E-Learning Environments team blog
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    We support Staff and Students using technology to enhance teaching & learning.

    Here you'll find updates on developments at UCL, links & events as well as case studies and personal experiences. Let us know if you have any ideas you want to share!

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  • MyPortfolio Upgrade and User Group

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 25 November 2014

    Today we have upgrade the MyPortfolio system to version 1.10, you can read about the improvements this has brought on our recent post announcing the upgrade.

    In addition to this the Mahara User Group for Southern England (MUGSE) was held last week. Mahara is the name of the software used to run MyPortfolio at UCL. The user group contained a number of presentations on topics such as new users of Mahara, changing the language files and up-coming improvements. You can see a full write-up of the user group on my personal blog: http://digidomi.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/mugse-2-sparsholt-college/ Please note that as this is my personal blog it is not associated with UCL and reflects my own thoughts and opinions.

    The next user group will be happening in the first quarter of next year and is likely to be in London. More details will be shared nearer the time and once a location and date have been confirmed. It is also likely that the conference, which from this year will be known as the Mahara UK Hui (to reflect the systems New Zealand roots) will also be held in London, around the start of July.

    If you have any questions about the MyPortfolio system please get in touch with E-Learning Environments

    UCLeXtend update – November 2014

    By Matt Jenner, on 24 November 2014

    UCL’s new public-facing e-learning environment; UCLeXtend is ready and waiting for your ideas. Live since May 2013 it has attracted over 5000 learners and 23 courses. We revamped it in August 2014 and now it’s sitting pretty. But there’s a lot more to come, this is where you get involved. 

    Note: this post is largely written for an internal audience, apologies to external readers – do contact us (details below) if you have an enquiry.

    About UCLeXtend

    For those who don’t already know, it’s a Moodle-based online platform which can cater for a wide range of courses. Its core capability is to advertise courses, attract/process registrations and provide an online space for learning and teaching. Do take a look for yourself – http://extend.ucl.ac.uk 

    UCLeXtend homepage - November 2014

    UCLeXtend homepage in November 2014

    It can be used to support a range of ideas and activities and so far has been used for: 

    • CPD
    • Executive education
    • Conferences
    • Taster modules
    • Research dissemination
    • Mini-MOOCs
    • Self-paced study. 

    Some are free, others charge; some are open, others are closed/private. A few are fully online, and the majority support face to face activities. Around half are brand new – but others have been running for some time in other guises. Some are not even courses at all, and that’s OK too.  

    In brief; UCLeXtend is/offers:

    • Moodle based – get on the ground running;
    • Open registration – you do not need a UCL computer account to be a UCLeXtend learner / delegate / participant / etc. Anyone can register with their own email / password combination.
    • Payment processor – not everything in life is free, so UCLeXtend accepts most credit and debit cards (or the slower, pay-by-invoice option)
    • Free course provider – some things in life are free, you don’t have to charge for your course
    • Discounts and ‘bulk seats’ options – more information in the UCLeXtend 101 wiki

    Note: income derived from your UCLeXtend course goes directly to your department finance codes.

    Get involved & find out more

    Online guidance

    There’s a few more things to cover; but much of it is procedural or too bloaty for email. So instead; we’ve compiled online content that outlines a lot of the questions you may have, processes, a handful of forms and a few other things. Do take a look, it should cover a lot (but it’s still in development):


    (UCL login required – top left of the wiki, sorry external folk)

    UCLeXtend drop-in session

    If you’re interested in exploring UCLeXtend  or have questions you want to ask please do get in touch. We’re also running a trial (one-off for now) session where you can come and ask questions, share your ideas and hear about what do next. We’ll do a demo of UCLeXtend and be on hand to talk with you. Feel free to come for the whole hour, or drop-in whenever you like. 


    2nd December 2014, 13:00 to 14:00 in Foster Court 233 

    If you can’t attend this we will look to put on more dates in the future (January onwards) or would rather do it via an online meeting or for us to come along to a departmental / faculty / teaching group session then just ask. 

    Getting started? Why not try a ‘CPD Wrapper’

    With so many options opening up; we felt it important to highlight one which is slightly easier to grasp and works well with existing provision. The concept is CPD Wrappers which we covered at the last Forum event in November. Here’s a presentation we made in E-Learning Environments which broadly outlines the ideas:

    Full URL: https://www.haikudeck.com/cpd-wrappers-uncategorized-presentation-AmK4CAMI4E

    If you’re interested in developing a ‘CPD wrapper’ (or anything else for UCLeXtend) get in touch with us, email is best – extend@ucl.ac.uk

    Contact us

    I don’t mind you contacting me directly, but you may find a faster (and more organised) response from the email above which goes to a shared inbox. Or come along to the session next Tuesday and we’ll go from there. 

    Hope to hear of your ideas soon!

    Visualiser Workshop University of Birmingham

    By Mike J Allinson, on 24 November 2014

    At the invitation of University of Birmingham I attended a workshop on capturing the written word. The workshop was a small but happy band of engaged folk  representing Universities such as Bath,Leicester, Loughborough,Wolverhampton,Imperial, Birmingham, Ulster and of course UCL. Also in attendance were two major furniture manufactures, TeamMate and Dalen (Top Tech) as well as one of the leading Visualiser manufactures, Wolfvision.The discussion centered around how best to capture the written word and turn it into a digital signal for both inclusion onto a lecture capture and in larger lecture theaters a way of transferring the information onto a projection system, so it can be easily read by those students at the back of the room.
    Discussion was around various writing surfaces ( chalkboard whiteboards paper acetate and touchscreen ) and how each surface felt and performed for the user.It was agreed that chalk and paper had a more natural feel from a user perspective and  that whiteboards and active touch screens had a less natural feel. The discussion focused on current technology and how it could be incorporated into current furniture designs or how current furniture design could be adapted to encompass current technology.

    After lunch the manufacturers gave us their thoughts on what they were doing to support us in this quest and gave  a presentation on their most recent  products in development. What struck me throughout the presentations was that these solution were put together using current technologies and they were not really looking at this from a real research and development perspective. What we have is an instant solution to a very pressing problem. Putting the visualiser at the heart of the solution.
    The  question going forward is, is the visualiser fast becoming old technology?

    I still believe the visualiser is a good teaching tool and that we should be promoting their use and the solutions the visualiser/furniture manufacturers are offering. This is the quickest and best solution for the immediate future, as we struggle to satisfy those with a need to use analogue methods  of presentation alongside the requirement to capture these digitally

    Rather than being engaged with furniture and Visualiser manufactures should we not be engaging with manufactures of touch screen and digital presentation technologies. Is the future about developing touch screen technology to have a more natural  feel and reduction of lag so we could  embed these screens into the lectern so turning the surface into a digital writing surface?


    Mike Allinson


    Assessment & feedback – links from the Joint Faculty E-Learning Forum

    By Mira Vogel, on 20 November 2014

    This morning UCL’s Joint Faculty E-Learning Forum – that’s Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences – met for the second time. The first meeting had focused on assessment and feedback, so ELE gave a brief presentation on our actions since then and recommended avenues colleagues in departments could pursue.

    This post provides some resources to support those, which you can also find in the presentation from the meeting below.

    Student engagement with assessment feedback

    Our discussions with students suggested low awareness of feedback release dates and our investigations revealed patchy engagement with feedback.

    • What can we find out about student engagement with feedback? Turnitin provides some basic information to staff about student engagement with feedback. Each assignment inbox has a student response column containing either a dot (no engagement) or in the case of students who reviewed their graded paper in GradeMark for longer than 30 seconds, an icon of a person with a check mark. For a fuller picture of how long it takes students to visit their feedback, check more than once – for example, one day, one week and one month after feedback is released. Moodle Assignment has a different process: in each assignment’s Settings block, click Logs and filter actions by View.
    • Since Moodle and Turnitin don’t alert the students automatically, it’s important to use the News Forum or other communication channel to draw students’ attention to feedback when it becomes available.
    • ELE have guidance for Moodle Assignment on how to delay providing a numeric mark, to encourage students to engage with feedback. With Turnitin this cannot be done as a bulk process, though there are workarounds.
    • Turnitin UserVoice and Moodle Tracker are available for users to contribute and vote for ideas (to create an account on Turnitin UserVoice, enter your UCL email and you should get an option to create account). For example, on Turnitin UserVoice see ‘Feedback released prior to grades’, with a corresponding item on the Moodle Tracker. Do contribute your ideas and votes.
    • The solution to low engagement may lie in rethinking assessment design so as to incorporate dialogue about earlier feedback. Jisc has gathered assessment and feedback principles and provides support for the design of assessment such as the University Of Ulster’s Viewpoints. Where there is anonymous submission, ELE has guidance on Turnitin aligned with the marking policy which enables you to lift anonymity between marking and external examining, so as to enable dialogue with students. We are in the process of preparing corresponding guidance for Moodle Assignment.

    External examining

    Efficiency gains? Efficiency losses?

    Advocacy with third party software providers






    MyPortfolio Upgrade 25 Nov 2014

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 13 November 2014

    MyPortfolio will be unavailable on 25 November 2014  from 08:00 to 10:00 whilst we carry out a routine upgrade.
    On 25 November we will upgrade MyPortfolio to version 1.10. There are many benefits to this upgrade, including A new editable dashboard, social media block and Open Badges backpack integration.
    New editable dashboard – The dashboard now has new icons for Create, Share and Engage, which help promote the key benefits to the system. You can also now customise your dashboard so it had the information and look you want.

    MyPortfolios dashboard




    Social media block – There is now a social media section of the Profile which allows you to link to your sites easily. You can then include these links on any page as a nice easy series of button thank link directly to your content.

    Social media block




    Open Badges backpack integration – Display your public Mozilla Open Badge collections from your backpack on your MyPortfolio page.

    Open Badges in MyPortfolio






    If you have any questions about the upgrade please email ele@ucl.ac.uk and we would be happy to answer your questions or address your concerns.
    All times are for the UK (GMT or BST), for other locations please convert: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

    BoB (Box of Broadcasts) National

    By Natasa Perovic, on 1 November 2014


    How are you getting on with BoB?

    Short videos on how to record programmes and create clips and playlists:




    Recording a programme


    Creating Clips


    Additional features

    To access BoB, log in with your UCL user details http://bobnational.net/

    BoB user guide http://bobnational.net/faq