Course formats: Collapsed Topics

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.
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102 fans
Current versions available: 19

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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  • Gareth J Barnard
    Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 2:03 AM
    Hi Angela,

    The theme is broken / does not support CT. I only support core / my own themes. The developer needs to perform the correct renderer method overrides for the row and column methods.

  • Picture of Paul Nijbakker
    Thu, Apr 4, 2019, 5:24 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    Thanks for your work on this plugin. We have been using it for many years. Recently, (since our upgrade to Moodle 3.4 I believe). The colour settings of the format have been seemingly spontaneously resetting to the site default in some courses. I have not been able to find out what triggers this. Do you have a suggestion?

  • Picture of Jose Luis Martin Jimenez
    Thu, May 16, 2019, 8:03 PM
    My Moodle 3.5.4 site was working fine with the version (2018052302) of this plugin.
    Yesterday I updated to Moodle 3.5.6, but today I have realized that the automated cron (Ubuntu 16.04) doesn't work anymore.
    When I try to run the cron manually, I get this error:

    ..!!! Excepción - Too few arguments to function format_topcoll::get_section_dates(), 1 passed in [dirroot]/analytics/classes/local/indicator/community_of_inquiry_activity.php on line 840 and exactly 3 expected !!!

    I have unistalled this plugin (Collapsed Topics) and the cron works again.
    Is it a bug of the version?

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, May 16, 2019, 10:56 PM
    Dear Jose,

    Bug of CT = no, bug of Moodle = Yes, please see: and

  • Picture of Jose Luis Martin Jimenez
    Tue, May 21, 2019, 2:46 PM
    Thank you, Gareth.
    I'll be watching for resolution of this bug.
    José Luis
  • Picture of Blair F.
    Fri, Jul 26, 2019, 12:08 AM
    Hello, all!

    We just upgraded from Moodle 3.4 to Moodle 3.6, yesterday, and with this I noticed a change with the corresponding version of the Collapsed Topics ( (2018121902)). Before I submit a bug report, I want to see if this is actually a bug or something we, alone, are experiencing.

    What's happening is that the Edit menu for Resources and Activities is overlapping with the content of those R&As. When I switch away from the Collapsed Topics, the content and the edit menu do not overlap and there's a clear separation. Has anyone else noticed this?

    Thanks, in advance.
  • Picture of Blair F.
    Fri, Jul 26, 2019, 1:33 AM
    Following up on my post from 9:08 AM, I've used the browser inspector and tracked it down (I think) to this:

    body.format-topcoll.editing ul.ctopics .section .activity .contentwithoutlink, body.format-topcoll.editing ul.ctopics .section .activity .activityinstance {
    display: inline;
    padding-right: 0;

    Changing the display to inherit and padding back to 200px (in the inspector) fixes the issue. Problem is, I have just enough CSS skill to do some damage and I'm not sure what I might break if I tried to fiddle with that, using the custom SCSS. I'm sure there must have been a good reason to have it set the way it is. I just don't know what that reason was.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Sat, Jul 27, 2019, 1:58 AM
    Hi Blair F,

    Please could you post a screen shot in the courses and course formats forum so I can visualise the problem ->

  • Picture of Blair F.
    Sat, Jul 27, 2019, 2:44 AM
    Thanks for having a look. I appreciate it.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Jul 29, 2019, 7:02 PM
    Thanks Blair F.
  • Picture of Derek Van Ittersum
    Thu, Aug 1, 2019, 3:02 AM
    When I am in course "editing mode", I can see the "open all" and "close all" buttons. But I can't see them when I'm not editing, and I can't see them in a student role. Is it possible to make these buttons available to students as well?
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Aug 1, 2019, 7:38 PM
    ? The open / close all buttons are visible to students. But they are not shown if there is only one section.
  • Picture of Derek Van Ittersum
    Fri, Aug 2, 2019, 1:22 AM
    Sorry for the confusion, I had some settings conflicting, but I fixed them, so now I see them in all roles.
  • Picture of Eric Lange
    Mon, Aug 12, 2019, 11:09 PM
    We found a nasty bug in collapsed topics in the Boost format. If you have a topic set to Restrict Access (for example, to unlock a topic only after a student finishes an earlier activity), and then Hide an activity (any activity), the restricted topic disappears from the teacher's view! The student still sees it, but the effect for the teacher is that they have no idea where their topic went.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Aug 12, 2019, 11:43 PM
    Dear Eric,

    From your description, that situation should be both course format and theme independent. Thus should also occur in the Topics format. Please post on the courses and course format's forum - - stating Moodle version after testing with the Topics format too for peer review. Then that issue can be raised in the Moodle Tracker.


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