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Inspiration – Great News – It has been saved!

By Michele C Farmer, on 29 January 2020

I have heard that Inspiration mind mapping software has been bought by another company and will be continued.

New Accessibility Tool lets you customise Moodle

By Eliot Hoving, on 20 January 2020

A new Moodle plugin, the Accessibility Tool, will be available on Wednesday 22nd January 2020 for staff and students.

The tool allows students and staff to customise the appearance of the Moodle platform through changing Moodle’s colour scheme, font style, readability and text size. The tool can help reduce eye strain and improve concentration. Changes made using the tool only apply to the user, and only apply to the Moodle platform, not documents uploaded or stored on Moodle.

Green on Black Colour Scheme:

Moodle platform where 'Green text on a black background' colour scheme has been selected via the Accessibility Tool.

White on Grey Colour Scheme:

Moodle platform where 'White text on a grey background' colour scheme has been selected via the Accessibility Tool.

Text Size – default

Default Text size on Moodle.

Text Size – Massive text size

Massive text size, which is larger than the Default text size.

How to edit your accessibility preferences?

To customise your preferences, simply:

  1. Log onto Moodle
  2. Click on your name on the top right of Moodle to open up the user menu.
  3. Select Accessibility Tool.

Moodle's user menu contains the Accessibility tool option where you can customise Moodle's appearance to suit your needs.

The release of the Accessibility Tool follows on from Digital Education’s efforts to improve the accessibility of Moodle content through training and support and releasing Blackboard Ally. See the Creating accessible content webpage for more detail.

Students and staff can be directed towards this blog post to learn about the Accessibility Tool, or alternatively to the updated Staff guide or Student guide.

If you have any questions please contact Digital Education at digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

Accessible documents for the STEM disciplines (well, mainly) using LaTeX

By Jim R Tyson, on 8 January 2020

Next week I am leading a session on using LaTeX (or Markdown) to create more accessible and inclusive documents.  This is a bring your own device session – if you want to practice the techniques you will need a laptop (or other suitable device) with a working LaTeX installation.  The session is on Wenesday 15th January and starts at 2 pm.  It is expected to last around two hours.  You can book a place at the following link

Eventbrite booking for accessible LaTeX

with Access Code Student.  The course is only open to staff and students of UCL and a UCL ID card is required for building access.

LaTeX is a de facto standard for authoring documents in many STEM disciplines. It is used not only in publishing academic research but also in preparting materials for teaching and learning. This session will look at the ways we can make documents prepared with LaTeX more accessible and so make teaching and learning more inclusive.

The issues covered are relevant to markdownand Rmarkdown users as well as LaTeX users.

I hope to cover:

  • Overview of accessibility concerns
  • Using standard LaTeX techniques to enhance accessibility
    • structure
    • fonts and typefaces
    • margins
    • hyperlinks
  • Inserting comments into PDFs vs using captions
  • Use of colour
  • Using pandoc to generate HTML or docx formats
    • creating MathML output

New Year, new you? How LinkedIn Learning can help you meet your goals

By Caroline E Norris, on 3 January 2020

As a member of staff or a student at UCL, you have unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning, an on-demand library of high-quality instructional videos covering a vast range of software, business and creative skills.  So whether you’re a seasoned user or have yet to take advantage of LinkedIn Learning, the new year is the perfect time to start some regular online learning.

Here are six courses to help set you up for success in the New Year.  So, why not block out some time in the next few weeks to get started?

ABC Learning Design Update

By Clive Young, on 19 December 2019

ABC is the effective approach to curriculum (re)design, developed at UCL four years ago and now used widely not only at UCL but across the HE sector. Well over a thousand colleagues have now had a chance to participate in an ABC workshop. For those still unfamiliar with this ‘sprint’ approach, programme and module teams take part in an engaging hands-on ‘design sprint’ workshop, usually facilitated by UCL Digital Education. In just 90 minutes using a game format, teams collaborate to create a visual ‘storyboard’ outlining the type and sequence of blended and online activities required to meet the module’s learning outcomes. Assessment, cross-programme themes and institutional policies such as the Connected Curriculum can all be integrated according to the needs of the programme/module.

After running pilots in the 2014-15 academic year, ABC was launched as a service in 15-16 and has enjoyed steady growth in numbers of modules (re)designed per annum. As part of UCL’s 2016-21 Educational Strategy we committed to work with 250 modules by 2021. We have nearly reached this already, not counting workshops run by UCL academic colleagues.

Word of ABC soon spread beyond UCL especially as we provide workshop materials for free download. In 2016-18 we were funded by HEFCE Catalyst to both evaluate the ABC method and develop these materials onto a downloadable ABC Toolkit to help other institutions run their own workshops. We ran demos at several JISC Connect More events, ALT-C and international conferences and as a result ABC is now a familiar UCL ‘brand’ in the UK and beyond.

90% of ABC participants surveyed in the HEFCE project agreed their experience was positive and 71% that the workshop enabled them to enhance the curriculum. Many follow-up interviewees commented on the ‘buzz’ in the room and enjoyment of the workshops:

it’s just a fun workshop so it’s colourful, it’s paper based, you’re moving things around and you’re feeling things, people are excited, if there are tutors and there are many of those who actually have a fear of technology type things, well they don’t have to worry about it in a workshop like this, …  it’s alive, you can see it; people are talking and it’s great to see that….

In parallel we have run the workshops for 16 fellow-members of the League of European Research Universities, including at Edinburgh, Oxford, Imperial, Trinity College Dublin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and the Sorbonne. This networking led to the current Erasmus + project ‘ABCtoVLE’ (2018-2020) investigating both how institutions localise ABC and link it to their online learning environments. This year the UCL Digital Education team have also run workshops by invitation in Warsaw, Zurich, Geneva, Reykjavik and even as far afield as Auckland and Sydney.

The global interest in UCL’s learning design method is wonderful but hard to keep up with, so next year we will focus more on building a sustainable network.

New Digital Skills courses for 2020

By Jasmin E Mullings, on 9 December 2019

IMPORTANT: Please note that the UCL booking system closed on 15th January.

When the new training booking system (MyLearning) goes live in mid-February, you will be able to book onto sessions scheduled from 2nd March onwards. If you want to be informed about the opening of the new system, enrol on our Moodle course.

A full list of course dates for this term can be found at the end of this blog post.

ISD Digital Skills Development has released new dates for the first half of Term 2. As usual, we are offering a wide range of courses covering Excel, Photoshop, R, Stata, and more…

This term we have our Software for success sessions again and three new In a Nutshell sessions.

Software for Success sessions are aimed at those starting a new research project, thesis or dissertation and unsure what tools to use for writing up, citation, data analysis etc. These short, lunchtime sessions will help you answer these questions and determine the best way to get up and running.  Book a place on a ‘Software for success’ presentation.

In a Nutshell sessions highlight a single task in a particular application, such as loading survey data into NVivo for example. Book a place on an ‘In a Nutshell’ presentation.

We have added new sessions for our highly popular  Creating accessible documents course.  Making documents accessible is important for everyone, whether or not they have a disability or impairment. In this session you will learn how to make your PowerPoint, Word, Excel and PDF files more accessible. To find out more about creating accessible content, please visit our dedicated web pages.

See below for our current schedule of courses and workshops.

More digital skills development opportunities…

Digital Skills Development at IOE offer training in a wide range of digital tools.  Sessions are open to all UCL staff and students.  Highlights this term include:

  • Creating Accessible PowerPoint presentations,
  • Presentation Translator – add live subtitles to your presentations,
  • Introduction to Stop Motion Studio animation (iPad app).

Other sessions include Microsoft tools such as OneNote, Sway, Teams and SharePoint.  You can also learn more about EndNote, Pivot tables and VLookUp in Excel, mind mapping, infographics, video editing and much more.

Visit the Digital Skills Development at IOE booking system for details and to book.

Learn online with a vast range of high-quality video-based courses from LinkedIn Learning. This is the new platform on which we are now hosting 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.

Sessions available now:

Date Start time End time Course/workshop
13/01/2020 13:00 14:00 Software for Success: Bibliography and Citation
21/01/2020 10:00 13:00 Getting started with Stata (Part 1) (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
22/01/2020 10:00 13:00 Getting started with Stata (Part 2) (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
22/01/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1 (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
24/01/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1 (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
24/01/2019 12:00 13:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
27/01/2020 14:00 16:00 Creating accessible documents (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
28/01/2020 10:00 13:00 Getting started with SPSS (Part 1)
29/01/2020 10:00 13:00 Getting started with SPSS (Part 2)
03/02/2020 13:00 14:00 In a Nutshell: Better Tables in Markdown
04/02/2020 10:00 13:00 A Quick Introduction to UNIX
04/02/2020 14:00 17:00 Excel 2016 Essential Skills (STAFF ONLY) (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
05/02/2020 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1 (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
07/02/2020 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
07/02/2020 12:00 13:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1
06/02/2020 10:00 13:00 Getting Started with Markdown
10/02/2020 13:00 14:00 Software for success: Writing tools
11/02/2020 14:00 17:00 Further UNIX
12/02/2020 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1 (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
14/02/2020 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
14/02/2020 12:00 13:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
13/02/2020 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
18/02/2020 10:00 13:00 Intermediate statistics with Excel 2016 (STAFF ONLY)
19/02/2020 10:00 13:00 Using Excel 2016 to manage lists (STAFF ONLY)
24/02/2020 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents
24/02/2020 13:00 14:00 In a Nutshell: Survey Data in Nvivo – the absolute truth
25/02/2020 10:00 13:00 Managing Long Documents in Word 2016 (STAFF ONLY)
25/02/2020 14:00 17:00 Charting with Excel 2016
26/02/2020 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1 (RESERVE LIST ONLY)
28/02/2020 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 3
28/02/2020 12:00 13:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 3

Sessions available to book from mid-February once MyLearning goes live:

Date Start time End time Course/workshop
02/03/2020 13:00 14:00 Software for success: Data analysis and statistical tools
02/03/2020 17:30 20:30 Introduction to Matlab (Part 1)
03/03/2020 17:30 20:30 Introduction to Matlab (Part 2)
03/03/2020 10:00 13:00 Advanced statistics with Excel 2016
05/03/2020 10:00 13:00 Introduction to Photoshop CS4
11/03/2020 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
12/03/2020 17:30 20:30 Introduction to Matlab (Part 3)
13/02/2020 17:30 20:30 Introduction to Matlab (Part 4)
13/03/2020 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 4
13/03/2020 12:00 13:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 4
16/03/2020 13:00 14:00 In a Nutshell: Survival analysis in R
17/03/2020 10:00 17:00 An Introduction to R with RStudio (Parts 1 and 2)
18/03/2020 10:00 13:00 Data Manipulation in R with Rstudio
19/03/2020 14:00 16:00 Creating accessible documents
23/03/2020 10:00 17:00 An Introduction to R with RStudio (Parts 1 & 2)
24/03/2020 10:00 17:00 LaTex with NatBib
25/03/2020 10:00 13:00 Introduction to Visualising Data with Matlab
25/03/2020 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
27/03/2020 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 5
27/03/2020 12:00 13:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 5
26/03/2020 14:00 17:00 Data Visualization in R with ggplot2