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    Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

    IT for IOE Summer Term Training Programme – Bookings Now Open

    By Krystyna M Huszcza, on 25 April 2017

    IT for IOE offer training in a wide range of digital tools delivered through hands-on workshops and mini demonstration sessions. Session are open to all UCL staff and students and take place at UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way campus.

    Visit IT for IOE IT Course Booking for full details and access to bookings.

    Session highlights for the summer term include:

    • Social media: Twitter, Blogging with WordPress
    • Digital Notebooks: OneNote, Evernote
    • Endnote Introductory workshops
    • Infographics
    • Screencasting
    • Tips and tricks sessions on Office 2013 applications
    • Office 2016 workshops for Macintosh users
    • Assistive technology: Inspiration, XMind, Read&Write, Balabolka
    • SharePoint
    • And much more

    Most of the course materials can be accessed through our Moodle course. Access to the course is by self-enrolment and bookings are not necessary. Please use the following link: IT for IOE: Training Course Materials & Resources

    More training is offered by ISD Digital Skills Development. See their recent blog post for more information: New digital skills development dates for summer 2017

    Review: Automate the Boring Stuff with Python

    By Jim R Tyson, on 4 April 2017

    Author: Al Sweigart
    Book  $29.95 print, $23.95 e-book or from Amazon £15.54 print, £11.39 Kindle.
    Youtube fifteen free videos from the Udemy course
    Udemy: £50 (Discounted to £10 as at 4/4/2017 ) fifty one lectures following the book

    Python is often said to be a fun language to learn. Programming is sometimes said to be fun to learn. The combination ought to be fun too.  My lasting impression of these materials is that they are fun.

    Learners often find that resources for beginners self-tuition in programming are either daunting, or badly designed, or too simple minded to be of real help. This set of resources scores highly on all of these.

    Automate the Boring Stuff with Python is a book that is accompanied by a website, some youtube videos, and (for pay) a Udemy online course. There are eighteen reasonable length chapters and three appendices. The first ten chapters cover the absolute basics of procedural programming starting with simple interaction with the interpreter (do some sums!) through variables and assignment, flow control, writing functions, complex data structures, strings, input and output and debugging. There are one or two other topics that it was interesting to see dealt with relatively early such as searching with regular expressions and file manipulation – including compression, bulk filename routines – but they are simply explained and they make sense given the intention of the material (automating stuff). The book is well designed and clearly written. The website has the same material but includes an in-line interpreter so that you can type code as you go, make mistakes and correct them, and see the results when, finally, you get it right. I watched the free youtube videos and they were well made with clear explanations as were the other free tasters of the Udemy course.  The youtube videos get a big thumbs up in their comments sections.

    Overall, I think these materials are a good start for a beginning programmer who isn’t intending to become a software engineer. It would suit a learner whose aim is to write programs intended mainly for their own use. It doesn’t cover some topics that are increasingly included in early training for programmers, for example version control or test driven development, but for many learners overcoming the initial barrier to writing some effective code is more important than these aspects of best practice. The use of object methods, defensive programming and more can be tackled later.

    The second part of the book and course introduces the use of python libraries for some common and useful tasks. This section includes a variety of projects including web scraping, working with spreadsheets and word processor documents, integrating email in programs. In a higher education context you might want to include numpy, scipy, matplotlib but there are good tutorials for these – good at least for someone who already has basic coding skills and is familiar with the use of libraries – exactly where someone would be after finishing this course.  They are good choices if you want to learn scripting to automate the boring stuff, maybe periodically grabbing data from a website or a spreadsheet and transforming it before writing to a new file for example.

    It’s particularly nice that the website has an embedded interpreter, but I think you would want learners to move onto an IDE eventually and perhaps in some contexts you might want to replace the use of the in-line interpreter with iPython notebooks.

    Overall this is one of the best resources for beginning programmers I have seen and as a suite of resources it could be easily supplemented and adapted to meet an expanded or amended set of objectives.

    You said, we did

    By Jessica Gramp, on 22 March 2017

    A number of recommendations emerged from the E-Learning Reports developed in 2013 across the Bartlett, Engineering and Maths and Physical Sciences (BEAMS) departments. Here’s what you asked for and what the Digital Education Advisor for the faculty arranged in response, in collaboration with staff from across the Information Services Division.


    quoteYou wanted to import module timetable information from the Common Timetable into Moodle.
    We developed a Common Timetable iCal feed to import module timetables for displaying in the Moodle calendar.


    quoteYou wanted a simplified quiz creation process with guidelines and checklists for importing questions.
    We purchased the Moodle Word Table format plugin to help staff quickly develop quizzes with simple question types (not calculated or drag and drop) in Word, including those with images and LaTeX.


    quoteYou wanted us to run staff workshops and demos to increase knowledge of e-learning tools & their potential use.
    We ran workshops across the faculties and in individual departments catered to the needs of the departments.


    quoteYou wanted to simplify the process for exporting grades out of Moodle and into Portico.
    We imported the UCL student number into Moodle and added this column to the Moodle Gradebook export, simplifying the uploading of grades from Moodle into Portico. A video explaining how to move grades from Moodle to Portico is now available on the UCL E-Learning Wiki – a space for staff to share their e-learning practice:


    Creating a Moodle Template based on the UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016

    By Jessica Gramp, on 14 March 2017

    The Digital Education Advisor for BEAMS, Jess Gramp, worked with the E-Learning Champion for Science and Technology Studies (STS), Christina Ogunwumiju, to develop a Moodle course template that meets the UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016.

    Christina then applied this baseline to every Moodle course in the department using the Moodle import feature. This means students now have a more consistent experience across modules. They can now easily find their learning resources and activities because they appear in common sections across their Moodle courses.

    Jess developed a guidance document for staff, to show them how to meet the baseline when using the template. You can view and download this below.

    Download (PDF, 298KB)


    If you would like to develop a Moodle template to improve consistency in your own department, please contact Digital Education at

    Engaging the E-Learning Champions in the Bartlett

    By Jessica Gramp, on 13 March 2017

    At this term’s E-Learning Champions in the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment I suggested a new approach where members were asked to answer a few questions on slides about their use of e-learning in their department. This really helped engage the staff, however the questions were a bit repetitive, so I’ve since streamlined the slides.

    The student experience officer who arranges and minutes these meetings agreed that:

    “…they seemed much more engaged, and I think this presentation format works well. It felt as though some real breakthroughs were made for people, which was great.”

    I’m hoping to try this approach in the other faculties within BEAMS: Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

    Download (PPTX, 40KB)

    Have you discovered Microsoft Imagine Academy yet?

    By Caroline Norris, on 13 March 2017

    MIAYou may know it as ‘Microsoft IT Academy’ (it’s former name) or you may not know it all but either way, it’s worth a look.  This Microsoft learning platform offers a vast range of technology-related courses covering all levels from complete beginners through to specialist technical courses for IT professionals.

    Course delivery is via slideshows, ‘talking head’ video or MIA videoscreencasts.  Most modules include ‘Knowledge check’ quizzes and there is also a final assessment when you reach the end of the course.   You can print transcripts to show your progress and generate course completion certificates. Other features include closed captions and the ability to increase the speed or change the quality of the video.

    There are nearly 1500 courses so how do you narrow it down?  Click on the Catalog drop down at the top of the home page and then select See All Courses.  This gives you a set of filters to narrow down your options to something more manageable.  My first tip would be to filter by Language.  If you tick English and English (United Kingdom) for example you will immediately halve the number of courses.

    The next thing to do is to select a Product or Topic you are interested MIA screencastin.  If you know you want to learn a particular application the Product filter is probably the most relevant.  However, the Topic filter is probably more useful for exploring by theme.

    The Digital Literacy topic is great for real beginners and covers the basics of using digital tools.  Educator Resources – Teach and Educator Resources – Learn have some interesting courses aimed predominantly at school teachers including various courses on using Minecraft for Education, teaching coding and using ICT in the classroom.

    The Office and Office 365 topics have some task-focused offerings such as ‘Run more effective meetings’ (using Skype for Business) ‘Collaborate Using PowerPoint Online’ or ‘Create accessible documents’.

    Another way to find courses is to use the search box at the top of the screen.  Searching for Office Hours brings up some short videos aimed at teachers and administrators such as ‘Create a Survey in Excel Online’ and ‘Deliver Curriculum with OneNote’.  Searching for coding brings up the ‘Introduction to Programming with Python’ course and ‘Creative Coding Through Games and Apps’ amongst others.

    Whether you just want to improve your own productivity and effectiveness or you want new ideas on using technology in the classroom, Microsoft Imagine Academy might just provide you with some helpful inspiration.

    To register for Microsoft Imagine Academy visit