OLAT | FAQ (English)

Table of Contents

FAQ for students using OLAT

Logging in to OLAT

Courses and course content

Working Groups

FAQ for teachers providing courses on OLAT

Creating courses

Preparing courses for teaching

Group management

Course roles and rights


Subheader Students

FAQ for students using OLAT

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 a HRZ account access my course?" below for more information.


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

If you have an HRZ account:

  • Check that you are on the correct login page. It should say 'HRZ-Account' in the login field. If not, click the link 'Do you use a HRZ account?' to switch to the correct page.
  • 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-ce.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.


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. There is also a search option.

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.


How do I enrol in a course?

Click on the course you wish to enrol 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:


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

In some cases, the course setup expects you to state your explicit willingness to attend in addition to your enrolment. This will be indicated by a news alert next to your name in the top menu.

Click on the number and you will be able to check a box, giving you access to the course.


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.


How do I un-enrol from a course?

You leave a course by leaving the group(s) that are linked to that course.

If you can still access the course and the enrolment element is still open, you can chose Withdraw.

If that element is not accessible anymore, open Teach and Learn > My Groups > Participating.   This shows your list of groups.

You can leave via the icon 

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.


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

You can find your courses in the Tab Teach & Learn under My Courses.


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.


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).


Why do I still get notifications, even if I have left the course?

If you have subscribed to course elements, these subscriptions will remain active even after you have left the courses.

You can manage your subscriptions (and unsubscribe) in your 'news' area.

Open the dropdown menu next to your name and choose News.

The Tab Manage Subscriptions shows your active subscriptions. To unsubsribe, check the box in front of that subscription and hit the button Unsubscribe.


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.


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 of their chosing.

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.


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”.


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.


subheader Teachers

FAQ for teachers providing courses on OLAT

What do I need to create courses in OLAT?

You will need an HRZ account (login and password) and the role of author to create courses in OLAT.


How do I receive OLAT Author privileges?

Please contact olat@rz.uni-frankfurt.de and state your HRZ login (not your password!). Your author privileges will be valid as long as your HRZ-Account ist valid.

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, so we can assign Author privileges.


OLAT offers two user interfaces – how do I work with them?

OLAT is in the midst of a change from a non-mobile interface to a mobile interface.

Students already work with the mobile interface.

Authors, however, will for some time yet have to use the old interface when editing courses oder evaluation students' achievements in a course.

When the system switches to the old interface, you will see the message:

Optional switch to the old interface: Tab Teach & Learn and Button 'Go to my Entries' in the upper right corner.

Optional switch back to the new interface: Click the button 'Back to the new interface' in the upper right corner.


What is a learning resource?

Learning resources are independent entities whose content can be used inside courses to extend their functionality.They can be created when a responding course element is added to a course or independently of a course directly in the tab Teach & Learn:

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.

You can find your own resources in the Tab Teach & Learn as My Resources in the menu. 


How do I create a course?

Click the tab “Teach & Learn”, then “Create Course” .

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!


How do I copy an existing course?

You can 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.

In the dropdown menu choose Details and Settings to go to the detailed view of the course in the old GUI. The copy option is in the right menu.

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.

Coying a course will give you a new course with an identical structure and all elements and files and learning groups, but without the participants and their forum postings or tests results.

l 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”.


How does my course get published in the OLAT course catalogue?

In the dropdown menu choose Details and Settings to change to the old GUI.

Look for the ID of the course in the Detailed View under “Information on this entry”. Save the id of your course (or the Link to your course).

Open the Catalogue View.

In the menu to the right is the contact link for the administrator:

Please also provide a link to the corresponding seminar in the QIS/LSF course catalog.


Where can I see my courses?

Your tab Teach & Learn shows your courses (choose My Courses in the menu).

If you have added the portlet Favourites to your home page, mark the desired courses with the star and it will appear on your home page.


How do I delete a course I no longer need?

As a course owner you can delete courses. If this happens while the course is still running, please make sure that the participants are forewarned in case they need to download important files.

Please open the course. You can find the delete option in the settings menu on the right side.

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.

You can find the bin in the old GUI (accessible via Details and Settings). The left menu has the option Deleted entries.

'Restore' restores the course to the state it was when you deleted it (complete with participants and their entries).


How do I put resources online?

The most common element in OLAT courses is the folder. You can use drag & drop to get the files into a folder (or sub-folder) so that students can download them. Another typical element for that purpose is the single page.

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: What is the difference between Visibility and Access?).
  • Avoid the upload of large files. This slows OLAT down and poses problems for the nightly backup. Moreover your students would habe to download the files onto their devices. Large pdf-Files can be minimized by avoiding large images (edit images before they are included in a pdf) and for film clips the better alternative is to put them in a Videoportal and just link to them from within a course  (http://www.rz.uni-frankfurt.de/videoportal)


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 Urheberrechts-Wissensgesellschafts-Gesetz (UrhWissG).

A general guideline: Everything you find in the internet is NOT free for use in your course, unless the license statement says otherwise. This also applies to changing or editing images before using them in a course.

There are some collections of images with various license conditions (including public license) in the web, for example  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

One of the essential prerequisites for using original papers in an online course is a strictly limited access (only for people enrolled in this course) -- see What is the difference between Visibility and Access below. It is not sufficient to protect the course with just a password.


What is the difference between Visibility and Access?

Every course element (in the editor view) has the two tabs Visibility and Access. These tabs can restrict access to the course element.

Restriction of Visibility Restriction of Access
Those who do not meet the prerequisite for visibility will not see the course element. Those who do not meet the prerequisite for access can not use the element (even though they might see it in the course).

Visibility is the prerequisite for access. If you have defined rules for visibility, you do not need to repeat them in the access tab.

Example 1: A folder is meant to be only visible to people enrolled in the course (Visibility: Depending on Group). If students are not members of that group, they will not see that the folder exists.

Example 2: An enrolment element is meant not to be accessible before a specific date and time (Access: Depending on Date). Students who click on the enrolment before the specific date are informed that they are too early (and when enrolment will be possible). Still, they can see that the course will require an enrolment, because the element is visible.

It is essential for the use of copyrighted material that you make sure that only students enrolled in your course have access to copyrighted material. This is one of the reasons why every course needs a course group.

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. If you want students to know that a certain element will be available depending on certain conditions, than Access is the way to go.


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.

The default view simulates a student not enrolled in your course.

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 in my course group (i.e. registered OLAT users)?
  • How do members of a certain learning group view the course?

The preview is not interactive (yet), which means you cannot access the elements in preview. It is a good help if you manage your course filters mainly in the Visibility tab.


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 catalogue. 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. If you omit to publish changes (like a folder that you deleted or a course element that you renamed) your course participants will still see the old version.

Publishing is also one means to change the course access settings.


What does it mean to close a course?

Course owners can officially close a course. By closing a course, you inform the course participants that this course is no longer edited and updated.

This has several consequences:

  • The course gets the label 'closed'.
  • New members cannot enrol in this course, even though the enrolment element would otherwise permit this
  • New course elements cannot be added.

When you choose to close a course, you have several options:

  • Delete all catalogue entries of the course (this happens anyway at the end of the semester)
  • Remove all tutors and participants from the learning and right groups of the course.
    Attention, this means you can no longer access course participants' performances in tests, tasks, etc.
  • Send an email to tutors and/or participants indicating closure of the course

Closing Courses cannot be reversed. This specific course will keep the 'closed' label, and so will every copy of that course. If you would like to reuse the course elements of a closed course, start with a fresh course and import the elements via the function 'From another course' in the menu to the right in the course editor.


How does group management work?

Access to the group management is via de group icon in the top menu


Why do I need a course group?

Every course needs a group.

  • The group is your means to manage the course participants. Without a group you can neither contact participants, nor add new participants or remove participants from your course.
  • The group is also a precondition for filters in your course that are necessary due to copyright rules (yopu want to make sure that only students enrolled in your course have access to course material).
  • Due to their membership in a course group courses are shown on students' home pages in OLAT.

The enrolment element will ask (in the tab configuration) for a learning group. You can create a new group or choose an existing one.

You can also manually enrol students in your course, using the group management tool.

A Learning Area is a cluster of course groups - you only need this if you have many groups in your course with different learning routes.


How do students gain access to my course?

Course access must be open to students ('OAR').

All relevant course elements must be published.

The first course element (course header) must be accessible  (not blocked for learners or dependent on a course group they do not belong to).

If enrolment is desired it must be enabled in the Tabs Visibility or Access (not blocked for learners or dependent on a course group they do not belong to).


What does it mean if a person's name appears multiple times in a search?

Duplicate names in the system can have two causes:

  • The person has several HRZ-Accounts (like student assistants with a students' and an assistant account)
  • There are several people who share the same name

In such cases it is best to ask the person for his/her HRZ-Login-Name and use the Import-function to invite the correct person into the course.


How do people without a HRZ-Account gain access to my course?

  • For lecturers from other universities their institute/faculty should apply for a so-called HRZ-Account for Externe. This account will also permit them to access OLAT.
  • Students from the University of the Third Age Frankfurt get their account from the administration of the U3L: u3l@em.uni-frankfurt.de
  • Guest students who can prove that they have paid their fee and their admission to specific courses get local accounts from olat@rz.uni-frankfurt.de
  • For students form local schools or for participants of the 'E-Learning Zertifikatsreihe' the respective agency notifies the OLAT-Administration, who will contact the persons.


What are guests and guest access?

The Login page also permits guest access.

Guests can not work in the Course, they can at most read course content (unless the content is subject to group membership). They can not enrol or uplaod files and can not post messages in discussions.

Guests are unknown co-readers. If guests are permitted in a course, noone knows who actually visits the course aside from the enrolled students. Guests are anonymous.

Guests access is an option of publishing.

This option opens the course potentially for the whole world to see. Therefore, it is of essential importance that all copyrighted content is barred from wordwide-view by group filters.

Whether a course is open to the world is indicated by the world-icon next to the course in the overview 'my courses'. 


How do students upload files in my course?

If other students should be able to see the uploaded files: Use an element of the type folder and in the tab access enable upload for students.

If you would like students to upload their homework: Use an element of the type task.


How can I send a notification via OLAT?

OLAT sends mails to the university email-address. It is simply a distribution, so there is no internal postal box where you copukd yee the mail you sent or received.

There are (at least) two general methods to contact participants

  1. Use the group management:

Open the group management
Check the box in front of the respective group and click the letter-icon      
In the next step you can single out participants for your message

  • 2. Use the element messages:

When a participant opens the course element messages he/she will automatically subscribe to it. If you put your messages here, participants will automatically receive them as email. They will also be notified on their home page.


Why can I see my course content, but my students cannot?

Course access denied: The prerequisite for students to see your course is course access. If this is still set to O (Owner) or OA (Owner and other Authors) instead of OAR (open to registered students), students will not be able to see your course in the system.

If students can see the course but some or all elements remain invisible, the Editor View is helpful with little informative icons next to the elements in the menu:

Course element ready to publish: the newly created element or changes to this element still need to be published.

Existing visibility or access restriction: There is a restriction in visibility and/or access. The restriction can imply a specific span of time, there can be a blockage or there is a group dependency. The latter is a classical scenario for vicious circles: If your group membership is prerequisite for enrolment in the very same group. Fehlerursachen: Temporäre Sperrungen wurden nicht aufgehoben, es wurden Zirkelschlüsse produziert.

Configuration may contain errors: This is always accompanied by an indication of the problematic elements in the course.  Please do not ignore this, instead open the link to the list of problems. Open all elements with little warning icons and look for the errors. Correct them and don't forget to publish them.


How do I assign course privileges (like ownership) to other people?

With Manage Course Owners you can give co-ownership of the course to other persons.

Prerequisite is that the recipients have authors privileges in OLAT.

You can also assign specific rights with the option Rights management. This creates a security group that you can assign specific privileges to (like Course Editing, downloading Testresults and such). Course editors still need authors privileges and the course access must include their group (for ecample: Access: Owner and other Authors)


What is the difference between the role of owner and the role of tutor?

Both roles have in common that they ignore course filters. They can see all course elements in spite of group or course restrictions.

Tutors' rights relate to the course participants. If the course group has the respective tools, tutors can use them to communicate with their assigned group of participants . They can see test results of their group. They enter the course via their group membership. Mind you, Course access has to be set to OAR (including students) for them to work in the course. 

Owners' rights in a course are all equal (there is no main-owner with co-owners). They include tutors' rights and far surpass them. They can manage course groups, edit course elements, add or remove other owners. The prerequisite for that role are authors' rights. They enter the course via the Tab Teach & Learn.


What does 'course access' mean? How do I change it?

The settings for course access determine who will be able to see the course in the system (and find it in the catalogue or via the search option).

The necessary setting for a live course is 'visible to registered users'.

The setting can also be changed during the publishing-act (step 2: Modification of Course Access)

You can also change access in the old GUI (via Details and Settings in the dropdown menu and Modify Settings in the menu to the right).

A course that is created with the template will initially have the access set to 'all registered users'.

You can, of course, change it temporarily to owners only and then later back to all registered users.


Can I give an additional password protection to my course or to parts of my course?

The courses are protected by the authentification during the login to OLAT. The HRZ-Account is a strong protection. The second layer of protection is the fact that you limit the access to copyrighted material by making sure that only students enrolled in your course have access (see Visibility and Access, also Why do I need a course group).

You can, in addition, set a password to a course or to section of a course. The option is in the Tab Access of the first course element and in every element of the type Structure.