Curing The ‘Scroll of Death’ In Moodle

3
3999
Curing The 'Scroll of Death' In Moodle, The #1 Preventable Cause Of LMS Fatalities

Ah, the “scroll of death” – that processes we’ve all been through of logging into your LMS some weeks into the academic calendar, and becoming painfully aware of how much you are spinning the mouse wheel to find the week’s content. But did you know that Moodle offers several alternatives to prevent this?

At moodlefacts.nl, the Dutch blog of Moodle services provider in Belgium and The Netherlands provider, Avetica, we found a compilation worth checking out and updating. We will also review the navigation improvements the “Boost” theme brought to Moodle 3.2 in regards to this preventable ailment on LMSs.

Alternatives to version of Moodle before 3.2

Here are some of the Course Format type plugins available that synthesize, prioritize or otherwise dodge the “scroll of death” on a Moodle Dashboard.

Collapsed Topics Course Format

Arguably the most straightforward solution, the Collapsed Topics plugin turns a Moodle course hierarchy of sections and subsections into an achordion, with collapse\expand toggling buttons next to each heading. A “Current topic first” setting allows to leave one section (the current one) expanded at a time.

Grid Course Format

The Grid Format Plugin replaces a list of items with tiles for each course section. It allows tile highlighting, to emphasize this week’s section, for examples. When clicking on the tile, a pop-up menu (“lightbox”) displays a list of the section’s Activities, Resources or sub-sections.

See more Moodle Course Format Plugins here.

Restrict Access to old content

One of the many scenarios the Moodle “Restrict Access” feature allows is to hide content already covered. That way, when a user logs in, they will see the current section on top as it is the oldest available item. Time can trigger the restrictions, or they can be set manually.

This debatable workaround provides a clear-cut, plugin-free solution to provide direct access to a course section. As downsides, it prevents students from accessing previous content, when they want to prepare final exams or just keep the material close. A short of ideal solution is to release the restrictions before final exams or once the course is over (perhaps in read-only mode).

If you do not see a “Restrict access” option in your course, ask your Moodle site administrator to enable it via Site administration > Advanced features.

Read more about “Restrict Access” on docs.moodle.org.

Overriding the Moodle Dashboard with Blocks and Modules

In some cases it is not possible or desirable to change a course format or install a course format plugin, let alone the default structure for a Moodle site’s course. In these scenarios, changing the default Dashboard can be an affordable option. The default dashboard on a Moodle site includes the “Course overview”, which is where the scroll of death takes place. One or many Moodle Blocks can replace this course overview. Resetting the dashboard will return the Course overview into place.

While Blocks are still available for Moodle 3.2 on browsers, its use is discouraged by Moodle, as they are not accessible on Moodle Mobile.

Blocks or Modules suggested as replacements for a Course Overview are:

See all the blog posts from moodlefacts.nl on “Scroll of Death” (in Dutch).

‘Scroll of Death’ in Moodle 3.2’s ‘Boost’?

The “Boost” Theme on Moodle 3.2 offers a simple shortcut to a course section, by means of the collapsible left bar. It can be hidden or shown under the “hamburger icon” at the left side of the site’s header. By default, it shows each section when the user is in any page of a Moodle course. By default, “Boost” brings no item highlighting in the collapsible menu, and the course home page comes unchanged.

The plugins mentioned above are compatible with Moodle 3.2 and “Boost”.

Is this solution good enough? Which improvement would you like to see in Moodle 3.3. concerning navigation? Share your answers and comments with us in the field below.

 


Moonami LogoThis Moodle Technology related post is made possible by: Moonami a company that provides a full range of Moodle services that combine the flexibility, scalability, and power of Amazon’s world-leading cloud platform (AWS) with fanatical Moodle support. Click here to learn more.


 

  • Jim Daly

    The navigation block has been the standard way to provide an overview of the course, but if its use is no longer encouraged, then every Moodle theme should have tabs or a dropdown list at the top of the course to provide an overview and quick navigation to sections. You get a dropdown list of sections when you choose the ‘Show one section per page’ course layout (topics format). Something like this as standard at the top of every course.

    Dividing a programme of study into courses grouped within a category is one of the most practical and simple ways of avoiding the ‘scroll of death’, so thought should also be given to providing a menu of student’s courses within a category, rather than just an alphabetical list of all courses in the ‘My Courses’ block or dashboard.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jim!

  • Jim Judges

    I am a fan of the collapsed topic format too, this does seem one of the simplest ways of helping to keep things tidy.You can add resources, but not activities*, to a page which can act as a type of sub-section. I have long dreamed of being able to add activities to pages as well – if that was possible then pages could really act as simple and easy to use “sub-pages”.
    There was a sub-page plugin developed previously that was promising but this is no longer being supported.

    *Moodle users sometimes use links to orphaned content too, but this is a bit complicated and can get messy. Also you can only link to the item not the section.