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    Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

    MyFeedback is now available to all UCL staff and students

    By Jessica Gramp, on 17 October 2016

    The MyFeedback dashboard is now available to all UCL students and staff.

    MyFeedback is a new tool in UCL Moodle allowing students to view grades and feedback for any assessed work across all their Moodle courses, in one place. Personal Tutors can view the dashboard for each student to allow them to track progress and to help to inform discussions in personal tutorials.

    Watch the video on how students can use the MyFeedback report:

    The report helps students (supported by their personal tutors) to better understand the variety of feedback they receive, draw ties between different assessments and modules, and allow them to reflect on their feedback to see how they can improve in future assessments. It also allows module tutors and assessors and departmental administrators to see how their students are progressing within the modules they teach and support.

    MyFeedback Feedback Comments tab

    ^ Click the image to view a larger version of the Feedback Comments page.

    MyFeedback is available to students, personal tutors, course tutors and departmental administrators.

    • Students can view feedback and grades from their assessments across all their UCL Moodle course. They can also add self-reflective notes and copy & paste feedback from Turnitin into their report.
    • Personal tutors can see their tutees’ full MyFeedback reports across all the modules their students are studying. Note: personal tutors will not be able to link through to assessments on courses they do not have tutor access to.
    • Module tutors can see MyFeedback reports for their students containing assessment information for any modules they teach. They will not see any assessments for modules they do not teach (unless they have been granted tutor access to those Moodle courses).
    • Departmental administrators can see MyFeedback reports for all the Moodle courses within categories where they have been assigned departmental administrator access in Moodle. Categories in Moodle will either be for the entire  department, or might be broken down further into undergraduate and postgraduate modules. Staff requiring this access will need to ask their department’s current category level course administrator to assign them this role.

    Sign up to the Arena Exchange MyFeedback workshop on 28th November 2016 to learn how to use this tool with your students.

    You can navigate to your own MyFeedback reports via the MyFeedback block on the UCL Moodle home page.

    Other institutions can download the plugin from

    Find out more about MyFeedback…


    Course Overview – Navigating Moodle 3.1

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 21 September 2016

    Over the summer we upgraded Moodle to the latest stable version, which brought a number of new feature, many of which you can read about in our Moodle Resource Centre wiki New Features section.

    One of the biggest changes, which has caused some concern, is the new Moodle Course Overview block which fills the centre of the My Home page in Moodle (what you see when you first log in).

    Therefore I’d like to take some time to explain a bit more about how this block works, you can also find some guidance from the external Moodle HQ in the Moodle Docs for Course overview block.

    As well as listing courses, as the My Courses block previously did, this new block also offers an overview of activities on your course which may need attention, including Moodle Assignments, Turnitin Assignments, SCORM packages and forums.  If these have pending activities then they will display a message saying ‘You have ‘x’ [activity name]s that need attention’.

    If you click where it says that it will expand to show details of what the activity is and what actions may be required:

    • For Moodle Assignments this notice should only show for students if there is a submission (or re-submission) required and for tutors/ course admins if grading is required.
    • With the Forum this notification will display until you have accessed the forum, and until you have logged out and then logged in again – so it will display until you next log in to Moodle.
    • For Turnitin and SCORM activities the notification is a little different, as it will always display the activity but by clicking it you can confirm if the required submission/ grading has taken place.

    Please note this lack of clarity in language and information displayed has been communicated to Moodle and we are watching their future releases to see when this will be made clearer.

    The Navigation block on the right-hand side still features a ‘My courses’ list, which shows all the courses you are enrolled on in a much more compact way. This may be a better navigation tool than the Course overview, which can be limited in how many courses it displays. Alternatively you might also want to use the search box located above the Course overview block.

    Hopefully this explains it a little better. If you still have any questions then please contact the ISD Service Desk.


    Lecturecast archive 8th – 12th August 2016

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 22 July 2016

    We are yet approaching the annual Lecturecast archive, during which, all Lecturecast recordings located under available/unavailable tabs will be moved into the ‘archive’ category within the Lecturecast system – at this point they will become unavailable for viewing. Unless you have specifically requested otherwise your content will be included in this process.
    It is the responsibility of content owners who want recordings available from one academic year to the next to move their content back from ‘archive’ to ‘available’ once the archiving process has been completed.

    This year, archiving will take place take place between 8th and 12th August 2016. During this time the Lecturecast service should be considered unavailable. Please do not log into the admin interface during this period.
    Once the service is restored you will receive an email informing you that archiving is complete, content can then be un-archived – this is straightforward and details are given in the Lecturecast Guide here
    It is also important to note that, next academic year the usual monthly content deletion cycle will commence in October, according to the Lecturecast Archive Policy:
    PLEASE NOTE: Archived material will only be deleted two years after the date of its capture/recording. Thus it is critical to move old material out of the archive if you want it retained for viewing
    If you have any questions or concerns surrounding this procedure please contact

    ELESIG London 3rd Meeting – Evaluation By Numbers

    By Mira Vogel, on 13 July 2016

    The third ELESIG London event, ‘Evaluation By Numbers‘, was a two-hour event on July 7th. Building on the successful format of our last meeting, we invited two presenters on the theme of ‘proto-analytics’ – an important aspect of institutional readiness for learning analytics which empowers individuals to work with their own log data to come up with theories about what to do next. There were 15 participants with a range of experiences and interests, including artificial intelligence, ethics, stats and data visualisation, and a range of priorities including academic research, academic development, and data security, and real-time data analysis.
    After a convivial round of introductions there was a talk from Michele Milner, Head of Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of East London, titled Empowering Staff And Students. Determined to avoid data-driven decision making, UEL’s investigations had confirmed a lack of enthusiasm and wariness on the part of most staff to work with log data. This is normal in the sector and probably attributable to a combination of inexperience and overwork. The UEL project had different strands. One was attendance monitoring  feeding into a student engagement metric with more predictive power including correlation between engagement (operationalised as e.g. library and VLE access, data from the tablets students are issued) and achievement. This feeds a student retention app, along with demographic weightings. Turnitin and Panopto (lecture capture) data have so far been elusive, but UEL is persisting on the basis these gross measures do correlate.
    The project gave academic departments a way to visualise retention as an overall red-amber-green rating, and simulate the expected effects of different interventions. The feedback they received from academics was broadly positive but short of enthused, and with good questions about cut-off dates, workload allocation, and nature and timing of interventions. Focus group with students revealed that there was low awareness of data collection, that students weren’t particularly keen to see the data, and that if presented with it they would prefer barcharts by date rather than comparators with other students. We discussed ethics of data collection, including the possibility of student opt-in or opt-out of opening their anonymised data set.
    Our next speaker was Andreas Konstantinidis from Kings College London, on Utilising Moodle Logs (slides).  He attributes the low numbers of educators are currently working with VLE data to limitations of logs. In Moodle’s case this is particularly to do with limited filtering, and the exclusion of some potentially important data including Book pages and links within Labels. To address this, he and his colleague Cat Grafton worked on some macros to allow individual academics to import and visualise logs downloaded from their VLE (KEATS) in a MS Excel spreadsheet.
    To dodge death by data avarice they first had to consider which data to include, deciding on the following. Mean session length does not firmly correspond to anything but the fluctuations are interesting. Bounce rate indicates students are having difficulty finding what they need. Time of use, combining two or more filters, can inform plans about when to schedule events or release materials. You can also see the top and bottom 10 students engaging with Moodle, and the top and bottom resources used – this data can be an ice breaker to be able to discuss reasons and support. IP addresses, may reveal where students are gathering e.g. a certain IT room, which in turn may inform decisions about where to reach students.
    Kings have made KEATS Analytics available to all (includes workbook), and you can download it from It currently supports Moodle 2.6 and 2.8, with 3.X coming soon. At UCL we’re on 2.8 only for the next few weeks, so if you want to work with KEATS analytics here’s some guidance for downloading your logs now.
    As Michele (quoting Eliot) said, “Hell is a place where nothing connects with nothing”. Although it is not always fit to use immediately, data abounds – so what we’re looking for now are good pedagogical questions which data can help to answer. I’ve found Anna Lea Dyckhoff’s meta-analysis of tutors’ action research questions helpful. To empower individuals and build data capabilities in an era of potentially data-driven decision-making, a good start might be to address these questions in short worksheets which take colleagues who aren’t statisticians through statistical analysis of their data. If you are good with data and its role in educational decision-making, please get in touch.
    A participant pointed us to a series of podcasts from Jisc around the ethical and legal issues of learning analytics. Richard Treves has as write-up of the event and my co-organiser Leo Havemann has collected the tweets. For a report on the current state of play with learning analytics, see Sclater and colleagues’ April 2016 review of UK and International Practice. Sam Ahern mentioned there are still places on a 28th July data visualization workshop being run by the Software Sustainability Institute.
    To receive communications from us, including details of our next ELESIG London meeting, please sign up to the ELESIG London group on Ning. It’s free and open to all with an interest in educational evaluation.

    KEATS Analytics screenshot


    Communicating and collaborating

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 11 July 2016

    Whether it is a tutor wanting to communicate with their students, or students wanting to connect with one another for support or group work, the ability to communicate and collaborate with others effectively is critical to university life. Thankfully there is a plethora of ways this can be done, using both external tools or those hosted by UCL.

    One such internal tools is called MyPortfolio. It is an online portfolio tool, that also facilitates connections and collaboration via profile pages and group spaces. One of the really great things about MyPortfolio is that it also allows you to easily embed a wide range of external content, so the limits of what you can do with it are your imagination.

    Why not check out our MyPortfolio YouTube playlist to find out more.

    Understanding the essence(s) of portfolio-based learning

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 15 June 2016

    Last week saw the first ever joint AAEEBL and CRA conference, hosted in Edinburgh between 6th – 8th June 2016 whioch was titled, ‘Understanding the essence(s) of portfolio-based learning’. For those who don’t  know AAEEBL is a US based global portfolio organisation, it stands for the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence Based Learning. CRA is a very similar UK based organisation, with it’s name standing for the Centre for Recording Achievement. So, as you can imagine this was a portfolio conference.

    There were 3 key themes that emerged from the conference. These themes kept popping up in presentations and discussion :

    Process not product
    Cultural shift/ change

    Let’s look briefly at these themes below, but if you would like a more detailed look them please see the AAEEBL/ CRA Conference 2016 on my personal blog.

    The first theme,  scaffolding, refers to the importance of having structure around portfolio activities. This predominately broke down into conversations about templates and frameworks for guiding staff and students without restricting them. Templates can be useful for giving students a little bit of direction without restricting their creative freedom (depending on the content and detail of the template). They are also useful because, anecdotally, students can find it overwhelming to simply be given a blank space to do with as they please. A template gives students a starting place. In relation to frameworks this was mostly a discussion about their usefulness for staff, to help give them some scaffolding from which to build a portfolio activity into their module or course, either as a single assessment or as an on-going activity to support learning via reflective practice. It was thought that this framework should be fairly high level, meaning it was not too prescriptive and not software dependant.

    This actually leads quite nicely into the next theme, process not product. There was a strong emphasis on focusing on the process and pedagogy of portfolios and not the product (either meaning the final output or the technological product used to facilitate them). It is easy to become distracted by debating whether you are using the best online portfolio system. At the moment UCL use MyPortfolio, which is based on the Mahara platform. As good practice we will be reviewing the use of this platform in the near future, however whether we use Mahara, WordPress or Office 365 the process of running a successful portfolio is the same and the buttons are not as important as strong pedagogy.

    The final theme is perhaps the one that has the biggest impact for portfolio, especially online portfolio adoption at institutions, and that is the need for a cultural shift/ change. This is perhaps best summarised by an analogy that was used by Trent Batson (President/CEO of AAEEBL) at the conference. He was talking about the American automobile and how it took 35 years to become fully part of US culture. First they invented the automobile and it opened up a lot of possibilities, such as people being able to commute more easily for work. But even after this it still took time to build all the roads, parking spaces and petrol stations needed. The idea was proven but it took a lot longer for the infrastructure to become part of daily culture. It is fairly easy to see how this relates to portfolios. There are a number of case studies out there to prove their potential, however the infrastructure to support them is not fully part of the culture of universities. Portfolios tend to expose the learning process which can be an intimidating prospect for both students and staff a like. However, portfolios can offer a very useful reflective space where you can use journals to do written reflections, and also reflect whilst curating examples of work you have produced that you are going to include in your portfolio. Reflection gives us the ability to stop and think about our thinking, and to understand how we can do better moving forward.