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Editing and updating courses: To republish or duplicate?
Editing and updating courses: To republish or duplicate?

When you update a course and republish, changes apply to all class activations attached to that course - current, scheduled and past.

Caitlin Foran avatar
Written by Caitlin Foran
Updated over a week ago

As an author in iQualify, when you update a course and republish… those changes will now flow out to all class activations attached to that course - current, scheduled and past. Amazing!

Yes, well it is, but some changes you make can affect learner progress or mean learner work is lost when you republish. So, it will be up to you to decide if changes are important enough. It does mean we need to think through the implications for learners before we decide to go for either:

Edit > republish > updates flow out


Duplicate > Edit > Create new activations

Overview of effect on learners

Very generally speaking, edits within an element - updating text, fixing broken links etc. - won’t affect learner progress or submissions, so a republish is generally fine.

However removing entire elements, tasks or pages loses associated learner contributions.

Adding tasks or pages can decrease some learners’ progress as there is now new content they haven’t completed.

So if possible, avoid republishing changes that involve removal of entire elements. Instead create a duplicate, make your changes and use this course for future activations.


  • For any republish, always think about whether you should let learners know about what changes have been made.

  • If duplicating, remember to add a version number or identifier to the course name of your duplicate and archive the old course.

Let’s take at a look through the options on this decision tree.

We’ll go through a few questions you should ask yourself to help you decide whether to republish or duplicate and explain what the implications are.

Is it a new “version” of the course?

First you need to ask yourself if the changes you’re wanting to make would essentially result in a different version of the course. To us, a new version of the course includes things like:

  • Addition, removal, or significant changes to an entire section (or a number of pages throughout).

  • Addition, removal, or significant changes to assessed tasks.

As a rough guide, anything more than 10-20% change should cause you to consider duplicating rather than republishing.

Is it really important that learners currently studying the course see the changes?

If yes, then it sounds like you’ll need to republish. Before you do, read through the scenarios below to see how/if learners will be affected and what you can do to make sure they are informed.

If no, that’s great. Duplicate the course, make your changes and then any new activations can use this new course. Learners working on the previous version of the course won’t be affected.

Do you just need to make small fixes/edits?

If you’re only making small fixes or edits, then editing and republishing is probably what you’re after. As long as you’re not removing any elements, tasks, or pages entirely, no learner submissions or notes will be lost. Depending on the scale of the fix(es) you might want to let learners know about the updates in a talk channel announcement.

Do you need to remove an element entirely?

Doing this will lose any notes (private or social) learners have made, so you may want to consider telling learners before you do it. So if you can avoid removing an element, it’s best to avoid it. Instead, you might be able to re-write over existing text elements?

Do you need to remove a page entirely?

As with the above scenario, you’ll lose any notes. And, if the page has an in-page discussion, any comments there will be lost too. So if you can avoid removing a page, avoid it. Try instead to re-write.

Do you need to add a new page?

Learners' progress will go down. This applies even for learners who have completed the course. You might want to consider opting for a subheading on an existing page for learners who have already begun the course. For future activations, create a duplicate and split the page where you placed the subheading.

Do you need to change a task?

Always try to avoid deleting a task element. Removing the element removes learner submissions. Instead, add a new variation into the existing task, then delete the old variation. Learners who have already completed the original variation will still see their original submission (facilitators can see it too) and they can see the new variation if they choose to reset the task (facilitators will need to reset for assessed tasks).

If some learners have already attempted the task, we recommend you tell learners about the updates in a talk channel announcement.

Do you need to completely remove a task?

As mentioned above, removing an entire task element removes learner submissions. If you need to do this for learners who have already begun, consider warning them first.

Do you need to add a new task?

If learners have already attempted at least one task on the page where you want to add a task, their progress will decrease. For instance, if there were 3 tasks on the page and a learner had completed all 3, their progress would have had that page as “complete”, when you add another task, their progress will now say that page is only ¾ complete.

If learners haven’t attempted any tasks on that page, their progress will be unaffected.

Detail of how learners are affected by republishing

Now we’ll look in greater detail at what can change for learners when content changes.

  • Tasks and submissions

  • Private study notes and social notes

  • Progress

Tasks and submissions

When learners submit a task, we (the iQualify system) know that their submission is attached to variation X of task element A. If task element A disappears, so does the learner’s submission.

But, one cool thing that variations allow is that you can add variation Y to task A, delete variation X and because the task element A still exists, we (the system) still have something to attach learners’ submission to. That is, submissions remain if the original element remains, even if the original variation disappears.

Private study notes and social notes

When a learner creates a note (private or social), that note is attached to an “element” - text, image, video, task etc. If that element disappears, so do the learner’s notes.

As with tasks, as long the entire element still exists, learners' notes can remain attached. This means you can edit an element and learners notes will be a-okay. Remove the element completely, learners' notes will be lost.


Progress is based on how many pages you have completed out of the total. If a page only has text, images, videos etc., then to “complete” that page, learners only need to view it. If a page has tasks on it, to “complete” that page, learners need to have completed every task on the page. If, for example, learners have only completed 1 task of 2 on a page, we give them half of the progress value for that page.

This means that:

  • Changing non-task elements within a page will not affect learners' progress (whether they’ve viewed the page or not)

  • Adding or removing tasks from a page can affect learners' progress (depending on if they’ve already attempted tasks on that page etc.)

  • Adding or removing entire pages from a course will affect learners' progress.

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