Review: Collapsed Topics course format for Moodle 2.0

Today’s review Module is the Collapsed Topics course format for Moodle 2.0. This module provides another alternate course format for those who want something different to the standard vertical topics or weekly formats to help that “scroll of death” where the page is too long.


This module for Moodle is created and maintained by Gareth Barnard from the United Kingdom. This course format has been around for quite a while, and is available for Moodle 1.8, Moodle 1.9 and Moodle 2.0. I have used it before in Moodle 1.9, so how does it fare for Moodle 2.0 ?

As for all the course format reviews, I used my standard Moodle2 demo course as the basis of the course.

What does it do?

The Collapsed Topics course format takes the existing topics from a topics format course, and presents them in a more compact view. The topics names are shown in a list and each topic can be toggled “open” or in its default closed or hidden state. The user simply clicks on the down arrow to expand a topic, and the up arrow to collapse it.

Collapsed Topics

Collapsed Topics

As with the Moodle 1.9 version, this worked straight away and instantly gives that familiar but different view of the course topics.

Is it simple to install?

Yes. The source code is managed in contrib so you can view the source code there in CVS. The plugin page has all the links for downloading each version directly for 1.8, 1.9 and Moodle 2.0. Once I downloaded the zip file, I unzipped it to create the topcoll directory. Just upload this folder into your course/format/ and it works.

When installing the plug-in caused no errors.

Is there documentation for it?

The plug-ins page has an brief overview on the module and links to a comprehensive Moodle Docs page. The README in the zip explains what the module does, and has clear instructions for installation and for upgrade as well. It also has some extra core hack information if people want to do that. As a rule I try to steer clear of any core hacks, but that’s just me!

There are links to a discussion and Moodle tracker for bugs and issues. All in all a very complete entry.

Is it easy for the teacher/admin to use?

Yes, it is quite simple. I went into my topics course and set the format to Collapsed Topics and saved. As in the image above, the normal topics view is gone and it is just collapsed.

When I click on a down arrow, the topic nicely expands as shown in the below graphic.


You can also expand more than one of the topics at once, as shown below.



As with the previously reviewed Slides format, you can swap to another format without losing the content base layout. This is an important feature of course formats.

Is it easy for the learner/student to use?

For the student, this is simple to use, click to expand, click to collapse. It really couldn’t be easier. The state stays while the user is logged in, and if you want it to stay beyond that, it requires a small core hack.

Does it do what it promises?

Yes it does. This is also a valuable format which I have used and will use again. This collapsed option is also available for the Weekly format.

Stars: 5 out of 5


**Standard Reminder**

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.

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3 Responses to Review: Collapsed Topics course format for Moodle 2.0

  1. Pingback: Moodleposium Day 1 presentation – conquering the scroll of death | Join the dots

  2. Yes, I must agree with Gavin. I use this format almost exclusively now for a cleaner look and feel. Goes well with the Overlay theme. Especially useful if your course has a lot of preliminary/orientation information at the top which is redundant after the first week of the course, but which maintains it’s visual primacy when students re-enter the course in subsequent weeks. They can quickly snap that information back into one toggle bar.

  3. Dear Gavin,

    Thank you for your praising review. I have now greatly improved the format (including incorporating Collapsed Weeks). It can be found on



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