This summer QMplus is undergoing a major overhaul to the way it looks, the first complete re-working of the design since we launched it in September 2012.
Over the past 6 months we have been listening to what you like and don’t like about QMplus and we have been working more closely with focus groups of students, academics and administrators around Queen Mary to test ideas and first impressions of the new functionality in the new look QMplus.
As parts of the design are beginning to take shape on our local servers we are now in a position to start sharing the changes with you all..and over the next few weeks those who wish to will be able to get closer to understand how all elements of the new design will work.
This article describes some of the highlights of the design:
- A fresh new colour palette
- A streamlined home page
- Easier to search for modules
- User tours to help find your way around
- Landing pages for all users
- Landing pages look fresher and are easier to maintain
- A new customisable QMplus dashboard providing easy access to everything you need
- New module formats designed with mobile in mind
- Easier and more intuitive ways to add activities and resources
- A new and easy to use text editor for creating your content
You can watch a short video into of the highlights of these features here.
A new colour palette
We are finally able to freshen up the look and feel of QMplus across the parent and faculty themes. The new colour scheme gives the site a sleek modern look and aligns with the direction of travel within the QMUL style sheet.
A tweaked and streamlined homepage
Non QMUL users will still be able to browse the module/course directories within QMplus and shortcuts remain to key e-learning tools as well as site news. The prominent advert slider goes.
Enhanced module search
A new predictive text search facility will be available to users from any point through their journey on QMplus. This will display the search as an overlay on the main content of the site. The search box will then allow the user to enter a search term and when the user has entered more than 3 characters to display potential course (module) matches. The search matches will refine further as the user enters more words to the search.
There will be a means to filter the results either by “My modules” (the list of courses the user is enrolled on) or “All modules”.
The new theme will support the new “User tours” feature to guide new users around the interface, to introduce new features and highlight important information.
School or Institute login redirection for staff & students
All users, staff and students, will now be directed to a landing page when they login to QMplus. Your landing page will be based on which modules you are enrolled on. If you are enrolled on courses/modules in more than one School or Institute then you will be able to choose which landing page you want to use. Any user without a landing page will be assigned the standard E-learning Unit landing page!
Landing page format
Content on landing pages themselves will be much easier to edit as we are introducing a new “landing page” format. The format will allow ease of creating content blocks and placing them on the landing page as well as formatting the banner image.
New ‘My QMplus Dashboard’
A new “My QMplus dashboard” will be available to users from any page on the site by clicking an icon at the top right-hand side of a page. Once clicked this the dashboard will “fly-down” displaying on a semi-transparent overlay on the currently viewed page, as opposed to taking the user to a separate dashboard page. This provides a much smoother user experience with the dashboard features easily available at all times without having to click backwards and forwards between pages.
The main features of the new dashboard are:
- Name and avatar of the user
- A modules section that displays A list of pinned modules (courses) that the user is enrolled on or all of their modules
- Quick links to important features such as:
- The QM Model dashboard in QMplus Hub
- Grades and feedback (Gradeplus)
- Profile preferences
- A customisable area where users can choose to display information in various widgets
This new functionality enables a user to select which modules, from all the modules on QMplus they are enrolled on, they would like to see first for quick access. Pinned modules can be added or removed at any time.
New widget framework
Users will now be able to customise their dashboards with widgets which provide a variety of different functionality. After the upgrade this summer, there will be 3 widgets available:
- To-do list
- Upcoming assignments
- Upcoming events
To-do list widget
The to-do list widget works in tandem with the new to-do list feature. Users will be able to select activities and resources from across their QMplus modules and add them to their to-do list. Once on the to-do list, users can add due dates and additional notes to each item. The to-do list widget on the dashboard will display the lastest 5 to-do items. These will be displayed in date order by default with the option for the user to change the ordering. In the widget, there will also be links to quickly jump to the specific item and a link to review the full list of to-do items.
An upcoming assignments widget
This widget will display the list of top 5 assignments that are due from any modules the user is enrolled on listed in the due date ascending order. If the user has more than 5 assignments then a link will be displayed to review all due assignments. The widget will display the name of the assignment and the module it is associated with, the due date and a status. Users will be able to click on the assignments to go directly to them. Assignments will be displayed in the widget according to their status which is defined as being due soon (in the next 2 weeks), submitted or overdue.
An upcoming events widget
Drawing from the users QMplus calendar – This widget will display up to 5 upcoming events and closest to now Ascending.
For each event it will display the type (event colour and icon), Event name, a link off to the event and the event date. Site, Group, Course and user events would all be displayed in this widget . For each event there will be a link off to the standard Moodle calendar.
New look course formats
Currently there are 4 custom course formats available – the main feature of these formats is the News announcement forum that is displayed at the top of a course home page giving the tutor the ability to configure a static image and text or source the content from the main course/module news and announcements forum. This feature will be maintained for each of the new course formats but there will be additional features added:
- There will be potential to display up to 5 tabs below the course announcement section
- The initial tab will be called “Module content” which is the main standard course content. The second will be called “Assessment Information” – there will be a course format setting to enable or disable display of this tab. This feature is to remove the requirement to display the current assignment information collapsible section used on courses
- The assessment tab will display 3 sections:
- Content that is configured as part of the course format settings (HTML editor) – this will be pre-populated on the course templates which will need further tailoring by the course tutor.
- A list of assignments that are due on the course for the user in due date Asc order. This will display for each assignment – the activity icon, due date, the title of the assignment and description. This will include items that are overdue
- A list of assignments that have been graded already on the course for the user grading date Desc order. This will display for each assignment – the activity icon, the grade, the title of the assignment and description.
- 3 additional customisable tabs that can be displayed for the course format. – each of these will have the following settings:
- The title of the tab – text input box
- A checkbox to disable or enable display of the tab
- A HTML area to add content that will display on the tab
- There will be a single block region (to the far right) – this will be part of the theme rather than course format
- The theme will also display a means to hide and show the blocks in this single block region – this will be part of the theme rather than course format. This is to give as much space to the content as possible
Large numbers of students access QMplus on mobile devices and the formats have been designed specifically with this in mind.
New activity and resource editing workflow
The resources and activities picker now slides out in a drawer from the right of the screen. The editing window for resources is presented in a two column layout with a cleaner look and feel and more intuitive design.
New default text editor
We’ll be changing the default text editor used in QMplus for all users. This means a change to what you see when you edit text anywhere in QMplus. The new editor is called Atto and has been designed specifically for Moodle, the system underlying QMplus. It has some great new features, including:
- An autosave capability, the text you type in is automatically saved if you leave the page
- Styling options in labels, books and pages e.g. two columns or adding icons. This will help you in creating nicely styled content.
- Colour highlighting of code in HTML view. Helpful for those users who like to write in HTML as opposed to using the visual editor.
Any user nostalgic for the old text editor, known as TinyMCE, will be able to switch back within their preferences.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the new editor now, you can find information on the Moodle Docs website.