Course Design in Moodle


Careful planning of your Moodle course is essential for creating a positive and effective learning experience for your students. Before you begin to design your course online, review your current teaching strategies, the course learning outcomes and the learning activities used to assess the outcomes.

Articulating the learning outcomes and aligning them with teaching and assessment strategies—"constructive alignment" (Biggs 1999)—will help you select your course content and plan the learning activities for your students.



How do I get started


With your course outline and program of lectures, use coloured sticky notes to physically identify and order your class activities from week to week.

  • Use one colour (say yellow) to represent the points at which you provide input to students (content).
  • Use another (say pink) to identify the activities that students do during the course.
  • Use yet another (say green) to identify the points of assessment—both formative and summative—throughout your course.
  • Lay these notes out on the table to see how the course (or learning process) looks to your students as an overall experience.

You can do this overall for the duration of the course, or break the course down into weekly maps of your students' learning experience.

You may see a number of weeks where the learners are only passively receiving content in the form of lectures, videos, handouts and readings. These present opportunities to use Moodle to add student activity or engagement with your content.

If you are satisfied with the course, its structure and experiences, you might consider where you can augment the student experience with asynchronous discussions, access to external resources or a formative assessment to help students judge their progress independently. Use some other sign (e.g. red dots) to mark these opportunities.


Once you have planned your course, choose the Moodle course format that is appropriate for your needs and start building. When you select content for your course in Moodle, choose content that can be used to construct learning activities that encourage student engagement. Choose learning activities that enhance what your students learn in the classroom, not replicate what they are already doing.

Consider your current course topics or units and try to match these to the skills and understandings to be addressed in your course. Consider the relative size of these topics and the order in which you cover them.

In selecting and sequencing your content the main objective is to support the course learning objectives. Decide how to sequence your content by choosing one of the options below based on your purpose for using Moodle:

  • chronologically
  • topics
  • problem-based
  • case studies.

Examples of course formats are available in this self enrolment course Planning Your Use of Moodle.


When choosing learning activities, reflect on the learning process, What do we actually do when we learn something? One model by Hughes et al. (1992) suggests that in order to learn something you need to do the following:


1. When you design learning activities consider the following:

  • All learning requires some type of activity.
  • Engage your learners to encourage active learners.
  • Consider different learning styles.
  • Design authentic learning activities that make learning outcomes achievable.
  • Allow learners to use different approaches to achieve the same outcome.

Activity is the key word here. Think about what students can do other than passively receive your content.

  • Can they discuss an issue or concept? Example using the Forum activity
  • Can they construct something like a written paper or piece of media that they publish to the class?
  • Can they read and record their reaction to a reading?

2. Consider what you want to achieve with each learning activity.

Is the activity for:

  • information transfer
  • communication and interaction
  • collaboration
  • formative assessment, or
  • summative assessment?

Additional information