I learned Moodle because I had a full curriculum of face-to-face training in Six Sigma Quality Improvement tools and I wanted to put it online. That was 2005. I built one course and asked for feedback from a group of potential users. Because everyone I knew professionally at that time was barely able to use email (sorry, guys, but it’s true!), my sample audience was small, biased, and not representative of my target audience. Oops. The most frequent comment I received was “I wish it had better navigation because I don’t know how to get to the next page”. So, I built navigation buttons because I THOUGHT that would encourage more people to take my courses. Each page had HTML code added to the end of the content; code that linked tiny images to absolute URLs for the next, previous, and other pages. Each page was manually coded. Spiffy.
Instead of having a surge in Six Sigma students, I was swamped with all kinds of questions from people trying to build Moodle. Questions like “how did you build those navigation buttons?” and “are those buttons part of your theme”… I also had a lot of other comments about my site being clean and well-put together, but the biggest comment was always about the buttons. That’s when I decided to add moodle content development to my company’s repertoire of services. Those buttons launched my Moodle career…
As you may have guessed, adding HTML code to the bottom of every page, and editing that code so that the next page image was actually linked to the next activity, was not a sustainable task. I stopped adding the navigation buttons to content, even on my own site. I didn’t even dream of including them in the content work I did for others. Two years ago my editor said (quite innocently), “The buttons are missing in this course; can you put them back in? They really make it a lot easier to navigate”. Oops, again.
Fast forward (time does fly) to 2011 and the navigation buttons are now a plugin that you, too, can use! Davo Smith, Moodle Contributor Extraordinaire, turned my vision into a Third Party module, now available for 1.9x and 2.0, at Moodle.org. Here is a screencast of the buttons at YouTube:
To view examples of how they can easily be customized to match a theme, check out the courses at BeeLearn.com. This Purpose-Objectives-Goals page in the demo course Sunny Hospital, shows the old and the new, with customized new buttons.
Both Davo and I wish to thank the iconic US manufacturer that sponsored the development of this plugin. They’re awesome!