Future major features

Simplify activity chooser

 
Picture of Rex Lorenzo
Simplify activity chooser
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersPlugins guardiansTesters

At UCLA we recently implemented a change to the Activity chooser in which users can choose which items show up. This can drastically reduce the number of elements that show up initially on the Activity chooser, and in many cases the activity chooser can fit on a single page.

We also removed the categorization between activities and resources, since the distinction is lost on our faculty.

See the video to see the feature in action.


Tracker issue: https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-57828

Github repo: https://github.com/llam15/moodle/tree/feature/CCLE-6444-Contribute-Activity-Chooser

What do you guys think? Also, vote on the issue in the tracker if you want to see it in the next version of Moodle.

 
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Picture of Michael Aherne
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

Hi Rex, that's a really nice idea and I for one would be keen to see it in core. We also have people complaining that the activity chooser is overwhelming, particularly when they're just getting to know the system.

If it were to be added to core I wouldn't like to see the removal of the activities / resources split being rolled in though. That's a separate issue that should be raised separately in the tracker IMO. I've never been entirely convinced of the need for the distinction myself, but it's a longstanding Moodle feature and many people are used to it.

 
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C'est moi :-)
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Documentation writersParticularly helpful MoodlersTestersTranslators

Hi,

That's a really nice improvment, and i'd for sure like to see it in next Moodle version. smile

But, like Michael, i think you shouldn't mix resources (things student can only "read") and activities (things student can "participate in").

Or at least, make it an option (something like "Mix resources and activities" or "Separate resources and activities").

Séverin

 
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Picture of Rex Lorenzo
Re: Simplify activity chooser
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I know we are used to the distinction between Activities and Resources, but the average user, it is lost on them. And do they need to know the distinction? I highly doubt it.

Anyone done any user studies on the activity chooser and the split between activities and resources? Does it actually help users?

 
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Picture of Michael Aherne
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

That's not my experience - most of our staff understand the distinction between activities and resources. How important it is is another question, and I totally agree that it would be great to get some data on that.

 
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Picture of Rex Lorenzo
Re: Simplify activity chooser
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The patch we have has a user preference setting to enable/disable the new simplified activity chooser. So it someone wants the old style of resource and activity listing then can use the existing chooser style.

 
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Picture of Mike Nodding
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

Hi Rex, that's a really neat way of doing it. We had something similar last year but it was set at an admin level to order by popularity, and collapse the tools that are rarely used. We found it a little clunky though and have since gotten rid - also we felt that it ended up making tools that should be used more less visible, plus extra hoops for people to go through to find things. Your way is far better in the hands of the user - v nice.

My feeling is that this could do with a more complete rewrite though - I'd rather have the tools (separate by category or not) available if in edit mode (somewhere or other, not in a pop up) and just be able to drag them to wherever I want them in a section. Obviously haven't thought it through that much! Given that this is a pretty key element It seems a little "old school" these days - click, look, scroll, click etc. Also, say if they were presented in more of a grid you could perhaps categorise the tools by potential purpose a little like Joyce seitzinger's tool guide eg assess, group work, communicate, presenting etc ? I guess you'd still havea similar issue with heaps of extra plugins but at least if it wasn't in a scrolling list the design may accommodate that better.

Moon on a stick? Perhaps an MUA project proposal might help?

 
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Picture of Rex Lorenzo
Re: Simplify activity chooser
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A wizard would be neat for the first time user. But once you become advance it is a hinderance. Maybe something similar to the tool guide can be done using Moodle tours?

 
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este soy yo modlers
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

Helloa, Rex , please see this forum and suggest to me any help.https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=347984#p1404014

 
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Picture of Luiggi Sansonetti
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters
Hi

I'm very insteresed about this dev.

I've posted a dev proposal in MUA, in order to simplify the activity chooser, but (1) I'm not developper and (2) your project is very interesting (the first step of a real (r)evolution wink).

My project take blocs managment too.

If you want we can work together on the MUA requirement doc.

Cheers


 
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Picture of Firdaus Kamaruzaman
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

I can imagine this to be really useful especially for first-time users. I believe I also was overwhelmed with the choices when I first start using Moodle. Educators only need to know Just Enough to start using Moodle without knowing ALL features available.

 
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I Teach With Moodle
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Plugin developersTesters

Hi Rex, 

This is great. A lot of teachers I work with are overwhelmed with the amount of options available on Moodle when they first start using it. For some teachers, that period is quite short (a few weeks), whilst for others it seems to last years. I agree with you regarding the difference between resources and activities. 

It would be awesome if this was extended to other parts of Moodle, for example the list of options that show up when creating activities and resources. It seems that no matter the amount of training we do, a lot of teachers are still overwhelmed with the amount of options available and feel like they need to unfold each category to see if they are missing anything (e.g. restrictions, competencies, etc.). 

Cheers, 

Fred 

 
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Photo de Brice Errandonea
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

Hi Rex and everyone,

In Cergy (Paris), we developped this "Catalogue" block and published it last summer : https://moodle.org/plugins/block_catalogue

It seems to answer the same need and is immediately usable from the course page, without needing to switch to editing mode.


What's your mind about it ?







 
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Picture of Nadav Kavalerchik
Re: Simplify activity chooser
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I was very impressed with this, when I found it on the Moodle plugin repository, and immediately showed it to our ICT community of representatives from different Academic institutes and they all loved it. now, I am looking forward to see if they start using it. if so, I will sure to send you some feedback. (Btw, I have already translated most of it to Hebrew) great stuff!
 
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Picture of Ed Beck
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Testers

I think something like this is needed in Moodle.


From an onboarding point of view, the list of possible activities and resources can be daunting. Even if you limit to just what is included in core, the list is large, but then you add in plugins, LTI connections, it can explode very quickly.


Yet the most popular assignment modules are predictable and there is large gap at my institution between what people use and what they don't. We have thousands of assignments each semester, but at this point zero databases, zero SCORM, zero surveys, and less than twenty glossaries.


I'd love an easy way to get those out of the way for my novice users but not removed from the site. The day I remove SCORM packages is the day someone will try to upload one. (It happened once before to me, I asked, how do you even know what a SCORM package is?) 

 
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Photo de Brice Errandonea
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

Hello,

That's what we achieve with the Catalogue block :

- Newer users only use the default favorites, which were selected by the administrator.

- After some time, they enter the "activities" list, where they find a few more activities and choose their own favorites :



But here, they don't find all the activities available on the platform. It's the site managers who choose which ones are shown here and which ones are not. Managers can also change the description of each item and write a custom link to a documentation page :


Activities that are hidden here are still available on the platform. So, if  more experienced user wants to create an unusual activity, he still has the possibility to switch to editing mode and open the old activity chooser.


Regards


Brice Errandonea




 
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Picture of Mat Cannings
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Plugin developers

Thought I would throw in some screen shots of how I have changed and regrouped the activity chooser. It is a modification/override to the Activity Chooser that I did in the theme by changing renderers and CSS. It was done as I did not feel the amount of options available was not presented in a way that would inspire investigation.

It is a three tabbed panel with Resources on first tab, "Popular" activities (aka simple activities we would like used more) and Other Activities. The ? icons currently take the staff to the official Moodle documentation for that activity, but given time I would take them to internal training documentation. 

3 Screenshots attached below




 
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Picture of Michael Aherne
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

Good work, Mat, that looks great to me! I'd probably expect the help icon to pop up the existing tool help that you currently get in the right-hand pane of the activity chooser rather than going to another page, though. (I must admit I always thought the help pane of the activity chooser wasn't a particularly good use of space as, apart from complete beginners, most people don't pay any attention to it.)

 
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Picture of Rex Lorenzo
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersPlugins guardiansTesters

That looks interesting as well. Any response from Moodle HQ regarding all these ideas and proposals for improving the activity chooser? Some kind of approach that has better use of the screen real estate and customizable for the user would be ideal.

 
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Picture of Mat Cannings
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Plugin developers

I think the big difficulty is that Moodle HQ have to create a generic tool that will work for all schools, colleges, businesses etc...

What they have done is made it so that themes can override the core menus, navigation etc... in a way that may suit individual sites. Alternatively blocks can add additional functionality.

When I did this modification I found that the Resources and Activities list are pretty much hard-coded into Moodle, within function mod_chooser. If the list of activities/resources could be modified in a way similar to the Custom menu items or User menu items then there might be a possibility to specify the order, group items and possibly have a concertina menu with some groups open by default and others closed?

I initially wanted the activity chooser to look the same as the default but lose the standard Resources and Activities groupings, I just ended up going a step farther and restyled the presentation too.

 
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Picture of Petri Riikonen
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

Your idea is very neat. I had a somewhat similar thought that I twiddled with CSS, but your tabs and grouping is even better to lessen the clutter.

First picture was my own original version, second I modified to see how it would work with your tab implementation and it would be even more compact.


Moodle activity selector model


Moodle activity selector model modded further

 
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Picture of Alberto Corado
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Moodle HQ

Hey Rex – This solution looks interesting and I'm curios to learn more. 

What evidence/data can you share that demonstrates your solution is successful in solving your user's needs?

 
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Randy Thornton
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Voted up. I've wanted this for years. Nice job Rex and team. 

 
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Picture of Luca Bösch
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Core developers

Hi Rex

I do like your work a lot!

I once overheard people talking about a way which would involve dragging and dropping a new activity.

Think about a block or a menu (like the one by Brice, excellent work, too!) providing to you the possibility to drag and drop the new activity onto the course section you want it to be, pre-filled with (non-nosense) default values.

Could that be something to be considered, too, in your point of view?

Best regards,

Luca

 
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Picture of Hugo Ribeiro
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

I think I'm quite late but let me share with you what we did on Moodle 2.7. Here's a screenshot:


We are available to share more details. 

kind regards

 
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Mary Cooch
Re: Simplify activity chooser
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That is very interestingsmile  How does is display on mobile devices?

 
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Picture of Hugo Ribeiro
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

Thank you Mary.

it was not our main focus at the time and probably it could be improved. Here it is:


 
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Mary Cooch
Re: Simplify activity chooser
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Thanks for sharing smile

 
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Picture of Mike Churchward
Re: Simplify activity chooser
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While I applaud the focus on mobile UX, do we think that many teachers and administrators are actually starting to create courses and content from their mobile devices rather than their desktops? I wonder if we could solicit stats on this?

mike

 
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I Teach With Moodle
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Plugin developersTesters

I'm with you on this one, Mike. This has prompted me to look into this further on our server. I'll report when I have enough data. 

Cheers, 

Fred

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

One of the panel discussions at the MootIEUK17 was around 'ditch the desktop and design for mobile first'

I think the discussion generally agreed that there was a difference between 'content creation' and 'content consumption' and while mobile may well be gaining significant ground in the area of consumption, the most appropriate tool for (most) content creation remains the desktop/laptop.

Also that desktop usage and designing for mobile first are not mutually exclusive smile

 
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Picture of Acs Gabor
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

Dear Hugo,

Your solutions looks rather elegant, looks great!
Is your code public? We are planning to do something like this.

Thanks in advance!

Gabor

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Plugin developers

Some screenshots from Sussex 2012 redesign of adding activity and resources.

sussex activity picker

sussex resource picker

 
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Picture of Diane Soini
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

Our simplified activity chooser is very simple. We use moodle's built-in roles and created a block that lets users switch roles.

The block that the instructor sees presents a toggle switch to go back and forth between what we call "Basic" and "Advanced" tools, which are really just two roles, one of which has more capabilities and is added to the regular Instructor role.

The role toggle is within the course context, so the role will always have to be set for each course, but it is remembered in the database just like any role, so once it is set it sticks to the course. The switch is very fast. We will see if this need to switch roles to turn on more activities becomes a problem for users.

The regular Instructor role is duplicated. The new role is called "Advanced." The Advanced role has the ability to see all the items in the activity chooser. The regular instructor role will be limited to just a few.

Under Allow Role Assignments (/admin/roles/manage.php):

  • Instructor should have a checkbox for Advanced.
  • Advanced should have a checkbox for Advanced.

Under Allow Role Overrides:

  • Instructor should NOT have a checkbox for Advanced.
  • Advanced should have a checkbox for Instructor.

Under Allow Role Switches:

  • Advanced should have a checkbox for Advanced.
What it looks like:
The toggle switch is just CSS I found online to disguise what's basically just a checkbox in a form. There's an onclick handler to submit the form. Without javascript there's a submit button.

Toggle switch
Limited activities
Role changed
All activites
 
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Picture of Chris Kenniburg
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Particularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

This is a great idea!  Based off some work and another similar implementation we built this functionality directly into the Fordson theme by using a simple comma separated listing of modules.

The initial setup allows you to show an additional menu above Activities in which you might put "Most Used" or "Top Tools" where you can put the most used activities and resources in a clean list for teachers and eliminate scrolling for most popular tools used in courses.

We added a checkbox which will ONLY show the custom menu items.  This method allows you to control the ordering and what modules teachers can see and add to courses based off the comma separated list.

Finally, an additional setting allows anyone with the Manager role to see all modules in case you want them to selectively add restricted modules.  

Site Admins always see all modules.

Here is a screenshot of the Fordson theme admin page for this new feature and a picture of what the activity listing looks like using Most popular tools at the top.



 
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Picture of Melissa .
Re: Simplify activity chooser
 

I don't see the distinction between an activity and a resource, because, at least for me, the resources are the activities.

This part of moodle is setup based on the technology, not based on how teachers use the technology.  

This is how I would set things up.

1. Adding local text

    A. Save text as outline (each line of the text becomes a separate "label" item.

    B. Save as one label.

2. Creating the lesson.

   A. Create local lesson.

   B. Create lesson as a label. (in the code, it works the same way as 1B above)

   C.  Link to external lesson.  (The icon indicates this is not only a url, but specifically a lesson url).

   D. Link to an attachment lesson.

   E. Read an external book, magazine, etc. (required reading).

3. Extra reading (if you want to learn more about this topic)

   A. Addition lesson (just a standard Lesson)

   B. Attachment (stored locally)

   C. Reading an offline book, book, magazine, newspaper.

   D. Visit someplace, do a field trip.

   E. Reading an online website, encyclopedia, news site, etc.

4. Activities that are not tied to a specific topic

  A. Glossary

  B. Wiki

  C. File Repository

  D. Image Repository

   E. Url repository

   F. Bibliogrphy (list of offline resources that were used to create the lesson or teacher recommends for further reading)

   G. Checklist

   H. Quiz bank (practice questions for review) -- teacher would need ability to mark which questions to include.

5. Quizzes and Tests

   1. Convert single document to quizzes.

   2. Create questions

   3. Create a quiz/test.

6. Homework / practice

   A. From quiz bank.

   B. From lesson.

   C. URL to online worksheet or other activity.

   D. Offline activity (a book, magazine, newspaper, journal, textbook, workbook, etc.)

   

A bunch of these are repeated activities.  The difference is that some of the information is pre-filled and the icon may be different.  A url that is intended to be a resource (extra reading) is different than the url that is intended to be the actual lesson (required "reading").  Is the url required or is the url optional?

I think that boils down to how a teacher is using Moodle.  Is the course truly a 100% unique full course where all of the material is created by the teacher (owner of the website)?  Is it supplemental material with the teacher using traditional lessons and textbooks?  Or is it a mixture of the two where the items can either be online items or traditional books and learning resources?

Melissa



 
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Mary Cooch
Re: Simplify activity chooser
Documentation writersMoodle Course Creator Certificate holdersMoodle HQParticularly helpful MoodlersTestersTranslators

I don't see the distinction between an activity and a resource, because, at least for me, the resources are the activities.  Yes, it's a Moodle terminology thing really. In Moodle, Resources are static (passive)  - the learner reads, watches, listens to them, whereas they engage in Activities. It depends on what kind of teacher you are or how you want to teach your learners, whether you use more resources or activities (using Moodle's terminology) Giving them videos to watch (embedded in pages or labels) is a resource because although they are doing something - watching the video - they are passive. Submitting, reviewing and assessing their peers' work in a workshop activity is an activity because they are typing/swiping/engaging with the task.

 
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