Digital Education team blog
  • We support Staff and Students using technology to enhance education at UCL.

    Here you'll find updates on institutional developments, projects we're involved in, updates on educational technology, events, case studies and personal experiences (or views!).

    Subscribe to our elearning newsletters.

  • Subscribe to this blog

  • Meta

  • Tags

  • Creative Commons Licence

  • A A A

    Digital evening classes?

    By Jim R Tyson, on 1 October 2018

    This term, for the first time that I know about, the Digital Skills Development team are offering sessions in the evening. I had intended to write a blog post ready for this morning promoting these sessions and encouraging people to sign up. Alas, I fell behind. However, when I logged on this morning to check our schedule of training and bookings, I was delighted to see that the two evening training sessions for R and RStudio have already attracted more bookings than any other session – and this just a few hours after booking opened!

    It will be interesting to find out how popular and successful this experiment is. If the demand is there for out of hours sessions in Digital Skills Development then we may be able to increase the offer. Do you find the idea of an evening class in digital skills attractive? Let us know in the comments.

    New Moodle ready for start of session 2018-19!

    By Annora Eyt-Dessus, on 28 September 2018

    After much work (in June, and August, and before and after!), a new Moodle Platform has been rolled out for the 2018/19 academic year, with migrated courses and Portico enrolment functionality ready for the start of term.  While Legacy Moodle will continue to be available for those finishing their 17-18 courses until early next year, all new 18-19 courses will be running in new Moodle. With staff in mind, we’ve outlined below a few things to bear in mind as you start teaching and welcoming students:

    Update your courses

    • Review your courses to ensure that content is up to date, especially in light of AMP Portico code changes.
    • Check resources and activities are set up correctly, including Lecturecast links or Library Reading lists.
    • Ensure that any assessment deadlines or activities, such as Turnitin, Moodle Assignment and Quizzes are up to date.

    To help you with this we’ve created a New Moodle Checklist with key things to check, and instructions on how to make any changes, so that your course works well in the New Moodle and is ready for the start of term.

    Check everyone is enrolled as expected

    Note: You will only be able to manually enrol students who have logged into New Moodle.

    Make your course visible

    • Even if you have students enrolled, your course will need to be made ‘visible’ so they can access it. Please follow the instructions here:

    Induct your students.

    • Point your students to the Student Help menu available on at the top of every Moodle page.
    • Consider sending your students the Moodle Quick Start Guide for students (also available in the Moodle Student Help menu) with an introduction message via a Forum on your Moodle course.
    • Try to accommodate students who are new to virtual learning environments like Moodle by explaining what they can expect on the platform, and using the Student guidance available to support them:

    Training and support

    • New face to face training sessions are available for Getting started with Moodle – details available here.
    • There is a vast amount of guidance available  on the Moodle Guides for Staff wiki:
    • You can log issues via the ISD Service Desk:, but please do make sure that you include a URL to the page where the issue is occurring and a detailed description so this can be dealt with as fast as possible.

    There are still a few known issues with the system which we are looking to resolve as soon as possible, but we do hope you’ll find the new system improved for the coming academic year. Do take a look at the list of new features and functionality available.

    We know that this new version of Moodle has meant some extra work, and we greatly appreciate staff (and student) patience and involvement during this substantial undertaking!

    Develop your digital skills this academic year

    By Caroline Norris, on 27 September 2018

    ISD Digital Skills Development has released new dates for autumn 2018.  As usual, we are offering a wide range of courses and workshops covering Word, Excel, Matlab, LaTeX, Photoshop, Stata, SPSS, R and more.

    Following our successful introduction of Excel Essential Skills workshops last year, we have now added Word workshops for students.  Our workshops take a new approach to learning by presenting you with a problem to be solved and encouraging you to use your prior experience, web searches, in-application help and fellow participants to find a solution to the task.

    By the end of the session you will have improved problem-solving skills, an increased knowledge of the topic, a ‘suggested solution’ to the problem you worked on and some resources and guidance for further learning.

    See below for our current schedule of courses and details of how to book.

    More digital skills development opportunities

    Digital Skills Development at IOE offer training in a wide range of digital tools including Microsoft SharePoint, Teams, OneNote and Visio, screencasting, infographics, mind mapping and presentation tools, with some sessions specifically aimed at Mac users. You can also learn about text-to-speech software, polling, blogging and much more.  Visit the Digital Skills Development at IOE booking system for details and to book.

    We have a vast range of high-quality video-based courses available at These cover technical skills but also business, personal and creative skills as well.  Visit the UCL page to find out more.

    Not sure what you need or have a more specific issue you would like help with?  Come along to one of the Digital Skills Development drop ins for more individual support.

    Current schedule

    For a full list of courses and workshops take a look at our course catalogue.  Visit the UCL booking system to book on the sessions listed below.  Dates for the second half of term will be released on 22 October.  Enrol on our Moodle course to be the first to be notified about any new sessions.

    09/10/2018 14:00 Excel 2016 Essential Skills (STAFF ONLY)
    10/10/2018 16:00 Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
    11/10/2018 10:00 Portico Assessments and Awards (STAFF ONLY)
    12/10/2018 10:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
    12/10/2018 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
    16/10/2018 14:00 Portico Assessments and Awards (STAFF ONLY)
    An Introduction to R with Rstudio (Part 1)
    An Introduction to R with Rstudio (Part 2)
    17/10/2018 16:00 Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
    19/10/2018 10:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
    19/10/2018 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
    23/10/2018 10:00 An Introduction to R with RStudio
    23/10/2018 14:00 Managing Long Documents in Word 2016 (STAFF ONLY)
    26/10/2018 10:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 3
    26/10/2018 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 3
    31/10/2018 10:00 Introduction to Photoshop CS4
    01/11/2018 10:00 Data Manipulation in R with RStudio
    02/11/2018 10:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 4
    02/11/2018 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 4
    06/11/2018 10:00 Charting with Excel 2016
    07/11/2018 10:00 Pivot Tables with Excel 2016
    08/11/2018 10:00 Getting Started with SPSS
    09/11/2018 10:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 5
    09/11/2018 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 5

    Converting a PDF into a Word Document

    By Michele Farmer, on 5 September 2018

    As PDF Converter will no longer be available via the software database, the option for converting PDF into Word can now be accessed via Word itself.

    Just go to the ‘Open’ file option and in the drop down menu in the bottom right of the window select ‘PDF’ and browse to and open your file.

    Word will then convert it to a copy you can then edit.

    Image of PDF Word open menu

    New Moodle Update- September 2018

    By Janice Kiugu, on 31 August 2018

    As you may have seen, for a number of reasons outlined previously, a new Moodle Platform has been rolled out for the 2018/19 academic year,  This has been a substantial undertaking, but ‘New’ 18-19 Moodle is now up, with migrated courses and student enrolments available ready for the start of term!

    While there are still some ongoing issues and small updates to be made, we would like to share the progress made so far, and thank everyone for their patience and involvement in getting to this point.

    What has changed?

    While New Moodle has a new look and feel and some new functionality, it is still Moodle – so much of it will be familiar. Here are some highlights:

    • New landing page:  Allowing access to either Legacy or New Moodle 2018/19
    • New Course Overview: Upon login, you’ll see courses you’re enrolled on listed under In progress, Future and Past. Courses appear under each of these tabs based on the start and end dates within settings for each course in Moodle, so do check under each of these.
    • Layout and view options: Hide blocks (temporarily) or switch to ‘Full screen’ view so you can focus on the main content area.
    • Navigation: There are now new menu tabs – such as ‘My courses’ and ‘This course’ – at the top of each Moodle page, which give you quick link access to your other active courses, or Participants, grades and activities for the course you’re in.

    You can find out more about New Moodle Features and some of the Known issues we are working to resolve as soon as possible.

    Content migration and Courses

    The Project team have liaised with Departmental Moodle Migration Coordinators (MMCs) to map courses from Legacy Moodle to New Moodle, with a Student migration team working through requests to complete the actual migration of content.  Over 6400 courses have now been migrated from Legacy to New Moodle, but if you think something has not been migrated, please confirm with your MMC in the first instance. See the list of MMCs here to find who this is for your department (UCL login required).

    Courses should now be available to update, and we’ve created a New Moodle Checklist of key things to do/check to ensure that your course works well in the New Moodle and is ready for the start of term.

    Portico and Category level enrolments

    Student enrolments via Portico are now available. The new Portico enrolment block was released on 30th August. Staff will now be able to use the tool to enrol students on their Moodle courses at Department, Route and Module Delivery levels.  The process of mapping modules and enrolling students using the block is much the same as before and guidance is available.

    Staff category level enrolments have now mostly been carried across from Legacy to New Moodle, based on confirmation from MMCs. If you had access to all courses in a category in Legacy Moodle, you should have similar access in New Moodle, though the listing of categories may be slightly different due to changes in SITS. Note that you may need to search for a course and enrol yourself on it for it to show in your Course Overview when you log in.

    Training, support and guidance

    New Moodle demo and drop sessions will continue to be run by Digital Education until the end of September, so please do attend to find out more and ensure your Moodle courses are ready for the start of teaching.

    Thank you to everyone who’s attended sessions so far and fed back to us – we’ve tried to add your questions to the FAQs page. We’ll be communicating further plans for updates as we continue to enhance and refine New Moodle, but we do hope you’ll find the new system improved for the coming academic year.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please see the New Moodle Information pages or email

    What we are watching on a deeper dive

    By Caroline Norris, on 16 August 2018

    Having provided a broad overview of usage in my last blog post, here I look in more detail at the top 100 courses and then at the highest-ranking non-technical courses.

    The highest ranking course alone had nearly 500 individuals who viewed this course.  If I tell you that this course was Programming Foundations: Fundamentals it will probably come as no surprise, given the popularity of Developer courses at UCL.  Python and R featured most prominently amongst the wide range of programming languages and associated technology in the top 100.  In fact, Learning Python was the second most popular course.   Java, C, C++ and Git were also popular.  Courses on data science in general featured very prominently amongst high-ranking courses with many viewers interested in data analysis and data visualisation.

    Web development courses that featured in the top 100 included several on learning HTML and CSS and how to use tools such as Bootstrap as well as courses on broader web design techniques and development principles.  Front-end web tools such as WordPress and Google Analytics were less popular but also featured.

    On the creative side, game development technology, CAD software and film editing software (such as Premier Pro) were the most popular.  One course on Photography also made it into the top 100.  Other courses relating to technical  areas were courses in Bitcoin, Blockchain, Artifical Intelligence and GIS to name but a few.

    In terms of Microsoft tools, Excel was the most popular, closely followed by SharePoint and Office 365 training.  Other notable topics were Business Intelligence reporting and Adobe products, mainly Illustrator and InDesign.

    But what about the non-technical courses?  These were more popular with staff, reflecting overall trends, and included topics such as Management and Marketing and also some specific methodologies such as ITIL, Prince2, Agile and SCRUM.  Giving presentations and interviews were also popular topics.  Several courses on project management also featured in the top 100.

    Other non-technical areas covered included personal development courses (either for work or study or just general life skills). These included time management, productivity and writing and reading skills.

    Finally, I’ve included a list below of all the non-technical courses in the top 500 to give you a flavour of the kind of things people are looking at.  I think it reflects the wide diversity of interests at UCL and also the amazing range of non-technical courses on offer at  Why not dip in and try some of them out for yourself?  Just visit our page to log in using your UCL credentials and then type the course name below into the search box:

    Non-technical courses in the top 500

    Business and the workplace
    Entrepreneurship Foundations
    Leading Productive Meetings
    Creating a Business Plan
    Business Foundations
    Business Analysis Foundations
    Small Business Secrets
    Interviewing Techniques
    Hire, Retain, and Grow Top Millennial Talent
    Management Tips Weekly
    New Manager Foundations
    Managing Teams
    Career and job searching
    Writing a Resume
    Mastering Common Interview Questions
    Acing Your Interview
    Writing and communication
    Writing in Plain English
    Communication Tips Weekly
    Communication Foundations
    GDPR Compliance: Essential Training
    Universal Principles of Design
    Learning Design Research
    Drawing Foundations: Fundamentals
    Introduction to Graphic Design
    Designing a Book Cover
    Designing a Poster
    Designing a Book
    Logo Design: Techniques
    Finance and Accounting
    Finance Foundations
    Accounting Foundations
    Grant Writing for Education
    Managing Your Personal Investments
    Making Investment Decisions
    Personal Finance Tips Weekly
    Accounting Foundations: Managerial Accounting
    Finance and Accounting Tips Weekly
    Interpersonal skills
    Customer Service Foundations
    Effective Listening
    Having Difficult Conversations
    Influencing Others
    Marketing and Social Media
    Marketing Foundations
    Facebook Marketing: Advertising
    Marketing Tips Weekly
    Learning Content Marketing
    Facebook for Business
    Music Theory for Songwriters: The Fundamentals
    Singing Lessons: 1 Fundamentals
    Introduction to Photography
    Photography: First Steps
    The Practicing Photographer
    Photography 101
    Photography Foundations: Composition
    Presentation and speaking skills
    Creating and Giving Business Presentations
    Designing a Presentation
    Public Speaking Foundations
    Productivity and organisation
    Overcoming Procrastination
    Time Management Fundamentals
    Getting Things Done
    Time Management Tips Weekly
    Monday Productivity Pointers
    Managing Your Time
    Efficient Time Management
    Project Management Foundations
    Project Management Simplified
    Learning PRINCE2
    Improving Your Memory
    Learning to Be Assertive
    Critical Thinking
    Personal Effectiveness Tips
    Building Self-Confidence
    The Neuroscience of Learning
    Improving Your Focus
    Developing Your Emotional Intelligence
    Happiness Tips Weekly
    Research and study skills
    Learning Speed Reading
    Learning Study Skills
    College Prep: Writing a Strong Essay
    Writing a Research Paper
    Information Literacy
    Learning to Write for the Web
    Grammar Foundations
    Learning Typing
    Note-Taking for Business Professionals
    Advanced Grammar
    Technical Writing: Reports