Moodle Lifecycle Process

This page describes the lifecycle of Moodle systems at the University of Minnesota.

All UMN Moodle course sites are contained inside what is known as an "instance" of Moodle. An instance is a single system and version of Moodle which is created for one academic year (AY). For example, for academic year 2017-2018, there is "Moodle for Academic Year 2016-2017 (Moodle 3.2)", also known as "Moodle AY17 (3.2)". Each Moodle instance has a defined lifecycle based on when it was created.

Creating a new instance each year allows the Academic Technology Tools service team to implement the latest features, enhancements, and security updates, while keeping existing Moodle instances relatively stable.

Moving course sites between Moodle instances is the responsibility of the instructors and designers. For more information, see the "Move Course Sites to a New Moodle Instance" section below.


Lifecycle Phases

A Moodle course site is preserved within its Moodle instance following the original academic year in which it was used. See below for an example of the process in action:

Example Timeline of Moodle Course Site Availability. A description of each phase is noted below.

The phases are listed below in order:

  1. First, Active Use for One Academic Year: Each April, a new Moodle instance for the next academic year is opened. Instructors and designers are free to start preparing courses in it. Course sites created in the current academic year's Moodle instance have unrestricted access. Instructors and designers can hide course sites from students at any time.
  2. Then, Reference Use for the Following Calendar Year: After the end of the active use state, course sites can be used for reference purposes. Instructors, designers, and students have unrestricted access to course sites in the given Moodle instance. Instructors and designers can hide course sites from students at any time.
    • Towards the end of the spring term, roughly five months prior to the change to phase #3 (archived), a reminder is sent to instructors and designers that their course sites are scheduled to be archived.
  3. Later, Archived - On Campus or VPN Only for Four Calendar Years: After the end of the reference state, Moodle course sites are securely archived for roughly four calendar years. Access is restricted to the campus wired or wireless network, or off-campus but using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  4. Last, Instance Sunset: The Moodle instance is closed to users regardless of their location. A few months later, the Moodle instance and any unmigrated course sites contained therein are deleted.

Until the Moodle instance is deleted, instructors and designers can request that course sites be migrated to newer Moodle instances. The life of the course site can in this way be extended indefinitely. For more information, see the "Move Course Sites Between Moodle Instances" section below.


More Information About Each Moodle Instance

Move Course Sites to a New Moodle Instance

To copy an older course site into Moodle AY17 (3.2), please complete the Moodle AY17 (3.2) Course Site Request Form.

Moodle course sites can move from one Moodle instance to the next, for example Moodle AY16 (3.0) to Moodle AY17 (3.2). Or, a Moodle course site can skip a Moodle instance, for example Moodle AY15 (2.8) to Moodle AY17 (3.2). Due to changes that occur between versions of Moodle, there can be problems copying course sites from too far in the past.


Access Old Course Sites via the Moodle Kiosk

The Moodle Kiosk is a block on the Moodle My home page which displays courses that are stored in the Moodle archives. This block appears directly below the Course Overview block. For more information, see Moodle 2.8, 3.0: Access old courses from the Moodle Kiosk.


Moodle Instance Web Addresses

The Moodle instance for the current academic year is available via When you visit that web address in a web browser, you are forwarded to Moodle Academic Year 2017-2018 (Moodle 3.2), which is at The address is updated every August to point to the new Moodle instance for the upcoming academic year. 


Questions and Feedback

If you have questions or feedback about the Moodle Lifecycle Process, please contact Moodle Support.

Important Archiving Dates

Moodle for Academic Year 2016-2017 (Moodle 3.0)

  • May & September 2018 - Instructors and designers notified via email about upcoming access changes
  • October 1, 2018 - Course sites in this Moodle instance will be archived and accessible on campus via the University's network (or VPN)
  • More information about the lifecycle of Moodle AY16 (3.0)

Moodle for Academic Year 2012-2013 (Moodle 2.2)