For the online learning world

Elearning WorldLearning designMoodleUX

Section Zero


With the introduction of Moodle 4.4 the decision has been made to treat the first section, zero, of a course just like any other. These are my thoughts about it.


Names / logos can be trademarks of their respective owners. Please review their website for details.

I am independent from the organisations mentioned and am in no way writing for or endorsed by them.

The information presented in this article is written according to my own understanding, there could be technical inaccuracies, so please do undertake your own research.

The featured image is my copyright, please don’t use without my permission.


With the release of Moodle 4.4, moodledev.io/general/releases/4.4, the ‘General’ section or ‘Section Zero’ is now treated like an ordinary section. I believe that the change has been as a result of ongoing ‘Course hierarchy’ changes, tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-76888. As a consequence in the core course formats the section is collapsible, no longer above each section on their respective single section page and now has its own single section page. In effect removing the additional functionality that it provided. For example with a course set to be ‘One section per page’ for the ‘Course layout’, the first section has gone from (viewing as an administrator in the Boost theme):

General section in Moodle 4.3

in Moodle 4.3 to:

General section in Moodle 4.4

in Moodle 4.4.

In my view, as an educator there are times when you want to provide your students with information that they’ll need all the time on a course. Things that are relevant in combination with whatever task they are undertaking. To this end there has at the top of the course been a section to contain this information. When viewing another section singularly then the same information was above it. This ‘section’ can be called anything you want and contain modules just like any other section. It’s just that its position on the screen fulfilled this ‘general informational’ requirement.

I can see though the efforts in providing only what is required, to declutter the page and provide a simpler, cleaner interface. However, decluttering can almost always be achieved by a bespoke theme if desired. This is functionality that has been removed as against presentation.

What if we took a different approach and only presented this section to the learner if it actually contained something? Then the empowerment to control the course would be back with the educator. The driving force of how learning is orchestrated should be the educator and not the tool that facilitates that learning. That was the flexibility of Moodle that first brought me to it back in version 1.8 / 1.9 when I compared it with other offerings available at the time. This feels to me like a regression and I hope that it will be reconsidered as a mistake.


What do you think please?

Gareth Barnard
Latest posts by Gareth Barnard (see all)

Gareth Barnard

Gareth is a developer of numerous Moodle Themes including Essential (the most popular Moodle Theme ever), Foundation, and other plugins such as course formats, including Collapsed Topics.

One thought on “Section Zero

  • Anonymous

    Interesting Gareth !
    We’ve only got two clients using Moodle 4.4 and I had not noticed this change myself yet.
    I too feel we’ve “lost something” now
    – although to balance that, I’ve seen SO many pages that use this section wrongly, meaning learners are always having to scroll past it.
    I guess it’s an example of forcing a solution, rather than using education and good course design … a bit Apple’ish in approach.


Add a reply or comment...