We at the ULPGC virtual campus have introduced some customizations to the Moodle user interface. The Recent Activity block is terrific, but some or our teachers complain that it actually indicates too much information, and can be overwhelming. Many of then have actually disabled it.
We have devised another method to indicate which modules have got recent changes (from last login, as the recent activity block). We are displaying a flag by the line linking to the module instance. Actually, flags are added to forums, dialogues, journals and assignments (but can be easily extended to other modules). A user entering his course sees immediately where there have been recent additions.
Flags are also visible in course listings, so that users can see what courses they should enter and those without changes from last login. You can see the picture below. And you can try our live site as guests (look for "Comunidad" category)
The flags are set by querying the logs in the database, This adds a load, but do not seem very significant. We have a site with >250 courses and 12.000 users and we do not see a degradation in performance or response times.
We have borrowed the idea from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, the main institution offering e-learning titles in Spain. They use a proprietary VLE developed for them by Sun Microsystems.
I am presenting this change to ask you all if you consider it valuable. The coding is quite simple and could be incorporated to standard Moodle. Now all is hardcoded but it is possible to add it as a configuration option (at course/site level). The icon indicating the flagged item could be made user-selectable.
What do you think?, are you interested in a packaged form that could be installed in other Moodle sites?.
- Enrique -