November 22, 2022

Mix and match your course layout with the Designer plugin

If you’re teaching with Moodle, chances are you’ll be using a variety of content – perhaps website links, reading resources and assignments and quizzes to actively engage your learners.

Perhaps you are using one of Moodle’s standard lesson formats, such as Subjects or Weekly. Or maybe your organization has installed lesson format plugins in Moodle that allow you to display your content in different ways, making it more engaging for your classes.

Regardless of the format used, it was until now only possible to have one type of layout per course. What if this restriction was removed? What if within the same course, you could select the most suitable layout for your content? Mix and match!

The plugin presented this month is a lesson format called Designer, developed by Stefan Scholz (whose other contribution To throw we’ve already featured in this series) that allows you to do just that! Let’s take a closer look:

What do I need?

Your administrator must install Designer course format in the Moodle plugins directory. Stefan, the creator, has helpfully updated the Moodle documentation with Installation Instructions. Once installed, Designer will be available to teachers on the site so they can choose when setting up their course:

How is it configured?

Our teacher, Mr. Wilson, wants to use Designer for his “Let’s learn languages” course. Once he has selected the Designer format, he can specify settings for the entire course layout, including:

  • Whether it is to make the sections collapsible i.e. allow its learners to expand and collapse the sections on the course page.
  • If learners can just expand one section at a time, which allows for a neater display. Mr. Wilson decides to enable this setting.
  • Specifies whether sections will be expanded or collapsed when learners join the course. Our teacher decides to set it to “First Expansion”, meaning that the first section will be fully visible to students, with the other sections collapsed.

Once the lesson format is set up, our teacher needs to decide how they want to display each section. When editing is enabled, he can choose from three layouts, selecting the one he thinks will best suit the content:

  • Text links are the standard layout for Moodle topics, with an improved display of activity completion.
  • List format displays content in a list, ideal for completing in sequence.
  • The card format displays content in card-shaped boxes, saving space and making it easier for learners to complete the activities in any order they choose.

On the Moodle course page, the teacher chooses a different display mode for each of the course sections

Mr. Wilson chooses links for reading and listening resources, cards for active speaking practice and a checklist for writing assignments. Let’s see how the lesson looks for language student Barbara!

How does this work from the learner’s perspective?

The screenshot below shows student Barbara’s zoomed view of the map layout for the Active Speaking Practice section. She can also easily see how far she has progressed in the section, from the neat green progress bar.

A course section displayed in 'Cards' format.  Activities and resources in this section are displayed in cards that contain activity or resource type, title, and completion status

Next, Barbara expands the Writing Tasks section, which is in List format. We can see that although she watched the first assignment several times, she hasn’t submitted yet:

A course section displayed in 'List' format.  The contents of this section are displayed one below the other and the view includes activity or resource type, title and completion status

Want to know more?

Stefan has a test site where you can try out the Designer format: Designer format course and tells us that new improvements (like a Kanban board style) are coming very soon!

Moodle plugins are add-ons that you can install on your Moodle platform to add a specific feature, functionality or even look to your Moodle site. Only Moodle admins can add plugins to a Moodle site – so if you’re a teacher and want to try one out, talk to your admin.

If you need additional help with your Moodle site, our certified service providers can help you customize Moodle to meet your goals.


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