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This is a special super bonus blog post. Not only are there two blog posts in one day, but this second one has two screencasts in it!

In today's Moodle developer meeting, I suggested (rather rudely, sorry) that the OU's subpage module was a better way to handle the 'everything in Moodle course has to go on the same single page which is stupid' problem than implementing some kind of 'show things on separate pages' feature in every single course format.

Subpage - quick demonstration of subpage using the standard theme so it looks pretty much like standard Moodle (about 5 minutes)

Subpage in real life - how we use subpage at the OU (about 3 minutes) - you get to see our pretty theme in this one

Here are some reasons I think subpage is a good approach:

  • Not dependent on course formats, or inconsistent depending on which format you're using.
  • Obvious; easily understandable by students and staff. (Except the name! The name sucks, but I couldn't think of a better one.)
  • You can keep using convenient views that take advantage of the course format to see the entire structure of the course at once (only it won't be ridiculously long now), or to show N weeks around current, or whatever it is.
  • Generally more flexible - for instance, want to nest pages within pages? With subpage, you can. (It's probably a bad idea, though!)

There are some problems with the way subpage is implemented; basically, it's a leetle bit of a hack. In order to make it un-hacky, some of the following things would need to happen to core:

  • Add all the 'come back to this URL afterward' features that we included in a short patch.  Without that, in core Moodle every time you do anything in a subpage you end up back at the course page. (For instance, add a forum? Okay, great, but after it's added you're back on the course page.) It isn't really practical to use without this patch even though it does basically work if you struggle through.
  • Implement something (ownercmid?) in the sections table to indicate that they're owned by a module and therefore take them out of the ordinary numbering. Apply some changes to backup and restore and navigation and formats to make this slicker. (It works OK without, we're using it, but we do have a few special things in our course format to handle it as well...)
    Note that this change would let authors create other modules that can include sections/Moodle activities, which could actually be pretty cool.

Subpage code repo (...may or may not work at the moment, I hope it does though).

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Your frontpage theme is very nice!!! Can you share it with us? Thanks!

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Thanks for the comments. I like our new theme too, kind of annoying that this blog is still on the old site. smile

And sorry, but the theme is one of the few parts we don't plan to make public - in addition to the visuals, it also contains an awful lot of custom code to help integration with OU systems and so on, so it's not likely that other people could use it directly anyway.

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I see. I am a beginner of the moodle and want to learn how to make a nice theme like yours! Can you suggest any books or information that I can learn from it? smile

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Sorry, nope, can't really suggest anything - we do have professional graphic designers who did the actual visual design, in consultation with developers like me regarding whether what they wanted was practical. Then staff in my team (mainly Ray, a little bit of me) implemented it in CSS/html/etc.

Try asking in the moodle.org themes forum, maybe somebody can suggest a useful resource.


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Thanks! Can I visit the real site of K344-11K course? Really want to try and feel how to work. Thanks! smile

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Sorry - not unless you sign up as a student smile That would be an expensive way to check a theme...

If you are an OU student (on any study module, even one using the 'old' system) there are some sites you can access that use the new theme. But there is nothing on a publicly-accessible site at the moment.

At some point we will most likely convert the public OpenLearn system to use a variant of the new theme, but this will likely not be until late this year (or later).





Instructional Designer/Moodle Admin, Granite State College

Hi, At the GitHub site for Subpage, your readme says "Documentation: None. Please feel free to contribute documentation in the relevant area of the MoodleDocs wiki." Where would that be? I'd like to help write documentation for this (for our own users, and to share with others), but there is no page at MoodleDocs to add to. Where should docs be added? And if you're reading this... what's the "stealth" icon for? I can see that it hides the contents of the module, but why? Thanks, Elizabeth Dalton

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Regarding which page in MoodleDocs - I don't actually know but what I meant was - you know the 'Help with this page' link in the page footer? What happens if you click that on a subpage? That's where the help should probably go. Thanks in advance if you write any. smile

About the stealth feature - this is useful if you want to create activities that are linked to from other activities and not from the course page / a subpage. For example, let's suppose you make a Page activity with a big map of a country (say the UK). You can use html code to make it so the map is clickable, i.e. if you click on Scotland you will get to a specific activity about Scotland, etc.

So in that situation, you might want it so that the activity about Scotland is only linked from the Page and not from somewhere else in the site. In that case, you could add it to a stealthed section in a subpage, so it is 'really' inside the subpage, but as far as students are concerned it's inside that Page activity.