Moodle Course Format Development Guide

Moodle course format refers to the layout of a course. When creating a course in Moodle, you will need to configure the course format. The course format will then help you to define the structure of the new course. For example, some of the courses are based upon topics like the chapters in a book and others are based upon time like a semester class in an institution.

To access the course format area:

  • Go to the course and turn on the editing
  • Select settings under the administration block

A new window will open, scroll down the window until you see format

  • Use the drop down menu beside the format and select your preferred format.
  • After selecting the format, scroll to the bottom and click on the save button to save’ the changes.

You will be able to see your course in the format that you have selected. You can be able to change the course format any time you want.

Moodle Course Format Development Guide

The following are the available options when selecting the Moodle course format:

  • SCORM (sharable content object reference model) format
  • Weekly Format
  • Topics Format
  • Social Format
  • Tabs format
  • Grid format
  • Flexpage format

Moodle course formats

1. Weekly format

In weekly format, the course is organized in weeks with a starting date as well as the finish date. Moodle then automatically creates a section for every week of the course. You can add forums, quizzes, content and many more on the section in each fresh week.


If you would like all the students to work at a particular time on the same material, this will be a great format to select.

Ensure that the starting date of your course is correct. If you set a wrong starting date, your weeks will have the wrong date on them. This is very important if you are restoring a course so that you can use with just a section of the students.

This format is common in traditional learning institutions where you have a set period to complete a certain course.

2. Topics format

In topics format, the course is organized in topics sections where the teacher can give titles. Each topic section consists of labels, resources and activities. For example, if the course is based on a certain book, you can create a topic for every chapter in the book. By default, the topics will be numerically labeled such as topic 1, topic 2, topic 3 and so on. You can change this later on if you wish.


Topics format is great to use if your course is based on objectives and if each objective is going to take different periods to complete. An example is on scaffolding where each student is building upon the knowledge acquired from earlier topics.

3. Social format

Social format is aimed at one main forum; social forum, which is listed on the main page. It is very useful in situations that are in free form. It was specifically designed to allow more than one student discus various subjects easily. For example, if you have a course on social works, the social format will help the students debate or review freely the topics in the course.

Social format is more like chatting in a traditional online forum. The social forum can be edited by clicking the update this forum’ on the social forum page.

4. SCORM format

SCORM is the short form for Sharable content Object reference Model. It is a pre-packaged course with an already defined structure. It has one section that allows the teacher to insert pre-built SCORM package.

If you decide to use SCORM format, you will need to add a new SCORM package in order to access your course. Moodle uses SCORM packages as a course format or as a content type.

If you are have a large sharable content object reference model object (SCORM) that you want to use as an entire course, you can select the format of the course and the students will only be able to interact with the SCORM object and not the rest of the Moodle tools.

5. Tabs format

In tabs format, you only see one section at a time with tabbed navigation at the top of the page. Tabs format works better when working with less than 8 section. Working with more than 8 section clutters the tabbed navigation. Each tab takes its name from the topic titles.

Formatting Options – The Course Layout

Show all the sections in one page: 

This is the most common tab format setting. You will be able to see one topic displayed on the page at a time with Next’ and Previous’ topic navigation buttons.

Show only one section per page:

This setting of tab format is not recommended. Topic 0 is displayed permanently at the top of the screen and the topic you select is displayed below. You will also see the Next and Previous topic navigation buttons. The navigation tabs are displayed between the current topic and topic 0.

Other formatting options include:

Selecting the number of topics of tabs that you want the course to have

Choosing how the hidden sections in the course are displayed to the students. Most hidden messages display unavailable’ message
6. Grid Format

This is a Moodle course format that hides the certain topics and creates a grid of icons for each topic with short titles. When you click on the icon, you will get the content from the next topic.

7. Flexpage format

Flexpage format provides the teacher with complete control over how assessments and other educational materials are presented to the students. It also allows the teacher to create a set of flexible sub pages and pages where activities and blocks can be placed in any page location without restricting to only the right, center and left column. Flex page course format also enables the teacher to determine the number of data columns that will be contained in the course (usually a maximum of three columns). This allows the teacher to have maximum control on how to present the assessment and any other course materials to the students.

This Moodle course format development guide should give you the understanding of how to create a layout in a Moodle course.




Nicole Lewis is the Lead Author & Editor of MyLMStips. MyLMStips is dedicated to providing the most engaging topics, information, tips and tricks surrounding Moodle®. It's a place where Moodle® users can receive guidance on how to get the most out of it and increase their productivity and progress.