USI.10

Moodle CustHome

Long Title: Moodle CustHome
Leading
Organization:
Universita della Svizzera Italiana
Domain: ELS
Status: finished
Start Date: 01.11.2012
End Date: 31.03.2013
Project Leader: R. Mazza

MoodleCustHome allows users to customize their personal page in Moodle, to order courses and see new content and activities.

Results

Component Description
Software package custHome The software is available at github for download
Public test site This test site can be used to have a look to the software running on a testing Moodle 2.4 platform:
username: test1
password: test1

In this project a plug-in was produced for the Moodle platform (v. 2.4) that aims to improve the usability of the platform by extending the student's home page in Moodle (My home) with a new functionality that allows a basic customization of it. With this module, students can better organize their courses by creating a description for groups of courses (for instance, a student can group courses in categories: current courses, OLD courses, Optional courses, ...) and receive information directly in the My home page when the instructor publishes a new educational resource in the course, without the need to enter the course.

This module will be installed in the USI-SUPSI moodle platform on July 2013, which currently serves more than 8000 students.
The software is released as free software and available to the moodle community.
The USI eLearning laboratory intends to maintain this software module for a long period, as it will be used in the USI-SUPSI moodle installation.


Initial Situation

Although Moodle is an easy-to-use LMS, some of its features present usability problems: one of these is the personal page (My Home) each user accesses after having logged in. As a matter of fact, this page presents the list of the courses one is enrolled in, without allowing users to customize it in any way. When one is enrolled in many courses, the My Home page is poorly usable, as the list of courses is long and requires users to scroll down the page to access some courses. Furthermore, it may happen that the current or most used courses appear at the bottom of the list, while inactive or less used ones are displayed at the top.
At the moment there are no available Moodle modules or blocks that help users overcome this problem - an issue that has been repeatedly reported as critical by users.

Goals

Goal of the Moodle CustHome project is to increase the usability of the My Home page by allowing basic customizations to it.
Specifically, users' My Home page will be modified through the addition of two functionalities:

  1. The users will have the possibility to order and group the courses they are enrolled in. Users will be allowed to move courses up and down in the list and to group them in categories they can create themselves: e.g., they may decide to group and order courses based on semesters, on academic years, on the academic level courses are taught (bachelor, master, or doctoral), on the role users have in the course, and so on.
  2. Information about new contents or activities. Close to the course title the users will see if there has been any activity in the course since their last login: how many new resources, how many updated resources, how many new messages in the forum, etc. This will allow them to see at a glance which courses to access.

Development

The goal is to develop a customized My home page without changing the Moodle software. The Moodle CustHome software will therefore be implemented as a customized Moodle theme (plugin), which will include specific scripts that implement the needed customization.
The final technical decisions and the software design will be made at the beginning of the project, during the requirements analysis, which will take into consideration feasibility and sustainability criteria; in this phase, the different options to adapt the software to new releases of Moodle in the simplest way, will be evaluated in detail.
In order to implement the feature of the activities updates for subscribed courses, some parts of the Moodle Notifications software will be re-used.

The software will be developed for version 2.2.x of Moodle and be released as free software under the GPL software license and will be available for download in the Moodle.org website. eLab will maintain the software after the end of the project, including the adaptation of the software to new releases of Moodle.

Back