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, 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 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 two options to format your course: Weekly and Topic.

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

Topics format allows instructors 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.

Whether the course uses weekly or topics format, it is always possible to add more sections throughout the course as needed, though we do not recemmend decreasing the number of sections as you might risk deleting existing content.

Course Layout

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

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 blocko n the main course page.You can also choose Display all the sections on one page as your Coure 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 chnaging 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 topic 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

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 Topic Settings page appears, where you can change the Section name and optionally add a Summary or description of the topic.If you want to change the Section name, be sure that the Use default section name box is unchecked.Editing a Topic Section Title and Summary

It is also possible to rearrange topic sections, hide them from students and highlight them using the following icons when Editing is turned on:

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.

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

Once you have are satisfied with the set up of your section topics, 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.

Formatting course content

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 the Turn editing on button at top right of your course.

You will be able to edit the activities and resources previously added using the editing icons associated with them.

Edit title icon allows you to change activity/resource name from course page.

move right icon allows you to indent the content

move left icon allows you to outdent the content

Move iconallows you to move the content between and within topics using drag and drop.

Update icon allows you to update settings for content.

Duplicate icon allows you to duplicate content.

Delete icon allows you to delete content.

Hide icon and show iconis a toggle icon to hide or show the Activity or Resource

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

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

Managing Blocks

On the left and right sides of the course main page 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.

  • Navigation: This block allows users to navigate quickly to specific pages on the site or within a course. From the Navigation block, users can navigate to specific sections within the current course or to other courses. They can also access their user profile from this block.
  • Administration: This block contains links to many of the course administrative functions such as Reports, Settings, User Management and the Gradebook. Most of the items on this block are only available to users with the role of Teacher; however, students will be able to access their own grades from this block if the instructor has made Grades visible.
  • Recent Activity: This block displays any recent activity to all users since their last login. For example, if the instructor uploads a file or a student makes a posting in a Discussion Forum, an alert will appear in the Recent Activity block. This ensures that students are alerted when instructors upload content mid-course or messages have been added to Discussion Forums.
  • Activities: This block provides links to groups of learning activities organized by activity type. For example, clicking on Assignments will bring the user to a page which lists all the active assignments for the entire course. This is a particularly useful way of navigating quickly to a learning activity.

Moodle also offers many other Blocks that provide additional functionality. Here some of the blocks you may want to consider adding to your course:

  • Calendar: This block displays a calendar of the current month with important dates highlighted. If the user hovers over an important date, the activity due on that particular day will display.
  • Upcoming events: The purpose of this block is to remind students about upcoming due dates. Upcoming events are displayed in a list with the closest appearing at the top. The expected completion or due date is displayed below.
  • Comments: Aside from the Discussion Forums, this is the only place where students are able to share comments or resources with their fellow students. All comments are visible to all users, but only authors of the comments and the Instructor are able to delete them. Users can also use HTML mark up to share clickable links in a comment.
  • HTML: This block allows the instructor to add their own content int he form of a block even without any knowledge of HTML. Using the text editor box, Instructors can add text, images and links to a block. Additionally, switching to the html editor, instructors could add widgets from other web sites, such as a Twitter or other feed.
  • Progress Bar: The Progress bar is a tool for students and instructors to keep track of the completion of Moodle course activities and resources. The instructor selects which course items are monitored and displayed in a bar graph in the Progress Bar block that indicates which items are complete, incomplete or late. Refer to the Using Progress Bar documentation page for more information.

Add a Block

Adding a Block

  1. Click the Turn editing on button in the top right hand corner.
  2. Select the block you will like to add from the Add a Block drop-down list (which displays all available blocks not already added to your course page). This block is usually the last block on either the left or right side.
  3. To move the block, drag and drop the block into the desired position.

Block Editing Icons

When in editing mode, several editing icons will display below the title bar of each Block. Below is a description of what these icons represent.

allows you to update the settings for the block.

allows you to remove a block from the course page (returns it to the Add Block list). When prompted to confirm that you want to delete the block, click Yes.

and allow you to show and hide the block from students. When it is hidden, it is minimized and the title bar is freyed-out in the teacher's course.

allows you to minimize the option list within the block and displays only the title bar. 

allows you to maximize and display the list of available options when the block is minimized.

allowsyou to dock the block to the side of the left side of the page.

Docking Blocks

Docking a block only affects your own view.Each Block on your course main page can be moved from the default location to the dock on the left side of the page. Docking is one way to provide more space for the middle section of the course main page where most of your content and learning activities will be located.

The Docking Icon symbol is used to pin Blocks to the dock.  The dock is located at the left edge of the page.  Docking places a Block along the left edge (dock) of the screen, displaying only its title.  By hovering the mouse over the docked Block, its feature list will display.

Blocks can be undocked by hovering on the docked Block and clicking the Docking Icon icon next to the icon.  To undock one or more Blocks quickly, click the undock icon Docking Icon at the bottom of the dock (bottom left of the page).