OLAT | FAQ (English)

FAQ for students using OLAT

1. Logging in to OLAT

  1. What do I need to log in?
  2. Even though I have an account, I cannot seem to log in.
  3. Where can I find OLAT courses?
  4. How do I enroll in a course?
  5. What is a learning group?
  6. I have successfully enrolled in a course, but it does not seem to be listed on my OLAT home page?
  7. How can I access a course if there is no option to enroll?
  8. How do I un-enroll from a course?


2. Courses and course content

  1. Where can I view the courses that I am enrolled in?
  2. How can I upload a file in a course?
  3. How can I enable notifications?
  4. Why can’t I access certain course elements?
  5. Why am I being prompted for a password if I am already logged in to OLAT?


3. Working Groups

  1. What are working groups and how do I create them?
  2. How can I find existing working groups?

FAQ for teachers providing courses on OLAT

1. Creating courses

  1. What do I need to create courses in OLAT?
  2. How do I receive OLAT Author privileges?
  3. OLAT offers two user interfaces – which one should I use for course creation?
  4. What is a learning resource?
  5. How do I create a course?
  6. How do I copy an existing course?
  7. How does my course get published in the OLAT course catalog?
  8. How do I delete a course I no longer need?


2. Preparing courses for teaching

  1. Which kinds of resources am I permitted to use in my courses?
  2. How do I put resources online?
  3. Course Editor: What is the difference between Visibility and Access?
  4. How can I preview the course from a student’s perspective?
  5. What does it mean to publish a course in the Course Editor?

FAQ for students using OLAT


1.1 What do I need to log in?

OLAT is the university’s central learning management system. If you have an HRZ account, you can log in to OLAT with your HRZ credentials (user login and password).

In case you do not have an HRZ account, there might still be a way for you to gain access to OLAT. See "How can people without an HRZ account access my course?" below for more information.


1.2 Even though I have an account, I cannot seem to log in.

If you have an HRZ account:

  • Check whether you are using the correct password. Try logging in to other HRZ services, e.g. webmail (https://webmail.server.uni-frankfurt.de). If logging in also fails here, please come to the GoetheCard Service Center (http://www.rz.uni-frankfurt.de/63656711/Campus_Westend_2016.pdf, no. 18) to request a new password.
  • Check whether you mistyped your username. Your HRZ username contains only lower-case letters, e.g. s1234567 or janedoe.
  • Prevent your web browser from saving your login credentials. If you mistype your password and/or your username and save them, your browser will always fill in the wrong credentials without you noticing. See your browser’s manual on how to delete saved usernames and passwords.

If you have a local/external account instead of an HRZ account:

  • Check whether you are using the correct login screen. Click “Do you use a local (external) account for OLAT?” on https://olat.server.uni-frankfurt.de to switch login screens. Trying to log in with a local account on the HRZ account login screen will result in an error message.

1.3 Where can I find OLAT courses?

After your successful login to OLAT, you can find courses in the OLAT course catalogue (tab: “Catalogue”). The course catalogue is structured exactly like the QIS/LSF course catalogue.

In case you cannot seem to find a certain course, it may not have been published yet. Your lecturer may be able to help you with your access to the course.


1.4 How do I enroll in a course?

Click on the course you wish to enroll in. If your lecturer has not placed any enrolment restrictions (e.g. password protection), you may find the “Enrolment” element on the left side of the screen. The image shows the element’s icon:


1.5 What is a learning group?

By enrolling in a course, you become a member of one (or more) learning group(s) that belong to the respective courses. A learning group is a group of people who are enrolled in a course. Depending on the structure of a course, there might be only one learning group containing all course participants or there might be more, e.g. to split up work across groups for multiple presentations during the course of the semester. Your lecturer might also send emails to your learning group via OLAT.


1.6 I have successfully enrolled in a course, but it does not seem to be listed on my OLAT home page?

In some cases, a lecturer prefers to make certain manual adjustments like limiting the number of participants (e.g. by putting enrollees on a waiting-list). If this is the case, please wait for your enrolment to be approved by the lecturer.

You will be notified in the upper right corner of your OLAT home page as soon as approval has taken place.


1.7 How can I access a course if there is no option to enroll?

If there is no way for you to enroll in a course yourself (this is the case if there is no “Enrolment” element present on the left side of the screen), your lecturer has choosen to add participants to the course manually.
After you have been added to a course, you can access the course via the tab “Teach & Learn” by clicking on “My Groups”. There you will find the learning groups belonging to your various courses.


1.8 How do I un-enroll from a course?

If you would like to un-enrolling from a course, select the course and click on the “Enrolment” element. Then click “Withdraw” to leave the learning group.

Depending on the course’s settings, it might not always be possible to leave a learning group (e.g. due to date restrictions). In this case, please contact your lecturer and ask them to un-enrol you.


2.1 Where can I view the courses that I am enrolled in?

There are various ways to view and access your courses:

  • You can find the learning groups pertaining to the courses that you have enrolled in on your OLAT home page via the portlet “My groups”. You can then access your courses via the learning groups that you are a member of.
  • You can also find your groups in the tab “Teach & Learn” under “My groups”.
  • You may also mark a course as a favourite course using the star in the upper right corner of a course. The course will then be listed in the “Favourites” portlet on your OLAT home page. (If there does not seem to be a “Favourites” portlet, click “Add portlet” on the home page to add it.)

2.2 How can I upload a file in a course?

There are different ways to upload files in an OLAT course:

  • Regular folders: If your course’s lecturer chooses to allow uploads by participants in a regular folder, you will see a button with an arrow pointing upwards. Click this button to upload your document.
  • Task folders: Task folders belong to an OLAT task that your lecturer asks you to solve. Depending on the task’s configuration, you may need to select a task before you can upload a document via the “Upload” button.

Please note that OLAT poses restrictions on the types of files you may upload.


2.3 How can I enable notifications?

It is possible to be notified about changes in certain course elements (e.g. new file uploads in a folder). In order to enable notifications, click the “Subscribe” button in the upper right corner of a folder, forum etc.
Notifications will be sent to your email address stored in OLAT’s database (usually your HRZ account’s email).


2.4 Why can’t I access certain course elements?

Your lecturer may have chosen to limit access based on a certain date and time or to grant access only to people who are members of specific groups. Please contact your lecturer for further information if you believe you should be granted access to the course element in question.


2.5 Why am I being prompted for a password if I am already logged in to OLAT?

Some lecturers choose to protect their courses with an extra password. If you are sure that you should have access to the course in question, you should be able to receive the password from your lecturer.


3.1 What are working groups and how do I create them?

As a student, you are not able to create your own courses. You are, however, able to create working groups where you can work together with other students that you invite into the group, exchange documents, open discussions etc.

To create a new working group, click the tab “Teach & Learn”, then click “My Groups” and “Create Group”.


3.2 How can I find existing working groups?

OLAT Working groups are not publicly visible, hence there is no way to search for existing working groups. You may gain access only through the group owner’s invitation.


FAQ for teachers providing courses on OLAT


1.1 What do I need to create courses in OLAT?

You will need an HRZ account (login and password) and OLAT Author privileges to create courses in OLAT.


1.2 How do I receive OLAT Author privileges?

Please contact olat@rz.uni-frankfurt.de and state your HRZ login (not your password!).

If you work as a student assistant (“studentische Hilfskraft”) at Goethe University, you will need an extra HRZ account that Author privileges will be bound to. You can get a new account at the GoetheCard Service (http://www.rz.uni-frankfurt.de/47552528/Standort_GC-Service_Container.pdf, opening hours 9 a.m.–12 p.m., 1 p.m–4 p.m.). Please have your identity documents (Personalausweis) ready. After the account has been created, it may take up to several hours for the account to become active on the OLAT platform. Please contact us after your new, separate HRZ account has been created.


1.3 OLAT offers two user interfaces – which one should I use for course creation?

The big OLAT software update in August 2016 introduced several important changes. There are now two user interfaces (UIs/GUIs), henceforth called the “old” and the “new” interface. The new user interface is especially suited for easy use with mobile phones and tablets. Also, some course creation features are already implemented in the new user interface and new features are continuously being added. However, full functionality is currently only offered by the old user interface, which is why the old interface should preferably be used to create and edit courses in OLAT.

You can always switch between the two interfaces by clicking the “Switch to new/old GUI” button in the grey bar that is visible at the top of each OLAT page.


1.4 What is a learning resource?

Learning resources are independent entities whose content can be used inside courses to extend their functionality. Those include:

  • ONYX tests and surveys
  • wikis
  • podcasts
  • blogs
  • media libraries
  • flashcard sets
  • portfolio templates
  • OLAT courses (indeed, courses also count as Learning Resources!)


Learning resources exist among your collection of resources that you can view on the old GUI via “Learning resources” → “My entries”. Contrary to e.g. a folder that is bound to a specific course, learning resources only get linked inside OLAT courses, but exist independently of them. Since a learning resource is only linked, it can be used in multiple courses, but is edited only once. A learning resource can have multiple owners and can thus also be edited and shared among them.


1.5 How do I create a course?

As stated above (see OLAT offers two user interfaces – which one should I use for course creation?), currently only the old user interface offers all features needed to create a fully functional course in OLAT. Therefore you should begin by switching to the old user interface via the button “Switch to old GUI”.

Click the tab “Learning resources”, then “My entries” and choose “Course” from the rightmost menu. Name your new course and click “Save”, then “Next”. For beginners, course creation is made easy by the Wizard. Here you can choose from three templates to form the basic structure of your new course.

Take your time with creating your course and take care not to underestimate the time you will have to put in to create good and useful learning resources!


1.6 How do I copy an existing course?

Copying a course can be useful if you would like to try different things without running the risk of rendering a course unusable that you still need for teaching. You can also copy a course to use it as a template for new courses. This way, you will not have to do the same work all over again every semester.

On the old GUI, go to the course’s Detailed View and click “Copy” in the right menu. This action will copy the entire course structure, all documents that have been uploaded in the course as well as all learning groups (except for the groups’ participants).

You can also take a different route: Create a new course, choose the Wizard, then click “Copy own course” instead of “Choose course template”. This way, you can create a new course directly out of an existing course.

Copying a course will copy all learning groups (without members) as well as files that have been uploaded to the original course. Please note that the names of learning groups will not be changed by copying the course. For example, if your course contains a learning group called “Course group winter term 2016/17” and you intend to copy this course, you will have to rename the learning group manually to e.g. “Course group summer term 2017”.


1.7 How does my course get published in the OLAT course catalog?

After your course is finished, please contact olat@rz.uni-frankfurt.de to have your course entered in the OLAT course catalog. Please state your course’s ID (look for the ID in the Detailed View under “Information on this entry”) and provide a link to the corresponding seminar in the QIS/LSF course catalog.


1.8 How do I delete a course I no longer need?

On the old GUI, in “My entries”, click “Detailed View” of the course you wish to delete, then click “Delete” in the right menu.

Deleted learning resources will be moved to the recycling bin. In case you realize that you do need a learning resource that you deleted earlier, you can restore them from the recycling bin within 90 days after deletion.


2.1 Which kinds of resources am I permitted to use in my courses?

Content published on a learning management system like OLAT is subject to the terms of the German copyright, the “Urheberrechtsgesetz” (especially, but not limited to § 52a UrhG).

Please be aware of the ongoing debate concerning the plans of the Verwertungsgesellschaft Wort (VG Wort): http://aktuelles.uni-frankfurt.de/aktuelles/aktuelles-zur-vg-wort-problematik-keine-entwarnung-aber-aufschub/ (German)


2.2 How do I put resources online?

Here are some best-practice tips for making your resources (e.g. articles, audio files) available in your OLAT course:

  • Filenames should not contain special characters like *, &, (, or whitespace.
  • Upload your files in folders or in single pages. Put your files in folders if you have several files of the same kind (e.g. literature concerning the same topic), whereas single pages can be suitable for files that you intend to emphasize (e.g. a course schedule/Semesterplan).
  • Protect your files by setting visibility and access restrictions (see: Course Editor: What is the difference between Visibility and Access?).

2.3 Course Editor: What is the difference between Visibility and Access?

All types of course element (folders, single pages etc.) consist of several tabs where you may configure various parts of the element in question. The two tabs “Visibility” and “Access” are similar to each other in that they restrict access to the course element. i.e. students will not be able to access the content in that course element. However, they differ in the way access is restricted.

  • “Access”: By restricting access by using the checkboxes in the “Access” tab, students will be notified of their insufficient rights to access the content of the element. The course element remains visible in the course hierarchy on the left side of the screen, but cannot be accessed.
  • “Visibility”: By choosing an option in the “Visibility” tab, the course element disappears from view altogether for the chosen setting. The course element will not show in the course hierarchy on the left side.


There is no definitive answer to which way you should choose to restrict access. For example, if you would like your course structure to unfold slowly over the course of the semester, using the “Visibility” tab would be your best option.


2.4 How can I preview the course from a student’s perspective?

To preview your course, click “Course preview” in the Editor tools in the Course Editor.

You can configure the preview to emulate various scenarios. Examples:

  • What does the course look like on a certain date?
  • What does it look like for students (i.e. registered OLAT users)?
  • How do members of a certain learning group view the course?

2.5 What does it mean to publish a course in the Course Editor?

The option “Publish” in the Course Editor’s Editor tools in the upper right corner is one of the most important actions when creating a course. Because of its name, it is often confused with the publication of the course in the OLAT course catalog. However, both actions are completely independent from one another.

Publishing your course from within the Course Editor will tell OLAT to regard the published version of the course as the one it is supposed to show to people accessing the course. This means that you have to publish changes you make to the course for them to become visible to people viewing the course.
Any unpublished changes (like a folder that you deleted or a course element that you renamed) will remain invisible to viewers and are viewable only by yourself through the Course Editor. Publishing means that you tell OLAT explicitly to make the course in its current state viewable by anyone (provided they have the permission).

If you want your course to show in the OLAT course catalog and have it “published” there, you may ask for this to be done as soon as the course has been created (even if you haven’t added any content yet). Please contact olat@rz.uni-frankfurt.de and state the title of your course and the ID (you can find the ID in the course’s Detailed View), and we will take care of the rest.