Moodle
  1. Moodle
  2. MDL-32161

Meta Course Hell -- Poorly designed interface!

    Details

    • Difficulty:
      Moderate
    • Affected Branches:
      MOODLE_23_STABLE

      Description

      I just spent over two hours adding children to metacourse because 1) it has to be done individually by searching the pulldown menu for the relevant course, 2) only one can be selected at a time and 3) the pulldown menu has several hundred items!!

      For schools that have 10s or 100s of sections that need to refer to the same parent course, the current system is a nightmare.

      1) There should be a search window so that courses can be found by name
      2) The window should allow multiple selection
      3) There should be a batch load function as there is for student registrations.

      See the attachment for a view of my problem. The screen shows most of the Monday classes, but there is an equal amount for other days of the week that is out of view.

        Gliffy Diagrams

          Issue Links

            Activity

            Hide
            Petr Skoda added a comment -

            Hello,

            did you consider using cohorts instead of meta courses? I have created the meta course plugin in 2.0 only for existing 1.9 sites, the plugin is intentionally disabled in new installations.

            We have already discussed a few times how to improve the cohorts subsystem - the biggest improvement could be new cohort context. Unfortunately I did not find yet time to work on this, hopefully in 2.4 cohorts will be more useful and easier to administer.

            Petr

            Show
            Petr Skoda added a comment - Hello, did you consider using cohorts instead of meta courses? I have created the meta course plugin in 2.0 only for existing 1.9 sites, the plugin is intentionally disabled in new installations. We have already discussed a few times how to improve the cohorts subsystem - the biggest improvement could be new cohort context. Unfortunately I did not find yet time to work on this, hopefully in 2.4 cohorts will be more useful and easier to administer. Petr
            Hide
            Thomas Robb added a comment -

            Thank you, Petr, for your prompt comment, but cohorts are not what we need. Cohorts (by dictionary definition) are groups of students who form an intact group which moves through school taking courses together.

            That is not what we need! We have two courses, each of which has 70 class sections, that need to go to the a specific Moodle course for some of their activities. There are many more like this where multiple classes share a single activity page. The students in these class sections are different from term to term. The metacourse concept fits what we need perfectly.

            Show
            Thomas Robb added a comment - Thank you, Petr, for your prompt comment, but cohorts are not what we need. Cohorts (by dictionary definition) are groups of students who form an intact group which moves through school taking courses together. That is not what we need! We have two courses, each of which has 70 class sections, that need to go to the a specific Moodle course for some of their activities. There are many more like this where multiple classes share a single activity page. The students in these class sections are different from term to term. The metacourse concept fits what we need perfectly.
            Hide
            Petr Skoda added a comment -

            I am afraid that dictionary definitions can not be applied to Moodle concepts. Internally it is implemented in a similar way. Why do you think it is not possible to use cohorts?

            Show
            Petr Skoda added a comment - I am afraid that dictionary definitions can not be applied to Moodle concepts. Internally it is implemented in a similar way. Why do you think it is not possible to use cohorts?
            Hide
            Petr Skoda added a comment -

            Hmm, I should better ask: how do your students get enrolled into courses?

            In large institutional installations the enrolment information is usually maintained in external systems. It can be synchronised directly to courses or indirectly to cohorts. I agree that meta links are useful when your enrolments are primarily based on self enrolment or paid access.

            Show
            Petr Skoda added a comment - Hmm, I should better ask: how do your students get enrolled into courses? In large institutional installations the enrolment information is usually maintained in external systems. It can be synchronised directly to courses or indirectly to cohorts. I agree that meta links are useful when your enrolments are primarily based on self enrolment or paid access.
            Hide
            Thomas Robb added a comment -

            Why do I think that it is not possible to use cohorts? Here's why:

            1) It never even occurred to me that it might be possible because the word 'cohort' implies intact classes being managed as single entities, not the other way around. (See my attached graphic). If the system was meant to be used so that multiple courses could be linked to a single one, then the name is terribly misleading.

            2) One huge different between the cohort system and the meta-course concept is that individual instructors can create metacourses. An instructor with three sections of a specific course can create a single Moodle course with material that students in any of his sections can access. Cohorts need to be created and maintained at the system admin level.

            3) I am not a system admin, but rather a course coordinator of a rather large set of general English courses. The metacourse concept works for me (almost), but cohorts are not what I need. I say "almost" because there should be an option when joining children to a metacourse for groups corresponding to each metacourse to be automatically formed, but that is another tracker issue (http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-17929).

            Show
            Thomas Robb added a comment - Why do I think that it is not possible to use cohorts? Here's why: 1) It never even occurred to me that it might be possible because the word 'cohort' implies intact classes being managed as single entities, not the other way around. (See my attached graphic). If the system was meant to be used so that multiple courses could be linked to a single one, then the name is terribly misleading. 2) One huge different between the cohort system and the meta-course concept is that individual instructors can create metacourses. An instructor with three sections of a specific course can create a single Moodle course with material that students in any of his sections can access. Cohorts need to be created and maintained at the system admin level. 3) I am not a system admin, but rather a course coordinator of a rather large set of general English courses. The metacourse concept works for me (almost), but cohorts are not what I need. I say "almost" because there should be an option when joining children to a metacourse for groups corresponding to each metacourse to be automatically formed, but that is another tracker issue ( http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-17929 ).
            Hide
            Thomas Robb added a comment -

            Comparison of Cohort and Metacourse concepts

            Show
            Thomas Robb added a comment - Comparison of Cohort and Metacourse concepts
            Hide
            Petr Skoda added a comment -

            Cohorts can be created at course category level too. If we introduce cohort context it would be possible to assign management rights in individual cohorts too.

            Thank you for the explanation, I think that anybody who works on this issue will have enough information now. First step would be probably to create new forms element which simplifies course searching and selection. The next step could be a new tool that allows mass linking of courses.

            Show
            Petr Skoda added a comment - Cohorts can be created at course category level too. If we introduce cohort context it would be possible to assign management rights in individual cohorts too. Thank you for the explanation, I think that anybody who works on this issue will have enough information now. First step would be probably to create new forms element which simplifies course searching and selection. The next step could be a new tool that allows mass linking of courses.
            Hide
            Mark Chaney added a comment -

            This feature not being supported is really one of the three main reasons we havent upgraded to Moodle 2 yet. We are currently even installing brand new Moodle 1.9's. Do we know if this Major bug is going to be fixed in Moodle 2.3 yet? Or do we have to rewrite the core code ourselves (which I dont mind doing, I just know I will forget something though.)

            Thanks

            Mark

            Show
            Mark Chaney added a comment - This feature not being supported is really one of the three main reasons we havent upgraded to Moodle 2 yet. We are currently even installing brand new Moodle 1.9's. Do we know if this Major bug is going to be fixed in Moodle 2.3 yet? Or do we have to rewrite the core code ourselves (which I dont mind doing, I just know I will forget something though.) Thanks Mark
            Hide
            Joe Murphy added a comment -

            Since no one has spoken specifically to the importance of search functionality, I'd like to. Our use case is that faculty (or department assistants) request that metacourses be created. These requests would qualify as "heterogenous inputs" - sometimes we get a course number, sometimes a course title, and sometimes a colloquial course title. (For example, we have a course which everyone calls "Quest For Justice" - and Moodle 2 files it under its formal name, "The Quest for Justice".)

            In the 1.9 interface, whatever I've been given, I can search for, and create the metacourse rather easily with the search results. In a drop-down, unless I've been given the official catalog title for the course, it's more complicated.

            Show
            Joe Murphy added a comment - Since no one has spoken specifically to the importance of search functionality, I'd like to. Our use case is that faculty (or department assistants) request that metacourses be created. These requests would qualify as "heterogenous inputs" - sometimes we get a course number, sometimes a course title, and sometimes a colloquial course title. (For example, we have a course which everyone calls "Quest For Justice" - and Moodle 2 files it under its formal name, "The Quest for Justice".) In the 1.9 interface, whatever I've been given, I can search for, and create the metacourse rather easily with the search results. In a drop-down, unless I've been given the official catalog title for the course, it's more complicated.
            Hide
            Richard Heath added a comment -

            I too am finding this very trying (having more that 3000 courses to select from!).

            As a temporary solution, I have adopted an extension for firefox that gives you a search feature in drop down text boxes: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/selectboxtools/

            You can use a * wildcard to search just a portion of the title. It's certainly making it a lot less frustrating for me! I look forward to a better Moodle interface for this function...

            Show
            Richard Heath added a comment - I too am finding this very trying (having more that 3000 courses to select from!). As a temporary solution, I have adopted an extension for firefox that gives you a search feature in drop down text boxes: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/selectboxtools/ You can use a * wildcard to search just a portion of the title. It's certainly making it a lot less frustrating for me! I look forward to a better Moodle interface for this function...
            Hide
            Bob Puffer added a comment -

            IMO this is a blocker and needs fixing before 2.3.

            Show
            Bob Puffer added a comment - IMO this is a blocker and needs fixing before 2.3.
            Hide
            Chad Bergeron added a comment -

            In our case we are using metacourses to coordinate and share information across an entire program. For instance, our Nursing program. We use automated course enrolment, but we can only automatically enrol students who have already declared for the program. To catch undeclared students, we link core courses from the program into a metacourse. There is no way to do this with cohorts, as near as I can tell. It is vital that the Course Meta Link interface be at a minimum restored to what it was in 1.9.

            Show
            Chad Bergeron added a comment - In our case we are using metacourses to coordinate and share information across an entire program. For instance, our Nursing program. We use automated course enrolment, but we can only automatically enrol students who have already declared for the program. To catch undeclared students, we link core courses from the program into a metacourse. There is no way to do this with cohorts, as near as I can tell. It is vital that the Course Meta Link interface be at a minimum restored to what it was in 1.9.
            Hide
            Alison Pope added a comment -

            I have just discovered how time consuming this is going to make our Moodle 2 transition. I would agree that there are both some metacourse patterns that would be better served as cohorts - where the data is available - but also there are still some valid use cases for metacourses.

            Regardless of the debate around conceptual approaches many of us are where we are with using metacourses and asking a user to pick from a dropdown containing thousands of courses when interactive search for users is successfully used in other enrolment methods and when course search was available in 1.9 seems a strange UI decision and fixing this would be a start.

            Show
            Alison Pope added a comment - I have just discovered how time consuming this is going to make our Moodle 2 transition. I would agree that there are both some metacourse patterns that would be better served as cohorts - where the data is available - but also there are still some valid use cases for metacourses. Regardless of the debate around conceptual approaches many of us are where we are with using metacourses and asking a user to pick from a dropdown containing thousands of courses when interactive search for users is successfully used in other enrolment methods and when course search was available in 1.9 seems a strange UI decision and fixing this would be a start.
            Hide
            Ralf Hilgenstock added a comment -

            We also got some requests by clients with more than some hundred courses and meta course enrollements in use.

            On the first look it makes sense to replace metacourses by global groups in the long term. My suggestion would be that we need a simple process to create global groups from courses. Just a first idea:

            A teacher can define that students in the actual course are added to a course related global group. This global group could be personal or only available for the teachers from this course. Then we need a second global group enrolement process for such gloabl group. Teachers will find only this global groups.
            It will make sense to name such groups differently to avoid confusion.

            Show
            Ralf Hilgenstock added a comment - We also got some requests by clients with more than some hundred courses and meta course enrollements in use. On the first look it makes sense to replace metacourses by global groups in the long term. My suggestion would be that we need a simple process to create global groups from courses. Just a first idea: A teacher can define that students in the actual course are added to a course related global group. This global group could be personal or only available for the teachers from this course. Then we need a second global group enrolement process for such gloabl group. Teachers will find only this global groups. It will make sense to name such groups differently to avoid confusion.
            Hide
            Normand Charette added a comment -

            I too am having a lot of frustration finding courses from the drop down list. We have 10,000 courses that we are selecting from. My work around "solution" has been...

            1) Create the New Course
            2) Choose... [Navigation] > Site home > Course Categories
            3) Choose one of your Categories. We only have one main Category.
            4) Scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose

            {Re-sort courses by name}

            5) Then go to your newly created course
            6) Choose [Settings] > Users > Enrolment methods
            7) Scroll down to 'Add method' drop list and choose

            {Course meta link}

            Your courses should now be sorted and make it easier for your to find and locate for enrollment.

            Thank you Richard Heath for your Firefox addon suggestion. I will try it out today. It seems even better than my work around.

            Show
            Normand Charette added a comment - I too am having a lot of frustration finding courses from the drop down list. We have 10,000 courses that we are selecting from. My work around "solution" has been... 1) Create the New Course 2) Choose... [Navigation] > Site home > Course Categories 3) Choose one of your Categories. We only have one main Category. 4) Scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose {Re-sort courses by name} 5) Then go to your newly created course 6) Choose [Settings] > Users > Enrolment methods 7) Scroll down to 'Add method' drop list and choose {Course meta link} Your courses should now be sorted and make it easier for your to find and locate for enrollment. Thank you Richard Heath for your Firefox addon suggestion. I will try it out today. It seems even better than my work around.
            Hide
            Carly J Born added a comment -

            One of the other things to consider, is that some of the child courses will have changing enrollments until the end of our add/drop period for courses. We auto-enroll students into their sections with the LDAP plugin. And then I make meta courses for, say Spanish 101, and link up all 8 of the sections of Spanish 101. As students decide to add or drop Spanish 101, I don't have to worry about changing anything because the LDAP mod will deal with them appropriately, and the meta course is linked to the child courses, not individual students. I was really hoping Cohorts would help me, but it's impossible because it deals with individuals rather than courses.

            It would be REALLY useful to give a search box option for anyone who has a list of courses longer than say 15. Making a pull-down list of a field that could have hundreds of courses in it is just a poor design decision.

            Show
            Carly J Born added a comment - One of the other things to consider, is that some of the child courses will have changing enrollments until the end of our add/drop period for courses. We auto-enroll students into their sections with the LDAP plugin. And then I make meta courses for, say Spanish 101, and link up all 8 of the sections of Spanish 101. As students decide to add or drop Spanish 101, I don't have to worry about changing anything because the LDAP mod will deal with them appropriately, and the meta course is linked to the child courses , not individual students. I was really hoping Cohorts would help me, but it's impossible because it deals with individuals rather than courses. It would be REALLY useful to give a search box option for anyone who has a list of courses longer than say 15. Making a pull-down list of a field that could have hundreds of courses in it is just a poor design decision.
            Hide
            Normand Charette added a comment - - edited

            We are now using the Blocks: Upload Metacourse links found at https://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=block_metalink. We create the parent course, create a csv file that links child courses to the parent and then upload the csv. Using Moodle 2.5 20130614.

            Show
            Normand Charette added a comment - - edited We are now using the Blocks: Upload Metacourse links found at https://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=block_metalink . We create the parent course, create a csv file that links child courses to the parent and then upload the csv. Using Moodle 2.5 20130614.
            Hide
            Eric Merrill added a comment -

            Yeah, I've had to resort to manually creating links in the database, then refreshing the caches. Barf.

            Show
            Eric Merrill added a comment - Yeah, I've had to resort to manually creating links in the database, then refreshing the caches. Barf.
            Hide
            Martin Dougiamas added a comment -

            Could this be solved by a new form element that automatically used a dropdown for short lists, and a select/search box for long lists?

            Show
            Martin Dougiamas added a comment - Could this be solved by a new form element that automatically used a dropdown for short lists, and a select/search box for long lists?
            Hide
            Eric Merrill added a comment -

            Personally, I don't see why we can't just always use the search/select box just like we do for user enrollments - it seems like it would add unneeded complexity and UI ambiguity to switch between the two at some magic threshold of courses.

            Show
            Eric Merrill added a comment - Personally, I don't see why we can't just always use the search/select box just like we do for user enrollments - it seems like it would add unneeded complexity and UI ambiguity to switch between the two at some magic threshold of courses.
            Hide
            Eric Merrill added a comment -

            Also, MDL-27628 has an (old now) implementation that essentially fixes this with a search/select box. Of course it is now out of date, but the tickets closely related.

            Show
            Eric Merrill added a comment - Also, MDL-27628 has an (old now) implementation that essentially fixes this with a search/select box. Of course it is now out of date, but the tickets closely related.
            Hide
            Neill Magill added a comment -

            A search select box similar to the user enrolment solution seems like a good idea to me too, as for a short amount of courses they would all continue to be listed, but when a large number are present it would not display anything until a reasonable number are filtered by the search.

            Show
            Neill Magill added a comment - A search select box similar to the user enrolment solution seems like a good idea to me too, as for a short amount of courses they would all continue to be listed, but when a large number are present it would not display anything until a reasonable number are filtered by the search.
            Hide
            Gilles-Philippe Leblanc added a comment -

            +1 For the idea of Neill Magill.

            We have above 20000 courses in our database and when we use the current interface as admin, we now have a memory allowed exceeded timeout. That is very annoying...

            Show
            Gilles-Philippe Leblanc added a comment - +1 For the idea of Neill Magill. We have above 20000 courses in our database and when we use the current interface as admin, we now have a memory allowed exceeded timeout. That is very annoying...
            Hide
            Kimberly King added a comment -

            I add my vote to adding a search field that would allow a user to quickly locate a course when adding a child course to a metacourse. Having to search for a single course in a dropdown menu containing literally hundreds of course is very inefficient and frustrating!

            Show
            Kimberly King added a comment - I add my vote to adding a search field that would allow a user to quickly locate a course when adding a child course to a metacourse. Having to search for a single course in a dropdown menu containing literally hundreds of course is very inefficient and frustrating!
            Hide
            Willy Lee added a comment -

            There's a new proposed solution in MDL-27628 that fixes the worst parts of this.

            Show
            Willy Lee added a comment - There's a new proposed solution in MDL-27628 that fixes the worst parts of this.
            Hide
            Willy Lee added a comment -

            Bulk removal or visibility could be managed by MDL-48783

            Show
            Willy Lee added a comment - Bulk removal or visibility could be managed by MDL-48783
            Hide
            Jetha Chan added a comment -

            Closing as a duplicate of MDL-27628.

            Show
            Jetha Chan added a comment - Closing as a duplicate of MDL-27628 .

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                • Created:
                  Updated:
                  Resolved: