Todays review Module is an old favourite that has been updated to Moodle 2 – Moodle 2.0 Course Menu Block which is available for both Moodle 1.9 and Moodle 2.0
This block has been around for nearly 4 years, and worked on Moodle 1.6 onwards providing an in-course navigation block and was one block I strongly recommended for Moodle 1.9 to help manage that old bugbear the “scrollofdeath”. It is submitted by Alex Contis and maintained by NetSapiensis AB Moodle Partner.
What does it do?
The block gives the users easy access to jump to sections of the course without having to scroll around in addition to some extra links providing the user a quick way to navigate around their Moodle.
In 1.9 in automatically grabbed the topic summary and used it as the name of the topic link, and in Moodle 2 it takes the name of the topic summary which is a good improvement.
Is it simple to install?
As the block is maintained by the Moodle Partner, they provide the download directly from their site. The source code isn’t visible or managed in contrib so you would need to look at the downloaded block for this. The zip holds one folder which contains the files for the block.
You need to upload the course_menu folder to your blocks folder in your Moodle site.
When upgrading through the notifications page, I got no errors and it just installed. There was a new global setting for the number of characters to trim names to, as I normally do I left the default to see how it worked.
The README gave a good information and did specific that it was the Moodle 2.0 version.
Is there documentation for it?
The Plugin Entry for Course Menu Block has instructions for how to download, install and the details of the basic features of the block. It also has information on how to report bugs and what information to include.
At this time there is no linked MoodleDocs page on the plugin entry but there is an old page which could be updated and linked or a discussion link which means that the plugin has 50 comments.
The README.txt has the same information as the plugin page.
It would be good to see the Moodle Docs page updated with the feature lists as it has so much to give.
Is it easy for the teacher/admin to use?
When installed, it looks like the image here. This block is straight forward once installed.
It lists all the section names, and under that you can toggle whether it just shows the one topic (and doesnt jump down) or shows them all.
I like the Show only One as this keeps the screen tidy and this is how I used it and recommended its use in Moodle 1.9. They key to this usage is to keep Section0 (the area before Topic/Section1) as near empty as possible so that with it and the focused section, you don’t have to scroll.
Below you see topic 9 highlighted in the menu block and showing on the page.
What about the default navigation block?
The image below this is the normal navigation block in Moodle 2, so you can see the differences. Of course you can hide the structure from the Navigation block to avoid duplication which is what I have done in the second picture. This then works nicely with the course menu block (which is just navigation in-course).
There are many extra options for this excellent block, which can be viewed below config screen. These allow it to have:
- an expandable tree
- Chapters (topics showing in chapters on the menu)
- lots of extra useful links
- Extra Custom links
The most powerful of these is the chapters which is just silly nice for courses with different phases, into which multiple topics fit. An example is shown below.
These chapters can be controlled in the config as to which topics appear where and what the chapters are called, so they could be Week1,2,3 or Introduction and so on. Sweet!
Is it easy for the learner/student to use?
The student just uses it the same way the teacher does. It provides a nice block with improved navigation around the Moodle course. This is an improvement to the normal navigation as it allows each course to be customised although I would recommend having a default organisational approach.
Does it do what it promises?
Yes, this block delivers, I have been a fan for years and now with Moodle 2 I am still a fan.
I can see this being used by many sites where it suits. The existing default navigation is really great for providing site-wide access, but this block really gives a nice in-course option which some may prefer.
All in all, nice block and well done.
Stars: 4 out of 5 stars for this block.
These reviews check out the plugin for usability not for security. If you are considering installing any module on your site you should also check that is secure and does not impact the server performance.