Front Page Settings: the world’s window to your Moodle

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Your Moodle’s front page is generally the first impression of your Moodle site that visitors and students receive every time they point their browser at yourmoodlesurl.com.  In general Moodle front pages look surprisingly similar to the interior of an individual course, with some type of welcome, a list of possible links (generally on the front page course categories or individual courses) and blocks.

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There are some easy customizations you can do to your front page with Administrator access however.  Moodle.org has a great doc [http://docs.moodle.org/en/Front_Page_settings] on the possibilities, but I’m going  to run down a few of my favorite settings (which often are the very first changes I made to a Moodle site).

1. Add the ability to create resources and activities on your front page.  While your front page has a summary area by default, I find that I like to add additional resources and activities right to a Moodle’s front page.  Whether a global glossary, additional labels to make the Moodle look more like a website or additional Webpages which help me create resources that can be tapped from any course (cutting on on the need to change multiple files or links later if multiple courses all point to one universally accessible resource on the site).  To add the ability for adding resources and activities, login as admin and go to the Administration block -> Front Page -> Front Page Settings.  Once that screen is open, look for “Include a topic section” and make sure the box is checked.

Once that’s added you can easily create any of the resources or activities available in your courses, right on the front page.  Here’s an example of a couple of resources created on the front page of a Moodle I Admin.  On the front page are resources that every course uses (I’ve already created the links in each of the courses…so if something changes or a new version of the documentation, video or tech requirements is available I only need to change it in one place and all courses benefit).  Additionally by adding the ability to create additional labels it makes things a little easier to add promotions or additional images/links to the site (as seen in the image below).

2. Cut the clutter.  Generally on a front page I nix the news forum (as it’s more useful, generally, at the course level) and most of the blocks. But I’ve also seen a few great Moodles employ a forum on the front page as a way to engage their students directly (by allowing students to also post) or to update them with important announcements.

Leeds City College for example has a great front page that uses the news forum for announcements (but they’ve also added some great and easy navigational tools (click the image to visit and you’ll see what I mean).

Mathtrain.com, an elementary-level math education site located in southern California uses both site News and lists course categories for students (not to mention adding tons of context to the page with links to student work, page projects, new features and quick notes and reminders for students).

3. Add the login block.  Finally, as an important user-friendly feature I always add at least one block to my front page: The login block.  Depending on your theme this might not be necessary (theme’s like Aardvark have the login fields built right into the theme header) but it’s a great visual queue for students to get them to login to your site right away.  This is important if your front page settings are different depending on what role a user has (authenticated vs. not).  It’s also just a nice user-friendly feature since the “login” link can be hidden, too small or just plain hard to see.

For more information on front page configuration check out the Moodle docs: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Front_Page_settings.

What do you do for your Moodle front page?  Send us a screenshot or share your link in the comments if you’ve got a great front page for your Moodle.