Blocks are invaluable tools in PolyLearn that greatly assist in navigating the course website, as well as showing important information in a convenient area. Instructors can customize which blocks do and do not appear, as well as which page(s) a block appears on.

Block Options

Adding a block

  1. Select Turn editing on.
  2. Locate the block named Add a block on the bottom right side of the main course page.
    screen image of add a block pull-down list
  3. Click Add... and choose the block to be added.

Adding a content block

  1. Select Turn editing on.
  2. At the bottom of the page, at the last block. Click on the + Add topics link.
    NOTE: To remove, click on the Edit, Delete topic.
  3. Choose the number of topics you want to add and click on the Add topics button.

Editing a block

Instructors can edit where a block appears on a page, and which page(s) it appears on.

  1. Turn Editing On
  2. Click on the gear tool of the block for editing.
    Activities menu
  3. Adjust settings of the block as needed:
    • Display on page types controls which pages on the course website the block appears on.
      Note: Choose Any Page to display the block on every page within the site.
    • Default region places the block on either the left or right side of the page.
    • Default weight controls the placement priority of the block.
    • Note: A smaller number means the block will appear higher on the page (with respect to other blocks); a larger number means the block will appear lower.
    • The On this page section is for customizing block placement on the current page--other pages will abide by the default settings above.
  4. Click Save changes.

Moving a content block or block

Move blocks wherever necessary. Each one can be placed on the left or right sides of the page.

  1. Turn Editing On
  2. Hover over the double arrows in the left corner of the block.
  3. Four Arrow move cursor

  4. Click and drag the block to the location where you would like it to be and drop it.


Docking is a useful feature, particularly if there are a lot of blocks displayed on the page, which can cause a page to be unnecessarily long. Docking reduces blocks to tabs on the far left side of the page which expand when clicked on, minimizing clutter while still allowing for easy access of block content.

  1. Click on the docking icon (located in the top right corner of the block).
  2. Screen image of block docking icon
  3. The block now appears on the dock:
    Screen image of dock

  4. Clicking on the block expands to reveal its contents:
    Screen image of dock
  5. To remove a block from the dock, click the same docking icon (located next to the 'X').
  6. Note: To remove all blocks from the dock, click on the docking icon at the bottom of the dock.

  7. To "un-dock" a block, rollover the docked block with your cursor to open up its menu and click on the "Undock this item" icon.
  8. Activities Block docked

Block Types


The Activities block allows for easy access to all activities in the course. Activities are separated into categories; clicking on one will show all the activities of that particular category.

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More block types

The blocks outlined in this tutorial are only the blocks that are enabled by default, as they are most useful for the majority of instructors. However, the instructor may add other blocks if necessary for his or her course (and even delete the "default" blocks, too).

Activities Block


The Calendar block is useful for keeping track of important dates for students. These important dates are separated into four color-coded categories:

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Calendar Tip

The Calendar block is a good candidate to put on every page so that students have constant access to it.

  • Global (green): Events that are set by site administrators and appear in all courses. An example would be a national holiday.
  • Course (pink): Events that are set by the instructor and appear to all students in a course. An example is an assignment due date.
  • Group (yellow): Events that are set by the instructor and appear to all students within a group. An example is a deadline that the group must meet.
  • User (blue): Events that are of a personal nature, and can only be seen by the person who set the event.

Hovering the mouse over a date will display a list of event(s) for that day (if any). Clicking on the event brings up a more detailed display.

Calendar Block

Adding an event

To manually add an event to the Calendar:

  1. Scroll through the months by clicking the arrows, and then click on the desired month.
  2. Calendar Month Selector

  3. Click on the New event button near the top of the page.
  4. Select the Type of event, enter the Name of the event, and its Date.
    • Type a Description for the event.
    • Select the Duration of the event if it spans a fraction of the day or covers multiple days.
    • Choose to Repeat this event, as well as the amount of times it is repeated.
  5. Click Save changes.

    Note: A PolyLearn activity will automatically appear in the Calendar if its due date is set. Activities that do not have due dates can be inserted into the Calendar using the method outlined above.


The Comments block can be used to quickly gather feedback from those in the course without having to set up a separate activity. Anyone can post a comment, and everyone can see it.

Comments Block


The Navigation block is an important block that appears at the top of the left column of blocks by default. It provides links to My profile, where there's access to your profile, forum posts, blogs, messages, and My private files. Also, it shows the current course that you are viewing.

Navigation Block


The Quickmail block is a valuable block that allows the instructor to send emails to students in the course. To send an email:

  1. Click Compose New Email.
  2. Select the student to send an email to, and click Add. Repeat if necessary.
  3. Note: Send an email to the entire class by clicking Add All.

  4. Add any attachment(s), if necessary.
  5. Type the Subject (required) of the email, and the Message.
  6. Click Send Email.

Quickmail Configuration

If you are unable to email students, make sure they are listed in the configuration. You may get an error " no users in your group" if students are not selected.

  1. Click on the Configuration link.
  2. Within the Role to filter by, group select Instructor & Student.
  3. Scroll down and click on the Save changes button.
The Quickmail block also offers options to customize signatures, view drafts and history, and customize the configuration of emails.

Quickmail Block


The Administration block appears in the left column by default. It is one of the most important blocks because it shows settings for every page, and thus is constantly changing to accommodate the current page.

Note: The gradebook can be accessed from the main course page via the Administration block, through the Grades link.

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Administration Block

Unlike other blocks, the Administration block changes according to what page you are currently on. For example, it will list editing options for a particular assignment, so keep an eye on it often.

Administration Block

Completion Progress

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  • The Completion Progress bar is a time-management tool for students.
  • It visually shows what activities/resources a student is supposed to interact with in a course.
  • It is color coded so students can quickly see what they have and have not completed/viewed.
  • The teacher selects which pre-existing activities/resources are to be included in the Progress Bar and when they should be completed/viewed.
  • Ordering can be done by times/deadlines or by the ordering of activities in the course.
  • There is an overview page allowing teachers to see the progress of all students in a class, which is helpful for finding students at risk.
  • Adding the Progress Bar block to the Dashboard shows users a combined view of their progress on all courses (where the block is set up).

  1. Add the Progress Bar block.
  2. Within the Progress Bar, choose either
    • Select activities/resources: pick some of the current activities or resources
    • Add all activities/resources: all of the current activities or resources

  3. Under Settings, type in a new name or leave the name as Progress Bar.
    • use icons in bar - yes
    • how to present long bars - squeeze
    • show percentage to students - yes
  4. Under General, for each activity or resources, choose...
    • Monitor - yes. This is display the item within the progress bar
    • Expected by - don't add dates. The dates should already be posted in the activity or resource.
  5. Click Save changes.