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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'Digital literacies' Category

LinkedIn Learning student webinar

Caroline Norris8 November 2019

This webinar takes place on each of the dates below, all sessions cover the same topics:

  • Monday 18th Nov 1:00 pm
  • Thursday 21st Nov 4:00 pm
  • Friday 22nd Nov 8:30 am

Join any webinar

LinkedIn Learning is a library of over 7000 courses covering study and research skills, personal effectiveness, technical training, leadership skills, and much more.  All courses are delivered by experts and are of a consistently high quality.  UCL offers LinkedIn Learning free to all staff and students; you just need to use your UCL user ID and password to log in and you are good to go.

LinkedIn are offering a series of webinars to help you get the most out of using the platform.  Just choose any date and connect to the online session.  Anyone can attend but they are aimed particularly at students.

The topics LinkedIn will be covering are:

  • benefits of LinkedIn Learning,
  • benefits of Connected Profiles,
  • employability opportunities
  • deep dive into LinkedIn Learning Features and Functions.

Join any webinar

Creating digital portfolios

Samantha Ahern7 November 2019

In the last few years I have used a number of online tools to create digital portfolios as part of my continuing professional development, both HEA Fellowship and Associate CMALT.

For these portfolios I have used both MyPortfolio (Mahara)  and Reflect (WordPress).

Both do the job well, but there are differences in the development process and how you approach the development of the portfolio. You are welcome to view the portfolio I created for HEA Fellowship, original MyPortfolio pages and/or Reflect portfolio.


MyPortfolio is UCL’s version of Mahara, an eportfolio development tool. Portfolios are created via pages that are linked together as collections.

When you create your pages you have control over the structural layout. You choose from the inbuilt layout options, or you can create your own by selecting the number of rows, then the number of columns for each row and the page width percentage allocated to each column.

MyPortfolio page layout options

MyPortfolio page layout options

This gives you almost total control of the positioning of objects on the page. Any type of object can be added to any of the ‘content boxes’ you have created.

MyPortfolio page showing different content types

MyPortfolio page showing different content types


However, you are limited with regards to the look and feel of the pages. You can select from a number of Skins, but these only change the surrounds of the main content. You cannot change the background colour of the background boxes themselves.

MyPortfolio page with Skin

MyPortfolio page with Skin

MyPortfolio page without Skin

MyPortfolio page without Skin






You do however, have quite granular control over who can view your pages and collections. By default, only you can view your pages. This is good while developing your portfolio if you’re not keen on anyone seeing your work in progress. When you are ready to share your work, you can decide who you want to share with and for how long, a set time period or indefinitely.

MyPortfolio sharing options

MyPortfolio sharing options

There are also advanced options where you can modify the settings relating to comments and copying of your pages.

MyPortfolio advanced options - Sharing

MyPortfolio advanced options – Sharing


Reflect is UCL’s blogging service for staff and students. Its primary use is for teaching and learning purposes. It is a WordPress platform provided by CampusPress. For this reason it is not possible to use the WordPress app with Reflect sites.

First and foremost WordPress is a blogging a platform, and this makes it a great tool for reflection and journalling. However, for creating portfolios it is best to make use of pages. You can set a page, as the main first page of your Reflect site giving it the appearance of a website as opposed to a blog.

In WordPress, appearance and layout is determined by the Theme that you have chosen, and will apply to all of your site. You cannot have different themes for different sections. It is therefore imperative that you choose an appropriate them for your site. Think carefully about what you are trying to achieve and the type of content (e.g. text, images and video) that you wish to include.

At present there are over 400 themes available for Reflect. For most sites I would recommend selecting one of themes identified as Accessibility Ready, this will help more users access your content.

Screenshot of Reflect dashboard showing Theme selection options.

Theme selection optionsaccess your content.

However, for portfolios I recommend choosing one of the Portfolio themes and one that best matches the mix of content you expect to include. Themes can easily be changed, so you may need to experiment with a few to find a good match.

Once you have chosen your theme, make use of the menu builder and pages to create the structure for your portfolio. You can group content using parent and child pages.

Pages can be saved as Drafts whilst they are still in development, however they need to be published before they can be added to the menu.

By default Reflect does not have the granularity of access control that MyPortfolio has. However, if you activate the “User Specific Content” plugin you can specify who can see what pages. Otherwise, your site is private or public.

Employability and Connected Curriculum

Both MyPortfolio and Reflect are great tools for Connected Curriculum activities where students are required to create content for an external audience. However, if you are looking to enhance students’ employability skills, I recommend the use of Reflect as WordPress is used widely. In 2015, 25% of all websites used WordPress (https://w3techs.com/) and its market share has continued to grow and is currently used for 84% of all Japanese websites.



Develop your digital skills this academic year

Caroline Norris27 September 2019

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

New this term we have our Software for success sessions.  Are you starting a new research project, thesis or dissertation?  Unsure what tools to use for writing up and citation?  Need help understanding the different options for data analysis?  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.

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.  Book a place on a Creating accessible documents course. To find out more about creating accessible content, please visit our dedicated web pages.

See below for our current schedule of courses and workshops or go straight to book now.

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, screencasting, 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.  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 and 3 are only made available to those who have completed Excel Workshop 1.

08/10/2019 10:00 17:00 LaTex with NatBib
09/10/2019 10:00 13:00 Introduction to Photoshop CS4
09/10/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 1
10/10/2019 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents
11/10/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 1
11/10/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 1
15/10/2019 10:00 13:00 Charting with Excel 2016
15/10/2019 14:00 17:00 Excel 2016 Essential Skills (STAFF ONLY)
16/10/2019 10:00 13:00 A Quick Introduction to UNIX
16/10/2019 14:00 16:00 Creating accessible documents
16/10/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 1
17/10/2019 10:00 12:00 Pivot Tables with Excel 2016
21/10/2019 12:00 13:00 Software for success: Writing tools
21/10/2019 17:30 20:30 An Introduction to R with RStudio (Part 1)
22/10/2019 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents
23/10/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 1
23/10/2019 17:30 20:30 An Introduction to R with RStudio (Part 2)
25/10/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 2
25/10/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 2
25/10/2019 12:00 13:00 Software for success: Data analysis and statistical tools
28/10/2019 12:00 13:00 Software for success: Bibliography and citation
29/10/2019 10:00 13:00 Getting Started with Markdown
29/10/2019 14:00 17:00 Managing Long Documents in Word 2016 (STAFF ONLY)
30/10/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 2
05/11/2019 10:00 13:00 Using Excel 2016 to manage lists (STAFF ONLY)
06/11/2019 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents
06/11/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 2
07/11/2019 10:00 13:00 Excel 2016 Essential Skills (STAFF ONLY)
08/11/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 3
08/11/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 3
12/11/2019 10:00 13:00 Further UNIX
13/11/2019 10:00 13:00 Data Manipulation in R with Rstudio
13/11/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 2
20/11/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 3
21/11/2019 10:00 13:00 Introduction to Photoshop CS4
21/11/2019 14:00 17:00 Data Visualization in R with ggplot2
22/11/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 4
22/11/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 4
26/11/2019 10:00 13:00 Managing Long Documents in Word 2016 (STAFF ONLY)
27/11/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 3
28/11/2019 10:00 12:00 Creating accessible documents
03/12/2019 10:00 17:00 An Introduction to R with RStudio (Parts 1 & 2)
04/12/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 3
04/12/2019 17:30 20:30 Introduction to Matlab (Part 1)
05/12/2019 17:30 20:30 Introduction to Matlab (Part 2)
06/12/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 5
06/12/2019 11:00 12:00 Word Essential Skills – Workshop 5
11/12/2019 17:30 20:30 Introduction to Matlab (Part 3)
12/12/2019 17:30 20:30 Introduction to Matlab (Part 4)

Do you have the skills?

Samantha Ahern11 September 2019

HeDecorativere in Digital Education we know that UCL’s student body is a diverse group with an equally diverse educational background. We also know that digital skills are an essential tool for everyday life and will support your studies.

We are therefore pleased to announce the launch of our new Moodle course Digital Skills Awareness@UCL.

This awareness course outlines the key digital skills you will need for your studies. It will not give you the digital skills – it is for avoiding surprises that make you say “no one told me I needed to know that!”.  It offers tips and advice from a variety of sources, including other first year students and university support staff, as well as helpful links and videos from around the internet.

But this is only part of the picture.

In our Moodle course Digital Learning@UCL, you will learn about the digital tools and services that you will encounter during your studies. This will include everyday services such as Moodle and Lecturecast, our lecturing capturing service, as well as the student blogging service UCL Reflect. The course also provides information about study support services and how to get started with IT services here at UCL.

To find out more about the development opportunities available to you visit the Digital Skills Development webpages.


Dissertation Clinics in July and August

Jasmin E Mullings19 June 2019

Need help with your dissertation or thesis?

We are running three clinics on 4 July, 6 August and 15 August. Staff can help with formatting your dissertation, using statistical software and  bibliographic referencing using Word, LaTeX, SPSS, R, NatBib, Endnote and Zotero.

Places are limited so you will need to book in advance. For more information please complete the following poll: https://doodle.com/poll/2tds84nzgw3cyafn Please contact isd-digiskills@ucl.ac.uk with any queries.

Digital accessibility face to face sessions

Caroline Norris11 June 2019

As you may be aware, new accessibility regulations have recently come into force which affects most digital content such as UCL web sites, e-learning content and library systems and any files that are hosted on these.  Digital Education are offering a number of options for you to get support with making your content accessible.

Drop in sessions
Every Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m during term-time (There will be no session on 11th March). The sessions will take place in Room 501, Institute of Archaeology from 15th January 2020 onwards.

Get more individual help with making your content accessible, no appointment necessary.
Sessions will also cover making your Moodle courses compliant with the E-learning baseline.
Changes to the schedule will be publicised here so please check before travelling to the session.

Learn how to create accessible Word, PowerPoint and Excel files in this two hour hands-on course.
Book a place on the Creating accessible documents course

Briefing sessions
A short presentation introducing the legislation, what is required and by when.
View or download the latest version of the PowerPoint slides (last updated 09/07/2019).
Book a place (last session 26/07/2019)
If you would like to arrange a session for your department please email us to arrange.

Self-help resources
You can find further information about how to make your content accessible on our Digital Accessibility pages, including links to online courses.