5 UX Improvements Moodle needs desperately

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I talked about some Moodle UX problems on the admin side. These are some student facing UX improvements that would make the world a better place.

1. Better course navigation: No scroll of death

There really isn’t much more to say. Get rid of the scroll of death. There is simply no instance where that is a good way of presenting content with a real course of more than about 3 topics.

a. No assumptions about what sections are.

Part of the problem is the assumption that sections have a fixed meaning. But they don’t. Sometimes they are topics, sometimes they are weeks, sometimes they are just site sections.

b. Tabbed browsing of sections

The Book Module has pretty much solve this problem. So I’m hoping the changes expected in Moodle 2.3 will do the same.

2. Dashboard that works

There need to be dashboards everywhere. Dashboard for forums, upcoming activities, past activities, dashboard for dashboards. The /my courses area was a step in the right direction but it was so timid that it was barely noticeable. Both teachers, students and Moodle admins need to see all their work in one place! Please!

3. Navigation that works

I was very excited by the Navigation when Moodle 2 was first proposed and even after it came out. It’s the right idea and it works up to a point (docking). But if you’re enrolled on more than a few courses (and who isn’t), it becomes pretty much unusable.

The current course navigation should always be on top, for a start. All the links should take you to sections (as they are going to in 2.3, I believe).

A possible feature would be a search filter similar to the filter on permissions.

4. Messaging centre

People can message other people in Moodle. But not very well. The most glaring omission is a central place where a user could see all their sent and received emails. I disabled the ability of users to message me because it was impossible for me to keep track.

CCs and Sending attachments were other features often requested by users. Or it could go in the direction of Twitter. Right now it’s somewhere in between.

The response Moodle’s not a webmail client does hold a certain amount of liquid, but not quite enough to make this issue disappear.

5. Calendar that works

It’s been so long since I’ve used the calendar, I can’t even remember the details of why I stopped. Oh, it’s all coming back. The pain. It’s just so slow to put events on it. There must be some open source code somewhere that could be used to replace the interface.

Also, it would be nice if things with times releases could be put on the calendar.

Bonus gripe: Consistent Breadcrumbs

The breadcrumbs used to be really consistent in Moodle 1.x. In Moodle 2, there are many unclickable parts, even when there is a page to go to, like in the case of forums. It would be nice, if that worked again.

Solution

How to solve this? I propose #MoodleUX hashtag for Twitter and UX label for the Moodle tracker. Actually, I don’t think an improvement can be made through submitting bugs or feature requests. The best solution would be storyboard every page in Moodle and create a UX wireframe. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It has to be usable. People often confuse usability with looks. Which is why some people keep saying that Google doesn’t understand design. But they do. They make mistakes (just like Apple, Microsoft and everyone) but they mostly produce websites that are eminently usable. They just do it with an aesthetic that deceives people into thinking they are not well designed. Great design is not seen. It is experienced.

Personally, I think MoogleHQ should hire Stuart Lamour (or get him on secondment) who has proven he can get this done and do a root and branch UX redesign for Moodle 2.4. There would be community input, sure, but not a piecemeal, feature/feature development that we have now. Maybe also sponsor Davo Smith‘s work. And I’m sure there are other great UX minds in the Moodle community. I’d pitch in if there was a collection going.

  • http://moodlenews.com Joseph Thibault

    great thoughts. I am thinking about all of these things daily too, in pursuit of the “perfect classroom”. Moodle’s a great foundation but I would love to see some of the above baked into the core. Especially the nav and dashboard pieces you alluded to.