Introducing the Certificate module
The certificate module is a great way to give learners additional praise for completing their course, or if the course they’re taking leads to a certification it will allow them to print and download their Certificate through Moodle.
Installing the Certificate plugin
The plugin is available for download in zip format from https://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?id=105. Just select your version of Moodle from the dropdown list and click ‘Download’. The zip file should be unzipped and its contents moved into ‘Moodle’/mod folder.
Once the files are moved into the correct directory you can login to the Moodle site as an admin and complete the installation by going to Site administration ► Notifications. For me this process only took a few minutes and completed without any errors.
As always you should take a backup of your Moodle site before installing this plugin.
The certificates can be customised by making changes to a PHP file within the certificate folder. In order to do this you will need direct access to the server your Moodle site, or alternatively you could create the certificate PHP file on a local installation of Moodle. The changes within the PHP file will allow you to change the position, style and size of the text, as well as the position and size of images.
The files you edit are found in the ‘types’ folder and are named ‘A4 Non-Embedded’, ‘A4 Embedded’, ‘Letter Non-Embedded’ and ‘Letter Embedded’. It is best to create a copy of the file you wish to edit and give it a more appropriate name.
Images can also be uploaded into the directory on the server directly if you have access, or alternatively you can upload the images via the Moodle interface by doing the following: Go to Site administration ► Plugins ► Activity modules ► Certificate ► Upload image. Here you will be able to select the image type you wish to upload from the drop down menu, then you can upload the chosen image.
The certificate is added as an activity within a course. To add it you simply enable editing within the course, click ‘Add an activity or resource’ and then select ‘Certificate’ from the Activities section.
Once the certificate module is added to the course you will be taken to the configuration screen. On this screen you are required to give the module a name, this is the name that will display within the course.
If you expand the ‘Issue options’ section you can configure the following options:
- Email Teachers – If this setting is enabled it will alert teachers whenever a student receive the certificate.
- Email Others – Here you can enter the email addresses of people who wish to be notified by email when students receive the certificate, the email addresses should be separated by a comma.
- Delivery – This option allows you to choose how users receive their certificates. By default this is set to ‘Open in new window’. This means a new browser window will open and the certificate will display. Another option is ‘Force download’. This means that when the certificate is clicked the user will be able to download a copy of the certificate in PDF format. The last option is ‘Email ’. This option will send the certificate to the user as an email attachment (PDF).
- Save Certificates – This option allows for a copy of the users certificate to be saved to the Moodle site. The copies of the certificate can be accessed by viewing the certificate report.
- Required minutes in course – This allows you to set a time (in minutes) that a student must have spent within the course before they are able to receive the certificate.
If you expand the ‘Text options’ section you can configure the following options:
- Print Date – Here you can select the date that is printed on the certificate, this can be based on a few different options. Date issued can be selected, this means that when the user first receives the certificate the current date is used.
The course completion date can also be printed onto the certificate if the user has completed the course, if the user has not completed the course but has received the certificate, the date received will be used instead.
You can also select a date based on when an activity was created, if the certificate is issued to a user before the date that the activity is graded, the date received will be printed.
- Date Format – In this option you can choose the format of the date that prints on the certificate. The following options are available, “January 1, 2000”, “January 1st, 2000”, “1 January 2000”,”January 2000” and Users language date format.
- Print Code – This option will enable the certificate to print a unique 10 digit code onto the certificate this code is unique to each certificate issued.
- Print Grade – The Print Grade option is used to display grades from either the whole course, or activities within the course. Only one grade can be selected.
- Grade Format – This is linked to the ‘Print Grade’ option. It allows you to choose how the grade itself is displayed. You can choose between displaying it as a percentage with the option ‘Percentage grade’. You can also display the grade as the point’s value with the option ‘Points Grade’. The final option here is to display the percentage grade as a letter ('Letter Grade') - for example 100% to 93% would be an ‘A’.
- Print Outcome – This option will allow you to print any course outcome name and the users received outcome to the certificate. If there are not any outcomes used then this option cannot be configured.
- Print Credit Hours – A number entered here will be displayed on the certificate, this represents the hours that the course is credited for.
- Print Teacher Name(s) – This gives the option to print the teacher of the courses name on the certificate.
- Custom Text – If you would like to print any other names to the certificate you can enter them into the text box as you would like the names to appear on the certificate. By default these names will be displayed in the lower left of the certificate. You are able to use HTML tags and attributes within this box.
If you expand the ‘Design Options’ section you can configure the following options:
- Certificate Type – The certificate type you choose will depend on what you require from the certificate. The embedded options of the certificate will include Dejavusans and Dejavuserif fonts. This is ideal if you think your users will not have Helvetica and Times fonts installed on their computer, the downside to using the embedded type is the file size of the final PDF will be quite large. The non-embedded type does not include the fonts, and instead will use Helvetica and Times fonts providing they are installed on the users’ PC.
The other options that you have is selecting the A4 or Letter size certificate. The A4 certificate is sized to be printed onto A4 paper, whereas the Letter type is designed to be printed on letter size paper.
- Orientation – This determines whether the certificate is displayed in a Landscape or a Portrait orientation.
- Border Image – The border image you wish to use for your certificate can be selected here.
- Border Lines – The colour of the border lines can be selected here.
- Watermark Image – The watermark image for your certificate can be selected here.
- Signature Image – The signature image for your certificate can be selected here.
- Seal or Logo Image – The Seal or Logo image for your certificate can be selected here.
The learner experience
From a learners point of view the certificate module is very simple to use. The module itself displays within a course much like any other activity or resource.
When a user clicks the certificate module for the first time they will be taken to a screen that displays the ‘Issued’ date, which will be the date / time that the user first clicks the certificate module. There will also be a button ‘Get your certificate’ - when clicked it will open either in a new window, begin a download of the certificate, or send an email to the student with the certificate attached.
Is there documentation for Certificate module?
The following documentation is available:
Our verdict on the Certificate module
- Easy to install
- Simple to use
- Great configuration options
- Certificates can be fully customised
- Adds to the user experience
- Multiple certificates can be setup
- Can be used in conjunction with Restricted access & completion tracking
- Some knowledge of PHP is required for editing the PHP file
- Access to the server is required for changing the PHP files
- The activity within Moodle itself looks bland
Overall the certificate module plugin is a great addition to any Moodle site that could offer certificates to its users on completion of their course.