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    What we are watching on a deeper dive

    By Caroline Norris, on 16 August 2018

    Having provided a broad overview of usage in my last blog post, I’ll now look in more detail at the top 100 courses and then at the highest-ranking non-technical courses.

    The highest ranking course alone had nearly 500 individuals who viewed this course.  If I tell you that this course was Programming Foundations: Fundamentals it will probably come as no surprise, given the popularity of Developer courses at UCL.  Python and R featured most prominently amongst the wide range of programming languages and associated technology in the top 100.  In fact, Learning Python was the second most popular course.   Java, C, C++ and Git were also popular.  Courses on data science in general featured very prominently amongst high-ranking courses with many viewers interested in data analysis and data visualisation.

    Web development courses that featured in the top 100 included several on learning HTML and CSS and how to use tools such as Bootstrap as well as courses on broader web design techniques and development principles.  Front-end web tools such as WordPress and Google Analytics were less popular but also featured.

    On the creative side, game development technology, CAD software and film editing software (such as Premier Pro) were the most popular.  One course on Photography also made it into the top 100.  Other courses relating to technical  areas were courses in Bitcoin, Blockchain, Artifical Intelligence and GIS to name but a few.

    In terms of Microsoft tools, Excel was the most popular, closely followed by SharePoint and Office 365 training.  Other notable topics were Business Intelligence reporting and Adobe products, mainly Illustrator and InDesign.

    But what about the non-technical courses?  These were more popular with staff, reflecting overall trends, and included topics such as Management and Marketing and also some specific methodologies such as ITIL, Prince2, Agile and SCRUM.  Giving presentations and interviews were also popular topics.  Several courses on project management also featured in the top 100.

    Other non-technical areas covered included personal development courses (either for work or study or just general life skills). These included time management, productivity and writing and reading skills.

    Finally, I’ve included a list below of all the non-technical courses in the top 500 to give you a flavour of the kind of things people are looking at.  I think it reflects the wide diversity of interests at UCL and also the amazing range of non-technical courses on offer at  Why not dip in and try some of them out for yourself?  Just visit our page to log in using your UCL credentials and then type the course name below into the search box:

    Non-technical courses in the top 500

    Business and the workplace
    Entrepreneurship Foundations
    Leading Productive Meetings
    Creating a Business Plan
    Business Foundations
    Business Analysis Foundations
    Small Business Secrets
    Interviewing Techniques
    Hire, Retain, and Grow Top Millennial Talent
    Management Tips Weekly
    New Manager Foundations
    Managing Teams
    Career and job searching
    Writing a Resume
    Mastering Common Interview Questions
    Acing Your Interview
    Writing and communication
    Writing in Plain English
    Communication Tips Weekly
    Communication Foundations
    GDPR Compliance: Essential Training
    Universal Principles of Design
    Learning Design Research
    Drawing Foundations: Fundamentals
    Introduction to Graphic Design
    Designing a Book Cover
    Designing a Poster
    Designing a Book
    Logo Design: Techniques
    Finance and Accounting
    Finance Foundations
    Accounting Foundations
    Grant Writing for Education
    Managing Your Personal Investments
    Making Investment Decisions
    Personal Finance Tips Weekly
    Accounting Foundations: Managerial Accounting
    Finance and Accounting Tips Weekly
    Interpersonal skills
    Customer Service Foundations
    Effective Listening
    Having Difficult Conversations
    Influencing Others
    Marketing and Social Media
    Marketing Foundations
    Facebook Marketing: Advertising
    Marketing Tips Weekly
    Learning Content Marketing
    Facebook for Business
    Music Theory for Songwriters: The Fundamentals
    Singing Lessons: 1 Fundamentals
    Introduction to Photography
    Photography: First Steps
    The Practicing Photographer
    Photography 101
    Photography Foundations: Composition
    Presentation and speaking skills
    Creating and Giving Business Presentations
    Designing a Presentation
    Public Speaking Foundations
    Productivity and organisation
    Overcoming Procrastination
    Time Management Fundamentals
    Getting Things Done
    Time Management Tips Weekly
    Monday Productivity Pointers
    Managing Your Time
    Efficient Time Management
    Project Management Foundations
    Project Management Simplified
    Learning PRINCE2
    Improving Your Memory
    Learning to Be Assertive
    Critical Thinking
    Personal Effectiveness Tips
    Building Self-Confidence
    The Neuroscience of Learning
    Improving Your Focus
    Developing Your Emotional Intelligence
    Happiness Tips Weekly
    Research and study skills
    Learning Speed Reading
    Learning Study Skills
    College Prep: Writing a Strong Essay
    Writing a Research Paper
    Information Literacy
    Learning to Write for the Web
    Grammar Foundations
    Learning Typing
    Note-Taking for Business Professionals
    Advanced Grammar
    Technical Writing: Reports

    What we are watching on – an overview

    By Caroline Norris, on 1 August 2018 has nearly 7,000 courses, but what are UCL staff and students actually watching?  I took a look at the usage figures over the last 12 months to try and answer this question.

    First of all, a quick overview. at UCL has nearly 12, 000 current users.  In the past year there have been:
    • over 4, 000 course completions*
    • over 25, 000 hours viewed
    • over 5, 000 distinct courses accessed

    *This is where a user has watched every single video in a course.  A certificate can be generated which can be attached to your profile in LinkedIn.

    Course popularity by category courses are in three broad areas – Business, Technical and Creative – but these break down further into about twelve different categories.  Looking at all users, the most popular category by total hours viewed was Developer with nearly 30% of courses in this area.  The Developer category includes courses on programming or coding, app and game development and other similar courses.  The next biggest category was Business which includes courses for personal development but also courses in desktop applications used predominantly in an office environment, such as Microsoft Office.  Business courses accounted for about 20% of viewing.  The next two most substantial categories were IT and Web with 12% and 10% respectively.

    If you look at staff and students separately the picture is a little different, with courses in the Business category featuring higher in the staff results at 30%, whereas for students the Business area only accounted for 15%.  UCL students are clearly more interested in technical courses than staff with Developer courses making up 33% of hours viewed by students, compared to just 21% of staff viewing.  Looking at Developer, IT and Web together, these accounted for well over half of all courses viewed by students.

    Looking at the more ‘creative’ side, CAD (Computer Aided Design) featured much more strongly in the student results – 9% of viewing amongst students was in this area compared to only around 1% of staff figures.  3D and Animation showed a similar trend.  This reflects a strong interest in this area in some key departments, notably Computer Science, Bartlett, CASA, CEGE and the Slade although there was also some usage outside of these areas.

    The remaining categories were generally less popular with both staff and students and these were Design, Photography, Video, Education and Elearning, Marketing, and Audio and Music which in total accounted for only about 17% of viewing.  Design courses were mostly popular with the the Department of Information Studies.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Education and Elearning courses were most popular in IOE.  The Bartlett and the Anthropology department were most interested in Photography and Video.

    In my next blog post I’ll look in more detail at which specific courses are most popular with UCL people.  Some of the results might surprise you….

    ABC LD – the next steps

    By Natasa Perovic, on 13 July 2018

    UCL Digital Education has been awarded two year Erasmus+ funding to develop their well-known ABC learning design workshop with a 12 European universities. Since its inception at UCL only three years ago this unique ‘rapid-development’ approach to help academics develop high tech student-focused modules and programmes has had an unprecedented impact on the sector. Dr Clive Young, the originator of ABC alongside his Digital Education colleague Nataša Perović, gives the reasons for its success, “Most universities have aspirational strategies to develop future-looking digitally rich and blended courses, but few teachers have the skills, knowledge and time to redesign their programmes”. ABC is UCL’s response, a light touch team-based approach which co-creates a visual storyboard for a module in just 90 minutes. Over 75 workshops have been run at UCL with nearly 500 academics (and students) redesigning around 200 modules. The participant response has been overwhelmingly positive and ABC was soon picked up beyond UCL, and is now used at 20 other universities in the UK alone. The Erasmus project builds a strategic partnership between UCL, six other universities from the League of European Universities (Amsterdam, Helsinki, Leuven, Milan and the Sorbonne, with Oxford as an associate) and six innovative universities from Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland and Romania. The partnership will develop ABC as a downloadable toolkit that can be used globally by any institution in the sector.  More information…

    Follow the project progress via twitter @ABCtoVLE @ABC_LD.

    Gain accreditation for learning technology expertise with CMALT

    By Caroline Norris, on 25 June 2018







    What is CMALT?

    CMALT is the professional accreditation scheme developed by ALT (the Association for Learning Technology) for anyone whose work involves learning technology.

    The scheme enables candidates to

    • have their experience and capabilities certified by peers
    • demonstrate that they are taking a committed and serious approach to their professional development

    Accreditation is achieved by successful submission of a reflective, online portfolio, which evidences skills and experience in learning technology across four core areas and a specialist area.

    UCL staff and CMALT

    UCL staff can undertake CMALT accreditation with the Bloomsbury Learning Environment partners.  In the past three years, over 50 staff members have set off on their CMALT voyage with the BLE – many have now achieved their CMALT accreditation. Previous cohorts have comprised academics, librarians, learning technologists, careers advisers and professional support staff who all have a strong interest in learning technology.

    You can view further details about CMALT on the ALT website.  there is also this handy document for a brief overview.  An introductory meeting was held in Bloomsbury on Thursday 19th July to explain further what accreditation means and what is involved in achieving it.  You can watch a recording of this introductory meeting or view the slides.

    Interested in joining the 2018-19 cohort?

    Please confirm your intent to register by completing the registration form by Friday 31st August. You will be sent an introductory welcome email from ALT with links to all relevant documents. You will also then be given access to the BLE CMALT course on Moodle and added to the BLE CMALT mailing list.

    The cohort will meet monthly on the first Wednesday of the month during lunch time; the first meeting will take place on Wednesday 5th September, 1230-1430 in Bloomsbury.

    Registration is usually £150 per person. However, for groups of between 5 and 9 candidates, ALT offers 10% off each registration, which would be £135. For groups of 10+ they offer 20% off each registration, which would be £120., I will be able to confirm the fees once we reach those thresholds.

    Further CMALT information

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sarah Sherman, BLE Service Manager directly.

    Looking back at #LearnHack 4.5

    By Janina Dewitz, on 20 June 2018

    Guest post by Teodora Lazar

    On the 2nd of June, UCL’s Digital Education ran #LearnHack 4.5, a day of problem solving, tackling challenges around technology and learning. Students and staff from different departments in UCL came together in BaseKX to solve a challenge, share their ideas and make new connections. What started as being an event that aimed to explore how technology is being used for teaching and learning, became a common ground where students and staff can work together towards achieving a common goal.  

    #LearnHack 4.5 tackled 3 challenges, pitched and voted before the event. Two of them where technical challenges, and the other one was conceptual. The different formats of the challenges were chosen democratically in order to ensure that students from all backgrounds can contribute to the final outcome. Mixed teams, formed on the spot, worked towards bringing forward the best solution for the challenge, competing against each other at the same time

    Kicking off with a presentation of all the challenges, the participants got the chance to understand them, ask questions, and form their teams. The challenges were:

    UCL Intranet for Students by Saskia Cebrian Guerrero & Fabian Urban

    “As a new student at UCL, it was very difficult for me at the beginning to find the library services, where to pay my bills, maps, my schedule, events from the UCL Union and Moodle, since they are all in different-not linked platforms. I think its necessary that students know from the very beginning all the important links and information from the university in an integrated platform. And that is my idea, to create an Intranet designed by and for students.”

    Predicting when assets will fail by Peter Jones & Rebecca Allen

    “To use data from UCL’s Estates team to build a predictive model that will assess which assets are likely fail, enabling predictive/preventative maintenance.”

    Hacking #LearnHack by “the #LearnHack organising gang”

    “The aim of #LearnHack is to bring the whole of the UCL community together to solve some of its problems from the bottom up or the inside out (however you prefer to look at it). Every event is an opportunity to make a real difference to how we do things in the areas of teaching, learning and campus life. While both ticket sales for the  event and feedback by past attendees have been consistently great, attendance hasn’t always been so fantastic. Why is this and what can we do to build a more self-sustaining community moving forwards?”


    The rest of the day was a good opportunity to have a lot of fun while debating, prototyping and working as a team. The participatory format and the friendly environment enabled collaboration and lots of discussion about ways to tackle the challenges. Even if the day was very labour intensive and tiring, the food, snacks, drinks and sweets provided kept everyone going. Also, the wonderful culture of community and collaboration remains a constant characteristic for each and every #LearnHack.

    Being an event that explores the topics of learning and technology, two optional workshops were delivered throughout the day in order to nourish the learning and knowledge sharing atmosphere. The first workshop, ‘Primer on Visual Abstracts’, explored how to increase the impact of one’s publication, through image conceptualisation. Meanwhile the other one, ‘Putting it all together: R and R Markdown’, investigated how one can combine formatted text and analysis code to build up-to-date reports. These workshops were a good way to learn some new skills, but also to take a  well-deserved break from all the hard work to solve the challenges.

    The final presentations were the moment when each team introduced their solutions, ideas and prototypes and told everyone about their findings. Through presentations of just a few minutes, the teams managed to prove that they came up with tangible, creative and useful solutions to every challenge. Even more, they all handled the questions coming from the public and the jury like pros.

    The solutions to the challenges were:


    Make #LearnHack Great Again by Team ‘Something Cool’

    This team responded to the challenge Hacking #LearnHack by creating a strategy plan to improve the reach, recognition and impact of future #LearnHacks. They also responded to this conceptual challenge through a technical measure, by creating a prototype for a brand new website.

    Maintenance System by Team Regatta

    The app that Team Regatta came with responded to the ‘Predicting when Assets will Fail’ challenge. They decided to tackle the issue by creating an app that could be used by the UCL staff to report maintenance issues. They designed a centralised system through which data could be stored in a easy to use, and easy to analyse manner.

    Predictive Analytics by Team Broken Assets

    This team decided to build a model to evaluate the probability of assets failure, so the problems could be fixed before even happening. They analysed the data by taking into account the historical maintenance and the environmental factors. The approach that this team took was very data heavy, since they managed to map out most data sources throughout the day.

    Intranet for Students by Team Lime Pair

    Responding to the challenge of building an intranet for students, team Lime Pair built their prototype that would incorporate on the same website page, all online resources that are vital to all UCL students: Portico, Moodle, Library Services and others.


    #LearnHack proved once again that it not an event for techies only. Don’t be fooled by the name. This one day hackathon brings together researchers, creators, artists, visionaries, thinkers, designers, inventors, dreamers and many others.

    You don’t identify with any of these? No problem, we are always open to new suggestions.

    A New Moodle Platform for the New Academic Year

    By Janice Kiugu, on 18 June 2018

    You have probably heard the news but if not, a new Moodle is on its way…

    Digital Education and the Moodle Improvement Project team have been working hard over the past few months to get a new and improved Moodle ready for the academic year 2018-2019. We know that Moodle is a key part of teaching and learning at UCL and we hope that the New Moodle will provide an improved experience for everyone when it is launched in July.

    There are several reasons a new platform is being implemented, the key one is the work done by the Academic Model Project that has meant that all modules will have new codes, making the module code data currently held on Moodle out of date.  To ensure a smooth set up of Moodle courses for 2018-2019, it is pertinent that we have a new instance of Moodle to host the new module codes and ‘new’ courses.

    The rollout of a new Moodle has also presented us with the opportunity to try to address some of the current issues that users have raised relating to usability, and to ensure the platform can support its increasing usage. Moodle 18/19 will be more accessible, including features allowing users to ‘dock’ blocks and view content in ‘full screen’ mode, as well as adjusted colours and screen contrast to enhance readability.

    The new Moodle has been built on a more robust infrastructure to cater for increased usage now and in the future. The new Moodle will also help us meet GDPR requirements that were introduced in May.  We also hope that staff will take the opportunity of having a new platform to review content on their Moodle courses to ensure that they meet the E-Learning Baseline, which is now policy.

    From early July, new Moodle will be available but will not yet have content. The current (17/18) Moodle will still be accessible with all the same content to support late summer assessments and courses which run through until the autumn term. You will be able to choose between Moodle 17/18, the ‘legacy’ version of Moodle and the new (18/19) platform via a simple landing page.  The Moodle Improvement Project team and Digital Education will be coordinating with department teams to map and migrate content from the current platform of Moodle to the new instance.

    Detailed information about the new platform, data migration and what staff will need to do to prepare for the next academic year is contained on our New Moodle Information page.

    We understand there will doubtless be concerns and queries relating to the new Moodle, so you may want to consult the growing list of FAQs. If you have any comments, questions or concerns about Moodle18/19, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Moodle Improvement Project Team.  Email:

    We have summarised key dates below:

    Key dates

    • June 2018: Briefing for E-Learning Champions and department Moodle Migration Coordinators.
    • July 2018: New Moodle is available (with content still to be migrated)
    • July 2018 – August 2018: Migration of content from current Moodle to Moodle 2018-2019. The Moodle Improvement Project Team will be working with department Moodle Migration Coordinators to map and migrate content from current Moodle to the new instance of Moodle. The focus will be on all taught Moodle courses and programme sites first, with Professional Services courses etc. coming thereafter
    • July – August: Information and demo sessions will be held for all staff. More details on exact event dates can be found on our information pages.

    Useful resources