Cohort Themes In Moodle, The Answer To Built-In Multitenancy?

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It’s one of the longest-running requests for administrators of Moodle sites catering to several large bases of learners: How can you keep one Moodle site but customize it to each institutional client? The obvious answer has been there for a while. Multitenancy (or Multi-tenancy, or Multi tenancy) would not only enable distinct sets of users to access the site and share resources, but to do so without knowing or having to deal with anyone outside their organization. For admins, it could significantly cut down on maintenance work.

How to enable Cohort Themes in Moodle LMS

With Cohort Themes, users in the same Moodle site can enjoy different experiences when they belong to different cohorts.

After installing the theme, the “Theme settings” page includes an “Allow cohort themes” option, disabled by default. When enabled, the theme will be available in cohort settings.

When at least one theme is allowed for cohorts, the Cohort settings page, available from the administration settings, includes a “Force theme” drop-down menu to select the theme Moodle will serve the users belonging to it.

Compared to a complete multitenancy solution, the main drawback of cohort themes is that everyone has to get in through the same gate. It is also not possible to have a cohort-limited admin, so every admin role has access to everything.

More about Cohort Themes at

IOMAD: Third-party Multitenancy

The standard for Multitenancy in Moodle is IOMAD, although a more precise way to put it is a multitenancy LMS “with Moodle under the hood.” It expands the admin hierarchy, offering segmented admin and “superadmin” roles. It also includes ecommerce, licensing, and reporting solutions built-in. With IOMAD, each user base can have completely independent existences, down to the URL address and login page through which they get into Moodle.

The IOMAD project is maintained by Moodle Partner in Scotland E-Learn Design. Currently available with Moodle 3.4, IOMAD has a 3-month average embargo on Moodle’s latest release.

Recent and relevant admin experiences about IOMAD compared to managing several Moodle sites, let alone the recent Cohort Themes capability, are inconclusive. Premium support seems to maintain the quality Moodle Partners are known for, but individuals taking on the duty by themselves have reported limited documentation available.

Download and find out more at, or get development releases and contribute at

Built-in Multitenancy?

Those looking for Moodle to bring multitenancy at the core should not keep their hope up, despite the persistent interest even within Moodle HQ and Founder Martin Dougiamas at some point. While there are blueprints for “Multitenant support” on the Moodle Developers Documentation, the official project status is “Cancelled.” Dougiamas himself pulled the plug for a Moodle Tracker request back in 2014, suggesting cohorts-based restrictions is a more feasible way to go, despite the limitations. ■



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