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Upgrade Testing Guide

If you have not upgraded your Moodle site in a while, it’s important to note that things can, and sometimes do, break in the process. Moodle US takes care of all of the technical work required to get your site running on an upgraded Moodle version, but there is still a lot of testing related to site content that you are more familiar with. You are the expert in your site’s content, so we are providing this guide to help you:

  • Perform some basic quality assurance for the site

  • Ensure a smooth rollout of the upgrade to end users

  • Prepare for end user training needs

Getting started

Moodle US is providing you with a test version of your site that has been upgraded to a more recent version. Before you get started with the test site, please take a look at the release notes for the new version you will be upgrading to. These release notes will give you a sense of the new features that have been added to Moodle. 

Moodle is released in a series of major versions, which are marked by an increase in the tenths place of the version number (e.g. 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc). Each major version introduces new features and functionality for site users. If you are jumping several major versions with your upgrade (going from 3.3 to 3.8, for example), please review the release notes for every major version in between your current version and the upgraded version, as well.

Note: You don’t need to read the release notes for the minor versions (3.7.1, 3.6.4, etc), as these just contain bug fixes and security patches.


When you have an upgraded test site

 We have a list of things that may break or behave strangely after an upgrade. The following is a list of course-specific features. Please test each item in this list in at least three different courses to ensure it is working properly across your whole site.

  • Editing - Ensure that the “Turn editing on” button in courses is working. Make sure you can click it and then observe the page to be sure the new editing icons appear.

  • Gradebook - Open the Gradebook in a course on the test site and compare it side-by-side with the same page on your production site. Make sure the grades are still calculating properly and appearing as you expect them to.

  • Quizzes - If your site uses quizzes, open a quiz for editing on the test site and compare it side-by-side with the same page on your production site. Make sure the same number of questions appears on both sites and note if any question types are missing. Then take a quiz from your users’ perspective and verify that the questions are working properly. Make note of any changes in the quiz interface.

  • Activities - Go to Site Administration, then Plugins, then Activity modules, and then Manage activities to see a list of all activity modules installed on your site. In the “Activities” column of the table you will see a number telling you how many instances of that activity module are on the site.Find your three most frequently used activities and click the number in the Activities column to see a list of courses that contain that activity type. Interact with the activities to make sure they are still behaving as expected. Also look for critical workflow activity/resource types and check their behavior. If your site relies heavily on the face-to-face activity, for example, make sure that it is still behaving as expected.

  • Blocks - Go to Site Administration, then Plugins, then Blocks, and then Manage blocks to see a list of all blocks installed on your site. In the Instances column of the table, you will see a number telling you how many instances of that block type there are on the site.Find your three most frequently used block types and click the number in the Instances column to see a list of courses that contain that block type. Interact with the blocks to make sure they are behaving as expected.

  • Additional Plugins - Go to Site Administration, then Plugins, and then Additional to see a list of additional plugins that have been installed on your site previously that are not part of the Moodle core set of plugins. Note any plugins listed with a red background that say "Missing from disk." These plugins are no longer available on the newly upgraded version of your site. If any of these plugins are mission-critical, contact the person handling your upgrade ticket so we can find an alternative or get them installed on the codebase.


The following is a list of site-level features. Please check that each item on the list is functioning on your upgraded site.

  • Dashboard - Visit your Dashboard page and note any changes to the interface. View the dashboard pages of several students and several teachers to verify that the pages are behaving as expected. Remember, you change the layout of the Dashboard page for all users across the site by going to Site Administration, then Appearance, and then Default Dashboard.

  • Roles - If your site has any custom roles enabled, visit the roles page by going to Site Administration, then Users, then Permissions, and then Define Roles. For each custom role in the list, click the role’s name to view its configuration settings and verify that it still has a Role archetype selected.If you notice a custom role that does not have an archetype, make sure to give it an archetype on your production site before the final upgrade to ensure the role is not left without any of the new feature capabilities!

  • Notifications - Go to Site Administration, and then Notifications and take note of any new plugin settings and/or notifications.

  • Themes - Check your site’s theme settings by going to Site Administration, then Appearance, and then Themes. Is your former theme still available? If it is no longer available, which theme would you like to choose for future use?


For a brighter tomorrow

Upgrades are less painful when you do them regularly. Moodle US offers two approaches to regular upgrades: long-term support and iterative releases. Here’s how the releases work:

  1. Long-term support (LTS) -  These releases are supported for 4-5 years, receiving regular patches and security updates, but do not include new features that have been added to subsequent Moodle releases. This path is preferable if your organization has a large user base (more than 30,000 users) and/or has complicated technical integrations that require custom code to run. Every time Moodle US upgrades your site, we have to tweak and rework these integrations to make sure they work with the new version. The only downside to the LTS upgrade path is that a lot of new features end up released at one time, so it can feel like a lot to your end users. This issue can be relieved with a proactive training plan.LTS clients are advised to review the release notes of every version between their last version and the new version, as all new features will be present in their upgraded site.

  2. Iterative releases - Moodle releases a new major version twice a year, and Moodle US will upgrade your site once a year (or twice if you want) to keep up with the latest version. This path is best for agile organizations with fewer than 30,000 users who do not have much custom development work required for their site. Organizations on the iterative release path can expect to have the latest Moodle features available on their site soon after they are available.

If it has been a while since you last upgraded, please let Moodle US know which upgrade path (iterative or long-term support) you would like to be on.

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