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100% section titles

Section titles are important for a user to get a good experience of a Moodle site. They are used in the contents menu of the site thus making them primary navigation tools. They are like the chapter names in a textbook. They are essential for giving an overview of the site and for finding content within it. This observation was evident from focus groups we carried out earlier this year.

Section titles are particularly important for us at Sussex because we would like all sections to be a page of their own and thus remove the scroll-of-death problem inherent in Moodle. But in order to do this, whilst ensuring our Moodle is still highly usable in all sites, we need 100% section titles.

However some sites at Sussex still have no section titles at all. The lack of section titles has largely resulted from tutors copying old sites which did not have section titles.

In order to get to a position where all sites use sections as self-contained pages we have altered our interface design to encourage tutors to input a title for their sections.

We have made it particularly obvious to tutors that they have a section which needs a title by re-naming the section “Untitled section“. “Untitled” is the term commonly used to alert users that they need to name something. For example, MS Word and Googledocs use “Untitled document” for unnamed documents.

We have coloured the text green. The colour is significant because we use green all over the site to signify an action is expected by a tutor. For example, all our action buttons are green.

Finally we have made the title mandatory when a user is creating a new section.

Students still see the name of the section as “section x”, where x is a number, so as not to further compound their experience of the site.

We have also made efforts to educate our staff about the importance of section titles. Training sessions emphasize the importance of meaningful section titles and we have a dedicated site for tutors offering practical tips which highlights section titles as an area for concern.

3 Comments

  1. Posted January 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been trying to encourage staff at our university to use section titles but then end up hand writing HTML blocks for them. Did you write a block that pulls out the section title?

  2. Paolo Oprandi
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi Andy, yes we did. The block also provides a link for tutors to quickly and easily add a section without visiting Settings. 

  3. Colin Salter
    Posted September 13, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Paolo,

    Just wondering how you all are implementing this is Moodle 2.5. The option to ‘link course sections’ was removed in 2.3+ and replaced(?) with the ‘show only one section per page’ option for course layout (weekly and topics formats) — see your comment at http://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/elearningteam/2013/02/27/e-learning-team-presentation-at-moodle-moot-dublin-2013/#comment-733

    My experience is that the navigation links between sections at the top, and the presence of section 0, generated by these formats do not provide a satisfactory user experience.

    Did you develop ‘web format’ in house, as well as the course content block? These appear as very elegant approaches to UX. Is or will the code be made available? There is a ‘course contents’ block plugin available on moodle.org, that goes part of the way.

    Your teams approach to Moodle UX is very much a yardstick to emulate/benchmark.

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