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Rewarding achievement with certificates

The certificate activity in QMplus allows you to award certificates of achievement to students enrolled on your course area. These certificates are generated in the form of a PDF which the student can either download or can receive via email. In setting up a certificate, you will need to decide what students have to do to earn it as well as deciding what it will look like and what information will be displayed on it.

Once the students have met all the criteria for a certificate, they can generate it themselves from the course area. You can also easily keep track of which certificates have been awarded to each student and even keep a copy of the PDF files which were generated in your course area for future reference.

An overview of certificates and what you need to think about

Example certificate This is an example certificate generated from a QMplus course area. You can click on the image to view the PDF of the certificate. In this example, the certificate shows:

  • The name of the student the certificate was awarded to
  • The name of the course on QMplus the certificate was generated from
  • The date the certificate was issued
  • The overall course grade obtained by the student
  • A certificate identification number which can be used to verify the authenticity of the certificate

It is possible to customise some aspects of a certificate both the information that appears on it and some of the design aspects such as the border used. These customisation options are relatively limited.

Although you will have to make some decisions about what your certificate will look like and what data it will have on it, the most important thing you need to consider is what your students will have to do to achieve it.

Examples could be:

  • Students take an end of course quiz and can get a certificate if they achieve a "pass"grade
  • Students can generate a certificate when they have been awarded an overall grade for the course
  • Students can generate a certificate if they have engaged with the activities in the course area. In this case activity can be tracked using the activity completion feature of QMplus.

How to add a certificate

First decide where you want to put the link to the certificate in your course area. Students will have to use this link to generate their certificate so think about where it will be easy for them to find. Then turn editing on in your course area, go to the section or topic where you wish the certificate to appear and click on the Add an activity or resource link.

add activity

Either click on the certificate activity and click the Add button or double-click the certificate activity to add it to your course page.

Give the certificate a name, something like Get your certificate would be appropriate. The introduction text is optional and only appears to the student after they have clicked on the certificate link. You might want to put some suitable congratulatory text in here. You can see an example in the How students generate their certificates section.

How your certificate will be issued

The issue options section of the certificate settings page controls how your certificate will be issued to the students.

You can configure the certificate to send an email each time a certificate is generated. This email can be sent to all teachers on the course or you can define specific email addresses. If you were running a mandatory training course on QMplus, you might wish to set this to a shared administrative email for instance.

You then have to decide how the student will receive the certificate. By default, the certificate will generate and automatically open in a new browser window. You can change this to automatically download the certificate to the students computer or for the certificate to be sent by email.

You can choose to save a copy of all the certificates that are generated in your QMplus course area. These are accessible through the certificate report. This might be useful for future reference.

As there is no meaningful way of tracking the amount of time a student has spent in a course area, the Required minutes in course is not a useful option and we do not recommend that you use it. It remains in QMplus for backward compatibility reasons.

What your certificate looks like

There are two aspects to what your certificate looks like:

  1. The text that will appear on it – controlled by the text options settings
  2. Design features such as borders and watermarks – controlled by the design options settings

Text options

The text options control the text that you display on the certificate.

text options

The main options of interest are:

  1. Print date and date format – this controls which date gets printed on the certificate and the format of the date
  2. Print grade and grade format – this controls whether a grade is printed on the certificate and what format it is in
  3. Print code – when a certificate is generated it has a unique code associated with it. This code is saved and can be viewed in the certificate report. It can also be printed on the certificate to allow for validity checking
  4. Custom text – it is possible to put a small amount of custom text onto the certificate. This is put in the bottom left of the certificate.

Design options

border 1

border2

These effects are created through the Border image setting:

  1. This is Fancy1-black
  2. This is Fancy2-black

You can also choose these effects in blue, brown or green.

border lines

This shows an example with the Border lines setting set to Black (and the Border image set to No). Again. You can choose to have the lines in brown, blue or green.

border image and lines

You can also choose to use both a border image and border lines giving a slightly odd effect, as above.

watermark 1

watermark 2

You can select a watermark image which appears behind the text. You can choose to have no watermark image at all, or you can choose:

  1. Crest
  2. Fleur de lis

The last two design options are to include a signature and a seal. These appear on the certificate on the bottom left and bottom right of the certificate respectively. For the signature, you can currently select to have a line (which could provide a space for a signature on a printed out certificate) and a demonstration signature. We do not recommend that you use the latter! Similarly, we do not recommend that you use the current options provided for the seal. These are currently all very basic and "clip-arty" and are unlikely to add gravitas to your certificate!

It is not possible to customise the design elements on a course level, e.g. to upload your own watermark image. It is possible to set the design components site wide, e.g. a custom watermark which would be available to all QMplus users. If the format of the certificates is causing you an issue, get in touch with us on elearning@qmul.ac.uk and we can discuss other possibilities.

Setting up the criteria to award the certificate

Once you have decided what your students have to do to be awarded a certificate you set things up through the Restrict access settings on the certificate activity. This means that the student will not have access to the activity to generate the certificate until they have satisfied the relevant criteria.

add restriction 1

add restriction 2

Go to the Restrict access section on your certificate activity settings page. Click the Add restriction button.

Here you can set up the criteria by which the students get access to generate their certificate. This could be a simple date, after this date students can generate their certificates. It could be dependent on grades:

restrictions 6

In this case the student will only be able to generate their certificate if their grade for coursework 1 is greater than 50%.

You can set up more sophisticated rules by using the activity completion tracking feature of QMplus. In this case you would click on the Activity completion button.

add restrictions 3

Now you can choose from the activities in your course area which have activity completion set on them. You can add another activity by clicking on the Add restriction… button.

add restrictions 4

Here we have set up 4 conditions that the student must satisfy before they can generate their certificate:

  1. Definitions, definitions – the student must post at least one entry to a glossary activity
  2. Post your thoughts to this forum – the student must start at least one discussion and respond to another two
  3. A quick quiz – the student must take a quiz in the course area
  4. Complete your QMplus profile – the student must check a box to indicate they have updated their QMplus profile
For more information on how to set up activity completion in your course area see our guide on Using activity completion to track student progress

How students generate a certificate

student view 1 The students will be able to see the certificate activity in the course area. If they have not satisfied all the conditions to be able to generate the certificate, the activity will be greyed out and the conditions will be displayed. In this case, they have 4 activities that they have to complete. They can click on the name of the activity to go directly to it.

student view 2 As they complete activities, the number of conditions outstanding will be reduced. In this case, the student now only has two activities they have to complete.

student view 3Once all the conditions have been met, the certificate activity is no longer greyed out and the student is able to click on it.

student view 4

The text at the top of the page is the introduction text entered in the certificate activity settings.

To obtain their certificate, the student clicks the Get Your Certificate button. The certificate will either pop up in another browser window, download to their computer or be emailed to them depending on the issuing method set up in the certificate settings.

The student can click on the Get your sertficate button as often as they like.

Keeping track of who has received a certificate

You can keep track of who has generated a certificate from your course by viewing the certificate report. You can access this by clicking on the certificate activity (you do not have to have editing turned on).

certificate report 1

The text in the top right corner indicates how many certificates have been issued. You can view the details by clicking on this text.

certificate report 2

The certificate report provides details of all the certificates which have been issued.

  • Date received – this column shows the date that the certificate was achieved. In this case, the activity was set to save a copy of the certificate so there is a link to the PDF of the certificate that the student generated. Notice that one student does not have a PDF link. This means the student did not click the Generate Your Certificate button.
  • Grade – this certificate was set to print the course grade so this is shown in this column
  • Code – this is a unique code generated for each certificate. You can set the certificate to have this code printed on it so you can check the validity of certificates.

Did this answer your query? If not, you can raise a ticket on the online Helpdesk or email: its-helpdesk@qmul.ac.uk . Alternatively you can also request a particular guide or highlight an error in this guide using our guides request tracker.

Produced by the the E-Learning Unit at Queen Mary University of London.
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