Using Moodle Books to structure complex content

School: Psychology

Programme: International Humanitarian Psychosocial Consultation, MSc

Mode: Distance Learning

Context: The lengthy study guides for modules on this programme were primarily designed for hardcopy printing with online .pdf versions as backup. However, when the programme transferred from Blackboard to Moodle it was decided to prioritise the online presentation  and treat hardcopy as  secondary.

What we did & why: We considered both Moodle pages and books at the outset but eventually settled for books because of the complexity and volume of content and a desire to maintain the detailed structure of the existing guides. The availability of the original  source Word files was further confirmation of this decision as book chapters (pages) can be constructed via a ‘copy/paste from Word’ function that preserves the original formatting.  Each section of a module  has its own book and each book is divided into chapters and subchapters as per the example below.

book in Moodle

Click to enlarge

Benefits: The use of books to house substantial textual and other content keeps the home page uncluttered but they are easily recognisable and just one click away from the top level.  Students can navigate books in whatever order they choose but always keep the table of contents in view and therefore retain an overview of the topic. They can also print a book in html or pdf format if that is their preference. Books are easily readable and navigable on mobile devices such as ipad or even iphone.

Recommendations: Had this material not existed in a highly structured form already with MS Word source files available, this would have been a very complex task and we would probably not have embarked on it. An easier alternative would have been a Moodle page structure in which we could have embedded links to the original pdfs and added narrative text.


How to set up books: Developing a book (from Moodle staff support resources on 

1 Comment

  1. Lindy Zubairy

    We have started to make quite heavy use of this method for online distance learning sites here at Cass, in the Early Childhood Studies programme and for our MA Ed. It really does keep the sites nice and clean for first glance and assists in the standardising of the delivery, helping students to navigate rapidly through quite a lot of material. It is true to say that well structured learning texts in a Word file in the first place make the transition to the Moodle books a great deal faster.


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