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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


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 Kiugu, on 4 March 2019

As in previous years, we 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

A Quick Introduction to Unix evening course – places available

By Jasmin E Mullings, on 4 March 2019

Digital Skills Development are pleased to say there is still time to book a place on our course “A Quick Introduction to Unix” on 20th March from 17:30 – 20:30.  Designed to introduce complete beginners to the operating system that sits under the bonnet of the internet, is the first choice for high performance computing and is seen on more and more desktop computers, this course will help you move into the computing fast lane.

A previous attendee said “Great and very enthusiastic lecturer. The course was very well paced. Good contents and very useful”.

Course Outline


  • What is Unix?
  • Types of Unix
  • Files and processes
  • The shell and subshells
  • The Directory Structure
  • Managing Files and Directories
  • Understanding pathnames
  • Working with Files on the screen
  • Searching the contents of a file
  • Redirecting Output
  • Wildcards
  • Simple scripting
  • Getting Help
  • Access rights


If you are interested in booking a place, please book via the following STBS link: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/UCLTrainingBookingSystem/index/results?Model_Page-QUERY=ISUNIX&x=0&y=0

Globally De-activating Portico Enrolments

By Janice Kiugu, on 26 February 2019

Portico enrolments will be globally deactivated in Moodle on 5th March 2019.  This is usually done six weeks from the start of each term.

How will this impact students on my course?

  • Students who are already enrolled on a Moodle course WILL continue to have access to their course (s) and WILL NOT be unenrolled.
  • Students enrolling on Portico after the deactivation WILL NOT be automatically enrolled  onto the corresponding Moodle course. Students can still be manually enrolled.
  • Students who leave the course WILL NOT be automatically un-enrollled

Moodle and Portcio enrolments

When Portico enrolments are active on a Moodle course, student enrolments on the course are automatically updated overnight to mirror the Portico student list for the associated module. Consequently, students who change courses, or withdraw from their studies permanently or temporarily, are automatically un-enrolled from their Moodle courses. Usually, this is desirable when students change/drop modules within the first few weeks of term. However, if Portico un-enrols students after they have been awarded any grades, these grades become inaccessible, which can be very problematic.

Note: the ‘inaccessible’ grades, submissions and logged activity are not deleted, and can be accessed again if the student is re-enrolled manually. But, when a student is no longer enrolled on a course, there is just no way to view their content.

Why deactivate Portico enrolments?

To reduce the likelihood of this particular ‘inaccessible/missing grades’ problem occurring, Portico enrolments are de-activated globally in Moodle, six weeks from the start of each term.

Can I re-activate Portico enrolments on my course(s)?

Yes. However, please assess whether you risk losing access to some students’ grades before you do this. See instructions on re-activating Portico enrolments

Note: Portico enrolments can be ‘deactivated’ within the course at any time by anyone with Course Administrator or Tutor access, thereby stopping any updates to the list of enrolled users on the Moodle course.

Educause – Key issues in T&L in 2019

By , on 20 February 2019

A US focus to the infographic of course, but an interesting insight nonetheless.

Follow-up notes and “7 things” briefing papers at https://www.educause.edu/eli/initiatives/key-issues-in-teaching-and-learning

Turnitin and Moodle Assignment training

By , on 7 February 2019

The Digital Education team is running two new training courses, Hands on with Turnitin Assignment, and Hands on with Moodle Assignment. Each session is practical, from a staff and student perspective you will experience the process of submitting, marking, returning marks, engaging with feedback and managing records. Both courses are applicable to Tutors and Course Administrators new to online marking or needing to refresh their knowledge.

Register through the HR Single Training Booking System or follow the links below:
Hands on with Turnitin
Hands on with Moodle Assignment

Email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk for more information or to inquire about specific training for your Department.