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 the Digital Education blog

  • Meta

  • Tags

  • A A A

    Archive for the 'Moodle' 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.

    LinkedIn Masterclass – who do you want to become?

    By Moira Wright, on 14 February 2017

    During the autumn term a group of 20 UCL UG, PG, PGR, PGT and PhD students attended a LinkedIn masterclass workshop series designed and delivered by Miguel Garcia, Global Instruct Manager from LinkedIn. The course consisted of six 2 hour workshops designed to develop the right mindset and enhance skills to enable students to use LinkedIn according to their own needs and interests.

    The benefit of having Miguel Garcia delivering the sessions was apparent from the start – his knowledge of LinkedIn and how it can work for an individual or an organisation – is second to none!

    Watch the video below to hear more from Miguel and some comments and feedback from students here:

    He took his experience of helping customers grow their businesses using LinkedIn and applied this to helping students find and prepare for careers aligned to their personalities, interests, ambitions, skills, and values.

    The first session asked the question Why Should I use LinkedIn? The students were shown how to begin to establish a professional brand, how to find the right people, how to engage with people, and how to initiate and build relationships as well as how they can see and measure immediately the effectiveness of their actions on LinkedIn. The session ended with recommendations on what to focus on and some actions to take in the next seven days.

    Session two was called How do I build my personal brand? and was based on the premise that just because you are a student it doesn’t mean you don’t have experience or a personal brand. This session focused in learning how to showcase the skills and experience gained from student roles, volunteering or part time work in a compelling way to attract recruiters and powerful industry influencers. The students learnt about how to curate content from past experiences for their profile to enhance and improve the way this is shown by using the rich media options available to you on LinkedIn. This curated content along with a professional profile photograph provides a complete profile that is attractive to both recruiters as well as prospective employers.

    The third session How can I communicate effectively? is probably something that most people have struggled with at one time or another – finding the right way to say things and then share them with a global audience can be daunting so this session concentrated on effective social sharing and publishing on LinkedIn. During the session students were sending messages, InMails, introduction and connection requests to begin to build their networks. One key aspect covered in this session was the difference between academic writing and business writing in respect of written posts for LinkedIn and the importance of finding ‘your voice’ to do so.

    The fourth session How should I connect with others? was focused on connecting with the right people in the right way – basically networking effectively. The opportunity for students to connect with professionals, academics and influencers gives them access to unique career opportunities and informs them about the job market and how it works. The most effective students will be able draw on the expertise of their network before applications and interviews giving them unique and valuable insights and information or advice.

    The fifth session How do I use LinkedIn to find a job or internship? is probably why most students signed up. The challenge is not just to find a job but the right career opportunity and something that you will enjoy doing. There are many examples of how others have managed to do this – even when it did not seem very likely. This session showed how by conducting research on LinkedIn you can access career and company pages to get an understanding of an organisation’s culture, benefits and opportunities to make sure they line up with what you are looking for. The session also included how to create a plan to stay in contact with employers so that when opportunities become available your chances are enhanced.

    The final session How can I use LinkedIn to develop the ultimate career plan? was about how to put together a strategy and flexible plan to raise your chances of success in a changing world. The importance of having a long term plan and strategy for how you will use everything learned on the course and use it over the next 6 months in actionable steps. Students will set their own milestones, agree what further learning they may need or where they need to improve. Every student will make a 6 month commitment with regular check-ins to ensure progress.

    The course was totally oversubscribed and I experienced something I never have before at UCL – an increase in participation for the first few weeks – a definite first for me. In fact the course has been so successful we are running it again this term – this time with 40 places available and have moved every other session online to Blackboard Collaborate.

    Miguel has brought with him a set of unique skills and experiences that have greatly benefited UCL students –there really can’t be many who have experience of the full recruitment cycle from both an employers and employee perspective along with such a deep understanding of how a platform like LinkedIn works. Having completed the course students are now confidently and happily making connections, reaching out to prospective employers and building networks of contacts on their own.

    There is usually a distinct lack of control for a graduate who is job searching – they are often limited to contact with a HR department or a recruiter and with most job applications being made online – they seldom get feedback or guidance on why things may not have worked out as the volumes of applicants are far too high to do so. This is one of the many benefits of using LinkedIn – you are much more in control of things and generally the communication is direct and also in real time.

    Nowadays it is increasingly important for students to understand how online recruiting and job searching works – what the pluses can be and also any pitfalls. What has worked so well with this course is how Miguel has perfectly balanced the blend of coaching, activities and presentations – yet still managing to address each and every person’s needs in the group. There have been some quite remarkable transformations during the course and some of the first cohort are now working on a 1 minute video to add to their LinkedIn profile – watch this space!

    If you want to learn more about using LinkedIn check out the Learning LinkedIn Lynda.com course.