5 tips to make your Moodle more professional

12 May 2021 by Catalyst IT Europe

Moodle provides the platform for your learning content to be redesigned and evolve with your institution. With so many options for colours, fonts, gifs and images it can be hard to know where to begin. For this post, I wanted to provide 5 easy ways to enhance the appearance of your Moodle course.

Below I have provided some tips on how you can enhance the appearance of your Moodle course. Some involve knowing how to add copied HTML code to the ATTO editor, and others will need input from your Moodle Support team as it involves adding plugins (I myself am no developer, but all content in the screenshots was created by me!). All 5 suggestions can be viewed in this demo course here (which is also sporting our very own CatAwesome Moodle theme). 

Remember: When using the text editor you should always adhere to accessibility standards and use the pre-formatted headings to emphasise important information. You can read more about Accessible course design on Moodle.org.

Tip 1: Use the Course Completion Status block

When completion tracking was introduced with Moodle 2.0 it was nothing short of revolutionary – informing how we created pathways for learners. The benefit of having course activities that could be tracked or restricted cannot be underestimated in its benefit to us, the course designers.

Course completion, along with the Course Completion Status block, takes this one stage further. Not only does it clearly demonstrate to the learner their progress but it allows the facilitator to track the progress of any specific class as a whole. This enables staff members to identify those meeting their requirements, and those in need of extra support – crucial during and post-pandemic where online learning is vital to continuing a students education. 

Screen shot of how the course completion report looks to a trainer/teacher
Screen shot of the Course Completion report in Moodle

Tip 2: Use Bootstrap elements to add colours and cards to your course

Bootstrap is a mobile-first framework used to create responsive content and components. You simply copy and paste the pre-written code directly into your ATTO editor instantly updating the text, images and links you keep your course looking sharp and dynamic.

One feature we particularly like is the  Alert component for creating heading and dividers. Once you have copied the code you are free to choose the colour to draw attention to the text in question. As you can see here we have used the alert component to add a mindfulness quote to each of our topics.

Image shows how to paste the bootstrap code into an editor and how it looks afterwards
Evolution of using the Alerts component in the ATTO editor

Cards and Jumbotrons can also help accentuate links to important resources that will be invaluable to students, helping them succeed in their studies:

Screen shot of how card sand jumbotrons look like in Moodle
Examples of using Jumbotrons and cards in Moodle to add colour and buttons

Tip 3: Embed content instead of linking to it

Embedding content has the obvious benefit of not only making your course look professional but allows the learner to access content whilst not having to navigate from the page. You, as someone with the Editing Teacher facility on your course, have the ability to embed code by copying and pasting it directly into the ATTO editor (you will need to have toggled to the HTML view first).

Image shows where the toggle HTML button is in the ATTO editor
Where to find the ‘Toggle HTML’ button

In addition to this, you can track the traffic to your embedded link by using the activity completion feature. By placing the embedded code in a Page rather than a label or topic overview, you can see which of your students has clicked the link and triggered the automated ‘activity completed’ notification.

Other useful tools that can be embedded within your content include  Padlet  (a digital post-it note for annotation), Mentimeter for crowdsourcing answers through polls) and GoogleSlides.

Tip 4: Install and use the Multiblock plugin

Moodle’s blocks are incredibly useful! However, they occupy a lot of space and can often distract learners from the course content. It’s for this reason the ‘Multiblock’ was created and provides a slick (and free) solution to display your blocks in a number of ways including accordion view, dropdown and tabbed display. 

You can see this in action on the dashboard as tabbed display in the main content of the page shown below:

Gif showing how Multiblock can be used to layer blocks
Our wonderful Multiblock plugin in action

Tip 5: Install and use the H5P plugin

The H5P suite of activities facilitates multiple ways of creating engaging content for learners. You can either install the plugin or use H5P via the new content bank if you’re on a newer version of Moodle. 

You can use H5P for a variety of different purposes including:

  • Information transfer – their main purpose is to present content.
    These could include the iFrame Embedder, Accordion, Collage and Juxtaposition
  • Assessment – these activities are for assessment and feedback purposes.
    These could include Fill in the blanks, Drag the words, and Multiple Choice Quiz
  • Course work – these serve both the purpose of content delivery AND assessment purposes and are ideal for flipping your content.
    These could include the Presentation, Interactive Video, and personal favourite Interactive book (see image below)
Screenshot of the interactive book tool in H5P
Screen shot of the Interactive book tool in H5P

If you are interested in learning more about how you can use H5P in your institution, get in touch with us as we can run a half-day workshop for you and up to 5 other colleagues. See our training packages page for more details.

Bonus tip: Explore and install different course formats

A Tiles course format is hugely popular.  It’s a wonderfully smart way to present a topic, complete with progress tracking and content types on the top layer before digging deeper into what’s available. 

screen shot showing the different between tiles with images and with icons
The two displays in Tiles format

There’s also the Buttons format, and then Ludic if you wanted more of a gamified layout.

As with all plugins and course formats, you need to investigate how they fit in with your accessibility requirements, so please take these into consideration when testing them out.

So there you have it! Five easy tips to make the most of your Moodle!  If you want to learn more about ‘making your Moodle fab’ or need us to support you in implementing or consulting for Moodle improvements – contact Sam and Jasmin in the consulting unit using the form below.