X Close

Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Inspiration for Mac – to be discontinued

By Michele C Farmer, on 10 May 2019

At a conference yesterday, I found out that Inspiration for Mac is to be discontinued. I will post more info  when I have it.


Develop your digital skills this academic year – new dates released

By Jasmin E Mullings, on 15 April 2019

ISD Digital Skills Development has released new dates for Term 3. As usual, we are offering a wide range of courses covering Excel, Photoshop, Matlab, SPSS, and more..

New this term we are offering a Creating accessible documents course.  Making documents accessible is important for everyone, whether or not they have a disability or impairment. New regulations have recently come into effect that make it even more crucial. In this session you will learn how to make your PowerPoint, Word, Excel and PDF files more accessible.  Book a place on a Creating accessible documents course. To find out more about creating accessible content, please visit our dedicated webpage.

See below for our current schedule of courses and workshops and details of how to book.

More digital skills development opportunities

Digital Skills Development at IOE offer training in a wide range of digital tools including Microsoft SharePoint, Teams, OneNote and Visio, screencasting, infographics, mind mapping and presentation tools, with some sessions specifically aimed at Mac users. You can also learn about text-to-speech software, polling, blogging and much more.  Visit the Digital Skills Development at IOE booking system for details and to book.  Sessions are open to all UCL staff and students and booking opens on 23rd April.

We have a vast range of high-quality video-based courses available at LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning is the new platform on which we are now hosting our Lynda.com content. These cover technical skills but also business, personal and creative skills as well.  Visit the UCL LinkedIn Learning page to find out more.

Not sure what you need or have a more specific issue you would like help with?  Come along to one of the Digital Skills Development drop ins for more individual support.

Current schedule

For a full list of courses and workshops take a look at our course catalogue.  Visit the UCL booking system to book on the sessions listed below.  Enrol on our Moodle course to be the first to be notified about any new sessions. Please note that the booking links for Excel Essential Skills Workshop 2 are only made available to those who have completed Excel Workshop 1.

30/04/2019 10:00 13:00 Data Manipulation in R with Rstudio
30/04/2019 14:00 17:00 Managing Long Documents in Word 2016
01/05/2019 10:00 13:00 Excel 2016 Essential Skills (STAFF ONLY)
01/05/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills Workshop 1
02/05/2019 10:00 13:00 A Quick Introduction to UNIX
03/05/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
03/05/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
07/05/2019 10:00 17:00 Introduction to Matlab (Part 1)
08/05/2019 10:00 13:00 Charting with Excel 2016
09/05/2019 10:00 17:00 Introduction to Matlab (Part 2)
15/05/2019 10:00 13:00 Introduction to Photoshop CS4 – RESERVE LIST
15/05/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills Workshop 1
16/05/2019 10:00 13:00 Further Unix
17/05/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
17/05/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 3
21/05/2019 10:00 17:00 Getting started with Stata
22/05/2019 10:00 13:00 Using Excel 2016 to manage lists (STAFF ONLY)
23/05/2019 10:00 17:00 An Introduction to R with RStudio – RESERVE LIST
28/05/2019 17:30 20:30 An Introduction to R with Rstudio (Part 1) – RESERVE LIST
29/05/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills Workshop 2
30/05/2019 10:00 13:00 Excel 2016 Essential Skills (STAFF ONLY)
30/05/2019 14:00 16:00 Creating accessible documents
30/05/2019 17:30 20:30 An Introduction to R with Rstudio (Part 2)
31/05/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 4
31/05/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 5
05/06/2019 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents
06/06/2019 10:00 13:00 Data Visualization in R with ggplot2
06/06/2019 14:00 16:00 Pivot Tables with Excel 2016 – RESERVE LIST
11/06/2019 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents
20/06/2019 14:00 16:00 Creating accessible documents
25/06/2019 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents

Improving Inclusivity – observations from the UCL Education Conference 2019

By Eliot Hoving, on 9 April 2019

I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 UCL Education Conference on Monday 1st April 2019. The conference was themed around:

  • Widening participation
  • BME (Black Minority Ethnic) Attainment
  • Assessment and Feedback
  • Supporting student success
  • Digital education and innovations

Although it was April Fool’s day, and Brexit loomed large, the conference was full of sober analysis and creative initiatives.

The opening plenary by Anne-Marie Canning MBE challenged Universities to play a greater role in promoting inclusivity in their internal practices, and in the broader public sphere as powerful and influential institutions capable of bringing about change. A subsequent panel discussion raised plenty of questions over the structural and everyday challenges to inclusivity, including whether inclusivity was a process or an outcome. This set the tone for the workshop sessions for the remainder of the day. I attended three sessions, which were part of the Digital education and innovations stream of the conference. Each session demonstrated a creative and pragmatic way to improve inclusivity in the classroom.

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

Multisensory and personalised feedback

Maria Sibiryakova presented her approach to teaching writing in Russian. She highlighted the challenge of teaching to a diverse cohort where students can have different experiences of living in Russia and different interests in learning Russian. In the course, students complete seven mini-essays (500 words each) and Maria provides audio and written feedback to students, which combine to “feedforward” into the next assessment.

Maria presented some of the benefits of using audio feedback, including:

  • Multisensory feedback – hence more accessible,
  • Improves teaching presence – students hear you and your voice,
  • Conversational and personalised feedback, and
  • Often quicker to produce.

Maria used a tool called VoiceThread, which has some intriguing features. It’s also possible to deliver audio feedback using Turnitin Assignment.

Photo by Adi Chrisworo on Unsplash

Open in class discussion with Moodle Hot Questions

Rebecca Yerworth and one of her students, Xu Zhao, demonstrated how Moodle’s Hot Question activity can facilitate in-class discussions.

The Moodle Hot Question activity allows for students to submit questions and/or answers via Moodle on their phone or laptop. This facilitates class discussion by increasing the participation of students who otherwise wouldn’t speak up in class due to personal or cultural reasons. Rebecca moderates the discussion live in class, answers questions, and draws out connections between different student answers. She also finds the Hot Questions activity flexible to use as it can be enabled in Moodle and switched on with a click of a button when a new discussion is needed.

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

Welcoming new Chemistry students through a Moodle module

Dr Stephen E. Potts presented on the development of a Moodle module for welcoming new Chemistry students.

The UCL Chemistry Undergraduate Welcome Page introduces students to the Department, their degree programme, a typical timetable, Lab safety, and even how to submit an assignment on Moodle. It also includes some fun stuff like how to join the UCL Chemical and Physical Society and a collection of molecules with silly names. The module is designed to be delivered completely online, so is Baseline+ compliant, and is released to students when they are registered but before they arrive on campus.

I found the module was a great example of making Moodle look good (yes, it’s possible!). It was visually enticing, clearly structured, and combined quiz activities, video, text and image to engage students. The course has received positive feedback so far, and Stephen plans to build on the module, possibly to include multi-lingual content. I was also really impressed by the virtual tour of the Department. Students click through main buildings and labs, in a similar manner to Google maps, and can also click on information points to view location specific information. The tour was created using a 360 camera and Google Poly.

These three presentations demonstrated some of the everyday ways that inclusivity can be improved through teaching practice and technology. They also showed that improving inclusivity can often be accomplished as part of improving student engagement overall. There was much more to the conference than can be summarised here, and you can read the conference Abstracts to find out more. A tremendous thank you to all the organisers and presenters!

The Turnitin Plagiarism plugin tool for Moodle assignments is finally here…

By Janice K M Kiugu, on 29 March 2019

Digital Education are pleased to announce that the Turnitin Plagiarism plugin tool for Moodle assignments will be available on New Moodle from 2nd April 2019.

This means that assignments submitted via the Moodle assignment tool can now be checked for similarities in text and a Similarity report generated.

Enabling this will ensure parity across assignment types in Moodle (with regards to similarity checking) and will allow staff and students to have the ability to check all pieces of work for similarities in text and not just those submitted via a standard Turnitin assignment.

All staff will be able to enable the setting on Moodle assignments. However, this will be run as a pilot as some but not all institutions that have the plugin enabled have reported a few issues with the plugin that can be resolved, but require workarounds. Digital Education need to ensure that these issues can be resolved and managed.  The pilot will run till the Moodle Snapshot is taken on 26th July 2019.

There are a few key things to note:

Does the tool work with group submissions?

Yes, however note that:

  • Only the student who made the submission will be able to view the similarity report and will need to share it with other students in the group.
  • All marking should be done using the Moodle Grading tools to ensure all students in the group have a grade recorded and can see any feedback given.

What impact will the plugin have on existing Moodle Assignments?

None at all. Existing assignments will remain as they are. If the plugin is enabled for assignments that have already been set and submissions made, then no similarity report will be generated. Students would have to resubmit to get a similarity report.

Can I set up a Moodle assignment with Turnitin enabled and grade the work in Turnitin feedback studio?

No, we do not recommend this. Turnitin should only be used for similarity checking and NOT for grading when it is enabled in a Moodle assignment.   We have detailed reasons for this in on the wiki guide.

For additional guidance on how to use this tool as a staff member, please refer to the guide – Moodle Assignment with Turnitin integration. Alternatively, if you are a student please see – the student guide .

For specific queries or support, email: digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Digital Education Services

The latest Digital Education and RITS collaboration is ready for launch – almost

By Samantha Ahern, on 8 March 2019

Space shuttle on launchpad

Digital Education and Research IT Services have been collaborating on the production of online self-paced training courses based on popular RITS face-to-face courses.

To date two courses have been formally launched, and we are making final preparations to launch our latest course.

If you would like to know more about why and how we developed these courses you can view our presentation from the OER18 Conference.

However, we need your help with a few final checks.

We would like your assistance in undertaking some final quality assurance tasks  – as like other work it’s difficult for us to spot our own errors or spelling mistakes.

We would particularly like assistance in identifying:

  • Spelling errors
  • Formatting issues
  • Missing images
  • Broken links
  • Correct Jupyter notebooks reference

Any assistance in this matter will be greatly appreciated, however we do ask for any feedback to be submitted by Monday 25th March. Please email feedback to: s.ahern@ucl.ac.uk

We have produced some guidance and a feedback  template for reviewing our courses – Research Software Engineering with Python and Introduction to Research Programming with Python.


Moodle Snapshot and Summer Upgrade 2019

By Janice K M Kiugu, on 4 March 2019

As in previous years, Digital Education will be taking an annual Snapshot of Moodle. However, as we have two instances of Moodle running at present, there will be two snapshots. We have highlighted below key dates and some useful information. It is important that you read through this and the links to additional information carefully.

Moodle Snapshot – Legacy Moodle Platform (30th April 2019)

The “Legacy” Moodle platform will become a Moodle Snapshot (read only version) from Tuesday 30th April 2019. This means that while access to all material will be retained for students, the platform itself will become read only, as per our other Moodle snapshots.

As you are aware through previous communications from the Moodle project, and information posted on the Moodle wiki resource page. The “Legacy” Moodle was kept running alongside “New” Moodle in an open state to facilitate the completion of courses which had started prior to the New Moodle environment, and which had a completion date beyond the start of the academic year 18/19. In majority these were Master level courses, courses that required specific resit requirements, courses that had a specific external marker access requirement and professional service courses.

The last phase of these course migrations, those belonging to professional services, is due to begin. Course owners/administrators will shortly be contacted to ensure the correct current courses are migrated.

The intention is that the “Legacy” version of Moodle will become the Moodle snapshot instance for the 17/18 academic period.

Once the Snapshot of “Legacy Moodle” occurs we will follow the standard procedure for our normal summer snapshots.  We will allow editing rights to tutors/administrators for one month until the end of May, in order for you to hide or edit course content, as per the guidance on the following wiki page https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/x/bhxiAQ

If you have any specific concerns about the Snapshot of the “Legacy Moodle” platform, please contact moodleproject@ucl.ac.uk using the title Legacy Snapshot.

New Moodle Summer Upgrade 2019 (26th July 2019)

This year’s summer Moodle upgrade will take place from 5pm Friday 26th July and will be completed by 12 noon Saturday 27th July.

This is a much shorter period of downtime than we have been able to offer in the past. This is a result of the significant improvements in our technology and processes made with the introduction of “New” Moodle last year.

This is our standard yearly upgrade when we will move from our current version of Moodle (v3.4) to a new release version, in this case Moodle (v3.7)

The yearly upgrade ensures that we stay on Moodle.org’s supported release schedule, which has the benefit of providing us with software and security patches from Moodle.org.

This upgrade to v3.7 will resolve several issues on the current Moodle version as well as introduce enhancement features such as, forums and the course overview block. Full details of new features and issues resolved will be released over the next few months.

This summer’s upgrade will also return UCL Moodle to one working platform, called Moodle.ucl.ac.uk, with a single landing page.  The “Legacy 17/18 and 18/19” instance will become one of our standard snapshots.

More information will be provided nearer the time.

If you have any query on the summer upgrade, please email moodleproject@ucl.ac.uk with the title Summer Upgrade.

Additional information and FAQs