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    Archive for the 'Technology blogs' Category

    Globally Deactivating Portico Enrolments in Moodle

    By Karen A M Shackleford-Cesare, on 23 May 2017

    Context

    When Portico enrolments are activated on a Moodle course, student enrolments on the course are automatically updated every night to mirror the Portico student list for the associated module. Consequently, students who change courses, or withdraw from their studies permanently, or temporarily because of extenuating circumstances, are automatically un-enrolled from their Moodle courses. Usually, as in the first case cited, this is desirable. However, because as a consequence, any grades these students were awarded before they withdrew, become inaccessible, this may not be desirable in the other two cases.

    Note: the grades, submissions and logged activity are not deleted, and can be accessed again if the student is re-enrolled manually. But, when a student is no longer listed on a course, there is just no way to view their content.

    Remedy

    To reduce the likelihood of this particular “missing grades” problem occurring, the decision has been taken to deactivate Portico enrolments globally in Moodle, six weeks from the start of each term. Hence, after this juncture a student who discontinues a course won’t be automatically un-enrolled. Thus, any user with the requisite permissions can continue to access this student’s grades, etc.

    What do I need to do?

    If a student is un-enrolled from a course before Portico enrolments is deactivated, whose grades, etc. are needed then the way to re-link this data to the student is to enrol them manually and tick the ‘recover grades’ option when doing so. This must be done for each course, for each user. The enrolment must be manual as automated Portico enrolments does not offer the ‘recover grades’ option, so even if students are restored in the module in Portico, and then re-enrolled on the course, their grades/work will not be re-associated.

    Should any ‘new’ students still need to be enrolled on a course after Portico enrolments are deactivated, who would normally have been enrolled via Portico enrolments, they will need to be enrolled manually.

    Can I re-activate Portico enrolments on my course(s)?

    Yes. However, please assess whether you risk losing access to some students’ grades before you do this. For instructions on re-activating Portico enrolments, please see:

    https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/display/MoodleResourceCentre/Enrolment+-+Portico+enrolments

    Note: Portico enrolments can be ‘deactivated’ within the course at any time by anyone with Course Administrator or Tutor access, thereby stopping any updates to the list of enrolled users on the Moodle course. Please see:

    https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/display/MoodleResourceCentre/Enrolment+-+Portico+enrolments#Enrolment-Porticoenrolments-Activatinganddeactivatingmappings

    Will Portico enrolments be globally re-activated?

    No, they will not be globally re-activated, but you can activate Portico enrolments in your course(s) at any time. However, they will be globally deactivated again, 6 weeks into each term.

    MoodleMoot 2017: Jo’s reflections

    By Joanna Stroud, on 8 May 2017

    My first two days as Digital Education’s new Distance Learning Facilitator (hi!) were spent at the UK and Ireland edition of MoodleMoot 2017 taking place in London. Presentations ranged from the more technical aspects of Moodle implementation to reports into its more pedagogically-driven uses and impacts. My note-taking over the course of a packed conference schedule was frenzied and now, upon writing this post, occasionally unintelligible, so rather than provide a full overview I’ll reflect upon two presentations in greater detail.

    A Head Start for Online Study: Reflections on a MOOC for New Learners. Presented by Prof. Mark Brown (Dublin City University)
    This project was described by Mark as a means of supporting flexible or distance learners’ transitions into higher education. Despite an established distance learning provision, DCU’s programmes had, like many institutions, experienced higher levels of attrition than those seen with more traditional face-to-face courses. Mark reported that this is largely attributable to the diverse motivations of flexible learners and lack of support at key stages of the study life cycle. DCU thus applied for and gained funding to produce resources that would attempt to bridge these gaps and improve outcomes for flexible learners.

    DCU’s subsequent Student Success Toolbox, containing eight ‘digital readiness’ tools, and the Head Start Online course, piloted on the new Moodle MOOC platform Academy, aim to help potential flexible learners ascertain whether online higher education is right for them, how much time they have and need for study, their sources of support, and the skills they will need to be a successful online learner.

    Mark focused on the outcomes of the Head Start Online pilot course. Of the 151 users registered as part of the pilot, 37 were active after the first week and a total of 24 completed the entire course. However, Mark was keen to stress that learners were not expected to progress through the course in any strict or linear fashion, and completion/non-completion can thus be an unhelpful binary. Feedback from learners proved very positive, with the vast majority believing that they were more ready to become flexible learners, better equipped to manage their time, and more aware of the skills needed for online study after taking the course.

    More information:
    Head Start Online via Moodle Academy
    Student Success Toolbox
    Mark’s presentation from MoodleMoot

    Towards a Community of Inquiry through Moodle Discussion Forums. Presented by Sanna Parikka (University of Helsinki)
    Sanna’s presentation described her use of Moodle discussion forums to facilitate meaningful and constructive online conversations that adhere to the principles of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework theory. Use of the CoI framework defines three vital elements of any educational experience as:

    • Social presence: the ability of learners to communicate and engage in social interactions within the learning environment
    • Cognitive presence: the means by which learners can build meaning through reflection and discourse
    • Teaching presence: how we design, facilitate, and guide learners through experiences to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

    Sanna reported upon a range of approaches designed around the CoI framework, suggesting that it is possible to build social presence and give learners the chance to project their personalities online through simple ice breaker activities. Cognitive presence, meanwhile, can be developed through jigsaw learning activities. Cohorts are split into smaller groups of students who discuss and specialise in one specific topic before being redistributed evenly to new forums with specialists from each area and tasked with teaching their new group about their specialism. Teaching presence is built and threaded through each task by providing direct instruction, scaffolding understanding, facilitating discourse, and sharing personal interpretations of meaning.

    Discussion forums are often unfairly criticised, most frequently for lack of student engagement. However, Sanna’s position was that basic interaction is not enough to develop engagement and create new meaning. Her framing and examples of practice underscored the forum as a versatile, flexible means of delivering not just discussion-based tasks but collaborative exercises too.

    More information:
    The Community of Inquiry (Athabasca University)
    M08 Add new learning forums

    Moving to Turnitin Feedback Studio – multiple ways to mark with an updated look

    By Annora Eyt-Dessus, on 28 April 2017

    From summer 2017 Turnitin will be moving all users to their updated viewing and grading tool, Feedback Studio. Most UCL staff and students are already using Feedback Studio so will not see any change, but if you’re still using the ‘Classic’ version of the tool you will no longer have this option from late July 2017. You’ll still find the functionality you’re used to, but with an updated look and feel.

    So what does Feedback Studio offer? For a quick tour of the new features of Feedback Studio, and differences with the ‘Classic’ version, you can watch the short video above from Turnitin. (NB. Multiple markers feature will not be enabled initially, and the section shown 4:00mins+ is not relevant to Turnitin through Moodle.)

    Beyond being able to view and navigate similarity reports, it also offers staff a variety of ways to mark – including audio comments, rubrics and saved re-usable comments. Most of this functionality has been available to UCL staff for some time, but Turnitin have been working on the design of their interface.

    For instance, selection of the wide variety of tools Turnitin offers is now done by using icons set alongside the paper for easier faster marking. You may also be looking for a ‘Save’ button, but Turnitin now saves your comments as you move between papers using the arrows in the top right of the screen.

    This new version also aims to be more accessible, with viewing and grading easier on a greater variety of devices using a responsive design, as well as for those using screen readers and keyboards for navigation.

    If you want to try out the new version of Feedback studio, without logging in to Moodle and setting up an assignment, you can explore an interactive demo from Turnitin.

    Universities across the UK will soon be making the change as well as UCL, and we had the opportunity to hear from colleagues at the University of Kent, in partnership with Turnitin, at the recent MoodleMoot.ie conference earlier this April. They spoke of their success in moving to online marking in conjunction with the move to the new Feedback Studio, with over 70% overall of all marks now returned online. Key elements in their success were offering guidance for both staff and students (ours can be found here for staff and students), and offering repeated reminders of the change throughout the summer, so that all staff had a chance to be made aware.

    If you have any concerns or questions about this change, please consult the guidance, and email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk with any issues.

    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 digi-ed@ucl.a.uk.

    Student digital experience tracker

    By Moira Wright, on 10 March 2017

    How should institutions respond to students’ changing expectations of their digital environment? What experiences at university prepare students to flourish in a digital world? What are institutions doing to engage students in dialogue about their learning environment and to gather intelligence about their changing needs?

    Following a successful pilot with 24 institutions in 2016 a student digital tracker tool, built on resources such as the Jisc/ NUS student digital experience benchmarking tool  and the Jisc guide to enhancing the digital student experience: a strategic approach. The questions cover issue important to learners and/or to staff with a focus on the learning experience.

    The student digital experience tracker will allow universities, colleges and skills providers to:

    • Gather evidence from learners about their digital experience, and track changes over time
    • Make better informed decisions about the digital environment
    • Target resources for improving digital provision
    • Plan other research, data gathering and student engagement around digital issues
    • Demonstrate quality enhancement and student engagement to external bodies and to students themselves

    The tracker is delivered in BOS – an online survey service specially developed for the UK education sector. Institutions using the tracker will receive guidance on implementation in BOS, real-time access to their own data, are able to benchmark their data against their sector data, and access further guidance on how to understand and respond to the findings.

    UCL students are invited to participate in the survey and a link has been added to students Moodle landing page on the right side. Alternatively you can access the survey using this link: http://tinyurl.com/ble-student-survey-2017 – please advertise to UCL  students. The survey is open until March 31st 2017.