The Pages Course Format will blow you away

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I’m a sucker for course aesthetics, which is why this new course format being developed by Stuart Lamour and the University of Sussex elearning team has really struck a chord with me.

If you’ve ever used Blackboard, it provides a simpler and easier approach to creating courses that have clear/crisp navigation similar to the book module layout.  The pages are listed along the left hand navigation and clicking each will open that page, list the page description and all/any resources activities that have been added to the page.  Think of it as a more intuitive “tabbed” layout where the tabs are each a page instead.  It appears that block/static course information can be placed along the footer of the pages.

The first iteration looks incredible and I cannot wait to get my hands on a test copy.  It certainly puts a Moodle course into a new, modern light which is more consistent with other web/Content Management System layouts and interfaces.

According to the blog post announcing the new course format it’s being developed for both Moodle 1.9 and 2.0 (sweet); unfortunately at this time there is no schedule for availability.

For more information visit the Sussex eLearning Team blog: http://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/elearningteam/

And definitely check out the video [direct link]:

Moodle pages format May 2011 from Study Direct on Vimeo.

  • Greg

    This looks really cool, but how/where do you determine and control what content goes in the “right column”?

  • Joseph Thibault

    Greg, my sense is that when editing is turned on you’ll have both the Add a Resource, Add an Activity drop downs below the main page content. As you see the demo editing is actually turned off (so those menus are not available).

  • Greg – I think Jospeh hit the nail on the head – in the video editing is not turned on. So the quick answer is, exactly as you would in any moodle!

    Thanks for the nice words Joseph – we really hope this will be a nice think to give to the moodle community and are looking forward to seeing what others do with with it.

    Cheers
    Stuart Lamour

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  • Apart from the layout, what i’m really interested to know what you all think of the changes to the workflow for Tutors of creating topics/sections/pages?

    Specifically the visual feedback they get?

    How you think the changes to the workflow might effect course design and contextual information they are forced in the theme to provide?

    Is this a good thing? Would it work for your users?

    Cheers
    Stuart Lamour

  • joe

    Stuart, I think it will depend on the course. For me, this is a much simpler layout which enables users to have static navigation to the various parts. That said, if the side navigation gets too long then we run into that “scroll of death” issue again where navigation gets confusing to the end user/student (link overload like I’ve seen on some of the nav bars in Moodle 2.0).

    As far as how it would affect my personal course building…I think Stephan Schmidt’s 80/20 rule is the key. It’s all about the planning (80%); not the actual course construction (20%). Frankly it looks easy with the Page format (can’t wait to try it).

    I think the pages format is definitely a step in the right direction and for the uses I have in certificate training it will be great, but it won’t be the solution for every course.

  • ShelleyFriesen

    This is a great way to deliver course material. The navigation is simple, especially since the students do not lose the main links situated at the foot of the page.
    The scroll of death would only occur if the teacher/tutor did not chunk course material accordingly. [common problem!]
    For my courses, this display would be ideal. I am currently using tabs and have used book as well. When this becomes available, I hope it is added to my choices.

  • Thanks for the comments Shelly & Joe –

    The last few weeks we have been testing these interactive prototypes with our users in an iterative process of design – test – improve – test.

    There are some interesting issues.

    Scroll of death –
    This does not seem an issue for some of our Tutors – they see it as similar to the infinite scroll of a word document.
    Students don’t get this and would like navigation more similar to other sites they use on the internet.

    Contextual information –
    Adding additional contextual information is something our students requested and that initial investigations found would improve the learning experience.
    It’s not something our Tutors thing is necessary or are used to providing.

    ‘Number of topics/sections’ –
    Tutors already used to setting the number of sections look for this and do not initially connect adding another page/section with this.

    All interesting stuff – will keep you informed as the iterations progress!

    Cheers
    Stuart Lamour

  • This looks great Stuart!

    When do you see it being available to the wider Moodle community? We are using 2.0, and I know your Page Course Format would be deemed much more preprable than the Topic Format we use at present. The constant criticism I get from staff is they hate how our present default format setting looks and that it doesn’t seem intuitive. I think your format addresses both of these issues! I for one would love to use this.

    Thanks for sharing…and I look forward to (hopefully) being able to use it in the future.

    Cheers

    Claire