How to make your Moodle course visually appealing through Moodle Course Formats

Check out the contributed Moodle course format plugins for Moodle #moodleplugins

Moodle is pluggable by nature and it is clear from its Philosophy. It allows you to extend the core features by developing new plugins. Moodle allows more than 52 different types of plugins to extend the features of different areas. The official Moodle plugins directory has more than 1450 plugins.

Moodle course formats are one of the Moodle plugin types which refers to the layout of a course. You can configure the appearance of your Moodle course by choosing right course format. They change the look and feel of your Moodle course.

Standard Course formats:

By default, Moodle comes with 4 different course formats namely:

  • Weekly Course Format – If you are running a time bound course then you can use the weekly course format. The course is organized in weeks with a start and finish date.  It is best suited for a teaching environment where you would like the students to take part in the course activities at the same time.
  • Topics Course Format – It is similar to the weekly course format except that it is not a time bound course. The course sections are divided into Topics which can be named appropriately. This format is suitable if you want an goal based learning where the time taken to complete an goal is different for each student.
  • Social Course format – It is mainly suitable for free form communication. The course is based around one large forum. The forum introduction is displayed at the top of the course page. 
  • Single Activity Course format – Typically useful for Micro-sized learning. It has only one activity which can be chosen from the available Moodle activities list.

These course formats works for most of the general learning environments. However, if you would like to extend the look and feel of your Moodle course, you can check out all the available course formats in the Moodle plugins directory here.

Contributed Moodle course formats:

The contributed Moodle course formats are very popular as they allows you to be more flexible with your course layout. Here I am compiling the top 08 contributed Moodle course formats which are available for Moodle 3.4 version.

  • Buttons Course format – One of the most popular contributed Moodle course format plugin. It adds the menu on top of the course page with buttons to get access to the course sections. You can define the shape and colors of the buttons. It is best suited for the classrooms with many course sections especially when you want to offer easy navigation to the learners.
  • Board Course format – Another useful Moodle course format. Board (Grid and Blocks) course format comes with full flexibility between sections and columns. You can choose quantity and width of columns and quantity of sections in each column.
  • Periods Course format – Periods course format offers the most desired feature in a course format. You can define the duration of an individual course section in days, weeks, months or even years. It is suitable for those teachers who are teaching a time bound course but have different duration for a course section. The format is developed by Moodle HQ’s Marina Glancy.
  • eTask Course format – eTask format is based on the core Topics course format. The eTask course format includes grading table on the top of the course page. It provides grading table of many activity types such as assign, quiz, SCORM, Workshop etc.
  • Masonry course format – Ideal for teachers using Moodle for primary teaching. It will displays all course sections like a masonry build brick wall. Every section can have a different background and is dynamically placed into a fluent style page.
  • Flexible sections course format – Another awesome course format plugin developed by Marina Glancy. The flexible sections course format is also based on the native Topics format. You can add a new section inside another section i.e. the course sections can be nested. It can help you in making more organized courses like putting all assignments in a single topic. Similarly you can put all quizzes in a single topic.
  • Grid course format – The modular and visual course format for Moodle. Grid course format hides all topics and creates a grid of icons (one for each topic) with short titles. Whenever the students click on an icon, it brings up the content from the corresponding topic.
  • Collapsed Topics course format – One of highly popular and demanded contributed Moodle course format. The collapsed topics course format solves the “Scroll of Death” issue on your course page. It is especially useful when you have multiple topics or sections in your course.

Which course formats you are using on your Moodle portal? How is your experience with these course format? Do share with us in the comments section below.

Jaswinder Singh

Jaswinder Singh, passionate about using Moodle in improving the Indian Education System and reaching the students in far flung areas where still education seems to be a impossible prospect of life. He is the author of the popular Moodle Book "How to use Moodle 2.7". In October 2016, Jaswinder was elected as the Moodle User's Association Committee member - the first to make it from India.

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