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.