Formatting course layout

Course Format & Design

Once you have logged in to Moodle, the My Courses page lists all courses you are associated with either as an instructor, teaching assistant or student. Students will see a very similar page when they log in to Moodle, which will contain all courses they are registered in and that have been made available to them.

The course title displayed in red indicates it is available to students, a grey title indicates that the course is not yet available to students even if they are registered in it. As an instructor you can make the course available to your students when you would like them to see the course.

To enter a course, click on the course name from the My Courses page. The course main page will appear and is divided into three sections, left, middle, and right. The left and right sections will display blocks, which provide access to various activities, resources and settings.

The middle area of the course main page is your workspace and will contain learning materials you will incorporate into your course such as documents, files, assignments, quizzes, discussion forums and so on. This area is divided into sections, or topics, which can be organized by week or by topic. The first topic displayed on the course page is a general topic where you can put a welcome message, the syllabus or any other documents that are not related to individual sections of the course.

Course Format

There are seven format options for your course: Weekly, Topics, Collapsed Topics, Socialwall, Single activity, Grid and Social.

Weekly Format

Weekly format will automatically create one topic for each week starting on the specified Course start date for as many weeks as specified in the Number of Sections option. For example, if you specify the course starts on September 6 and has 13 sections, Moodle will generate 13 sections, one for each week starting September 6. By default, the section titles will be the dates for the corresponding weeks. These titles can be edited.

Please note that if you choose the weekly format, you will need to factor in Reading Week or other holidays in order for the course to finish on the appropriate date. For example, if the semester is 12 weeks, but there is a one week break, you should specify 13 sections for the course. Moodle will create a section for all 13 weeks. You could choose to use the extra week for review materials, or you could hide it so that students will not be able to see it.

Topics Format

Topics format allows you to be slightly more flexible in the organization of course materials. Instructors select the number of sections for the course, and then name the section titles as appropriate. For example, if a unit of study or topic expands more than a week, it might be convenient to organize them in the same section as opposed to organizing them by week.

Collapsed Topics Format

Collapsed Topics format is similar to topics format. It allows you to organize course material into sections based on topic or weekly structure. In this format all sections except the top section have a toggle that is used to display/hide section. One or more sections can be displayed at the same time.

Flecxible Sections Format

Flexible sections organizes course content in any number of sections that can be nested. As the course instructor you are able to collapse or expand the topics.

Grid Format

In this format the course is organized into a modular and visual course format that hides all topics and creates a grid of icons (one for each topic) with short titles. Clicking on an icon brings up the content from the corresponding topic.

In all formats with the exception social wall format, it is always possible to add more sections throughout the course as needed, though we do not recommend decreasing the number of sections as you might risk deleting existing content.

Onetopic Format

Onetopic format displays topics, also known as sections, one at a time. The topic names are shown above the topic content in tabs and each topic can be shown one at a time by clicking on the correct tab.

Socialwall Format

This format allows you to add course material such as files, URLs, resources and activities as an attachment to a post. It displays a timeline of posts containing the course material. Socialwall format allows instructors to leave comments, reply to comments, like posts, make sticky posts, attach files and URLs to posts and attach activities to timeline-posts.

This course format is not designed to be switched back and forth between the various formats. While it can be done, it will have undesired consequences to the course layout.

Single Activity Format

This format has only one section and allows the instructor to add only one activity to the course. If the course already contains an activity, selecting that type of activity will default to the first instance of the activity listed in the course.

User is presented with the following warning when switching to single activity format "When changing the existing course format to "Single activity" make sure that you removed all extra activities from the course including the "News forum". Note that sections structure may be modified".

Social Format

This format is oriented around one forum, the social forum, where the only possibility for a user is to create new posts and respond to existing posts. This format does not allow instructors to leverage other resources/activities normally available to them with other course formats. The social forum description is displayed at the top of the course page and allows instructor to update forum settings.

Course Layout

You can change the layout of your course from the Edit course settings page, which can be accessed from the Edit settings link on the Administration block on the course homepage.

If you plan to have a lot of resources and activities in your course, you may want to consider the One section per page layout in order to limit the amount of scrolling.

Show One Section per Page Layout

By default, the course layout is set to display one section per page. In this layout option, all the course section titles are displayed on the course main page, and you can view resources and activities in each topic by clicking the topic link. Links to adjacent topics alongside the topic name will allow you to easily navigate to next and previous topic.

Show All Sections on One Page Layout

You can also choose Display all the sections on one page as your Course Layout. In this layout, the sections appear in order from top to bottom and the Resources and Activities for each section can also be accessed from the main course page. Course format with all sections on one page This might be the preferred format if you do not have a lot of content. However, for courses with numerous or long sections, you may prefer the Show one section per page format.

It is possible to change the course layout, but keep in mind that changing the way course contents are accessed might cause confusion for students.

Refer to the Customizing Course Settings documentation page for instructions on changing the course layout.

Managing Sections

Once the course layout and format have been set up, you will be able to customize the sections of your course. If you have selected Weekly format, the section titles will automatically have the dates added to them. Otherwise, the default section titles will be Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. Main Course page with list of Topics and Edit Section Summary icon highlighted


Changing Section Titles

You can easily edit these section titles and add a description or summary of the section when Editing is turned on by clicking the Edit Summary icon below the section title. The Summary of Section settings page appears, where you can change the Section name and optionally add a summary or description of the section.

Editing a Topic Section Title and Summary

If you want to change the Section name, be sure that the Use default section name box is unchecked.

Moving, Hiding, Deleting and Highlighting Sections

It is also possible to rearrange sections, hide them from students, deleting sections and its content and highlight them using the following icons when Editing is turned on. These icons are located in one action menu and can be accessed by clicking on the Edit on the far right of the section name:

Move iconallows you to move the section along with all its content around using drag and drop.

show and hide iconis a toggle icon to hide or show the block from student view.

show allows you to delete an entire section along with its content.

Highlight this topic as the current topic icon allows you to highlight the item as the current topic or week.

Once you are satisfied with the set up of your sections, you can begin adding content to your course. For more information on adding Resource and Activities to your courses, see our About Course Content and Learning Resources documentation page.

Managing Resources and Activities

To edit the course, you will need to turn editing on, which will display editing icons associated with all editable items such as activities, resources and blocks. Click Turn editing on at top right of your course.

Editing icons and the Edit drop-down menu on the course homepat when editing is turned onYou will be able to edit the activities and resources using the editing icons and the Edit drop-down menu associated with each item.

Move iconallows you to move the activity or resource between and within sections using drag and drop.

Edit title icon allows you to change the activity or resource name inline directly on the course homepage.

Assign roles iconallows you to assign a particular user with a different role than the course default for that activity or resource.

The Edit drop-down action menu includes the following options:

move right icon Move right allows you to indent the content to the right

Hide icon Hide and show iconShow toggle icon between hide or show. When theHide icon Hide icon is displayed, the activity is visible to students; when the show iconShow icon is displayed, the acidity is hidden from students.

Duplicate icon Duplicate allows you to make a copy the activity or resource quickly.

Assign roles iconAssign roles allows you to assign a particular user with a different role than the course default for that activity or resource.

Delete icon Delete will delete the particular activity or resource.

Adding Headings, Text and Images to your Course Homepage

You can use Labels to add text or images to the sections. For example, you may want to add headings, such as Readings and Assignments in each of the sections to organize your content. This is particularly helpful if you have a lot of items in each section. You can also add images or short snippets of text to introduce an activity or resource.

For more information on adding Labels to sections, see our Adding Section Labels documentation page.


On the left and right sides of the course homepage you will see several Blocks with grey title bars. A Block is a small area of a Moodle page that offers specialized functionality.  By default, your course will have the Navigation, Administration, Recent Activity, Activities and Library Resources blocks. The placement of blocks can be customized on the course homepage, and a variety of blocks can be added that offer additional functionality. For more information on using blocks, see our Using and Managing Blocks documentation page.