A new view for the teacher dashboard?

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This is another great example of UX changes to Moodle that could have a lasting impact on usability and aesthetics.  Stuart Lamour of the University of Sussex (and of the Page format fame: http://wp.me/pPsqH-1vL) has posted and shared a new Dashboard that they created for their teachers; their inspiration comes from the many content management site dashboards and the handy metrics and data that are easily captured and displayed therein.

One of my favorite changes is how the course formats are displayed to the teacher (showing very descriptive images to highlight what each format will look like). All menus are simplified and the lesser-or-never used options are moved deeper into the settings hierarchy.

According to the blog post,

From a technical perspective separating out these content editor parts of your cms from the non-editing user view you stand to make your system leaner and cleaner.

Web-based cms generally have a standard look for the editor pages, while the non-editor view can have a custom theme/skin. Editor pages are, by their nature, heavier in load of javascript, css, php and database queries – while the non-editor view can often be extremely light with less db/php but could have js intensive or fancy ui interactions. The separation allows you to only load what is necessary (a particular js library,css, a db query) for the type of user – giving both admin and non-admin a better user experience.

By separating an editor pages writing a theme becomes much easier – you only do so for the non-editor pages. Writing a plugin becomes much simpler – the admin ui only has to work with one theme – the default cms editor theme.

Stuart and the team at Sussex eLearning have shared this innovation in a video at their blog: http://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/elearningteam/

Check out the video here: