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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Important information for all Opinio users

By Tom Walters, on 22 December 2022

The Opinio system operates using a limited number of user licences. We would like to ensure effective allocation of these licences by checking that registered accounts are being used.

To help us identify and release licences that are no longer needed, we ask that all Opinio users complete a short 1-minute Opinio Usage Survey (just two questions). Invitations to the survey are being sent by email, and this survey will be open for six weeks until Wednesday 1st February 2023. If we do not receive a response, then your Opinio licence will be withdrawn, for allocation to another user.

Do more digital with your teaching and assessment

By Caroline Norris, on 17 January 2023

Table with laptop and person in foreground gesticulating. Person in background.Do you want to try something new in your teaching or assessment?  Are you concerned that your materials aren’t as accessible and inclusive as you would like them to be?  Why not come along to one of our short online* training sessions to learn a new skill, improve your teaching materials or explore new assessment methods?

Add more interaction to your course by using polling software like Mentimeter for Continuous Module Dialogue or to engage students either during class or asynchronously between sessions.  You could also Use online whiteboards to encourage student interaction or ask students to collaborate on projects using Microsoft Teams: get a Beyond Basics Overview or learn about Document Management and Collaboration.

Digital Accessibility is a vital part of making your course inclusive and we have courses on Enhancing the Accessibility of your Moodle Courses, Creating accessible PowerPoint Presentations  and  Creating accessible Word documents.  You might also want to ensure you are following Best practice for video captions and transcripts when sharing multimedia.

Liven up your course with more multimedia content by learning how to do Basic video editing using iMovie on a Mac or Record a narration over your PowerPoint on a PC to convert your  Mixing deck and microphonepresentation to video.  You could also come on our Podcasting made easy workshop or our series of workshops for making a film using your iPhone (Planning, Filming advice and Make a short film) and pass these skills on to your students so they can create multimedia content as part of their course.

If graphical content is a challenge, our beginners courses in Basic image editing using free tools can get you started with existing content while An introduction to free graphic design tools and Creating Infographics using free web-based tools are a great way to start creating more original content without having to buy expensive software.

Finally, if you’ve never done Digital book-making, it can be great for digital storytelling and Sway, Microsoft’s modern presentation tool is another interesting option for presenting your material in new ways.  These can also open up new possibilities for your students and the ways in which they present their coursework.

We’ve cherry picked a few courses below that might be of particular interest, but for our full schedule of upcoming courses visit Digital Skills Development News on the Digital Education blog.  If you subscribe to the blog you’ll get regular updates from us and our other Digital Education teams. Click on the link(s) below to book a place or add yourself to the interest list to be informed about upcoming dates.  More details about how to book, how to join sessions etc. can be found on our Practical Course Information page.  If you aren’t sure what training you need and would like individual support and advice we also have a regular drop in during term time.

*All sessions are online via Microsoft Teams unless otherwise indicated.

Add more interaction and collaboration

01/02/2023 10:00 11:00 DSD: Mentimeter for Continuous Module Dialogue (CMD)  THIS SESSION IS NOW CANCELLED
08/02/2023 10:00 11:00 DSD: Use online whiteboards to encourage student interaction
02/02/2023 10:00 11:30 DSD: Microsoft Teams Workshop 1: Beyond Basics Overview
08/03/2023 10:00 11:30 DSD: Microsoft Teams Workshop 3 – Document Management and Collaboration 

Make your content more accessible

24/01/2023 14:00 15:30 DSD: Creating accessible PowerPoint Presentations
02/03/2023 10:00 11:30 DSD: Creating accessible PowerPoint Presentations
24/01/2023 14:00 15:00 DSD: Best practice for video captions and transcripts
31/01/2023 14:00 15:30 DSD: Creating accessible Word documents
09/03/2023 14:00 15:30 DSD: Creating accessible Word documents
02/02/2023 14:00 15:30 DSD: Enhancing the Accessibility of your Moodle Courses
23/03/2023 14:00 15:30 DSD: Enhancing the Accessibility of your Moodle Course
Note that this session will take place on the Bloomsbury campus.

Use more audio-visual content

25/01/2023 14:00 15:00 DSD: Basic video editing using iMovie on a Mac
25/01/2023 10:00 11:00 DSD: Record a narration over your PowerPoint on a PC
02/02/2023 14:00 15:00 DSD: Podcasting made easy – workshop
07/02/2023 10:00 11:00 DSD: Planning a short film
07/02/2023 14:00 15:00 DSD: Filming advice for a short film
14/02/2023 10:00 11:00 DSD: Make a short film using your iPhone

Create and edit graphical content

31/01/2023 14:00 15:00 DSD: Creating Infographics using free web-based tools
15/02/2023 10:00 11:15 DSD: Basic image editing using free tools (Demo)
21/02/2023 14:00 15:00 DSD: An introduction to free graphic design tools

Present material in new ways

08/02/2023 14:00 15:00 DSD: Digital book-making
25/01/2023 10:00 11:30 DSD: Sway, Microsoft’s modern presentation tool – Workshop
21/02/2023 14:00 15:30 DSD: Sway, Microsoft’s modern presentation tool – Workshop

Please note that the above dates and times were correct at time of publication but are subject to change.  Follow the links provided or check our latest schedule for the definitive current schedule.

Moodle Lifecycle Block – Course Read-Only

By Jason R Norton, on 5 January 2023

Moodle Logo




The next release in our Course Lifecyle toolset is now ready for deployment and will appear in our Production Moodle site shortly.

This is our first release of our course context freezing or “Read Only” Moodle block.


Image of the course life cycle read only tool

The Lifecycle block will be available in Moodle from 9th January 2023 to allow individual courses to be made Read-Only, and thus prevent the accidental update or deletion of content.

Previously each year we would take a Snapshot Moodle, which we would automatically make it Read-Only at the end of November.

This period would have given teams on average three months to complete the Late Summer Assessment period, and to make any adjustments or hide courses before they become part of our Moodle course archive in line with UCL’s data retention policy.

As we now have one Moodle, we need to provide the Read-Only function at the individual course level and not the entire site, (you can think of it as a course level snapshot).


NOTE: The block will display only the year category and the course’s start and end date, prior to the course end date being reached. Once the course end date is reached the additional functionality and automatic Read-Only date will be displayed.

Image showing lifecycle block display prior to course end date being reached


The new Lifecycle block has several functions:

  • Provides an automatic default read only mechanism.
  • Provide a mechanism for course administrators to override the suggested default date and to choose a custom date.
  • Display the year category (Moodle 2021/22, Moodle 2022/23)
  • Display the course start and end date.


Once the Read-Only date is reached, the Moodle page will be automatically queued for processing overnight, and will become Read-Only to staff and students the following day.


Automated Read-Only Process

The automated Read-only date will be based either on the course end date, or the end of the Late Summer Assessment period (whichever is later), plus eleven weeks. This should provide enough time any final marking or updates to the course. Once the automatic suggested date is reached the course will become Read-Only.

LifeCycle Block Image showing highlighted Read-Only date

If you take no further action, the Moodle page will become Read-Only to staff and students at the end of this date.


NOTE: For modules which follow the standard academic calendar, Automatic Read-Only will occur normally at the end of November each year (eleven weeks after LSA’s have bene completed).  However, as this is the first time the Lifecycle block will be used, the default Read-Only date will be artificially moved forward to the end of February 2023 to allow course teams time to review the use of the new block and seek guidance as needed.


Local Course Override Process

The automation aspect of the Read Only Tool we hope will satisfy most of our course administration teams requirements. However, we are aware that some course teams may require to make their courses read-only later than the automatic function. At the initial release of the tool, you will not be able to make a course read-only prior to the automated date suggested.

The Digital Education Services Team, do have an override function that they can employ to make a course Read-Only upon request at any time. We will review the number of these requests and feedback to see if we need to build that functionality into the tool for end users.

We have created several override settings which will allow course teams to either disable the course read-only setting or to set a specific date for the course to be made read-only.


Image of the course life cycle read only tool focused on automatic read only settings


Making a Read-Only course editable again

In the same manner as the existing Moodle Snapshots, teaching teams cannot reactivate a Moodle course once it has been made Read-Only.

If you do require edit access to a Read-Only course this will need to be requested by contacting the Digital Education Support team at:   digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Further details for using the Lifecycle Block are available in our Moodle Mini guide M30i


NOTE:- we will develop and alter the user interface and experience based off of feedback we receive from our users regarding this tool. All updates will be documented within the Moodle Mini Guide M30i.


Jason Norton

Head of Virtual Leaning Environments

Login to Lecturecast is Changing

By Kolil Ullah, on 4 January 2023

On Tuesday 17th January 2023, the direct login to Lecturecast will change. If you access Lecturecast via Moodle, this will not affect you.

This change is part of wider ISD ongoing improvements to login, authentication and security across all of UCL’s platforms. Please note, minor service interruption is expected starting from 22:00 – midnight (GMT) on 16th January 2023.

Direct Lecturecast Login

Direct login via www.echo360.org.uk or Universal Capture with your UCL userID and password will now change to the following:

SSO and AAD diagram

Visit www.echo360.org.uk and you will be prompted with this page below and required to enter your UCL email address.

Lecturecast Login Page

When you enter your UCL email address, you will be taken to the login screen shown below that you will have encountered on other UCL systems. Once again you may be prompted to enter your UCL email and password, this will log you into Lecturecast as normal.

UCL Login

The important difference to take note of here is that you are now required to input your userID@ucl.ac.uk and not just userID.

For any questions, please email lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk.

Adding Lecturecast Activities to Moodle

By pauline.harding, on 23 December 2022

Some staff are currently unable to add new Lecturecast activities to a Moodle course.

Our technical teams are investigating as a matter of urgency, and will provide updates as soon possible.

In the interim, if you need to create a new Lecturecast activity you can duplicate an existing activity, so that you can rename and reuse it.
(To duplicate a Lecturecast Activity, Turn editing on, select Edit next to the existing activity and select Duplicate).

Alternatively, if you do not have an existing Lecturecast activity on your current Moodle course you can import a Lecturecast activity from another Moodle course.
The following wiki link provides instructions to import an activity from one Moodle course to another:
(Please ensure you only select the Lecturecast activity that you wish to import).

If you require assistance with creating a new Lecturecast activity, please email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk from your UCL email account with the Moodle course title and URL.

Moodle Zoom integration

By Tom Walters, on 6 December 2022

Update 12/12/2022Issue Resolved.  We shall continue to monitor Moodle Zoom integration.  Please report further issues to digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Due to an authentication issue, some staff are currently unable to create new Zoom activities from within Moodle. Staff and students should be able to join existing meetings as normal.

Our technical teams are investigating as a matter of urgency, and will provide updates as soon as they know more. In the interim, if you urgently need to create a new Zoom meeting in the next few days, please contact:


from your UCL email account.