Using the Moodle Course Template

When we surveyed students about effective uses of Moodle, they expressed a strong desire for clear Moodle course structures that make it easy for students to find the work that they need to do to be successful in the course.  Students praised in particular a reverse chronological course structure and the use of the Collapsed topics format to make the appearance of the Moodle course less overwhelming.  For more information, see this article on the Reverse Chronological Structure (opens in new window), in which the most recent course content appears at the top of the course, and see this section on simplified course structures as well (opens in new window) for specific student comments about the Collapsed topics format combined with a chronological course structure. 

To make it easier for faculty members to structure their course using both of these features, we have created a Moodle Course Template that you can copy into your own Moodle course to provide a basic structure that you can modify with your own content.  To use the course template, you will need to:

  1. Import the Moodle Course Template into your current Moodle course.
  2. Change the Course format to "Collapsed Topics."
  3. Delete the duplicate Announcements forum.
  4. Hide topic blocks so that only the "zero block" (with content relevant to the entire semester) and the first week's block are visible to students.
  5. Rename topic blocks with actual week dates and/or relevant titles.  
  6. Modify the content in the block for Week 01 (and for other weeks/topics).
  7. Progressively reveal blocks as the semester progresses, so that the first block the students see is the current week of the semester

1.  Import the Moodle Course Template into your Current Moodle Course

Here are brief instructions on how to import that course template into your Moodle course:

  1. Go to the current (“destination”) course in Moodle into which you want to copy the Moodle course template;
  2. Within that destination course, click on the “Import” link in the Course administration section;
  3. Search for the "Moodle Course Template" course (from the full set of courses for which you have instructor privileges), and select that course;
  4. Click on the "Jump to final step" to import the course content (and structure) into your actual course.  
  5. Edit the Settings for your course so that you truly are using the "Collapsed Topics" format. 

Here are more detailed, step-by-step directions, with screen captures:

  1. Log in to Moodle at (opens in new window), and click on the link for the course into which you want to copy the Moodle Course Template.  You should be able to find a link to your course in the Current Course List module on the right-hand side of the main Moodle page.  The course might be in the "Future courses" category if you are trying to copy the template well before the beginning of the new semester, although most likely you will find your course in the "Current courses" category in that Current Courst List module.
  2. To start the import process, click on the “Import” link in the “Course administration” block:

    The list of links in the Administration tab, highlighting "Import"
  3. You will most likely have many courses listed as possible "source courses" (from which to import the data), so you'll need to scroll down to the search box just below the list of courses.  Within that text box, you can type in "Course Template" or "Moodle Course Template" and click on the Search button:

    A search bar with "Moodle Course Template" typed in.
  4. Two versions of that course should appear as a result of your search.  The "Moodle Course Template - Reverse Chronological" course is the one that we are discussing here, since that one uses a reverse chronological order, along with the Collapsed Topics course format.  Click on the radio button to the left of the course name to select that course, and click on the "Continue" button:

    Select Template Course with "Moodle Course Template" selected.
  5. You are going to want to import all of the course content, so you can leave everything selected, and click on the "Jump to final step" button:

    Jump to Final Step for Import button at the bottom of the "Import settings" screen.
  6. Moodle will show a progress bar as the content is imported.  When it is done, click on the Continue button to see the content within your course.

2.  Change Your Course Format to Collapsed Topics

Most likely, your course was using the default "Topics" format before you imported the template, and your imported course will still have that format.  To switch to the "Collapsed Topics" format:

  1. Click on "Settings" in the Course Administration area to begin the process of selecting the "Collapsed Topics" format:

    Administration tab, highlighting the "Import" link.
  2. Scroll down to the "Course format" section of the settings, and click on "Course format" to expand that section.  Then, in the Format section, click on "Topics format," and change that selection to "Collapsed Topics":

    Choose Collapsed Topics from the drop-down menu in the "Course format" section.
  3. Moodle will reload the page with the multiple options for the "Collapsed Topics" format.  The default options tend to work well, so scroll down on the page, and click on the Save and return button to finalize your course format change.

3.  Delete the Duplicate Announcements Forum

You may notice that there are two copies of the Announcements forum in your course - the one that was originally there, and a second instance that you copied over from the Moodle Course Template.  Here's how you delete the duplicate copy of "Announcements":

  1. If editing is not currently on, click on the Turn editing onbutton at the top-right of the Moodle page for your course.  Scroll down to the Announcements forum that was originally in the template (with the explanatory text), and click on "Edit," and then "Delete":

    Two duplicate accouncement forum blocks, pointing to the delete button on the original Announcements block.
  2. Click on the "Yes" button to confirm that you truly do want to delete that duplicate Announcements forum. 

4.  Hide Topic Blocks

The "Collapsed Topics" format simplifies the view of your course, since by default, topic areas are displayed in collapsed form, with only the block title visible.  The reverse chronological structure then makes it easy for students to see the current topic block at the "top" of the page (just under the "zero block"), since all the weeks above that (which will occur later in the semester) remain hidden.  Since your original course did not have the topic blocks hidden, you'll have to hide those first six blocks, as follows:

  1. On the right side of the first (collapsed) topic block, click on the three dots to open the Edit menu menu, and click on "Hide section":

    Hide Section
    (Please note that for that "Instructions for Faculty" topic block, you might want to click on "Delete section," rather than "Hide section.")
  2. Repeat step 1 just above (Edit ==> Hide section) for the next five topic blocks in the course that are visible to students.  (Visible topic blocks have a heading font, whereas hidden topic blocks are lighter and in italics.)

5.  Rename Topic Blocks

Because we hope you will use the template for other semesters, we put week numbers but not actual dates in the topic titles. You'll need to change the titles of the various topics to indicate the specific weekdays (and or topic subject) throughout the semester:

  1. With Edit mode still on, click on the pencil icon just to the right of the existing title:

    Edit topic title by clicking on the pencil icon
  2. Type the new name of the title, and hit the Enter/Return key on the keyboard to finalize the change:

    Rename topic title and then hit the enter/return key
  3. You'll need to repeat that process for all of the topics in your course.

6.  Modify the content in the block for Week 01 (and for other weeks/topics)

We added suggestions in the first week's topic block (at the bottom of the Moodle course) based on the student survey feedback (and one of the particularly effective courses that a student specifically mentioned).  Students praised courses where the work required each week was clearly indicated within the topic itself.  You'll need to edit the topic description to modify (or delete) this information:

  1. Assuming that Editing is still on, click on the three dots on the right-hand side of the topic title to open the Edit menu, and click on "Edit section":

    The Edit section with the "Edit section" link highlighted.
  2. Make the changes you want within the "Summary" text box, then click on the Save changes button.
  3. We didn't add any descriptions for the other topic blocks, but if you do choose to place important reminders and deadlines as part of the topic description, then you'll need to repeat this process for your other topic blocks. 

7.  Progressively Reveal Blocks as the Semester Progresses

Our template course has Week 01 visible to students, along with the "zero block" at the top of the course that contains information relevant to the entire semester.  As the semester progresses, you will want to reveal the current week, so that it becomes the first thing that students see when they click on the link for your course.  (By default, hidden topic blocks are totally invisible to students.)  To "unhide" a topic block, click on the three dots in the top-right corner of the block to open the Edit menu, and click on "Show section":

The Edit menu with "Show section" link highlighted.

Please note that there is also a "Highlight" option that you can see in the screen capture just above.  Only one topic block in a course can be highlighted at a time.  When you choose to highlight a topic block, the background of the full section becomes light blue, making it (painfully?) clear which is the current topic. You can click on Edit ==> Highlight if you want to take advantage of that feature.  You will need to change the highlighted block each week.  Once you highlight a new block, the previous highlighted block returns to the white background. 



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Article ID: 552
Wed 12/8/21 3:42 PM
Wed 8/2/23 4:31 PM