Collapsed Topics

Course formats ::: format_topcoll
Maintained by Gareth J BarnardGareth J Barnard
An interchangeable topic or week based format that solves the issue of the 'Scroll of Death' when a course has many topics.
Latest release:
5904 sites
155 fans
Current versions available: 25

An interchangeable topic or week (day for 2.3.1+) based format that solves the issue of the 'Scroll of Death' when a course has many topics / weeks. All sections except zero have a toggle that displays that section. One or more sections can be displayed at any given time. Toggles are persistent on a per browser session per course basis but can be made to persist longer by a small code change. Full installation instructions, code adapt-ions and credits are included in the '' file.

If you have a course with more than fifty two sections then currently the toggle persistence will not work for the fifty third section and above.  Then you need to upgrade to the Moodle 2.5 version+.


The format comes with NO support.  Please see the 'Support' section in '' file that comes with the format.  This is because the format is complex and I regret that I don't have the time / resources to freely assist with questions pertaining to specific enhancements / changes / knowledge improvement.

I will investigate genuine bugs and issue fixes in a timescale set by myself.  When reporting issues you MUST clearly state the full version and release of both Moodle and the Collapsed Topics format as contained within their 'version.php' files - if not it takes me longer to figure out, often resulting in me asking for the details anyway and slowing the process of solving your problem down.  It really helps to read the 'Reporting Issues' section in the '' file and upload and describe in detail the issue you are having on the 'Course formats' forum.


NEW: 'The Complete Guide to Collapsed Topics' (and 'Blurb') book is now available, covering: installation, upgrade, uninstallation, course and global features, resetting, capabilities, language strings, overriding icons / styles in a theme and adding a new icon set.

The Complete Guide to Collapsed Topics book

The Complete Guide to Collapsed Topics book on a book stand

Inside the Complete Guide to Collapsed Topics.

NOTE: The latest version incorporates functionality to support new UK / EU Cookie Law which is implemented as a user acceptance in the 1.9 version and no 'cookie' is used at all in 2.x versions.

Screen casts:

Privacy API support starts with V3.3.1.2 for M3.3 and V3.4.0.2 for M3.4 where the API has been implemented in the minor release of Moodle.


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Gareth J Barnard
Gareth J Barnard (Lead maintainer)
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  • Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 5:42 AM
    I heard from Helen at Moodle HQ that I'd missed a Course Setting that needed to be enabled to show activity due dates:
    Courses | Course default settings | Show activity dates moodlecourse | showactivitydates - need to enable for each course. Thanks Helen, and Gareth for the help!
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 7:24 PM
    Dear Nathan,


  • Thu, Feb 24, 2022, 2:56 AM
    Will this plugin be available for Moodle 4.0?
  • Thu, Apr 7, 2022, 4:17 PM
    Hi there, when will version for moodle 4.0 be released and tested?
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 6:31 PM
    This is a test comment!
  • Thu, Sep 15, 2022, 12:36 AM
    Hi, installed the version of the plugin on the new Moodle 4.0.4 , and was getting this on the /admin/category.php?category=format_topcoll page:

    Invalid get_string() identifier: 'versionstable' or component 'format_grid'. Perhaps you are missing $string['versionstable'] = ''; in /lang/en/format_grid.php?

    line 356 of \lib\classes\string_manager_standard.php: call to debugging()
    line 7354 of \lib\moodlelib.php: call to core_string_manager_standard->get_string()
    line 131 of \course\format\topcoll\classes\admin_setting_information.php: call to get_string()
    line 120 of \admin\category.php: call to format_topcoll\admin_setting_information->output_html()

    The string was missing in the blue info banner, which says

    Release, version 2022041701 on Moodle 4.0.4 (Build: 20220912)

    Just the placeholder in that last line.

    $string['versionstable'] = 'Stable version - Could contain bugs. Check on a test server before installing on your production server.';
    in file

    Could NOT see a file named "format_grid.php" at all in the topcoll plugin's folder.

    I saw in \course\format\topcoll\classes\admin_setting_information.php

    the line
    $context['maturity'] = get_string('versionstable', 'format_grid');
    might need changing to
    $context['maturity'] = get_string('versionstable', 'format_topcoll');

    I tested the above locally, and the warning's gone, the string is retrieved.
    HTH, Cheers.
  • Thu, Dec 22, 2022, 7:47 PM
    Hello again,
    Assuming adequate funding, Is it possible to create a version of this course format that works in the Moodle Mobile app?
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Dec 22, 2022, 8:58 PM
    Dear Natalie,

    No idea.

  • Thu, Dec 29, 2022, 1:58 AM
    Hi there. Is it possible to spread / separate the topic bars somehow? They stick / blend together which does not look good and it impairs readability.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Dec 29, 2022, 2:48 AM
    Dear Jacek,

    Appearance is subjective to the eye of the beholder. You could try using CSS to achieve this.

  • Mon, Feb 6, 2023, 7:09 PM
    I updated our platforms to Moodle 4.1 and with boost theme and format topcoll enabled there is no left drawer with the navigation nor a button on the left side. All activity icons are black. In editing mode the activity icons have colours but also no courseindex. I compared the html of the course/view.php with and without topcoll enabled and there is no drawer-left only drawer-right.

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Feb 6, 2023, 7:59 PM
    Dear Katja,

    Sound like you've broken your site. 99% sure its not Collapsed Topics. I don't provide one to one support for free, thus will only help you if paid to do so. If you wish to post in the courses and course formats forum, then you're free to do so.

    Kind regards,

  • Tue, Feb 28, 2023, 6:05 AM
    Hi there,

    One thing we're noticing in the latest version of the plugin ( and moodle version 4.1 is that there is a discrepancy in the display between the top topic (section zero) of a course using top_coll and all the rest of the content sections on the page. The padding around the icons and text is just a lot wider in section zero. We're feeling that some of our users might want to have the 'shorter', more compact look that top_coll provides so having that displayed consistently would be welcome. Is that on your roadmap?

  • Fri, Mar 31, 2023, 3:42 AM
    Hi Gareth,

    We are on Moodle 4.1 and having an issue with the Collapsed Topics 401.0.1. In our courses we have the activity completion set to show when an activity certain criterion are met. The completion check boxes have disappeared. When we rolled the plugin back to 3.10 on our test site the check boxes reappeared. Is this something with the new plugin for Moodle 4.1?

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Fri, Mar 31, 2023, 4:58 AM
    Dear Rich,

    Collapsed Topics does not do anything with activity completion bar show what the core functionality tells it.

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