#Moodle as a Bulk Emailer

Earlier today, I realized I needed to bulk email over 200+ staff at multiple campuses. In the past, I've used a variety of solutions. I've detailed those other, easy to use solutions here, Staying in touch with bulk emailers. But for this situation, I decided to implement a solution I've thought about, discussed with others but never made real--using Moodle to send out email to the masses via a Forum post.

One of the benefits of using Moodle for bulk emails is that it allows me to have an online repository, a history of past emails, online as part of Moodle. Of course, copy-n-paste the email to a wiki and you enjoy the same benefit.

Here are the steps I took:

1) Created a new Moodle Instance. I decided that I didn't want to risk "user" contamination by having to filter out users who shouldn't be in the user pool. I decided to call this Moodle by a simple name--eMailer.

2) Create the course(s) that users will be a part of. To keep things simple--since I'm the only one who's going to see what's happening--I created a course entitled "CTR Emails" with a shortname of "ctr". The shortname is important because I'll use that during the bulk user upload.

3) Create the user list for bulk upload. This was pretty straightforward since I already had a user list filled out by the users themselves via a GoogleDoc Form. This list ended up as an Excel document, which I formatted to reflect Moodle's bulk user upload.

Notice the last two columns...the "course1" column indicates the shortname of the course, while the "type1" indicates what type of user (e.g. Admin, Teacher, Student) the new user should be created as. I chose to enter "ctr" because that was the shortname of the new course I created, and "1" as the type because "1" corresponds to student.

Note that I could added even more users to this bulk upload (and I did) but instead of enrolling them in the "ctr" course, I could have put them into the "bwvng" course (for Basket weaving). I also didn't worry about providing a unique firstname, lastname since "username" and "email" were unique and mirrored each other.

For example:
mguhlin@gmail.com, Whocares392!, some, one, mguhlin@gmail.com, ctr, 1
....shows you what one row of the data looks like. I exported my Excel spreadsheet to CSV then did a bulk user import into Moodle via the Admin->Users

Here's what the upload looks like:

Users are all now added. 

4) Assign Course Roles from within your course (e.g. CTR). Open your course up and assign students (the people you want to bulk email) to your course. Even if you have uploaded hundreds of users, if you followed the naming convention shown above, you should easily be able to search and then add the search results.

You can verify this by going to Participants (a Moodle block) and looking at who is in your class.

5) In the course settings, set the forum to "Social" rather than topic. It can be anything you want but my preference was for social since I didn't plan to do anything else with this. I often think I may have used a sledgehammer to get the job done, but...why not?

6) Edit your Forum to force everyone in your course to be subscribed.

Then set everyone to be subscribed:

7) Type up your forum post and set it to Mail immediately, then to really get it out there quick, run the cron job (http://moodleserver/emailer/cron.php) if that's allowed on your server.

And, that's all there is to it! Now that you're setup, you'll be able to just make a forum post and it will be sent out to everyone.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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