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    Preparing your Moodle Courses for 2017/18

    By Janice K M 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.

    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

    Bug in duplicated Moodle assignments

    By Rod Digges, on 8 December 2016

    We’ve recently come across a bug in Moodle (not Turnitin) assignments. The bug shows up when a blind marking/anonymous Moodle assignment that has been used and student identities revealed is then copied for re-use. The copy of the assignment will look from its settings like a blind marking/anonymous assignment but it will behave as if the ‘Reveal student identities’ link had been clicked and student names will be visible in both the grading interface and the course gradebook. The quickest way to check if a ‘blind marking/anonymous’ assignment is truly in an anonymous state is to click on its link and look for the presence of the ‘Reveal student identities’ link in the assignment’s settings block, if the link is there the assignment is anonymous.

    For the moment we advise that Moodle assignments are not created by duplication of old assignments but are created as completely new assignments.

    screenshot - assignment settings block

    Summer Works – New Data Centre, Moodle Snapshot and Upgrade.

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 3 February 2016

     

    This year UCL Information Services Division (ISD) is closing one of its data centres in London and relocating the technology and services that run from that location to a new state of the art facility in Slough.  This is a major undertaking by ISD and nearly all services from finance and HR through to the Digital Education services such as Moodle, Lecturecast and MyPortfolio are impacted.

    In order to complete this exercise all Digital Education services will be required to have a limited period of downtime to make the switch from one location to another.

    To ensure we minimise the downtime and to avoid two shut-down dates, we intend to combine the migration exercise with our normal yearly upgrade and snapshot process.

    As you may be aware from previous years, we normally advertise a period of 5 days of possible outage for our major Moodle upgrade (Friday evening till Wednesday Morning). This year we intend that this period will remain unchanged and that we will complete both the snapshot, upgrade and the data centre migration within the 5 day period. It will be our intention to restore services as early as possible within this 5 day window.

    Moodle Snapshot and Upgrade

    In response to the survey that went out to all our Moodle course tutors and administrators asking for your least inconvenient downtime window we had 201 respondents, I thank all of your who responded for doing so.

    There is never going to be one date that is ideal for all users, however the survey does highlight the dates which would appear to have the least impact for the most number of users. We have also run internal reports within Moodle to identify the period with the least or no current Moodle/Turnitin submissions planned.

    The selected date range is from: 6pm Friday 22nd July > 12pm Wednesday 27th July 2016

    Please let me make it clear that the period that students will be without ANY access to Moodle will be less than 24 hours (Friday evening > Saturday lunch time). This is the time taken for the team to create the Snapshot which is then made immediately available.

    The Snapshot is a complete copy of the live Moodle and provides students with “read only” access to ALL of the material they had prior to the snapshot being taken.

    What the Snapshot does not provide is the ability for students to take part in activities, add to or change Moodle for example the following activities cannot be done:-

    • Submission of assignments via either Moodle or Turnitin
    • Quiz based activity
    • Posting new forum topics or replies

    Please take account of this when planning Moodle activities during this period.

    After the Snapshot is made available there will be a period of time when the current, live version of Moodle is unavailable to allow for the upgrade and migration to take place.  During this time, students will be immediately redirected to this version upon entering the normal Moodle URL.

    The publicised outage will be until 12pm Wednesday 27th July, as this “at risk period” is required in case any issues arise. The “at risk period” should be treated as if the service were unavailable and no Moodle dependant activities planned for that period.

    If the chosen date range affects your course significantly in regard to Moodle usage that cannot be resolved by the use Snapshot e.g. a critical assignment submission or Moodle Exam date that cannot be altered, please contact us at digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk and we will work with you to provide the best possible alternative solution for your requirements.

    Moodle 2.8 – Summer 2015 upgrade

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 27 May 2015

    For the attention of all UCL Moodle teaching and support staff.

    Moodle Summer Upgrade 17 to 22 July 2015

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    At 17:00 on Friday 17th July 2015 Moodle will be made unavailable to allow the yearly snapshot copy to be created. Once the process is compete the snapshot will be made available for staff and students, this is expected to be completed by 17:00 on Saturday the 18th July 2015.

    We will also be taking this opportunity to perform our yearly upgrade of the Moodle system as previously advertised. The live Moodle service will be returned to service no later than 10:00am on Wednesday the 22nd July 2015, although it is expected that the upgrade will be returned to service earlier than this time. However we need to include an “at risk” time to account for a full restoration of the service if something was to fail with the planned upgrade. We will keep you notified as to when Moodle will become available over the upgrade weekend via the ELE blog (blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ele) and out Twitter channel (@UCL_ELE)

    For new Moodle upgrade features and changes please see the New Features page Moodle Resource Centre wiki.

    If you would like to find out more about the Moodle snapshot (formerly the Moodle archive), including its intended purpose and how you can hide content, please visit the Moodle Resource Centre wiki for more information.

    What do I have to do?
    If your module ends before the upgrade and you would like the snapshot copy to be made available then no further action is required.

    What if my course(s) doesn’t finish before the upgrade?
    We recognise that not all Moodle courses will end before the 17th July. Some run into August/September and others may run later, several times a year or never stop. More information on the process of requesting a manual snapshot can be found in the Moodle Resource Centre wiki on the Manual Moodle Snapshot page.

    What happens after the snapshot?
    Once you have a snapshot copy of your course we strongly recommend you take some time to consider resetting and reviewing your course so it can be used for the next cohort. For more information on preparing your Moodle course for the next academic year, see the following: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/staff/e-learning/tools/moodle/procedures/preparing

    To see the snapshot (formerly archive) for yourself, visit: http://moodle-archive.ucl.ac.uk

    All times are for the UK (BST), for other locations please convert: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

    And relax … reflections on UCL Arena Digital Unit 1

    By Eileen Kennedy, on 18 March 2015

    Asleep at the Wheel

    We built it, but would they come?

    Designing an online course in e-learning for UCL staff has its uncertainties, mostly to do with the big question, is anyone actually going to turn up? The pressures on staff at a research intensive University are multiple and intense. Everyone is juggling so many competing priorities, that taking the time to learn about teaching with technology may be an aspiration never fated to turn into a reality.

    We looked to the MOOC phenomenon for inspiration. If there is one thing MOOCs do well it’s publicity. They make the prospect of doing a course so easy and so enticing, that you can’t help but sign up. So we made our promo video and sat back and waited. We said to ourselves, if we get 30 people, that will be good, but of course, really we wanted more.

    It was with some relief, therefore, when the self-enrolments started to trickle through. We passed the 100 mark fairly early, but we weren’t quite at 200 a day or so before the course was due to start. Never fear, however, because the enrolments didn’t stop. Currently UCL Arena Digital has 214 participants, and people continue to sign up.

    Who were they and what were they doing?

    Painstaking analysis reveals that there were 96 different UCL departments represented. The top 5 departments (by numbers of participants) appeared to be:

    1. Dept of Managment Science & Innovation 11
    2. IOE – Culture, Communication & Media 9
    3. Dept of Security and Crime Science 8
    4. Centre for Prep Studies – Astana 8
    5. Centre for Languages & International Education 7

    In addition to these figures, however, there were 15 people who came from different departments but who all had an affiliation with the UCL Institute of Child Health, and 23 people from the UCL Institute of Education. Honourable mentions too, to the Research Department of General Surgery, Institute of Ophthalmology, SELCS and IOE – Lifelong & Comparative Education, all with 5 representatives each. We had one person from UCL Australia.

    During the Unit, we invited participants to watch some video tutorials and explore resources in a Lesson activity and a Book (both ways of presenting content in Moodle). Then we asked people to share some media they use in their teaching on a Padlet (which is a great, easy tool that resembles putting post-it notes on a virtual pin board). There was a glossary for participants to contribute to, and a discussion to take part in, and a final webinar to share experiences on the Thursday of the second week.

    Click that link!

    By Wednesday 18th March, the Using Multimedia: A Moodle Lesson activity had 1246 views (including 242 tutor views). The Going Further with Multimedia: A Moodle Book resource had 1465 (including 71 tutor views). The Wall of Media (the Padlet) had been viewed 64 times, The Language of the Media Glossary had been viewed 327 times, and the discussion forum “When can the use of media enhance teaching and learning” had 544 views.

    We were overjoyed at the enthusiasm of course participants. We have 16 entries in the Glossary now, spanning 5 pages, 34 posts on the Padlet Wall of Media, including some brilliant tutor-crafted screencasts and lots of great examples from participants’ teaching. The shared Practice space has been filling up too. That’s a blank Moodle course for participants to try out what they’ve learnt if they don’t have somewhere else to practice their skills. What is great about it, is that we can all see that learning has taken place, and it is an encouragement to everybody.

    Now take a break …

    Something else we learnt from MOOCs is that participation drops off sharply after the first week, and continues on a downward slope. It seems that everyone’s intention is good, and the enthusiasm can be sustained for so long, but, inevitably, all the other pressures of life get in the way once more. So, we thought, if we split the course into two week Units, with breaks in between, maybe that will keep people with us. And if you haven’t already enrolled, it means that you still can – and you have time to catch up before Unit 2 begins.

    Unit 2 will start on April 13th 2015 and will focus on Communication

    So get ready for wikis, discussion forums, Twitter and more. If you ever thought of ditching the PowerPoint and doing something more interesting instead, then Unit 2 is for you.

    Enrol here and see you all again very soon.