Responsive design and the Moodle course page

There has been a lot of talk recently about responsive design and Moodle. Everyone has a view about it whether it is something to use or not use.

Before I bring up some points, I wanted to set down one definition of what responsive can be “to adapt the layout to the viewing environment”. It is a good idea to have a website look the best it can on any device, that is something I agree with – however Moodle is not just a website, it is a course and learning management system. So the remit goes well beyond a normal website.

A website reorganising the blocks, content areas, navigation, images on it depending on browser window size, or device can work, but what about when this is not a desired outcome? Are there cases where a block moving below the course page is a bad thing from a learning point of view?

I am approaching this not from a design point of view at all, but from a training point of view when I have trained teachers and course admins to use the blocks in Moodle to help support their learning delivery and administration.

Consider a Moodle course

There are a number of blocks that are used in a Moodle course that can be considered a key part of the course. What about the random glossary block? This can be a key part of the course content /layout providing a flashcard type experience on page loads to help introduce some content or trigger reminders, or offer supplementary information from one of the glossaries in the course.

Is the effectiveness of this block in the course reduced if the block is dropped under the course content sections ?

What about some other blocks which teachers use on their courses?

  • The calendar block with deadlines marked on it
  • The upcoming used to remind about key deadlines coming up.
  • Or the latest news block – showing the most recent headlines from the news forum
  • Logged in users – to help promote the inter-student communication

So from a teaching and admin point of view, is having the blocks dance around in a responsive way a good thing in a Moodle course if they have been placed there for a specific reason?

Should responsive design with a Moodle course try to take these kind of issues into account?

What blocks would you not want to “move around” in a responsive layout?

Should this be an issue? If a site admin went with a responsive theme, does this then limit the teacher in choice of blocks? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Just some random thoughts on the topic…

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