I recently completed an OU course and was wondering about how they use their Moodle (each page with the contents menu on the left). Is there particular tool/module they use for this layout? The closest I have come is to use an IMS package tool or the book module, however theirs seems so seamlessly integrated.
Do you mean to say there is no Moodle scroll of death in the OU Moodle???
I can't say how they do it of course, since I have not seen a course. But I am sure there is a version somewhere open to the world.
On this issue in general: There is some good code for this issue written by Lei Zhang. https://github.com/leizhang/moodle-block_menu_site_and_course This basicaly adds a block (a menu) and a format (single section on the page at once). The code has recently been reviewed by Catalyst and is now in the Moodle in Schools Distro here: http://www.moodleinschools.org.nz/forum/topics/5067
There is a tracker request to have his included in the core: http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-27039
It is a custom module (oucontent). It is a bit like the Book, or IMS content-package modules, but the reason we made our own was to do with how we produce content.
We have a 'Structured content' system where authors content in an XML format (currently using a hacked-about-with version of MS Word, but that will be changing soon). From the XML, we can produce PDFs for sending off to be printed, screen-optimised PDFs, and we are working on ebook and talking book output. We also have the option to render the XML into our Moodle using the oucontent module.
We have not released this module publicly, because no one else is really able to generate the right XML format. However, we may re-consider that decision after we have finished the Moodle 2.0-compatible version of the module.
If you want to know more about Moodle at the OU, there were several presentations at the recent UK Moodle Moot. Those were all recorded. See http://mootuk11.org.uk/videos/.
Tim (Sam?) I have some questions
OU system setup:
I'm thinking about the repositories discussion that has blossomed in the wrng place (the social lounge) and a little more.
How does OU manage files?
- Do you use a repository?
- Do you have a system that enables linking, Therefore a change once, change is reflected everywhere said document is linked to?
- Do you have a system to quickly deploy media quickly with scrubber, correct size of video?
- Do you have multiple file upload?
I'm just curious: 2000 plus mods to Moodle 1.9.10 at the OU!! I've just listened to Sam's talk. http://mootuk11.org.uk/videos/ I've not been sure how to respond to some of Sam's comments.
Further personal thoughts
This explains why there is no reference to "enhancements" in Martin's process document. http://docs.moodle.org/en/Development:Process At HQ, They are just not outwardly paying attention to them, since they spell work, they are busy enough already, and the process to manage them doesn't really exist in the document - unless there is submitted code. So the only way is to try to get some code. Then it seems the real fun starts.
Three case studies:
- iCal import. Code exists, (which is now standard in the Moodle in Schools build, coded by Catalyst, a senior amongst Moodle partners I'd say). This is the top in tracker votes
- CSV multiple course creation. The code is there. Can it get into core? This is number 2 in tracker votes. (As of yesterday)
- Lei Zahang's section menu to avoid the scroll of death has been code reviewed by catalyst, and is standard in the MIS distro also. Maybe start the process now to see if we can get a PULL.
Outwardly, there seems to be no interest from Moodle HQ to help with the Moodle scroll of death. Outwardly.
When I saw Moodle 2.1 Roadmap (http://docs.moodle.org/en/Roadmap) was focusing on "Useability" and forum improvements was removed from the roadmap I put up a few new tracker enhancement suggestions, and posted on old ones. (As Helen and Tomaz suggested). But the response is desalutry. No movement really apart from Anthony recategorising things a little, and Sam posting on probably NUMBER ONE on my personal wishlist (ie single click file upoad down from 8-9 clicks http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-19075) to say (joy oh joy) that it may actually be possible to do.
We wait to see if this scrum thing can settle down and deliver.
So, thats the playing field. By deducton, anyway. My thoughts only.
Moodle is after all a huge monolith now, no longer a windsurfer, more like something bigger.
Derek about "enhancements" that is specifically talked about in the last section of the document on New feature development. It applies to core devs as well as contributors.
As for what we can work on internally, that comes down to me at the moment and the resources we can get together. There's a lot of important things vying for those resources right now. One of them is getting folderview into 2.1, it's a course format from Moodlerooms that is aimed squarely at the scroll of death (by putting sections on separate pages in a better way than the section menu does now). More soon on this.
Folderview? sounds interesting.
Is this written up anywhere? I found a reference via Google here: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Developer_meeting_May_2011
I think this kind of thing needs to be in the roadmap so other coders don't waste time working on projects MoodleHQ is doing as well.
As it appears I now have some serious competition ;), could I point out that both the Collapsed Topic's and Collapsed Weeks course formats already do a lot of what Folderview does! And they are both available for Moodle 1.9 and 2.0+.
Collapsed Topics / Weeks (CT & CW) will display each topic on a single page in the same way - as per the attached screen shot. The only things they do not do is the menu at the top for the adding of resources / blocks etc. and the expand / collapse all. For which the latter I could easily add.
Looking at (http://manuals.moodlerooms.com/display/JOULE2/Course+Format+Manual#CourseFormatManual-UserDocumentation), CT and CW has the same functionality of:
- Expansion / contraction of sections.
- Naming of sections with titles.
- Remembering toggle state.
- Moving of sections with AJAX.
- View only one section and jump to.
- Moving resources / activities with AJAX within sections and between sections.
And I believe that CT & CW additionally:
- Customised theme integration.
- Pre-supplied languages other than English.
- CW opens the current week automatically.
- Remembers section state beyond the session.
So, therefore with such a functionality match, could I request that CT & CW would also be considered for inclusion in the Moodle baseline?
Really sorry about this Gareth, from the point of view of an outsider here it seems a sudden and unexplained decision to introduce "folderview" now after several years of the scroll of death, and with no real chance to look at it and give feedback. It's kind of come out of left field, and hope it is not rushed. But I do know it is different in the chat-rooms where these decisions are made.
Is there a site where we can look at your formats? From the screen snap above it still seems there are "non standard" navigation items in the format. Is there really a drop down '[go t'o at the bottom? So to change sections you need to scroll down? or have I got this wrong? (And I won't ask you about your coding, whether it is good code or not)
Derek, improved course formats are something I've wanted to see in Moodle for many years, it's not sudden. The standard formats were quick things I put together fully expecting new plugins to replace them later. Unfortunately, many of the ones created so far are not very good quality, not maintained, or are too idiosyncratic to be in core.
folderview is a contribution from some folks with a really strong interest in improving and maintaining Moodle, so I was reviewing it in an attempt to get it into 2.1 to solve the well-known problems with long courses. Unfortunately, even though it's close, it won't be ready in time for 2.1. That's why it wasn't on the roadmap.
I expect they'll publish it on the new plugins database on moodle.org at some point for use as a third party format, but that's up to them.
With respect, Collapsed Topics and Collapsed Weeks are maintained by me, I provide fixes and help on the course format forum and try and recitify as quickly as possible. I document everything in the readme with an 'open' attitude to bugs by exposing issues in Moodle Tracker.
I understand that developing software is like bringing up a child, you cannot just leave it alone to fend for itself after it has been born. You need to nurture and care for it well into adulthood, dealing with growing pains along the way. Therefore, I feel obligated to maintain CT and CW even after giving up teaching. And, indeed, it helps to develop my 'parenting' skills which helps with being a good developer.
I have worked hard to ensure good quality in the code I have produced (with thanks to those who maintain the existing topics / weeks formats). I welcome any feedback you may have with regards its quality.
If the formats are too 'idiosyncratic', what do I need to do otherwise? Or is it the case that users can decide to install if they choose because it solves a given problem that they have with their particular situation?
If the question of how to avoid the "scroll of death" is still under consideration, I'd like to offer some thoughts on a solution I've not seen proposed elsewhere.
I'm Moodle admin and teacher trainer at the Shanghai American School (a 4,000+ user site). I also teach here and use Moodle on a daily basis. Moodle is a fantastic learning platform, and I am a big Moodle advocate (at least in my small pond), but I do field a lot of complaints from teachers about the scroll of death and the intertwined problem of topic area layout limitations. I say these issues are intertwined because one of the things that contributes to the scroll of death is the fact that resource and activity links must appear in a single column list layout.
To help teachers overcome their frustrations with the scroll of death and layout control limitations, I initially installed the Flexi-page course format, and many of our teachers have adopted it. So many that we are stuck in Moodle 1.9 in hopes that a migration path will appear that lets Flexi-page format users preserve the time and energy they have invested in creating courses in that format.
However, my point in writing is NOT to champion Flexi-page, but to describe an alternative solution that we have been using that overcomes both the scroll of death and topic area layout limitations. I do so because I think this approach could be easily adapted to solve these issues in Moodle 2.x.
The approach works like this.
1. We use an html block to create a navigation block and link each item in the navigation list to a topic area in it's "all other topics hidden" state. This gives us a clickable navigation block that exposes only one topic area at a time for viewing. We can, of course, achieve the same effect with the Weekly format. Here is a simplistic example of what this looks like in one of my courses.
Providing a Navigation block in Moodle 2.x that automatically establishes links to "course structures" (topic or weekly areas) and displays those areas with all other areas hidden would give teachers a simple means of eliminating the scroll of death.
2. We then deal with the lack of layout flexibility issue by putting our topic area content into a label and using tables within the label to define editable spaces. In the example above, Topic Area 4 has been divided into 3 editable spaces - one containing a unit summary, one containing a graphic, and one containing a list of resources and activities for the unit to which the topica area relates. The downside to this approach is that the actual resource and activity links cannot be placed in the label; they must be moved to a topic area at the bottom of the topic list. The list of resoruces and activities in the label are shortcuts to the actual resource and activity links. Handling the location of resources and activities in this manner creates problems, of course (e.g. loss of student profile report sequence accuracy). This would work far better if Moodle were modified to allow teachers to hide the displaying of resource and activiey links while keeping the resources and activities available to students via shortcut linking in the label layout areas. They could then leave the actual resource and activity links in their appropriate locations, hide them from student view, and provide links to them as they choose in the label layout they deem most functional and appealing. The example above takes only limited advanage of this ability, and the page has a realtively standard Moodle laundry list look, but it could easily be made to look more Web 2.0. Giving teachers greater control over topic area layout allows them to be more creative in how they deliver content, resources and activities, and many of our teachers appreciate/demand this.
It seems to me that this approach to avoiding the scroll of death could easily be implemented in Moodle 2.0.
1. Autolink "course structures" in the Nav block to topic areas and display them in an all other areas hidden state.
2. Give teachers the ability to hide the displaying of activity and resource links while still keeping the activity and/or resources themselves available for student viewing and use.
Of course, plans to implement more elegant and involved solutions may already be in place.
When moving to Moodle we also struggled with the awful scroll of death - it was the main feedback when we started to set up test courses before launching. We basically did exactly as you did and created a HTML block for Nav, linked to the relevant topics and then set the course to only 1 topic - thus hiding the topics and avoiding a scroll. This has worked well for us but it has meant that we disabled the original Nav block within courses which is not ideal.
It would be great if something similar could be acheived as standard but within the standard nav block.
It's nice to see someone else found the same work-around anyway.
Thanks for the feedback Stephen (and Visvanath). I knew there must be other people out there using the same approach. It is such a simple fix. I just wasn't sure who and where. Stephen, do I understand you correctly to be saying you are using this approach in Moodle 2.x? If the very good folks at Moodle HQ don't have time to pursue or aren't interested in this approach, would you (or anyone else out there who happens to be reading this) be interested in working on a Nav block add-on that would provide this functionality, but function in all other ways like the core Moodle Nav block? I'm a Java guy, but have been considering entering the PHP world and doing some Moodle dev. I would also be interested in an add-on or hack that would give Moodle resource and activity links a third state of being - hidden but available. Thinking about the code, it seems like it would be reasonably straight forward...famous last words.
All the best,
I'm not sure if I've missed something here, but just wanted to clarify. By default, a course shows to students for the first time with all the topics displayed, from there they can change it to highlight any individual one they want. So although putting links in topic 0 the way you describe gives them a great navigation area, the scroll of death (and subsequent loading times) can still be an issue, at least the first time around.
The other suggestion I would make is have you looked into Orphan activities area? When you change the number of topics to less than the original number in your course, and some of those topics have activities or resources in them, you'll create an orphan activities area - and in Moodle 2, we now have an interface for this area when in editing mode.
Hope this helps
Thanks for your clarifications; they are very helpful.
You are certainly right that in the present state of Moodle a course shows to students for the first time with all the topics displayed, so putting links to each topic area in an html block (or topic 0) that auto-close all other topic areas except that of the topic clicked does not eliminate the scroll of death the first time the student enters the class. We have not found that to be a problem, however, since as soon as they click on any of the topic area links in the html block (or topic 0) navigation list the course changes to a one topic area displayed only state, and remains in that state unless the student intentionally chooses to click on the display all topics button. Since most students start clicking on the navigation list almost immediately upon entering the course the first time to see what they do, the one-time scroll of death goes away almost immediately and in most cases is never even seen. It would, however, be even better if the teacher were given an option to change the default behavior of their course so that they could elect to have only topic area 0 and topic area 1 display when the student enters the class for the first time. Thanks so much for pointing this out!
As to the Orphaned activities area, this is helpful but doesn't really solve the problem presented by the current state of Moodle that makes activities and resources unavailable for linking and presenting to students when hidden. Items located in the orphaned activities areas are visible to the teacher in edit mode without having to reset the number of topics, but they are not present in various reports and in other places (for example the Resources block) in the expected class flow locations. Ideally, they should be able to be present in the topic area where they are being used, be invisible to students, yet be available for linking and presentation in a label within that topic area. The Orphaned activities feature of Moodle 2 provides a way for teachers to hide activities and resources from student view, while still making them available for linking and presentation (and this is a good thing), but it doesn't (unless I'm missing something) place those activities and resources in the work flow location expected for things like Activity reports and (I assume) completion tracking. What I am suggesting is that giving activities and resources a Hidden but available status option would solve the problem of hiding these from student view while still making them available to present to students, and that this would provide better overall functionality than hiding them in an undisplayed (orphaned) topic area.
Thanks again for taking time to push the dialectic of this issue forward!
All the best,
Please in the first instance, have a look at -> http://docs.moodle.org/20/en/Collapsed_Topics_course_format.
The change sections functionality only operates in 'show only topic x mode' which is the same as the standard (same code) one in topics.
It is really easy to install and therefore please have a go on a test installation.
I welcome any feedback and take great pride in my code. I was before I went into Teaching a 'Senior Software Engineer' for Transport for London. I am now studying an MSc in Computing, so professionalism and quality is important to me. I'm also a member of the BCS because standards and professionalism in our industry are very important.
Additionally, I think that the OU is a superb organisation. I used to watch it on the telly as a child when I was sick off school so that I could keep learning - although at that age I did not understand all of the programme content ;).
@Martin I've wondered for a week about asking you a further question here. It just seemed like a done deal with Folderview. But
You say: " . . . One of them is getting folderview into 2.1, it's a course format from Moodlerooms that is aimed squarely at the scroll of death (by putting sections on separate pages in a better way than the section menu does now)"
How is the Folderview 'better' than the section menu? Coding? Functionality? Other factors?
What is your rationale? (Personally with what I can find out, I do not think it is better)
and to save 2 posts @Gareth. Thanks for your offer of me installing the code on my site, just a little too much trouble. Sometimes I'm lazy. Yes, I have read the stuff on contrib. I prefer to see and feel something to really figure out what I think. And your comment on taking pride in your code. Great.
Navigation topics again.
Any update on this Martin? I know you have been busy for a while getting 2.1 out.
Any plans for 2.2 in this regard?
Bear in mind that the OU is not yet running Moodle 2.0 on its live servers, so I can't tell you what we will actually do with repositories in the Moodle sense.
You need to bear in mind that the OU has a lot of support staff whose sole job it is to produce material for courses (both printed and online).
Yes, we have (several) repositories to handle all our content, including images and video.
For example, this thread started with talk about the oucontent module. That works by a user uploading an XML file (using a button integrated into Microsoft Word). However, that document almost certainly contains references to various graphics (and perhaps video and audio). When the document is published to the VLE, the oucontent module automatically connects to the graphics repository and copies all the files it needs into Moodle. So, in that sense, we copy, rather than linking. If you need to update the images, I think you have to manually republish the document, to trigger it to fetch all the new images.
Also, the OU is very good at trying not to upload the same content in multiple places. We try to create generic resources, like our "Developing good academic practice" (i.e. don't plagiarise) course. That is a separate Moodle course that is linked to from a lot of places. We don't have a good academic practice document that people upload copies of into each course.
Also, another custom OU module, resourcepage, has a shared resourcepage features. What that means is that it can appear as if one page containing lots of documents (E.g. Masters in Computing Programme information) has been copied into lots of different courses, but actually that is an illusion. All the resources on that page come from a single master copy of the page, so to change all the copies you just have to change the master.
I'm a very big advocate of the OU and the way it prepares and presents it material, although I haven't been a student for recently. Are you able to give me a link showing what you are after?
Many thanks Rick
Just for the sake of completeness here, Mary has a video on her blog:
This shows some of the workings of the OU plugin.