Using Moodle’s Collapsed Topics Format for Easier Navigation

Managing Moodle navigation can be tricky, especially later in the semester when students have to scroll past earlier content to get to what’s current. To help with that, Moodle has a Collapsed Topics format that condenses each topic to just its heading and summary to allow for rapid navigation from week to week or topic to topic. When students click on a topic to view the contents, the rest of the page disappears, allowing them to focus on one week at a time.

A list of topic blocks, showing just their title and a summary of content types included within

If that sounds like a good fit for your course, follow the steps below to get started. We’ll also cover how to add a banner to each topic to make them visually distinct and aid learners in quickly getting to the content they need, although that’s an optional step since finding the right images in the right format can be time-intensive on its own.

Switching to Collapsed Topic Format

To switch to using the Collapsed Topics format, start by clicking on the red gear-shaped icon in the top right-hand corner of your Moodle site, and select Edit Settings:

Moodle's "Settings" menu displayed when clicking the Settings icon from the course page. The first option, "Edit Settings," is highlighted

Once there, scroll down to the Course format heading and click it to expand it.

The course format settings, with "Course layout" highlighted and "Show one section per page" selected

Next to Course layout, select Show one section per page from the drop-down menu, then click Save changes at the bottom of the page.

Your Moodle page will now display the first topic and any topic you click on to help keep the total page length short and navigable.

Adding a Banner to a Moodle Topic

To help students navigate a collapsed topics format, image banners can be used to help students quickly distinguish between the various topics.  

To add a banner to a Moodle topic, first, click the Turn editing on button in the top right-hand corner of your Moodle site.

NOTE: With editing turned on, you’ll see all topics expanded again as normal to help you quickly add content.  Once you turn editing off, you’ll see the topics collapsed again, the same way the students will see them.

Once you’ve turned editing on, go to the topic where you want to add a banner and click the Edit Topic option in the top right corner.

The Edit menu for a Moodle topic block expanded, with the first option, "Edit Topic," highlighted

You’ll have the option to edit the topic Summary, including rich text, images, just about anything you need.  For a banner, click the landscape icon in the editor to get started:

The Moodle Atto editor, with the "Insert or edit image" icon indicated

You’ll be prompted to find an image to upload:

The Image Properties pop-up, with the option for "This image is decorative only" indicated

Click Browse repositories… to find the image you want to use on your computer. 

If your banner has any text, especially text the student needs to know, include it in the box below. If the banner is purely decorative, check the box for This image is decorative only instead.

A close-up on the image dimensions option in the Image Properties pop-up window

Moodle will automatically detect the size of the image. For banners, we strongly recommend a width of 1575 pixels and a height of 225 pixels for a long, narrow image that should span the whole page easily.

Click Save image to finish the upload, and then Save changes to update the topic summary.  When you Turn Editing Off again, your page should look something like this:

Moodle collapsed topics display with a banner added

If you run into any trouble, contact TCTS for assistance, we’d be happy to help with any part of the process.