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    Archive for the 'E-Learning Baseline' Category

    A New Moodle Platform for the New Academic Year

    By Janice Kiugu, on 18 June 2018

    You have probably heard the news but if not, a new Moodle is on its way…

    Digital Education and the Moodle Improvement Project team have been working hard over the past few months to get a new and improved Moodle ready for the academic year 2018-2019. We know that Moodle is a key part of teaching and learning at UCL and we hope that the New Moodle will provide an improved experience for everyone when it is launched in July.

    There are several reasons a new platform is being implemented, the key one is the work done by the Academic Model Project that has meant that all modules will have new codes, making the module code data currently held on Moodle out of date.  To ensure a smooth set up of Moodle courses for 2018-2019, it is pertinent that we have a new instance of Moodle to host the new module codes and ‘new’ courses.

    The rollout of a new Moodle has also presented us with the opportunity to try to address some of the current issues that users have raised relating to usability, and to ensure the platform can support its increasing usage. Moodle 18/19 will be more accessible, including features allowing users to ‘dock’ blocks and view content in ‘full screen’ mode, as well as adjusted colours and screen contrast to enhance readability.

    The new Moodle has been built on a more robust infrastructure to cater for increased usage now and in the future. The new Moodle will also help us meet GDPR requirements that were introduced in May.  We also hope that staff will take the opportunity of having a new platform to review content on their Moodle courses to ensure that they meet the E-Learning Baseline, which is now policy.

    From early July, new Moodle will be available but will not yet have content. The current (17/18) Moodle will still be accessible with all the same content to support late summer assessments and courses which run through until the autumn term. You will be able to choose between Moodle 17/18, the ‘legacy’ version of Moodle and the new (18/19) platform via a simple landing page.  The Moodle Improvement Project team and Digital Education will be coordinating with department teams to map and migrate content from the current platform of Moodle to the new instance.

    Detailed information about the new platform, data migration and what staff will need to do to prepare for the next academic year is contained on our New Moodle Information page.

    We understand there will doubtless be concerns and queries relating to the new Moodle, so you may want to consult the growing list of FAQs. If you have any comments, questions or concerns about Moodle18/19, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Moodle Improvement Project Team.  Email: moodleproject@ucl.ac.uk

    We have summarised key dates below:

    Key dates

    • June 2018: Briefing for E-Learning Champions and department Moodle Migration Coordinators.
    • July 2018: New Moodle is available (with content still to be migrated)
    • July 2018 – August 2018: Migration of content from current Moodle to Moodle 2018-2019. The Moodle Improvement Project Team will be working with department Moodle Migration Coordinators to map and migrate content from current Moodle to the new instance of Moodle. The focus will be on all taught Moodle courses and programme sites first, with Professional Services courses etc. coming thereafter
    • July – August: Information and demo sessions will be held for all staff. More details on exact event dates can be found on our information pages.

    Useful resources

    BLE/UoL User Experience Conference 2018

    By Jessica Gramp, on 12 May 2018

    Thurs 28th – Fri 29th June

    Hosted by Birkbeck, University of London

    Following the University of London’s successful conference Demystifying User Experience Design & Testing last year, the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE) in partnership with the University of London (UoL) is holding a free, two-day event for staff based at UoL member institutions on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th June.

    On these two days, we are offering three distinct workshops, which are each focused on different applications of UX. Come along to all three or select those that interest you. Places are limited, so don’t delay registering your place!

    Day 1: Thursday 28th June

    am: User Research: focus groups, user testing and user feedback
    pm: User Centred Content

     

    Thursday 28th June: Morning workshop

    User Research: focus groups, user testing, surveys and user feedback

    A practical session with guest speakers sharing their insights into user research and associated applications.
    Led by Naomi Bain, Web Officer (Training and User Experience) – Birkbeck, University of London

    0930 Coffee & Registration
    • Introduction (Naomi Bain)
    • Keynote: conducting f2f user testing (Jane Lessiter, Goldsmiths)
    • Case studies: sharing experiences of user research
    • Practical session: how to conduct a web user testing session. This session will include tips, discussion, sharing experiences, questions and trying out the roles of tester and testee (Naomi)
    End by 1300

    Thursday 28th June: Afternoon workshop

    User Centred Content

    An overview of the online tools available to help you to plan and review your own content. Mapping users against online content – bring along a piece of your own content to review! Finishing with a panel Q&A discussion around content strategy and governance.
    Led by Melanie Read, Head of Digital – University of London

    1345 Registration, with a prompt start at 1400
    • Welcome, Introductions and icebreaker
    • Content planning – what tools do you use for planning content.
    • Content mapping – against the difference users types and then creating content suitable to that user.
    • Content strategy and governance
    • Panel discussion: how to manage governance
    End by 1630

    Day 2: Friday 29th June

    am: Moodle and Accessibility

     

    Friday 29th June: Morning workshop

    Moodle and Accessibility

    This workshop will focus specifically on Moodle and the considerations and requirements to ensure courses are accessible to all users.
    Led by Sarah Sherman, Service Manager – Bloomsbury Learning Environment

    0930 Coffee and registration
    • Welcome & Introductions (Sarah Sherman, BLE)
    • Presentation 1: Birkbeck For All (Leo Havemann, Birkbeck)
    • Presentation 2: Policy for Accessibility (Nic Charlton, University of London)
    • Presentation 3: Working with Moodle (Nic Christodoulou, SOAS)
    • Presentation 4: Accessibility initiatives at UCL (Jess Gramp & Paul Thompson, UCL)
    • Presentation 5: Checking for accessibility in Moodle (Herve Didiot-Cook, Blackboard)
    • Panel discussion
    • Workshop activity: developing Moodle accessibility guidelines for practitioners
    End by 1300

    Book your place now.

     

    For further details about the event, please contact Sarah Sherman or Melanie Read

    Joint Faculty Best Practice Event on Digital Education, February 2018

    By Mira Vogel, on 1 March 2018

    Arne Hofmann and Helen Matthews from the UCL Joint Faculty (Arts and Humanities and Social and Historical Science) have hit on a successful format for a practice sharing session. Speakers make brief presentations and then disperse to ‘stations’ around the room so that participants can circulate and discuss. At the end of the event is a plenary discussion.

    The third event in this series had a digital education focus. Sanjay Karia who heads up IT for SLASH kindly contributed display screens for the stations. I matchmade colleagues in Digital Education with the presenters based on interest; they made notes of the conversations (using MS Teams as recommended by IT for SLASH) and I largely owe this blogpost to them.

    The splendid presenters and their presentations, some of which include links to examples of student work:

    • Mark Lake (Senior Lecturer, Archaeology) described undergraduate students blogging for ARCL3097 Archeology in the World  – a particularly gutsy initiative given it was a compulsory module for final year undergraduates in the NSS zone [Mark’s slides as PDF].
    • Riitta Valijarvi (Senior Teaching Fellow, Finnish) talked about her Wikipedia Translatathon, a cultural and linguistic event marking the centenary of Finland which brought together students, Finnish or Finnish speaking staff from UCL, members of the public, and Wikimedia UK staff.
    • Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen (Senior Lecturer, SELCS) discussed students producing digital objects for the Qualitative Thinking module of the BASc [Jakob’s slides as PDF];
    • Jacky Derrick (Deputy Module Convenor, History) described how first year undergraduate student groups produce web sites together on a subject which gets them engaging with London;
    • Nick Grindle and Jesper Hansen (Senior Teaching Fellows, Arena Centre) reviewed their experiences organising peer feedback via the fearsome-looking but actually wonderful Moodle Workshop activity [Nick’s slides as PDF];
    • Maria Sibiryakova (Senior Teaching Fellow, Russian) talked about how the multimedia discuss app VoiceThread can advance the four skills of language learning [Maria’s slides as PDF];
    • Jonathan Holmes (Professor of Physical Geography) and Nick Mann (Learning Resources Coordinator, Geography) on designing digital multiple choice exams [Jonathan’s and Nick’s slides as PDF];
    • Clive Young (Digital Education Advisory Team Leader) on meeting the UCL minimum quality standard known as ‘the UCL E-Learning Baseline‘.

    Here are some of the themes from the event.

    How should students be inducted to new technical platforms? For some cohorts this was hardly an issues and staff soon felt comfortable abandoning the training session at the beginning of the module in favour of a drop-in as the deadline approached. However, there are disciplinary differences and not all groups can be guaranteed to have somebody particularly comfortable with using technologies, so the drop-ins are important.  Based on my own experience inducting some large cohorts to Mahara, if it’s done at all then it’s best done when the students have some vision about what they want to do there – i.e. not at the very start of the module, and close enough to the deadline that there is no hiatus between the induction and putting the knowledge to use. In addition, students seemed to know less about copyright and intellectual property than the technologies, so some modules had incorporated sessions on those.

    How do we assess digital multimodal work? Formative assessment was considered very worthwhile, especially where students were new to the activity. Currently there is sometimes a criterion related to appropriate use of the mode or format, such as “use of text formatting and good quality images and/or multimedia which clearly enhance the text”. Often there is an element of writing in the work which would be run through Turnitin according to departmental policy. I think it is probably fair to say that (like most of the sector) we are in transition to explicitly recognising the distinctive qualities of digital multimodal composition. I have seen how, in many cases, new and potentially challenging practices need to be eased through teaching committees by anchoring them to the accepted standards and criteria – at least for the first few iterations. With time and experience comes new awareness and recognition of distinctive practices which work well in a given context. Jakob’s slides are particularly detailed on this – the BASc have been giving this kind of thing consideration from day one.

    Where should digital multimodal work be positioned in the curriculum? There was a general sense that modularisation tends to isolate digital activities within programmes. This could lead either to them not being built upon (where they happened early) or having their academic validity questioned (where they happened later). Support includes showing students exemplars of blogs and creating opportunities for them to carry out guided marking to help them grasp standards and apply the assessment criteria to their own work.

    What if students question the academic validity of a digital activity? Where new forms of digital assessment are introduced later in a programme, expect students to query whether it is really necessary for their degree. The challenge, summarised by Mark, is to pre-emptively “tackle student perception” by advocating for the activity in terms of student learning and success. Archaeology in the World saw their evaluation questionnaire results slowly improve as the tutors learned to advocate for the activity, and students came to recognise it as useful.

    When can students’ work be public? In cases like the Wikipedia event, the work is born public. In other cases this is something to be negotiated with students – but there is often groundwork to do beforehand. Students need guidance to use media that is itself licensed to be made public. Where the work happens in groups, licensing their work needs to be a joint and unanimous decision with a take-down policy.

    How can different skills levels be accommodated? The intermediate Russian language students were at different levels, which meant that multimedia production such as recordings of poetry read aloud helped them practice speaking (one of the four skills of modern language learning), and the individualised recorded feedback they were given helped them with listening (another of the skills). VoiceThread brought a privacy and timeliness to the feedback which had not previously existed – exposing students to the risk of embedding their mistakes. Another approach to different skills levels is to create groups of students on the assumption that they will either sustain each other in acquiring the skills or divide the labour according to skills, and a third is to give extra guidance to students who need it (as with the Finnish-English Wikipedia Translatathon).

    How can the new practice be made to work first time? When the Arena Centre pioneered large scale use of the Moodle Workshop activity for peer feedback, they worked closely with Digital Education – we made those early deadlines our own, and together we prepared for different contingencies. As well as working closely with Digital Education, Geography subjected their digital examination to a number of rigorous checks involving academic and professional services colleagues, students, and internal and external examiners. Digital Education has produced the Baseline to support the quality aspects – these are not intuitive. One participant remarked to me later that he had been skeptical, bordering on resentful, of the Baseline until he started working through it, at which point he realised how useful it is.

    What do students get out of the digital side of things? Some indicative comments from Jakob’s students: “learnt to consider digital content in a very different way”; “through creating a Digital Object rather than a traditional essay, I was able to engage with our topic at a much deeper level”, and “I have also developed transferable skills”. Mark received correspondence that the activity “really made me think and synthesise in a new way”. Nick’s and Jesper’s Arena participants have been very positive about giving and receiving peer feedback.

    ~~~

    There are a few things I’d change about how I organised the event. One is that either it should be extended by half an hour (to two hours) or else the number of speakers should be reduced. As it was, we overran and I was very sad to have to cut off a very interesting plenary discussion just as colleagues were beginning to really want to talk with each other. Another is that teaching languages has a distinct set of needs which justify a dedicated event. I might also consider asking the presenters to circulate rather than the participants (though I can see pros and cons there).

    That aside, it was a lively, spontaneous, humorous, sophisticated event which balanced different sets of needs – educational, disciplinary, colleagues and students. It is so often the case that when colleagues have the opportunity to seek each other out based on mutual interest, the fruits soon make themselves evident. One participant told me he went from the event straight to his department’s Staff Student Consultative Committee where he proposed an idea which was accepted. “That’s impact”, he said.

    The E-Learning Baseline becomes Policy

    By Karen Shackleford-Cesare, on 10 October 2017

    E-Learning Baseline and BaselinePlus logoMost of you will be familiar with the UCL E-Learning Baseline. The Baseline sets out the minimum expectations for e-learning provision for all taught programmes and modules at UCL, with a focus on Moodle. Since 2011 the Baseline has been recommended ‘good practice’ and is already widely used. In July, however, the Education Committee upgraded its status by approving the following policy:E-Learning Baseline and BaselinePlus logo image

    “The e-learning presence for every taught module will be reviewed against the UCL E‑Learning Baseline as an institution-wide activity [as of] 2017/18. The review will be repeated every three years, with the exception of, those modules which fail to meet the Baseline, or are new or substantially revised modules, which will need to be re-evaluated the following year”.

    The ‘e-learning presence’ applies mainly to the use of Moodle, but includes other tools where used.

    The new policy includes within it the requirement that lecture materials are made available 48 hours ahead of class (not part of the printed 2016 Baseline).

    What happens next?

    Starting this academic year, module leads are required to ensure their modules are reviewed against the Baseline. We anticipate most module teams will already have met the Baseline voluntarily, for example by using compatible departmental templates, and this will be a quick check. For others it will be an opportunity to reconsider and refresh the online content. Read detailed information about the E-Learning Baseline and advice on how to use it to enhance your e-learning provision.

    Why has the Baseline Become Policy now?

    We know UCL students value online provision and any complaints nowadays usually relate to how the use of Moodle is still too variable in their courses. The Baseline was highlighted for positive comment in the 2016 QAA Higher Education Review (HER) report. However, students continue to comment on poor information presentation and design in Moodle. In the 2016 IT survey, students called for more standardisation and use of templates, commenting on the need for more staff to use Moodle properly and effectively. Some representative quotes were:

    • “I would just encourage information to be presented visually in an organised manner that emphasises important information.”
    • “The usual problem: everyone is beavering away doing their bit and what is presented is a large number of silos of impenetrable information which makes anything useful absolutely impossible to find.  Ask some students to hang around at the end of studies and write an online handbook for you.”
    • “Moodle can be designed much more effectively and can be organised better.”
    • “Sometimes it is difficult finding the course material we need on Moodle though that would probably be lecturers’ faults – tell them to be clear or lay out instructions.”

    Where can I get help?

    Digital Education is leading in the implementation of this policy and can support individuals and departments to help them meet the requirements of the baseline. Please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk for assistance. More about the implementation framework and processes across UCL will be disseminated in due course. We are also developing a set of easy-to-use support materials including an online tool to check your modules.

    Remind me what is in the Baseline

    The UCL E-Learning Baseline key covers ten areas and represents ‘good practice’ by UCL departments, collected over many years :

    1. Structure – lay out a course clearly to enable navigation and ease of use.
    2. Orientation – ensure that students understand what is expected of them.
    3. Communication – ensure effective and consistent online communication.
    4. Assessment – present assessment requirements and provide guidance on avoiding plagiarism.
    5. Resources – present, label and manage supporting resources; lecture materials to be made available 48 hours ahead of classes.
    6. Cross-platform compatibility – ensure files and resources are accessible on a range of platforms and devices.
    7. Accessibility – ensure that resources are fully accessible to all including students with disabilities.
    8. Legal – model good copyright practices and comply with data protection legislation.
    9. Student active participation – (for students studying wholly online) encourage students to share resources, interact and participate online.
    10. Quality assurance – evaluate online provision to enhance quality.

    E-Learning Baseline checklist

    More Information

    You can also request hard copies of the baseline booklet to be delivered to your department.

     

    Sneak a peak at the new (more accessible) UCL Moodle theme

    By Jessica Gramp, on 9 October 2017

    As part of a wider Accessible Moodle project, a new UCL Moodle theme is being designed to make it more accessible for those with disabilities. The theme is like a skin (or a wallpaper) that changes the way the text and colours are displayed, without changing any of the content that exists on each Moodle page. As well as changing the look and feel of all Moodle pages, it will provide additional navigation aids in the form of menus, blocks that can be hidden and potentially also docked blocks, which sit to the left of the page for easy access.

    The new theme will be rolled out to all staff and students in the next major upgrade of UCL Moodle in summer 2018. The Moodle theme is applied to a user account and in Summer 2018 everyone will be switched to the new theme automatically as part of the UCL Moodle Summer Upgrade. The theme is not to be confused with Moodle course formats, which allow you to change the way a Moodle course is laid out.

    I wrote earlier on how the new theme will address accessibility issues. A number of staff across UCL provided feedback on the proposed theme and after a number if iterations, we have now agreed on a design that foremost meets the needs of staff with particular disabilities, as well as being more usable for everyone. As well as working with individuals who participated in the project’s initial focus groups, the E-Learning Champions were also given the opportunity to feed in their comments on the proposed theme and forward this to interested colleagues.

    The proposed new UCL Moodle theme showing collapsed topics format

    The proposed new UCL Moodle theme showing collapsed topics format. Click to enlarge.

    We had contemplated a pink theme, however, blue proved to be a better option for a number of staff with particular disabilities. The blue version was also more popular with those staff without disabilities. The below design shows how the tabbed course format will look, but with blue, instead of pink tabs, menus and links.

    Tabbed course format but the pink tabs, text and menus will be blue

    Tabbed course format but the pink tabs, menus and links will be blue. Click to enlarge.

    The UCL Moodle homepage will be simplified and will provide more space for news relating to teaching and learning at UCL. The menus will be blue instead of the pink shown in the design below.

    New more accessible UCL Moodle homepage, but with blue instead of pink menus

    UCL Moodle homepage, but with blue instead of pink menus. Click to enlarge.

    The Accessible Moodle project team at UCL worked closely with designer Ralph Bartholomew from St Albans Web Design and developer Pat Lockley from Pgogy Webstuff to implement the new theme.

    If you have any questions or comments about the new theme, or would like to be involved in the pilot, please contact Jessica Gramp.

    [Edited to remove reference to the theme pilot, which was not able to go ahead as planned].

    Preparing your Moodle Courses for 2017/18

    By Janice Kiugu, on 14 September 2017

    STAFF – Preparing your Moodle Courses for 2017/18

    Many staff have already started preparing their modules on Moodle to try to give students the best possible environment for learning and getting to grips with new material. With the start of term one fast approaching, we wanted to remind all staff of some of the key steps to follow during set-up and review of Moodle modules.  Guidance is provided below for Moodle courses where student activity was completed before the Snapshot was taken on 21st July 2017 as well as for Moodle courses where student activity may have continued beyond this point.

    Modules where student activity finished by 21st July 2017 (mainly UG)

    • Student data and assessment from the past year should have been captured in the Moodle 2016/17 Snapshot: https://moodle-snapshot.ucl.ac.uk/16-17/ . You may want to check your modules to confirm that content that should be hidden has been, and any assessment data you may need is available to you.
    • Reset your course in live Moodle to ensure no data or students from the last cohort remains before new students are enrolled – Find out how to reset your course.
    • Make sure to update your content, in particular any assignment submission dates for this year, and that any links are not broken. Find out how to update Moodle Assignments: and Turnitin Assignments.

    **If your Turnitin submission inbox does not display the column headings, you may want to clear your web browsers cache and cookies.

    • If required, activate Portico enrolments in your module so that students are automatically enrolled – Find out how to activate Portico enrolments here.
    • Once your course is updated, make sure it is visible by going to the Settings for the course.

    Modules where Student activity continues/continued beyond 21st July 2017 (mainly PG)

    • Do not reset your course! – as students have been active after the date of the snapshot and this data will not have been captured elsewhere. Check the Moodle 2016/17 Snapshot version of your course to confirm: https://moodle-snapshot.ucl.ac.uk/16-17 . If you are still unsure get in contact with us using the email below.
    • Request a new course to use for this year’s teaching – include the url of the original course if you require content to be duplicated.