What I've been seeking in a product like Moodle is something in which assignments are really shell objects that collect other objects together. Our assignments are often multi-step affairs: read something, do an activity (often offline), post your response, then talk about it. Either this isn't what Moodle was built for, or we're not visually presenting these actions the right way.
Here is what we are now doing after much experimentation:
As you can see, on the left column (done by CSS) I have two boxes. One lists associated resources. I found that listing these resources anywhere in the outline (see first post) confuses the heck out of people, especially because these resources are better thought of as adjuncts to an assignment, not standalone objects. Thus, there are hard links inside a styled floating div.
(To prevent myself from going crazy when instantiating a new course, I created a meta-course that contains all of these resources, providing me with a stable URL to which I can hard-link and thereby enable copying courses without breaking the links).
You'll also see the second box providing both due dates and time estimates for the sub-activities. This is because many of our activities have many sub-parts. Now, we could instantiate each activity separately, thereby eliminating the need for redundant due dates, but (a) Moodle styling of the default due date box is horrible -- and who knows if XSLT will make my life better, and (b) again back to the outline, this would create enormous clutter.Finally, how many of you consider posting to an online discussion forum an "assignment" with a due date? We find that insisting on participation is the only way to get busy professionals into the conversation, but it's awkward on the UI to tell someone to post to the forum as an assignment, but then have the forum sit somewhere else. It's also technically annoying not to have that be treated as an assignment with a due date and with Moodle tracking lateness, etc. as it would for anything else. I've suggested elsewhere the idea of converting the workshop into something like a rotisserie, to the sound of thunderous silence.