.
  7. Assign Allow comments from the available options:
    Yes, from logged-in users - only people with iLearn access can comment
    Yes, from everybody - anyone can comment, but the post author moderates external comments
    Comments not allowed - no-one can comment
    Individuals are still able to disallow comments on their own posts, if comments are allowed at the blog level.
  8. Assign Individual blogs from the available options:
    No - the blog is a community effort and all posts are part of the one blog
    Separate individual blogs - only the convenor and the individual can see the individual’s blog
    Visible individual blogs - each individual has their own blog, viewable by all other students
    For individual blogs, navigate between each one via a drop-down menu.
  9. Assign Maximum visibility from the available options:
    Visible to participants on this course - anyone enrolled in the course
    Visible to anyone who is logged in to the system - anyone who has an iLearn login
    Visible to anyone in the world - any Internet user
    Like comments, the individual can choose whom to share the post with, within the parameter you set at the blog level.
  10. Click Save and display. You are now ready to start posting to the blog.

Adding a blog post

  1. Click on the OU blog link next to the OU blog icon  on the unit homepage or in the Activities block.
  2. Click on the New blog post button.
  3. Enter a Title and the body of your post in Message.
  4. Enter Tags separated by commas. Tagsare optional but useful for organising posts - by clicking on a tag, available in a side block, you see all posts that have been classified with that tag. You may wish to suggest some common tags for collaborative blogs.
  5. Assign Allow comments to yes or no.
  6. Who can read this? - visible if the blog offers the option to share beyond the unit. You can make your post visible to anyone in iLearn (‘logged into the system’) or, if allowed the option, to anyone in the world, i.e. make it public.
  7. Click Add post.

OU wiki: creating a wiki

The OU Wiki activity in iLearn allows everyone in the unit to create a collection of collaboratively authored webpages without needing to know HTML. A Wiki allows each author to contribute content to an existing page as well as add new pages.

To add a Wiki:

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Go to the week/topic you wish to add the Wiki to.
  3. Click Add an activity or resource and select OU Wiki.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter a Wiki name .
  6. Enter a Wiki description – this could be an outline of the task and some general instructions for students on how to add content. This will appear on the top of every page in the Wiki.
  7. Tick Display description on unit page box for the Wiki description (entered in step 6) to appear below the Wiki link.
  8. Click to expand the Wiki settings heading and assign Sub-wikis from the available options:
    Single wiki for unit – The one Wiki is available to everyone in the unit.
    One wiki per group – Each group has their own Wiki that only group members can access and edit.
    Separate wiki for every user – Each user has an individual Wiki.
    Click on the Help icon  for more information on each option.
  9. Select Yes for Annotation system if you would like teaching staff to be able to make comments on Wiki pages.
  10. Assign a length of Time allowed for edit. This will restrict the length of time people can spend editing a Wiki page at a given time. It will lock the page from others being able to edit it until they have finished to avoid the problem of two people attempting to edit the same page at once.
  11. Expand the sections below to set a grade if being marked, or to apply group settings (Common module settings).
  12. The remaining options can be left as the defaults for setting up a basic Wiki. Click Save and display to create pages (follow the steps in Creating a Wiki structure) otherwise click Save and return to unit .

Creating a Wiki structure

You will now design a structure for students to work with. The structure will be designed to fit the purpose of the Wiki task.

  1. Click Create page to start the process.
  2. Enter the title of each page making up the Wiki in a double set of square brackets in the HTML editor . E.g. [[Contents]].
  3. Click Save changes.
  4. A preview of the Wiki structure will display.
  5. Add a new section to that Wiki page by typing in a section title and clicking Add.
  6. Create a new page within that Wiki page by typing in a page title and clicking Create.

To upload a file in the Wiki:

  1. Click on the Edit tab in the Wiki.
  2. Type in the title of the page e.g. My file.
  3. Highlight the title entered and click on the insert/edit link icon.
  4. Click on the Browse icon.
  5. Click on the Upload a file link.
  6. Click on the Upload this file button.

To add an image in the Wiki:

  1. Click on the Edit tab in the Wiki.
  2. Click on the Image icon.
  3. Click Find or upload an image…
  4. Click Upload a file.
  5. Click Browse.
  6. Search for the image in your computer files and click Upload this file.
  7. Enter an Image description.
  8. Click Insert.

Workshops: creating a peer-review activity

Workshop is a collaborative activity, which encourages student interaction.  It is a good tool for achieving peer review and/or assessment. Projects within workshop can be peer graded, instructor graded or a combination of both.  Specific assessment criteria can be created to support the assessment feature of the workshop activity.

Setting up a workshop

Workshops are set up in five phases: Setup, Submission, Assessment, Grading Evaluation and Closed. Each phase is explained below.

Setup phase

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Go to the week/topic you wish to add the workshop to.
  3. Click Add an activity or resource and select Workshop.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter a Workshop Name . This name will be shown as the link within your week/topic.
  6. Enter a Description describing the workshop. These details will be shown to students when the activity is in the Setup phase . Include all information the students need to know such as the times and dates of the phases and the assessment requirements (if applicable). These can be repeated again below.
  7. Select Workshop features.
    Use examples: If enabled, users can try assessing one or more example submissions and compare their assessment with a reference assessment. The grade is not counted in the grade for assessment.
    Use self-assessment: If enabled, a user may be allocated their own submission to assess and will receive a grade for assessment in addition to a grade for their submission.

  8. The Grade Settings section allows weighting of grades for submission and assessment. You can also utilise different methods for grading, including Rubric, Accumulative, Number of errors and Comments only.
    Assign Grade Settings.
    Grade for submission: Specify the maximum grade that may be obtained for submitted work.
    Grade for assessment: Specify the maximum grade that may be obtained for the whole submission assessment.
    Grading strategy: Determine the assessment form and method of grading submissions.
  9. Enter Instructions for submission . The task description should be repeated here as this is what will be shown to students when the activity is in the Submission phase . A reminder of times and dates for each of the following phases would also be useful (that will be set in item 10 below).
  10. Enter Instructions for Assessment . Use this space to explain how students will be graded as per the information set in item 7 above.
  11. Availability . Enter the dates for the submission and assessment phases (if required).
  12. The remaining options can be left as the defaults for setting up a basic workshop. Click Save and display to continue.

In order to set the criterion for an assignment, you need to fill out an assessment form during the setup phase by selecting the Edit assessment form link. Students view the assessment form in the submission phase to focus on what is important about the task when working on their assignment.

To complete the assessment form:

  1. Click on Edit assessment form.
  2. Enter a Description . This is the criterion that is to be considered when reviewing the submission, for example structure, originality or grammar.
  3. If the workshop activity was setup to be graded then a value for Scale and Weight will be required otherwise, only a Description of the criterion is needed.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for all remaining criteria.
  5. Click Save and close. This completes the setup.

Once all submissions have been received or the submission date has passed you are able to allocate submissions.

Submission phase

  1. Click on the Submission phase light bulb icon.
  2. A message will appear. Click on the Continue button.
  3. Select Allocate submissions then select either Manual allocation or Random allocation. 
    Manual allocation to manually assign submissions to students. Complete the necessary fields required.
    Random allocation to setup a system of random allocation. Complete the necessary fields required.
    Schedule allocation to automaticaly allocate submission for the assessment at the end of the submission phase.

Assessment phase

In this phase the reviewers can assess the submissions that they have been allocated. In order for this process to begin, click on the Assessment phase light bulb icon.

Grading evaluation phase

Once all the submissions have been assessed, the process of grading begins. To begin, click on the Grading evaluation phase light bulb icon. In this phase, you can specify settings for calculating the grade for submissions. Currently there is only one option – comparison with the best assessment. This method of evaluation will try to imagine what a hypothetical absolutely fair assessment would look like.

Comparison of assessments specifies how strict the comparison of assessments should be.

Closed phase

To make the grades available in gradebook and to allow students to view their assessments and submissions, click on the Closed phase light bulb icon.

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