New Collapsed Topics Gets Moodle 3.5 Compatible And An Old Friend Called ‘NumSections’

A prolific citizen of the Moodleworld, Gareth Barnard recently presented the Collapsed Topics plugin, a popular course display and one of the key actors in eradicating the “scroll of death” in Moodle, that almost forgotten ailment caused by users having lots of past Moodle activities getting in the way of the active ones.

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In its latest release, Collapsed topics brings color and customization options, and brings refined compatibility with the default “Boost” theme, as well as the new generation of themes based on Bootstrap 4. Barnard credits the end product to a large group users who voiced their issues, wishes, and the odd complaint.

One of the curious issues Barnard had to deal with was Moodle’s “resolution” of the so-called NumSections situation. Traditionally, course formats like Topic and Week, as well as some additional ones added through plugins, offer the ability to set the NumSections variable, which decides the number of course activities shown on the page of the course in the set format. The existence of NumSections felt conflicted for many reasons, including because setting it to a value smaller than the amount of course activities would effectively hide as many items as whatever the difference between total items and NumSections was. But as it turned out, many teachers were using this difference as a method to hide activities. Even after Moodle 3.3 enabled “Stealth activities,” this was a preferred “hack” for many, who protested the fix by Moodle HQ as well as the removal of the NumSections variable in Collapsed topics. Long story short, NumSections is back.

Download and install the Collapsed topics plugin from the official Moodle Directory. ■

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  1. As an admin, I can click on the “Turn Editing On” and off button. Turn editing on opens all weeks (if I have settings to show one week per page). I don’t know why a similar toggle couldn’t be available for students – so they could have the choice to view all course topics or to focus on one. The only difference would be that they wouldn’t access to the edit menu.

    This would be an awesome update.

    Also, I’d like the Navigation Panel to toggle on the latest version. The Navigation panel is awesome unless I’m grading and want to have both the grade book and a student’s activity report open at the same time. Then it is just in the way.

    If someone could work on these two issues, my life would be SO MUCH BETTER.

    Thank you 🙂


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