Moodle Course Formats – What You Need to Know

A course format in Moodle refers to its particular layout. You can select the course format in Edit settings from the Course administration under the Administration tab. You can also change Moodle course formats from the main page by going to the tab Managing a Moodle course then choosing Courses and finally click on Course formats. There are many changes you can make, including adding a new course, selecting course categories, uploading courses, and changing course settings.

Moodle Course Formats – What You Need to Know

Moodle administrators can delete, enable and disable course formats under the Administration tab by going to Plugins and selecting Course formats and finally Manage course formats. In the course settings it is also possible to change the order of displaying course formats to teachers.

Manage Standard Moodle Course Formats

These are the standard Moodle course formats:

  • Weekly format
  • Social format
  • Topics format
  • Single activity format

Among the standard Moodle course formats you can change the Weekly format. Any course should have a clear start and finished date and be organized week by week. You can create in Moodle a section for each course week. In the section for each week you can add quizzes, forums, content, and so on. A good format to choose would have all your students to work at the same time on the same materials.

You need to ensure that your course start date is set correctly or else your weeks will display a wrong date. Pay a special attention to this aspect in case that you are restoring a course in order to use it with a new students section.

Another change you can make is on the Topics format. Every course should be organized into topic sections with different tiles given by the teacher. Each of these topic sections may consist of labels, resources, and activities. In case that your course is objective based and a different amount of time is required to complete each objective, Topic format is a good resource to use. Such an example can be the case when your students are building upon the knowledge from earlier topics.

It is possible with Topics, Weekly, and any contributed format that features this function, to “Show only one section”. Via the Administration tab go to Course administration and choose Edit settings, finally selecting to “show one section per page”. In case of courses with multiple topics, you can select which one you want to be currently shown. The left and right links lead to the precedent and the next topic.

You can also select a Single section page. When you access the first time a course, the home page of your course shows the section names, text in the section description, along with resource numbers and activity. The section names are being clickable. You can see one section at a time once you have clicked on the name of a topic. The main course page will display the content of all the sections if editing is ON. A new feature in new in Moodle 2.5 onwards is that you also have a ‘Jump to…’ option in the menu at the bottom of each single section page.

The Social format in Moodle is oriented around the social forum or the main forum listed on the main page. This is a format useful for free form situations whether or not they are courses. Such an example of a social format course is the Moodle Lounge. You can edit the social forum by clicking the button ‘Update this forum’ found on the social forum page. At the top of the course page is displayed the forum introduction. You can add resources and activities on side by utilizing the Social activities block.

The Single activity format allows you to add to the course one activity only and it has just one section. When you select the single activity format will appear a drop down menu allowing choosing the activity you wish to use. Selecting the Single activity format replaces the SCORM format that used to be present in earlier versions of Moodle. Social format and single activity format with the forum activity are very similar. Only when the course contains other activities will appear differences. The other activities are displayed in single activity format for teachers only and as “orphaned”, while the social format displays them also available for students and in an activities block.

Manage Contributed Moodle Course Formats 

The contributed Moodle course formats are:

  • Collapsed Topics
  • Grid format
  • Daily format
  • Noticeboard format
  • Menutopic format
  • One topic format
  • Topic format (colors)
  • Flexible sections format

Contributed Course Formats were developed by the Moodle community and they are available in the plugins directory. You can also create a new one by following the Developers documentation.

The contributed Collapsed Topics is a Moodle course format similar to the standard Weekly and Topic formats, with the difference that it features a ‘toggle’ for each section with the exception of ‘0’. The ‘ purpose of the toggles is to reduce the need to scroll through the content and minimize the amount of initial information presented to the user. The program remembers per course and per user basis the ‘state’ of the toggles.

The Daily format is a standard weekly format modified in order to show sections by day instead of by week.

The Grid format is a visual and modular format that creates a grid of icons with title and hides all topics. The content from the corresponding topic can be accessed in a “lightbox” style display by clicking on the corresponding icon.

The contributed Menutopic format allows displaying sections and topics in a menu. The Noticeboard format displays at the top of the course the latest post in the news forum. The Onetopic format keeps the current tab between calls to resources and displays each topic in a tab, keeping the current tab between calls to resources. The colored Topic format allows you to specify the background and foreground colors for each section of the course. The Flexible sections format is available in Moodle 2.4+ versions and allows nested sections that can be displayed expanded or collapsed.


Among the changes possible in Moodle course formats are included selecting course categories, changing course settings, adding a new course, and uploading courses. In Moodle a course format means the particular layout of the course.  Moodle course formats can be changed from the Administration section by choosing to Edit settings in the Course administration tab.

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.