Course formats: Flexible sections format

Maintained by Picture of Marina Glancy Marina Glancy
Organises course content in any number of sections that can be nested. Each section can be displayed expanded or collapsed
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This course format looks very similar to Topics format except:

  • there is no parameter "Number of sections", sections can be added and removed as necessary
  • section can also be added inside another section
  • each section (regardless of its nesting level) can be shown expanded or collapsed. Teacher can change it in edit mode.
  • If section is displayed collapsed, it's name is displayed as a link to the separate page and on this separate page the link "Back to ... " is displayed

If teacher hides a section all nested sections and activities become hidden as well.

Please note that if section has both activities and subsections activities are displayed first.

On the attached screenshots the section "Assignments" has Label resource and two subsections - "New assignments" (displayed expanded) and "Old assignments" (collapsed). Note how course navigation looks like in this case.


Screenshot #0
Screenshot #1
Screenshot #2


Picture of Marina Glancy
Marina Glancy (Lead maintainer)
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  • Picture of sebastian seitz
    Wed, 6 Sep 2017, 4:09 PM
    hm, this is not the section name , there is the course name missing?
  • Picture of Francisco Décio
    Wed, 20 Sep 2017, 5:13 AM

    I've installed it on Moodle 3.3.2+ (Build: 20170915) . However, I cannot find the option to "add a subsection below the "add an activity or resource". Could you help me please?

    By the way, the pluguin version I've installed is 3.2.1 and it is enabled.

    Thanks in advance,

  • Picture of Ajinkya Gadewar
    Fri, 29 Sep 2017, 10:37 PM
    Hello Marina:

    Flexible sections work fine for Web but in moodle mobile all courses using flexsections becomes unavailable. Can you please tell us how we can fix this issue?
  • Picture of Elton LaClare
    Fri, 6 Oct 2017, 9:12 AM
    A number of people here have mentioned that they would like to see the Flexible sections format work on the Moodle Mobile app. It seems that the development team is considering this and have opened an issue in the tracker (MOBILE-1551). You might want to cast a vote to help ensure that support for course formats remains a priority.
  • Picture of Marina Glancy
    Fri, 27 Oct 2017, 1:25 PM
    new version 3.2.2 is released with smaller whitespaces, more friendly for mobile devices. I also marked compatibility with 3.4, nothing really changed in the API

    If you notice any issues with the course format please report on
  • Picture of Srdjan Maksimovic
    Fri, 9 Feb 2018, 7:42 PM
    Hello, I have a problem, when trying to add subsection, it adds section instead, and when I try to move it, I get white screen with message in the corner: Error in sections hierarchy. Can someone please help?
  • Picture of Rafael Aschoff
    Thu, 15 Feb 2018, 11:08 PM
    I would like to use the flexible format together with the Adaptable theme. While it works, the visual (css) does not look as good as the topic format (or the flexible format over boost theme).
    Can anyone point me in the right direction as to what should I modify to have "the same effect"?
    The biggest issue is that sections and subsections are not been displayed separetedly, with bound boxes, white spaces or any enclosures.
  • Picture of David Brown
    Tue, 12 Jun 2018, 7:46 PM
    We are in the process of upgrading our Moodle to version 3.5 and we were wondering when the Flexible Sections plugin will be compatible with 3.5+? Plug-in is working very well for us on our current version of 3.2. Thank you.
  • Picture of Neil Stapleton
    Tue, 12 Jun 2018, 10:19 PM
    Hi Marina, We are using Flex sections very successfully in our current 3.1 site, so thank for maintaining it. Like David, I'm interested in when a 3.5+ version will be released. I've also got some ideas/request from users to do with navigation. I'm not a developer so wont be making any pull requests so was wondering what the best way to move this forward would be? I note that when others have raised things via an issue in Git they've been directed to make a pull request, so thought I'd ask here first.

    The Navigation changes our users would like are as follows:

    1. Add the option to have the '? Back to' link at the bottom of a sub-section, as well as at the top, as this is where most users would end up prior to wanting to return to whence they came.

    2. Add the option to add previous and next navigation links either instead of or in addition to the Back to these woudl be a lot like the links that appear in the Topics format when 'Show one section per page' is used. '? {Pervious section name}' '{Pervious section name} ?'

    I work with a Moodle Partner and might be able to ask them to contribute the code, but I'd want an idea of how likely it would be to be accepted as a feature first if possible.

    Thanks in advance for your consideration of my comments. Would also value any other's opinions on this matter, has anyone already implemented something similar with flex section?

    Best wishes
  • Picture of Steve Radford
    Thu, 12 Jul 2018, 4:20 PM
    Is it compatible with Moodle mobile?
  • Picture of Steve Radford
    Thu, 19 Jul 2018, 7:49 PM
    Hi, any news on a Moodle V3.5 update?
  • Picture of Ammar Elhassan ElMerhbi
    Tue, 31 Jul 2018, 4:24 AM
    We've been using this format for a long time since our English course has many subjects that are nested, and it has worked so great at our school. Does version 3.4 work on 3.5?
  • Picture of Stephanie Morssinkhof
    Tue, 23 Oct 2018, 5:53 PM
    Does anyone know if it is possible to create collapsable items in the navdrawer with the flexible section format? Now you can only see the section names, but I would like to add the subsections to the navdrawer since otherwise it is hard navigating through a 2 year program with several courses, modules and dates.
    I know it is possible to add activities and sources to the navdraw which you can collapse but this does not show the structure of the program (again: courses-modules-dates). We are updating from 3.2 towards 3.5 (test site is already running on 3.5).
  • Picture of Gina Wilson
    Tue, 13 Nov 2018, 3:50 AM
    This plugin is my number one request from my instructors when setting up their courses. Now that we've moved to 3.5 (3.6 will be out soon) I was hoping by now that this module would be ready for at least 3.5. Is this module still being actively worked on? Is there a co-maintainer or someone that might be interested in being a co-maintainer (I'm not a programmer)? It's been over a year now since the maintainer was active in this discussion. Thank you for an excellent course format.
  • Picture of Neil Stapleton
    Tue, 13 Nov 2018, 3:04 PM
    Hi Gina, My organisation is also a major user of Flexible section, for it's ability to provide multi-level sections. We are also about to upgrade to 3.6 soon after release for our development systems and during next summer for our Production site. We only use 2 levels of nesting in flex-sections typically and are currrently look at whether we can do without the course format and find/develop an alternative. I've recently starting looking at the the older 'sub-pages' module that was developed by the OU, there's a branch on Github that works ok-ish with 3.5/6. To my mind this approach is slightly more attractive that the flex section, but still far from an ideal solution. Topics with the 'display one section' option is the next fall-back position that almost achieves a second level of nesting, but this too has it's challenges for navigation in relation to the nature of our content.

    We are also looking at Accessibility and Mobile seriously at the moment and my feeling is that Flex also presents significant challenges here too.

    No solutions I afraid, just in the spirit of sharing. I like you I feel that as Flex is still so widely used, it could do we some more dialogue around it's future and exactly what it sets out to achieve in the Moodle 3.5 onward world.

    My current thinking is step away form flex sections and try and do what we can we Core course formats, until something better comes along. Which I hope would be some form of multi-level nested sections functionality in core. Something highly accessible, usable and mobile app friendly.

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