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Glossary Reference Guide


The Glossary activity enables users to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary, or to collect and organize resources or information.

An instructor can allow files to be attached to glossary entries. Attached images are displayed in the entry. Entries can be searched or browsed alphabetically or by category, date or author. Entries can be approved by default or require approval by an instructor before they are visible to everyone.

If the glossary auto-linking filter is enabled, entries will be automatically linked where the concept words and/or phrases appear within the course.

An instructor can allow comments on entries. Entries can also be rated by instructors or students (peer evaluation). Ratings can be aggregated to form a final grade which is recorded in the gradebook.

Glossaries have many uses, such as:

  • A collaborative bank of key terms
  • A ‘getting to know you’ space where new students add their name and personal details
  • A ‘handy tips’ resource of best practice in a practical subject
  • A sharing area of useful videos, images or sound files
  • A revision resource of facts to remember

How do I create a glossary?

To create a glossary:

  1. Click “Turn editing on”. 

  2. Select “Glossary” from the “Add an activity” drop-down menu. 

  3. On the “Adding a new glossary” page, name your glossary. 

  4. Write a description of the glossary and/or give directions to your students in the Description area. 

  5. Select the general settings you would like to use.
  6. Select the grade settings you would like to use.
  7. Select the common module settings you would like to use.
  8. Click “Save changes” at the bottom of the page.

Below the search bar is the “Add a new entry” button, then four browse tabs:

Browse by alphabet- Search for glossary entries by the first letter of a word.

Browse by category - Create word categories and make them available for students to search through.

Browse by date- View entries based on the date last edited.

Browse by Author- If you want students to add entries, this is a useful way to keep track of who has entered what.

Other Features:

Import entries- Import glossaries from within this course or from other courses.

Export entries- Export a course glossary to a file stored in the course files area. You can then download it to your computer and upload it to another course.

Waiting approval- If the approval setting is set to “No”, this link will appear with the total number of entries awaiting approval in brackets.

For more information, see other sections by clicking on a link below:

What do the settings in the Glossary do? 

General Settings

Entries shown per page-Sets the number of words and definitions students will see when they view the glossary.

Is this glossary global?-Administrators can make a global glossary with entries linking throughout the whole site. Any course may contain a global glossary, though usually they are only included on the site front page. 

Glossary type- The glossary can be either main or secondary.

Duplicated entries allowed- Allows the entry of more than one definition for a given word.

Allow comments on entries- Students and teachers can leave comments on glossary definitions. The comments are available via a link at the bottom of the definition. 

Allow print view- Provides a printer-friendly-version for students. 

Automatically link glossary entries- A text-filter feature that automatically creates a link from a word in the course to its glossary definition. Linked words are highlighted. 

Approved by default-If students are allowed to add entries, you can allow entries to be automatically approved and added to the glossary, or they can require your approval before other students are able to see them. 

Display format- You can select how the glossary appears when students list the entries. There are a number of different options:

Simple, dictionary style-  This format looks like a conventional dictionary with separate entries. No authors are displayed and attachments are shown as links.

Continuous without author- This format shows the entries one after other without any kind of separation apart from the editing icons.

Encyclopedia- This format is similar to the “Full with author” format apart from attached images being displayed inline.

Entry list- This format lists the concepts as links.

FAQ- This is useful for displaying a list of frequently asked questions. The setting automatically appends the words’ QUESTION and ANSWER in the concept and definition respectively.

Full with author - This is a forum-like format with no author listed.

Full without author- This is a forum-like format that does not show author’s data. Attachments are shown like links

Show “Special” link- The Special link feature displays special characters such as @, #, $, etc. as search options.

Show alphabet- You can use this option to display the alphabet for easier glossary browsing.

Show “ALL” link- If you want students to see all of the glossary entries at once, set this to “Yes”.

Edit always- If you want entries to be always editable, set this to Yes.

Grading Settings

Allow entries to be rated- You can grade entries yourself or allow students to grade entries as well. Select “Only teachers” or “Everyone” from the Participants menu. Then select a grading scale.

Common Module Settings

Group mode- Another location to set the group mode for the activity. If group mode is forced in the course settings, then this setting will be ignored.

Visible- This determines whether students may view the activity or not.

How do I add words or entries to a glossary? 

To add a glossary entry:

  1. From the “Glossary page”, click “Add a new entry”. 

  2. Enter the word you want to define in the concept text field.
  3. Add the definition.
  4. If categories were defined in the “Browse by category” tab, you can categorize your entry here.
  5. If there are synonyms you want to include with the entry, add them to the Keyword(s) text area. Enter one word per line. 

  6. If you want to add an attachment, such as a picture or an article, you can attach it below the text area. 

  7. If you want this particular entry to be linked automatically within the course, check the “This entry should be automatically linked” checkbox.
  8. Click “Save changes” to add your word to the glossary. 

How do I organize my glossary by categories or topics? 

Categories can help organize your glossary entries.

To create a glossary category:

  1. Click “Browse by category” tab in the main page of the glossary.
  2. Click “Edit categories” on the left side of the page.

  3. Click “Add category” on the resulting Categories page.
  4. Give the category a name.
  5. Choose whether you want the category name autolinked as well.
  6. Click “Save changes”.

How do I import and export a Glossary? 

As you build your glossaries, you may want to share them between classes or with other instructors. Fortunately, there’s a way to export and import glossary entries without needing to share your entire course structure. Note: Glossary entries will not come over when you do a full import of your course site. You will need to perform an import and export of just the glossary to bring over the entries to another course site.

To export glossary entries:

  1. Click “Export entries” at the top right of the main glossary page.
  2. Click “Export entries to file”.
  3. Save the XML file on your computer.

To import glossary entries via XML file:

  1. Click “Import entries” at the top right of the main glossary page. 

  2. Browse for the XML file on your computer and upload it. 

  3. Select where you would like to import your entries.
  4. If you want to import category information, click the checkbox. 

  5. Click “Save changes”.

Can students comment on Glossary entries? 

If comments on glossary entries are enabled, participants can annotate the definitions in the word list. When you look at a word in the glossary list, you’ll see a little cartoon speech balloon icon in the lower-right corner of the definition block.

When you click on the balloon, you’re taken to the comment entry page. Add your comment then click “Save changes”.

Once you’ve saved your comment, GauchoSpace will display all of the comments for the entry. When you return to the main glossary page, you’ll see a new message next to the speech balloon telling you how many comments there are for the entry.

How do I make a glossary collaborative? 

Course participants can also create glossary entries. A collaborative glossary can allow students to create entries with unfamiliar terms or something that you have assigned. Each course participant could be assigned terms or given terms to comment on throughout the class. The glossary feature allows for participants to add multiple definitions.

Allowing participants to create definitions is likely to increase their chances of remembering the word or the correct definition. This can help them better learn new terms.

How do I create a collaborative glossary? 

To set up a collaborative glossary, create a new glossary for each unit with the following options:

  1. Select “Glossary type”: Secondary glossary 

  2. “Duplicate entries allowed”: If you want teams to be able to submit multiple definitions, select “Yes”. 

  3. “Allow comments on entries”: Select “Yes” to allow participants to comment. 

  4. “Approved by default”: Select “Yes” to allow definitions to be automatically approved.
  5. “Allow entries to be rated”: “Yes—by everyone” allows all students to vote on definitions.

If you selected “Yes” to the above options, students can add their own definitions, rate each others definitions, and add comments.


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