E-Learning Environments team blog
  • ELE Group
    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!

  • Subscribe to the ELE blog

  • Meta

  • Tags

  • Archive for the 'Technology blogs' Category

    Live lecture broadcast study at UCL

    By Rod Digges, on 22 July 2014

    Students in Lecture


    Many Lecture spaces at UCL that have been equipped with Lecturecast are now able to stream (broadcast live) lectures but this aspect of Lecturecast has yet to be introduced to the UCL teaching community.

    In light of this, E-Learning Environments will be undertaking a limited exploratory study of live streaming, inviting a number (5-10) interested academics to use streaming in addition to recording their lectures.
    If you are interested in taking part in this study or want to find out more read on..

    Where next with Mahara / MyPortfolio?

    By Mira Vogel, on 21 July 2014

    A few of us spent part of last week in Brighton at MaharaUK 2014. Mahara – the environment UCL calls MyPortfolio – allows individuals and groups to create and connect multimedia-rich pages which they can selectively publish.  E-Learning Environments gave a couple of presentations with an emphasis on how Mahara can help with assessed group work. Mahara has really taken off at UCL in this area because it is student-facing, supported by ELE, accepts a huge range of embeds from the wider web, and enables the operational tasks (setting up groups, imposing deadlines, access for assessors, etc) which can be painful on external web services. Set out in this 2013 comparison of possible group work environments at UCL, these factors contributed to a decision on the part of the History department to choose Mahara for a compulsory Year 1 course, the subject of my co-authored presentation below (PDF available).

    Domi Sinclair expanded on the different ways Mahara groups can be used for assessment.

    My conference stand-outs included the University of Brighton’s Sue Greener explaining how she uses Mahara to supervise research students, and the University of Nottingham’s personal development initiative in biosciences (Judith Wayte, from 38.20 on the first recording). As somebody usually removed from software development, I got a lot out of attending the developers’ workshop with Aaron Wells and colleagues at Catalyst (one of the Mahara Partner companies contracted by different institutions at different times to make Mahara what it is). Being free and open source, Mahara depends on its users’ community-mindedness for ideas, help for users and software code; guidance on how to contribute is available on the Mahara wiki. I missed the presentation from Eric Rousselle from Discendum Oy, a Finnish Mahara Partner, about kyvyt.fi, a Finnish government-funded intiative to extend Mahara with integration of cloud platforms, an annotation tool, web meeting and a new interface – among other things. Also supporting group work, Nadia Spang Bovey and Patrick Roth talked about their work extending Mahara in a Swiss higher education context, including wizards for operating Mahara, and a range of ways (timeline, linked map, tag cloud) to navigate a portfolio. They have a prototype and a very short survey they’d like Mahara users to take, linked from their abstract.

    As usual for a conference of tooled-up learning technology enthusiasts and galvanised by the conference game, there was an active back channel on Twitter – see Judith Wayte’s weave on Storify.

    5 Reasons to Reset your Course

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 14 July 2014

    Many of your will have seen notices come round reminding you that courses should be reset at the end of their period of use. This is ordinarily the end of the academic year, although this could vary from course to course. If you would like to find out more about getting your Moodle site ready for the next academic year please see our advice on the UCL Moodle Resource Centre.

    There are many ways resetting your Moodle course can be helpful not only to you, but also to your students and to UCL in general. The process of resetting your course, at the default level, simply involves wiping student data and setting up new Turnitin classes (should you be using Turnitin). It does not involve removing or deleting any content, other than posts or submissions made by students. Should you need to refer back to a student forum post or assignment submission this can be done via the snapshot version of Moodle available via https://moodle-archive.ucl.ac.uk/

    Here are just 5 reasons why it is important to reset your course.

    1. Make it easier to find new student contributions/ submissions – you won’t have to wade through previous years to find what is happening in the new academic period.

    2. The page will load faster – if you keep old student data then this will have to load along with the new data, causing Moodle to take longer to load.

    3. Helps to prevent confusion – if students are still enrolled on previous years course then they might be confused by any amendments for the new cohort, instead point them to the Moodle snapshot.

    4. It’s the neighborly thing to do - a smaller database means that everyone can access content faster, so it helps the whole of UCL have a faster Moodle.

    5. It will keep Turnitin working – we have a defined number of licensed users, and if we exceed this Turnitin stops working. Without resetting the student numbers simply keep adding up and will exceed the limit.

    For guidance on how to reset your course please see the mini- guide title M26 – Resetting your Moodle course from the UCL Moodle Resource Centre wiki. If you have additional questions please contact E-Learning Environments.



    Moodle is upgraded!

    By Jason Norton, on 8 July 2014

    The Moodle upgrade has now been completed.

    The yearly snapshot is now available (https://moodle-archive.ucl.ac.uk/13-14/) and live Moodle is also available.

    This snapshot will be retained for a minimum of seven years, full details about the snapshot can be found on the Snapshot page.

    Those of you who have been waiting for this to complete so you can commence your course resets may now proceed. Please refer to M26 – Resetting your Moodle course.

    While the new environment has been thoroughly tested by the support teams and by yourselves on the UAT instance, there is always a chance that an issue or bug may well exist that we have not encountered. If you have any issues or problems with the new Moodle 2.6 version please email ele@ucl.ac.uk with as much detail as possible and a member of the team will get back to you.

    Please note that one of the core intents of this upgrade is to provide a new core Moodle theme. This new responsive theme is designed to function across devices and provide a much improved user experience. However this is not the end of the work we are doing to improve Moodle but rather the beginning. We will be adding and improving to the theme over the next twelve months, adding additional functionality, integration with other UCL systems as well as further refining the look and feel of the environment.

    In order to do this we look to you, our Moodle users, to give us constructive feedback. This will ensure that we prioritise the developments that are required to make the environment functional for UCL.  In the near future we will be releasing a developmental roadmap on some of the features we are hoping to introduce in the next year so that we can take feedback on these as well as keeping you more informed about how we want to take Moodle forward.

    Moodle Upgrade and Snapshot this weekend

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 4 July 2014

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

    At 5 PM  04 July 2014 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 mid-day on 05 July 2014.  We will also be taking this opportunity to upgrade the Moodle system, to improve security and reliability, as well as introduce some new features.  The live Moodle service will be returned to service on 09 July 2014.

    New Moodle Upgrade Features

    - Annotate PDFs in Moodle Assignments

    - Gradebook Scrolling

    - Permanently Docked Blocks

    You can see more new features in the Moodle Resource Centre wiki on the New Features, Moodle 2.6 – Summer 2014 upgrade page.

    If you would like to find out more about the Moodle snapshot, 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 in June 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 in June?

    We recognise that not all Moodle courses end in June.  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 here in the Snapshot section of the Moodle Resource Centre.

    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 Preparing your Moodle course for the next academic year page in the UCL wiki.

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

    All times are for the UK (GMT or BST), for other locations please convert.

    Notify ELE of online exams

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 2 July 2014

    With the end of term fast approaching we are sure many of you will be running exams or tests, which may be via Moodle quizzes. If this is the case then E-Learning Environments would like to kindly request you let us know of any summative exams/ tests being run through Moodle. You can notify us via the link in the Help menu on Moodle or by finding the exam notification form on the ELE website. When you notify us of an exam this enables three things:

    1. We can check the settings of the Moodle quiz
    2. We can ensure a member of staff is available for support during the exam
    3. We can notify the team that look after the cluster rooms, who can then check computers are working

    If you would like to learn more about Moodle online exams, or would like a copy of the Exam Settings Checklist or Moodle Invigilator Checklist then visit the Moodle Resource Centre.