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Course formats: Collapsed Topics

Maintained by Gareth J Barnard Gareth J Barnard
An interchangeable topic or week based format that solves the issue of the 'Scroll of Death' when a course has many topics.

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 adaptions 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+.

REPORTING ISSUES: 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 'readme' file and upload and describe in detail the issue you are having on the 'Course formats' forum.

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.




Gareth J Barnard
Gareth J Barnard (Lead maintainer)
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  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 7:25 PM
    Hi Stephen,

    In the four years eleven months I have been developing, testing and using the format, I have never seen that happen. Collapsed Topics is a non-destructive format that just reads the course information using the Moodle API and presents it. The only writing it does is for its own settings.

    If your manager has evidence of this issue I'd be happy to review it. If in the particular installation with its unique combination of environment and plugins there was a fault in the CT code I'd be happy to fix it. I take great pride in my work and would not wish to leave any known issue unfixed, resolved or understood.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of stephen neale
    Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 5:53 AM
    Thank for the feedback Gareth I will follow this up and get back to you
  • Picture of Blair F.
    Thu, Mar 6, 2014, 12:45 AM
    I've had an instructor ask why the topic titles are not showing with her hidden topics. The Collapsed Topic setting is set to "Hidden sections are shown in collapsed form." Both she and I expected that that meant the topic title would show, but it wouldn't be allowed to uncollapse. However, all that shows is "Not Available," with no topic title. Is that by design, or am I missing something? It would be nice if the topic title would show with "not available" beside it, or under it, rather than just "not available."

    In order to accomplish what she really was wanting and expecting, I gave her the following instructions, but it's rather labour intensive and I'd have to test if the restricted dates roll when the course is restored with a rolled date:

    1) Under the Restrict Access area of each of the topic settings, enable the "Allow Access from" and set the date.
    2) Again, Under the Restrict Access area, change the "Before a section can be accessed" to "Show section greyed out...."
    3) Save the changes
    4) UNHIDE the topic.
    5) Change to Student role to confirm that it's now visible, and is collapsed.
    6) Click on the topic to confirm that it opens up and shows the restriction date.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Mar 6, 2014, 1:32 AM
    Hi Bliar F,

    What version of CT please?

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Mar 6, 2014, 1:40 AM
    I just did a quick test and the core 'Topics' format also only shows 'Not available' so the format behaves as the core one does. Therefore I would be reluctant to change it. Need to consider this.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Mar 6, 2014, 2:15 AM
    Ok, I am probably not going to change this because whilst 'hidden' from the student the name could change and also be a 'work in progress' = hence hidden section from the student and the educator would not want it to be known and confuse the student, so I can understand why it is implemented this way in core.
  • Picture of Heather Valli
    Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 2:06 AM
    Hello, Gareth. We're in the process of upgrading our Moodle install from 1.9 to 2.6, and I'm thrilled to see there's a version of Collapsed Topics available for it! I'm trying to add the plug-in via the Administration interface, and it's asking for the "Plugin Type," with the rather dire looking warning that "The installation procedure can fail badly if an incorrect plugin type is specified." I'm afraid I didn't see what plugin type this is considered. If you have a moment to clarify that, please, that would be helpful. Thanks!
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 2:17 AM
    Hi Heather,

    The plugin type is 'Course format (format)'.


  • Picture of Bill Steele
    Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 8:43 PM
    We have been using Collapsed Topics for the last 18months and it is very popular but we have found with Moodle 2.5 using Zebra theme and the lastest version that if a group is used with a topic that this information is not shown. We assume it is being hidden due to clash of CSS. Could you possibly advise?

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 8:56 PM
    Hi Bill,

    1. Can the group see the topic if you switch to the 'Topic' format?
    2. If so, then please post a screen shot on the courses and course format's forum with exact details of Moodle, Zebra and CT versions -


  • Picture of Matt Fedorko
    Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 10:47 PM

    Love Collapsed Topics so far. We use it on a local Moodle (2.5, I think), and it works wonderfully. I had the IT guy install it on a newer Moodle (2.6+, I believe, but I'm not certain). In the newer instance, the settings options do not appear in the course settings when Collapsed Topics appears, just the "Display Instructions: Yes/No" option, and the "Collapsed Topics reset options." Has the per-course settings been removed in a newer version, or is there a switch to turn the per-course settings on/off?

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 11:18 PM
    Hi Matt,

    Nope! Nothing has been removed from M2.5 to M2.6 version. When the IT guy moved to the newer version did they get the M2.6 version? If so, then please turn on developer level debugging and post screen shots of errors on the courses and course formats forum. Did they follow the upgrade instructions?


  • Picture of Matt Fedorko
    Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 11:18 PM
    Here's a screen cap of what part of the Course Settings page looks like after Collapsed Topics has been selected:
  • Picture of Ryan Foster
    Wed, Apr 23, 2014, 4:52 AM
    Is the Git repository stable enough to use directly for updates similar to how you can use Git to update Moodle?
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Wed, Apr 23, 2014, 5:39 AM
    Hi Ryan,

    To be honest no. To reduce the configuration management overhead of maintaining the format I push developments to the Git repository that tend to be stable but not as tested as a tagged version. Once I consider there are sufficient changes or the significance of the changes I'll tag and go through the release process. If I were to operate a separate branch for the development before pulling into the release branch then this will mean more work for me.

    Pragmatically there has only been one instance where a single push to the remote repository was broken code. If I undertake any big developments then they are in a separate branch.


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