Creating Courses with Moodle: 3. Course Design And Settings

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Moodle allows a number of layout options. You can display your course materials in a weekly format or a topics format. By default, you have a weekly format. However, other formats may work better for your class. This page shows you the main options, and helps you select the option that works best for your class.

Weekly — All sections displayed at once (the default setting)

By default, courses have a weekly format, with all sections displaying at once.  Students can easily get to each week by scrolling up and down the page or by selecting a particular week in the navigation menu.

Illustration Moodle course with the default weekly format

Moodle course with the default weekly format.

white spaceThe weekly format is very easy to use. By default, each week is labeled the dates for that week. When a particular week is current, that week is highlighted by Moodle. Teacher can quickly drag readings into the appropriate week. They can also add forums, assignments, quizzes ad other activities into any week. This makes it easy for students to see when readings and activities are due.

The above illustration points out a few key features of the weekly format. If you like, you can replace the week dates with a custom name for any section. For example, week 2 in the illustration above is renamed “Custom heading for this week.” The dates, or custom section labels, show up in the navigation menu on the left side of the course.

Topics — All sections displayed at once

If you teach a course by topics, and those topics do not correspond to weeks, you may want to switch to a Topics format. Students can easily get to each topic by scrolling up and down the page or by selecting it in the navigation menu–just like the weekly format.

Illustration of course using the topics format

Moodle course using the topics format setting.

white spaceIn the topics format, by the sections are named Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. by default. You can rename any topic and you can manually highlight the current topic. In the illustration above, section headers are highlighted in yellow, as are the links to each section in the navigation menu. Topic two is highlighted by Moodle; notice the red bar along the left each of the second section.

As with the weekly format, you can quickly drag readings into the appropriate topic section. You can also add forums, assignments, quizzes ad other activities into any topic section. This makes it easy for students to see when readings and activities associated with a given unit.

If you select the topics format, you will likely want to adjust the number of sections to match the number of topics you list in your Moodle course. By default, each course shows 16 sections, since the semester is 16 weeks.

No sections

If you use Moodle only for a syllabus, or a very small number of general course resources, you can eliminate the sections and just show the general header area, as illustrated below.

Illustrustation of course without sections

Moodle course without sections.

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Show one section per page

If you have a lot of content in your Moodle course, either the weekly or the topics format can get very long. In Moodlese, we sometimes call this the “scroll of death.” To keep your page shorter, you can change the way sections are displayed. Rather than show all sections at once, you can set the course format to show one section per page.

weekly layout-show one section per page -view 1

If you select the “Show one topic per page” format option, students first see an outline view with all section, and can click on any section to view it in detail.

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Illustration of single topic visible at once, showing one section in detail

Moodle course with a single section in shown in detail. Note that the general section at the top is always visible.

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The above illustrations show how course appear to students when you select the option to show one section per page. When students open the course, they see all sections in an outline view, plus the header section–sometimes called the general section. Students expand any section, as shown in the second illustration. Once in a section, students can move to other sections by clicking on the next section or previous section link, “jumping” to a desired section, or selecting a section in the navigation menu. The current section is highlighted yellow. Links to other sections are indicated with the blue boxes.

 

Use Course Administration to Select Desired Design

Once you select your course layout and design, follow these instructions to use that layout in your course. It is easy to configure your Moodle site for any of these layouts.

  1.  Go to Course Administration area and select Edit Settings. This is usually found in the top right corner of your course, under the (Gear icon, indicating settings menu) gear menu.
    Illustration of "edit settings" in course adminstration
    However, in some themes, this is found in the blocks on the side of your course.
    moodle-course-admin-settingswhite space
  2. Click on the triangle to expand the Course Format section.
    Illustration of course format settings

    • You can change your course format from the default Weekly format to a Topics format, Collapsed Topics, or Social format via the drop-down menu.
      (In the default weekly format, your weeks will start with the start date–set in the template as the Monday in the first week of your semester.)
    • You can change the course layout option to “show all sections on one page” if you have a lot of material.
  3. Once you have your desired settings scroll down and save changes. These settings can be changed later, so it is easy to experiment with different looks.

 

Remove Unwanted Sections

By default, courses have sixteen sections–one for each week. If you switch to a topics format, you will often need fewer sections. To delete extra sections, follow these steps:

  1. Turn editing on.
    Illustration Moodle "turn editing on" in course administration
  2. Click on the Edit drop-down menu at the top of each section you want to delete, and then select the Delete topic(or Delete week) option.
    NOTE: If you try to delete a section that contains resources or activities, you will get a warning message.
    illustration of how to delete extra Moodle course sections

Add More Sections

If you want additional sections, you can easily add them. Follow these steps:

  1. Turn editing on.
    Illustration Moodle "turn editing on" in course administration
  2. Scroll to the bottom of your course and click on the Add topic (or Add week) option.
    illustration of "add topic" link
  3. Select the number of sections you want to add, and click the Add topics (or Add weeks) button.
    Illustration of add sections, part 2

Continue to the next section: Adding Course Content.

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