Adding Glossaries

Article Last Updated June 2021

Glossaries are tools which allow you and/or your students to develop a list of definitions for terms relevant to your course. These definitions can be added throughout the term or during a specified time range. The glossary can be fully open and collaborative where students enter their definitions and comment on each other's entries; or more restricted where each student entry requires instructor approval. The glossary activity is a useful way to help students review important terms for a course by editing themselves, or as a way for the instructor to outline these terms for the students as a reference.

Adding a Glossary

  1. Click on Turn editing on, near the top right side.  
  2. Move to the topic area where you wish to add content (the week, unit, etc.) and click on the Add an Activity or Resource link.
  3. Click on the Glossary icon.
  4. A new page will appear with the glossary settings.


  • "Name" is required. Make this as meaningful as possible for your students.
  • "Description" is optional. You may provide an explanation or instructions here for your students.
  • "Display description on course page" - Toggles whether or not the description of your glossary will be displayed on the course page below the link to your glossary.
  • "Glossary type"
    • 'Main glossary' - A glossary in which entries from secondary glossaries can be imported. There can only be one main glossary in a course.
    • 'Secondary glossary' - A glossary in which glossary entry import is not required.


  • "Approved by default" - Toggles whether or not entries require approving by a teacher before they are viewable by everyone. Setting this to "no" allows for greater quality control.
  • "Always allow editing" - Specifies whether entries are always editable or whether students can only edit their entries during a configured editing time (usually 30 minutes).
  • "Duplicate entries allowed" - Toggles whether or not multiple entries can have the same concept name.
  • "Allow comments on entries" - Toggles whether or not all participants with permission to create comments will be able to add comments to glossary entries.
  • "Automatically link glossary entries" - Toggles whether or not the “Add a new entry” form includes the option to automatically link the entry wherever the concept words and phrases appear throughout the rest of the course, provided that site-wide glossary auto-linking has been enabled by an administrator.


  • "Display format" - There are 7 display formats:
    • 'Simple, dictionary style' - No authors are displayed and attachments are shown as links.
    • 'Continuous without author' - Entries are displayed one after another without any separation apart from editing icons.
    • 'Full with author' - A forum-like display format showing the author’s data and with attachments shown as links.
    • 'Full without author' - A forum-like display format without authors and with attachments shown as links.
    • 'Encyclopedia' - As for 'Full with author', but attached images are shown inline.
    • 'Entry list' - Concepts are listed as links.
    • 'FAQ' - the words QUESTION and ANSWER are appended to the concept and definition respectively.
  • "Approval display format"  - Toggles the way in which you see glossary entries during the approval process. This is useful for those who want to see the names of students who submitted the term behind the scenes, but not publish this information to the rest of the class.
  • "Entries shown per page" - Determines how many entries are shown in each page of the glossary.
  • "Show alphabet links" - Toggles whether or not participants can browse the glossary by letters of the alphabet.
  • "Show 'ALL' link" - Toggles whether or not participants can browse all entries at once.
  • "Show 'Special' link" - Toggles whether or not participants can browse the glossary by special characters, such as @ and #.
  • "Allow print view" - Toggles whether or not students are provided with a link to a printer-friendly version of the glossary. The link is always available to teachers.


  • "Grade category" - Controls the category in which the grades in this quiz are placed in the gradebook. (Not required)
  • "Grade to pass" - Determines the minimum required grade to pass. The value is used in activity or course completion, and in the gradebook, where pass grades are highlighted in green and fail grades in red.


Common module settings

  • "Availability" - This setting has 3 options:
    • 'Show on course page' - The activity is available to students (subject to any access restrictions which may be set).
    • 'Hide from students' - The activity is only available to users with permission to view hidden activities (by default, users with the role of teacher or non-editing teacher).
    • 'Make available but now shown on course page' - A link to the activity must be provided from elsewhere, such as from a page resource. The activity would still be listed in the gradebook and other reports.
  • "ID number" - An ID number identifies the activity for grade calculation purposes.

Restrict access

Activity completion

  • "Completion tracking" - Activity completion is tracked, either manually or automatically, based on certain conditions. Multiple conditions may be set if desired. If so, the activity will only be considered complete when ALL conditions are met. A tick next to the activity name on the course page indicates when the activity is complete.
  • "Require view"
    • Student must view this activity to complete it - A tick will only appear once the student views the activity.
  • "Require grade"
    • Student must receive a grade to complete this activity - A tick will only appear once the students receives a grade in this activity.
  • "Require entries"
    • Student must create entries - If enabled, you must specify the number of entries the student is required to create.
  • "Expect completed on" - This setting specifies the date when the activity is expected to be completed. The date is not shown to students and is only displayed in the activity completion report.




Glossaries will not be rolled forward from year to year along with the rest of your course content due to privacy concerns (it is not possible to anonymize entries or strip student information from entries). If you are using the glossary tool as a more static object where you create all the entires, you will need to contact IST eClass Support to have the glossary content copied forward into your new term courses. This article outlines this problem in more detail.

(0 vote(s))
Not helpful