Using URLs and “hard-links” in Learn

As with any other sort of website, the use of Links to navigate your users from one part of your site to another location are a key part of your Learn course. However, as Learn is a, “Learning Management System”, there are some different behaviours for links you need to be aware of:

  • Open in New Window (External Links)
  • Tool and LTI Links
  • Copied Links from previous course instance

Open in New Window (External Links)

When adding a link in Learn via the content editor, or as a “link item” the default behaviour is to have the link open in the same page. However, when linking to an external site Learn handles the links in an unusual manner and takes the user to an interim page where they have to click a link to open the page in a new tab.

To avoid this you can should set any external link to open in a new window/tab. This option will either be displayed as a checkbox, or an option in a drop-down.

Tool and LTI Links

Each third-party service that has integration will have different permissions for linking to their tool and how they manage the permission of users that have been granted access to the content.

To keep things simple, try to only link to the tools using the Tool links provided in Learn, this way you can ensure that the correct credentials and tokens are being copied across.

If you have specific questions about linking to a third-party tool please get in touch with

Copied links from previous course instance

Copying Course Content

The links in your course are generally “static” and when copied across from one Learn course to another will remain the same; this of course makes sense for external links but has some added complications for links within the course or links to files / tools.

After copying your course content please take time to check ALL links.

External Sites

No action required, these will continue to work as expected. This includes links to resources stored on external file servers.

Links within the course

In many cases you might find the navigation in Learn limited so you may opt to link to other areas in your course via links in your content. This approach is fine, but there are a couple of things to consider when courses are copied.

Internal course links when added via the content editor are static or “hard-links” and will still point to the original course; whereas, internal links added using the “Course Links” tool will copy across correctly without needing to be updated.

A student in 2021/22 follows a link to view their tutorials tasks for Week 1 via a hard-link in your schedule. As this is a copied link it will take them to the 2020/21 instance of the course which they are not enrolled in and may cause them issues in terms of permissions and confusion.

Check all links in your course after you perform a course copy. There are some quick checks you can do to see which instance you are in. The left-hand menu will display the Year / Semester. The banner image for the 2021/22 courses contains a reference to the Academic Year.

As you are likely enrolled in both course instances as an Instructor any access or permissions issues may not be immediately identifiable.

Update any links that are required.

Files Resources in Content Collection

When linking to files in the content collection these links are more dynamic.

Following our Course Copy instructions we indicate that you stick with the default option for handling links to files, and request that files are duplicated into your new course. This process not only creates new versions of the files but it will update references to the files and update them accordingly.

If you select the option to link to files located in another course instance your students will receive an access denied message as they will not have the correct permissions to access the files.

Tool Links

Generally links to tools are not included in the Copy Process and will need to be recreated in each course instance.


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