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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    Turnitin outage 26-27 July 2014

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 28 July 2014

    Turnitin was unavailable on 26th July from 5PM to 6AM 27th July whilst they carried out an upgrade to their infrastructure.

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

    Turnitin Reset 22nd August 2014

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 23 July 2014

    In order to ensure we do not exceed our Turnitin license agreement, all assignments set up for the 2013-14 academic year will expire on the 22nd August 2014. A read only copy of these assignments is available on the 13/14 Moodle Archive, so students and staff can still view them and access the marks/feedback but no further submission or grading may be made.

    For the 2014-15 academic year please ensure you reset your Moodle course with the default settings. This will ensure that existing master Turnitin records are reset, existing assignments are correctly closed, and licenses released into the pool. If you do not reset your Moodle course this can lead to problems later on in the year with Turnitin as it will continue to use the old assignment identifier against newly opened assignments.

    If you cannot re-set your course yet and have Turnitin assignments that run past the 22nd August which you require to stay active, please contact E-Learning Environments so that they don’t expire these assignments.

    Thank you for your co-operation.

    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.