Module Outline Tool

Module OutlineThis tool should be used in duo courses that are used to help teach academic modules. It allows staff to deploy the approved module outline data held by the University in the Faculty Handbook. For more information about Module Outlines see Note that this tool only display sthe Module Outline, the process of generating and approving them remains part of the University website (CMS) and is not detailed here. The Module Outline is part of the University Education Committee’s Required Content.

The tool has been developed by members of the Learning Technologies Team at the request of the Academic Office. It has been designed to save staff time (no need to retype data the University already holds) and ensures that the information in duo always reflects that approved by the Education Committees and published in the Faculty Handbook.

This page provides a summary of the basic functions.

  1. Displaying the Outline
  2. First-Time Access
  3. Configuring the Outline
  4. Customisation by Students
  5. Deployment Options

Displaying the Outline

You can add a link to the Module outline anywhere in your course by creating a custom content item:

An example of a custom content link

- for more details about this see the Deployment Options section

Normally however, the Module Outline Tool is accessed from the standard course Tools menu. If you want, you can create a direct link to the Module Outline tool in your course menu. Regardless of how you get there it’s behaviour is the same. Let’s keep things simple and assume for the moment that you get there via the standard course Tools menu:

The exact tools displayed may vary as instructors can show or hide them on a per course basis. You are looking for the ‘Module Outline’ tool shown down at the bottom right of this image.


What happens when you click on the link depends whether or not you have EDIT_MODE switched on. (Remember only staff can see/turn on EDIT_MODE). With EDIT_MODE switched off, all users should see the Module Outline data. If EDIT_MODE is switched on, you see the page used to configure it.


First-Time Access

As the information displayed in the Module Outline communicates the format, pre-requisites and method of examination, it is important it is correct. As such, during the design of this tool it was decided that it would be better to display no information than the wrong information, so the first time it is used in a course, it needs to be configured by a member of staff.

If you have have EDIT_MODE switched on you will see the configuration page with a red warning bar above it:

The edit page, complete with red warning bar – do not ignore the warning – please Submit your changes.

If you have have EDIT_MODE switched off(or are accessing it as a student) you will be redirected to a page informing you that the correct module code still needs to be set.

Configuring the Outline

To configure the tool simply access it from the Course Tools area in EDIT_MODE, i.e. if you are looking at it, click the EDIT_MODE button at the top right of the screen. This page is displayed:

The full edit page


Normally you will only need to use the settings in step 1.

Module Code – enter the appropriate value used in the Student Record System (e.g. ANTH1011). Note that duo will try and populate this field automatically from the duo course code.

If you need to display multiple Module Outlines, then this is possible. Simply click the Add Multiple Codes button and the form will change to allow you to enter two or more module codes.

Level – please indicate whether this is an undergraduate or postgraduate course (the default is undergraduate). This matters as the data are stored in different handbooks.

Default List Behaviour – indicate whether you want the Module Outline to appear in full, or as expandable headings, and then whether or not you want users to be able to change this – we strongly advise you to allow personalisation – see the Customisation section below.

For courses in duo that follow the default naming convention – i.e. the course code ends with the academic year, e.g. ‘ANTH1234_2012″ then you can ignore step 2. If you have a non-standard course and want to ensure that the Module Outline displayed is from a particular year then be sure to set the Publication Year in step 2.

Press Submit to save your changes.

Should you enter an invalid module code, you’ll see this page with EDIT_MODE turned off:

Student view when an invalid Module Code has been entered.

Customisation by Students

When you set up this tool, you specify how you want the list to appear by default.

It can either be shown fully expanded:

Set to Display Expanded (note that this screen shot only shows part of the entry – the user has to scroll to see all the information).

Or just as a series of headings:

Displayed Initially Collapsed – click on the plus (cross) icon to expand individual entries

Each of which can be expanded or contracted by clicking on them.

Initially Collapsed, but the user has then expanded two sections to see the detail.

The expandable format may be more useful to users accessing the information on a mobile device or computer with a small screen. It may also help users with certain learning needs, by reducing the amount of information presented at any one time.

If you choose one of the Default List Behaviour options that allows the user to change this setting, then they will see a Preferences button above the list. This allows them to override your settings. Note that this user preference setting applies to all courses, as if they want/need this view in one course, they probably want/need it in all the others.

The button allows users to set their own display preferences. These apply to every course they view (where the instructor allows this value to be changed)

Note that in all cases the page includes a link to the appropriate Faculty Handbook entry at the top of the page. Clicking that will open the University website at the appropriate page in the Faculty Handbook

The familiar University Faculty Handbook entry from which the information in duo is derived.


Deployment Options

For most people the course tool option should work fine. If you want you can even add a button to the course menu (a Tool link) that points directly to the Module Outline Tool to do this simply click the Add to Course Menu button that displays in edit mode (after you have successfully configured the tool).

Click the button to create a link in your Course menu

During alpha testing of the tool, we received feedback from some staff who had taken a slightly different approach to providing students with information about their module. They already had a whole content area in their duo course devoted to this. It had several entries – lists of staff contacts, details of how to find lecture and tutorial rooms, dates for assessments, etc. They included Module Outline data in this section (usually as a Word file). They were keen to see the automatic inclusion of the data, but didn’t want users to have to navigate away to the Course Tools Area to find it. This was great feedback and we managed to meet this need by including an extra feature – the ability to add a link to the Module Outline as a piece of custom content.

To add a link to the Module Outline Tool, navigate to the appropriate part of the course. With EDIT_MODE switched on,click the button marked Add Interactive Tool and select the option Link to the Module Outline:

If you don’t see this entry you will need to alter the Tool Availability using the Customisation section of the Course Control Panel

After entering appropriate information on the form that opens, a new item is added to the course. When someone clicks on it, they are taken straight to the Module Outline information.

An example of a deployed link to the Module Outline. The descriptive text can be altered when you create the link.

If you choose this deployment method, remember that you still need to configure the Module Outline once, (entering the codes to display).


Adopting technology in simple and effective ways to actively support students and increase their activity and self-responsibility.
Further use of technology that facilitates key aspects of student’s individual and collaborative learning and assessment through increasing their choice and control.
Developed use of technology that requires higher order individual and collaborative learning that reflect how knowledge is created and used in professional environments.
This tool provides students with simple, consistent access to the module outline information. Allowing the user to personalise the display provides them with information in a format best suited to their needs. Presenting this information to students directly in the course allows them to plan their work and target their activity appropriately.

Find out more about the 3e framework

About Malcolm

Dr Malcolm Murray leads the Learning Technologies Team at Durham University. Originally a biogeographer, he now spends a lot of his time extending the functionality of duo.