1.0 Purpose

Elon University provides and maintains access to a learning management (LMS) system in support of the university’s mission. Moodle is official LMS supported by the university. The data retention policy clarifies the lifespan of course shells and users in order to ensure optimal performance of the LMS.

2.0 Scope

The Elon University LMS Course Retention Policy applies to all individuals with authorized access to manage courses (academic, departmental, organizational) within the university’s LMS.

This policy does not cover any additional tools, managed or not managed by Elon University, an instructor might choose to use for his/her course (for example, external blogs, wikis, etc.). In these cases, the instructor is responsible for keeping any applicable course content for the purposes of responding to university regulations regarding grievance procedures for grading and/or course refunds.

2.1 Definitions

  • Retention – keeping content in a live and accessible state.
  • Backup – copies of live content made for disaster recovery purposes.
  • Shell – a LMS course site, regardless of its academic or professional function. A Moodle course (academic, departmental, and organizational) is considered a shell.
  • Shell Backup – currently implemented as a zip file in Moodle, this is a compressed file containing material for one Moodle shell typically created for archival or transfer purposes.

3.0 Policy

3.1 Backups

System Wide Backups
Backups are maintained by the LMS provider specifically for large-scale disaster recovery purposes only.

Auto Backups
Shell backup zip files, which include one (1) previous version of the shell, are generated automatically as courses are used and are stored on the LMS server.

  • These automatically generated shell backup zip files are retained in the autobackup server folder for two (2) years after the course start date.
  • Shell backup zip files will be retained for small-scale disaster recovery.
  • Only LMS administrators will have direct access to these backup files.

Manual Backups
Instructors have the ability to create a backup of their courses at any time in the Course Backup area.

  • These backups are for personal records.
  • These backups should be downloaded by the instructor as soon as possible, and then deleted from the LMS.
  • These backups should not reside permanently on the LMS due to their effect on space and performance. Personal backups older than ten (10) days will be removed upon discovery by LMS administrators.

3.2 Data Retention


  • Academic shells will be deleted two (2) years after course start date (Example: Fall 2013 courses would be deleted from the live server at the beginning of Fall 2015).
  • Organizational, Departmental, and Development shells will be deleted one (1) year after last activity.
  • The last activity is defined as the last time any user, including an admin user, accesses the shell.
  • Prior to deletion, the course shell owner will receive notification via email and given an “opt-out” to keep the space open. If the owner does not respond to the request within a one (1) month time period, the shell will be deleted.

Any user who does not access the system for one (1) year will be considered inactive, and their account will be changed to a suspended state. Users whose accounts are in a suspended state will have their course enrollments preserved, but they will be unable to log into the system.