Future major features

User navigation mockup

 
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Picture of Adrian Greeve
User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Moodle HQGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

We are looking at improving the navigation around Moodle. The area that we are currently focusing on, is the user navigation around the site.
We have created a series of screen shots in Invision. You may navigate through a section of Moodle to get a general feel for what we a proposing for the next version on Moodle.

The link to the mockup is: http://invis.io/WY1V3HF9D

The mockup is presented in two different views. You can log in as a student with limited permissions, and you can log in as an Administrator with full permissions. This should give a thorough overview of what is possible with the navigation.

While navigating through the mockup we would like you to try and do the following things:


As a student

  1. Find the page for uploading private files.
  2. Find the forum posts made by Anne Able.
  3. Find the page for updating my email address.
  4. Find my overall grades.
  5. Send a message to Anne Able.


As an Administrator

  1. Find the first time that Anne Able accessed the site.
  2. Find the time that Anne Able last accessed 'Exciting new course'.
  3. Find the report that shows the entry that Anne Able made in the 'database activity'.
  4. Find where I would subscribe to events in the event monitor.


Bonus Find the different message link.

If you find that you don't know where to click, clicking anywhere will highlight places that you can click, as will holding the shift button.

We would like to know how difficult / easy it was to find your way around these different pages.

Thanks,

Adrian

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

It seems you are proposing to almost entirely get rid of the admin block, which works well, while leaving the Navigation block, which has never worked well, almost unchanged.

Can you explain in a couple of paragraphs why you think that is a sensible approach?

Before you do that, could we also have a couple of paragraphs (or some bullet points) on what 'problems' you are trying to 'solve'?

What evidence have you looked at to identify these issues. (I am guessing tracker issues, to start with, but is there anything on top of that?)


I just failed to find My Private files as a student. (Why is it not in the user menu?)

Your mock-up is not complete enough for me to see what you intend to do to setting up a quiz (or any other activity). Obviously I would like to know about that.

Simiarly, where do I enrol users in a course, assign roles, check permissions, etc?

 
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Picture of Adrian Greeve
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Moodle HQGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

Hello Tim,

For further detail about the what and why of the navigation changes you can have a look at the navigation overhaul document. This release we are only looking at user navigation. The planning for new features can be found in HQ planning 2.9.

Thanks for the information about not finding "My private files" as a student. This is the sort of feedback that we are looking for.

As this is only a mockup for user navigation, other areas are not being changed. Basically if it's not in the mockup then no changes are being proposed.

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

OK, to take just the first specific 'problem' you claim to have identified:

The navigation is not static

You complian that when you move from the course page to an activity, the Administration block automatically collapses the Course administration setting, and expands the Activity administration section which was not there before. To me that seem like a features.

What evidence do you have that the current behaviour ever caused a user a problem? In fact, does anyone know a user who has ever been confused by this? If so, please tell us.

I can think of example in other software (which has had a lot of UI expertise put into its design) that contextualises UI based on what you are doing like Moodle currently does. E.g. in MS word: the toolbar at the top completely changes, when you click on an image, to show you relevant options for manipulating images. (Other MS office programs all work the same way.)

 
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It's only an avatar...
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

I like it...it's my kind of Moodle, although I don't think you have convinced Tim! Lol

 
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Picture of Ankit Agarwal
Re: User navigation mockup
 

Thanks Adrian,

The mockup does look nice. As I mentioned on the dev chat, may be we should consider making the list of links on the profile page pluggable. A couple of examples where potentional plugins might want to add links are:-
# My comments (Displays a list of comments you have made)
# My feeds (Assume something like Igoogle)

Also are there any plans of improving the backend (apis and call backs) for navigation in this project or is it limited to UI changes only ?



 
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Me!
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers
At this stage we want to consider the UI changes without thinking about the APIs at all. This should give us the best user experience, instead of doing something clunky just because we are thinking like devs. Once the UI changes are agreed to, we will start breaking down all the tasks in order to build this thing for real.



 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

Overnight, Ankit made a comment in Moodle developer's chat (https://moodle.org/local/chatlogs/index.php?conversationid=16914 for those wo can see it)

Ankit Agarwal: Though I have a question
Ankit Agarwal: Will plugins be allowed to add links to this page - https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/WY1V3HF9D#/screens/50492466?maintainScrollPosition=false ?
Ankit Agarwal: or is it completely hard coded ?
Adrian Greeve: The user profile page?
Ankit Agarwal: Yeah
Ankit Agarwal: Things like "My blog" etc
Adrian Greeve: At the moment it is hard coded. What sort of things do you envision being added to that page from a plugin?
Frédéric Massart: Ankit, comment on the forum!
Ankit Agarwal: Sort of "My x" stuff. For example say there are more activities like "forum" etc ?
Adrian Greeve: Yeah, I can see that being useful. Though such additions would have to gain approval by my superiors.

This is a valid point, and if you need more specific examples:

  • The Open University does not use the standard Moodle forum at all. We use ForumNG instead. Therefore, we should be able to hide all mentions of Forum everywhere (e.g. by configuring capabilities) and show ForumNG in its place.
  • Similarly, we use OU blog in place of the standard Moodle blog.
Remember that the M in Moodle stands for Modular.
 
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Dan at desk in Moodle HQ, Perth
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

Damyon seems to have answered with above? Note I totally agree these things can't be hardcoded.

 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Plugin developers

Not only hard coded but why cant the navigation block be hidden or un installed like any other plugin?

To get rid of it you have to remove students permission to view it.

 
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Picture of sam marshall
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

Also the 'Oodle' in Moodle stands for 'Oodles of plugins'!

smile

(No I didn't have anything substantial to add to Tim's comment. It would indeed be nice if plugins could add links/features to this page.)

--sam

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

Just for the record, there were two previous threads about this work. The links are:

One way to get a handle on what real problems users have would be to skip read through a lot of tracker issues, e.g. a query like https://tracker.moodle.org/issues/?jql=project%20%3D%20MDL%20AND%20%28resolution%20%3D%20Unresolved%20OR%20resolution%20%3D%20Deferred%29%20AND%20component%20IN%20%28Navigation%2C%20Usability%29%20AND%20updatedDate%20%3E%20-500d . However, that is rather a long list, so it won't be much fun. (You can probably improve that query.)

 
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Dan at desk in Moodle HQ, Perth
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

As commented in the previous thread and remains unresponded to:

We might need to come up with an alternative standard metaphor for those modules to use for navigation between pieces of functionality (something like the old 'tabs' in 1.x).

I think this is what is concerning Tim and I agree its a problem. We can't proceed without a solution for this. Find a few add-ons and consider how these 'administration' links would be replaced, in a consistent way.

 
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Randy Thornton
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

I agree with Tim that a main issue is the Navigation block, not Admin. It is clunky and vastly lacking in customization.

Looking at the mockup, the first thing I notice is that the user pull down menu in the upper right has some select items on it, but others items are only to be found on the dashboard. What is the rationale for this?

I ask because by far the greatest desire from Student role is 1) to get to their courses immediately and 2) see in one list all the collected activity or due items they need to work on such as Assignments & Quizzes etc.

Related to this, by far the most common complaints I hear from Teachers is they want 1) to see the list of courses they are teaching and 2) to have complete control over the ordering of that list, with the ability to prioritize current courses and hide past courses or shuffle them off to another screen.

Users spend almost no time in their profiles or messages or private files or badges, etc. They spend almost all their time in courses.  So getting into the courses easily should be the priority.  (That's a vast generalisation, obviously, but is my experience across many sites in different industries over the last few years.)

I like the dashboard idea a lot - I encourage you to build it out more. I've thought for years that having strong user dashboard is a key lack in Moodle. But it needs to be much more functional than the My home page which is so limited.

The best use of a dashboard I have seen in an LMS was in Sakai (2.x series).  It has (or had when I worked with it)  a nice user dashboard: it was organized as a screen of placeholders for widgets, so users could easily add or hide/drop any features they wanted to the dashboard, whatever sets of roles they might have had in various courses.

As admin I could make dashboard templates and assign them to users, too. So, teachers or members of one department could get different default dashboard look than students or other departments, etc. While it was very user customisable, widgets could be controlled live by admins too: so I could turn a particular widget on or off for users of a particular named template.

The dashboard was front and center when you logged in but left room for site news and course lists. And it was always just a single click away no matter where you happened to be be on the site or in a course. 

Randy

 
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Me!
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers
Also note - we are not planning on fixing all of the navigation for 2.9. We have broken off the "user navigation" as a separate piece which is what this prototype deals with - the navigation when in a course context will be tackled later (possibly still for 2.9 - but not if it means we have to rush it).

Also - the thread for discussing the Navigation overhaul document generally is here:

https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=261224

Please keep comments in this discussion related to the prototype Adrian posted.
 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

I ask because by far the greatest desire from Student role is 1) to get to their courses immediately and 2) see in one list all the collected activity or due items they need to work on such as Assignments & Quizzes etc.

Related to this, by far the most common complaints I hear from Teachers is they want 1) to see the list of courses they are teaching and 2) to have complete control over the ordering of that list, with the ability to prioritize current courses and hide past courses or shuffle them off to another screen.

Aren't these already available in the courses overview block (the main content on the MyHome page)? All the user courses are listed there, complete with things like due assignments, unread forum posts etc. The list is orderable and items can be hidden by selecting to only show a given number, while the remaining ones can still be accessed through a show all link at the bottom.

On the myHome page, this is just a block and the main content area is a block region that other blocks can be added to by admins as well as customised by the individual user (eg widgets). OK there's only one template for it, but perhaps some of your dashboard suggestions Randy can be achieved through using/creating/modifying additional blocks for the myHome page more easily and flexibly than the (much needed) complete reworking of navigation/admin that HQ are currently working on?

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

Stuff might be available in add-ons, but Moodle should work well out of the box.

Of course, should be trying to learn from good things that have been done in add-ons. They might be useful prototypes for what should be in core.

Damyon's summary of the scope of this work is helpful. I completely agree that we need to eat elephant one mouthful at a time. (Sorry, that is an unpleasant saying. I did not know where it came from, but thanks to Google, now I do: http://simple.wikiquote.org/wiki/Creighton_Abrams.)

 
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Picture of Mike Grant
Re: User navigation mockup
 

Randy,

I total agree with the following point.

"Related to this, by far the most common complaints I hear from Teachers is they want 1) to see the list of courses they are teaching and 2) to have complete control over the ordering of that list, with the ability to prioritize current courses and hide past courses or shuffle them off to another screen."

This is one of the reasons that we made a change in our theme, adding a My Courses link to the navigation bar, that pulls in the data from the block on My Home that renders courses, that way the front page, My Home, and the navigation bar link, all have the same order, that the user can then alter the order of. One of the big advantages of that, which we will look at further later next year, is that 2014 courses, can automatically be re-ordered to the bottom of the list, giving prominence to 2015 courses.

 
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Picture of Eric Merrill
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

Yeah, I mode this for our school, and our uses seem to love it


 
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Picture of Frédéric Massart
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers
Thanks everyone for participating in this discussion.

While the points raised will need to be (and will be) answered, it is important for us that you observe the navigation structure exposed in the mockup. As Adrian pointed out, our main (and only) focus was to improve the navigation in the user context. And we need you to tell us if we are doing it wrong.

The navigation in categories, courses or modules has not been looked at (yet) because it was decided internally to split this massive work in two consecutive projects. So while all your comments about courses and modules navigation will be useful at some point, they are not answering our current questions.

The questions with regards to developers API for content injection, etc... will be answered later but rest re-assured that we do not intend to remove functionality, we want to make Moodle a better, easier and even more enjoyable place for students and teachers.

If you could follow the different steps that Adrian enumerated in the first post, and tell us how your experience was improved, equalled or diminished compared to the Moodle that you use everyday that would be very helpful to us.

Thank you!
Fred
 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Plugin developers

Hi Adrian,

Its great that navigation is getting some focus but I have pretty well given up on the Navigation / Admin blocks for students and want to get to a point where we can disable them on our site (for students).

We are starting to consider navigation in three areas:

  1. Site (My Courses Front Page, My Home,  persistent My Courses Drop Down)
  2. Course (Dropdown replicating activities block and some other things like participants)
  3. User (like 2.8 put links under profile but extend this to include recent posts, blogs, messaging)

You can see what we are doing here:

Our theme is available for download: https://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=theme_bcu

If all goes to plan and students seem happy we will not be using these blocks in come August.

Blocks we actually actually added were these:

https://moodle.org/plugins/browse.php?list=set&id=68

They work really nicely, better presentation, no spilling down the page (as they scroll), on site pages (My Home) they give an overview of "whats happening" on your course.

Hope that is of some use...


 
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Gareth J Barnard
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

Hi Adrian,

Ok....

As a student:

  1. Took time.
  2. Wanted to use forum search.
  3. Ok.
  4. Looked in course first.
  5. Should be able to find user outside of course.

As an administrator:

  1. Extremely difficult without Admin block working.
  2. Ok.
  3. Could not accomplish.
  4. Could not accomplish.  No access to calendar.

I agree with Tim about the 'admin block', really stupid to remove it.  Actually need a 'control panel' page too.  I think that in reality that:

  • The breadcrumb should be fixed such that every element is clickable and goes to where it says it represents.
  • Some sort of Moodle version of the MS Office ribbon for desktop users, as long as no patents are infringed.
  • Less clutter and duplication, only put on the screen what is really relevant to that page.
  • Clearer access to own stuff, improve on the 'My Home' such that becomes a personalised collection of everything that the user interacts with, so grades (rather than the drop down menu), forum posts like a twitter feed etc.

I've been playing around for a short time on an open source install of 'Canvas' and it does have less clutter and more focus.  But it struck me that you need to learn the 'Canvas' way of doing things workflow wise, a bit like working with Maven for software development.  So Moodle needs to improve by only presenting what is needed 'once' but not take away the ability to work the way you want to.  Canvas does provide help though in relevant areas without needing to click on the question mark.  Moodle should do the same but have different levels of visibility: beginner, intermediate, advanced etc. such that the amount of help reduces.

Cheers,

Gareth

 
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Picture of Paul Hibbitts
Re: User navigation mockup
 

It's great to see the issue of navigation getting some more love and attention, thanks for sharing this work Adrian!

I think it is critical (especially being almost 2015) to consider the presentation of any changes in the navigation system on a range of screen sizes. Mobile access is extremely common with my university students, and I find panel-based navigation on smaller screens particularly challenging.

In general, panel-based navigation between courses is more reasonable since students are less likely to do so frequently, but something I still try to avoid. I like the idea of the Dashboard as shown in the mockups. When it comes to navigation within course elements (not the focus yet I know) then panel-based navigation becomes much more problematic esp. on smaller screens.

Based on my own customization (i.e. hacks) work on Moodle, incorporating course element navigation in a menu system is quite beneficial for students on a wide variety of screen sizes, as shown in the previous example provided by Jez. Here is another example, a Moodle course of mine using a menu system for navigation, which is also multi-device friendly: http://iy103-w14.hibbittsdesign.com/

Hope the above is of help. Thanks very much,
Paul

 
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Richard Pilbery
Re: User navigation mockup
 

As a student

  1. Fine.  Twigged that the dashboard was likely to lead to this.
  2. Tedious.  Visited the course site and then assumed I could just click on the forum link or use the search.  3 clicks from the course main page...
  3. Straightforward.  Edited my profile.
  4. Fine.  Used drop-down menu in top-right hand corner.
  5. Tedious.  Had to look un Anne specifically and then click the message link.  Expected to have a block to message course mates on my dashboard.


As an Administrator

  1. Gave up - first access to course was easy.  Couldn't locate first access to the site.
  2. Straightforward
  3. Straightforward
  4. I couldn't find this
In summary.  As a student, things were fairly easy.  I didn't like having to locate an individual 'manually' - given that there's a dashboard, could a AJAX-style search facility be built in?
 
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Picture of Chris Chapman
Re: User navigation mockup
 

Ok saw this thread and thought yay, finally! After looking at the mockup, I didn't notice any immediate changes that would impact me as an admin (presume Admin menu block will be left unchanged??)  Dashboards are a nice touch.


Please note we at Exeter College haven't and don't currently use the navigation block as we find it well... pretty clunky and useless to be brutally honest! 

Our theme uses a drop down for course categories as well as image tiles on the front page linking to course categories. Enrolled courses also on front page and in user menu.

I asked an IT L3 Student (17 yrs) to have a quick look, and give his opinion: 

Initial Opinion "what's changed??" O I see there's a dashboard, shouldn't that be my homepage?

Expectations: The student expected an AJAX course/universal search (I.e like facebook) the home page should display basic dashboard, notifications, courses, personal to them. and that a graphical representation of all parent course categories displayed somewhere.

I would imagine this would be the same for teaching staff also. What we would like is a default way of displaying categories dynamically in a graphical way, much like the Essential theme can achieve. I don't know if im the only one on this but that is the single 'feature' or change in terms of navigation we are after. the actual structure we are fine with (I think, but being we have never used the Nav Block, I guess I wouldn't know!)

I must say the BCU theme also looks awesome.. and would be great if some of the features/ideology were taken to core.


Rant over, thanks for reading if you got this far!



 
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Mary Cooch
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Documentation writersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators

Ok  I thought I would have a go smile

As an admin:

  1. First time Anne Able accessed the site - I can't find it - where is it?
  2. First time she accessed the course - that was fine
  3. report of her adding entry to database activity - that was fine
  4. subscribing to events -that was fine too

As a student:

  1. page for uploading private files - got it after a while - it was my dashboard ( I  was thinking it might be direct link in the user menu but fair enough)
  2. forum posts - in my profile - yes - that's ok once you know where to look!
  3. page for updating my email address - also via profile so that makes sense
  4. my grades -in the user menu - I liked that
  5. send message - via user menu - yes that made sense too.

I think it's harder to make comments as an experienced user because you have preconceived ideas.

 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Plugin developers

Very interesting Chris!

So far in this thread there are three examples of sites moving course lists into Navigation and at least two getting rid of the navigation block all together.

I see a lot of students docking that block to get the clutter out of the way. They dont use it and they dont like the mess it makes on the page.

As for the home page showing information personal to them, that is what we are trying to schieve too with out theme (linked in a post above) and using these excellent blocks:

https://moodle.org/plugins/browse.php?list=set&id=68

 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Plugin developers

Sorry for going OT... finally ... as requested smile

As a student:

1) took a while, maybe better if it was persistent in navigation not on my home page

2) pita in that mockup as I had to go through participants, usually (as a student) I would click through names in forum posts. I dont think students use the participants list much.

3) ok, that was clear

4) great addition, having one page for grades is something we want

5) nicer button, liked the popup, it is an improvement

As Admin

1) gave up

2) went through participants list in course

3) liked the links to the outline report etc

4) easy to find under admins profile



 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Adrian, Where is the work regarding navigation up to?

I note these links:

Just getting ready for 3.0 upgrade in January or February.

I wonder if the answer is "get a dev version of 3.0 and see what's there first" ??

-Derek

 
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Me!
Re: User navigation mockup
Group Core developersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers
We completed all the work listed on the planning page for 2.9 in Moodle 2.9

User Menu
Revisiting 'My home' page
Work in scope for this release cycle:
Consistent user context page layout
User preferences page
A new profile page
A new "My grades" page
Handling of course profiles
Remove "My profile" node from navigation block (And remove my profile settings)

This was all aspects of the navigation overhaul specification targeting "user pages/navigation". The next big part of that spec is to tackle course navigation, which is a big chunk of work. We did not work on this for 3.0 because we didn't have the resources - it is still important to improve the navigation throughout Moodle - maybe the Moodle Association will help with specifications/prioritisations down the track.
 
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