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    Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

    Converting a PDF into a Word Document

    By Michele Farmer, on 5 September 2018

    As PDF Converter will no longer be available via the software database, the option for converting PDF into Word can now be accessed via Word itself.

    Just go to the ‘Open’ file option and in the drop down menu in the bottom right of the window select ‘PDF’ and browse to and open your file.

    Word will then convert it to a copy you can then edit.

    Image of PDF Word open menu

    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.

    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

    Kick-starting your literature review

    By Caroline Norris, on 12 April 2018

    30 May 2 – 5 p.m.

    This three-hour session aims to help you leverage some simple software tools to kick-start your literature review.

    The course will start with an review of library and literature searching techniques including creating appropriate search strategies and using appropriate databases.

    We will explore the use of Firefox with Zotero for building a database of literature – the bibliographic database – and some Zotero plugins that will give us useful added functionality.

    We will learn how to annotate PDFs from Zotero and how to extract and report on annotations to produce rich reports of the literature.

    This is a bring your own device session and if you bring a laptop with an up-to-date installation of Firefox you will be able to install the software to be used and practise the techniques described.

    There are no pre-requisites for this course.

    Book a place from April 16 (student)

    Book a place from April 16 (staff)


    Digital Skills Development courses for the summer term

    By Caroline Norris, on 12 April 2018

    ISD Digital Skills Development have released new dates for this term. Courses and workshops cover UNIX, Excel, Photoshop, R, Stata, SPSS and more. We are also running Word courses to help you write up your dissertation or thesis.

    Most courses take place in computer workrooms so there is no need to bring your own device.  However, you should bring your own (fully charged!) laptop for Kick-starting your literature review and all R sessions.

    If you can’t attend any of the dates or there is no date available for the course you want, enrol on our Moodle course to be notified of future sessions.

    For a full list of all courses and workshops visit the student course catalogue or the staff course catalogue.  Visit the HR booking system for all bookings.

    Our student booking system is currently unavailable.  If you are student you can book via the link above.  You will initially receive an email saying that you are on the reserve list.  If a place is available you will receive a further email within 2 working days (or before the course, whichever is sooner) confirming your place. 

    Excel Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 1 is not on the HR booking system
    The workshop on 2 May is full.  If you wish to book for 9 May please email

    The Digital Skills Development at IOE programme offers training in a wide range of apps including: blogging, mind mapping, infographics, screencasting, live polling, Microsoft Sway, SharePoint, Office 2013 applications, Endnote and more. Bookings are open to all UCL staff and students.  Visit Digital Skills Development at IOE – Course Bookings for the full schedule and to book.  The Digital Skills Development at IOE training updates newsletter is now available in Microsoft Sway format.

    Don’t forget, we have a vast range of high-quality video-based courses available at These cover technical skills but also business, personal and creative skills as well.  Visit the UCL 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 if you want more individual support.

    Introducing StepShot Manuals

    By Jim R Tyson, on 8 February 2018

    For a while now, I have been quietly promoting StepShot Manuals (StepShot for short) to my colleagues in ISD. StepShot is a rapid documentation development tool. Which is not nearly as bad as it sounds. StepShot allows you to record an on-screen process – for example, formatting a table in Word or filling out an expenses form – taking screenshots, adding callouts and annotations and writing explanations as you go.

    Some key uses for StepShot include

    • rapid development of training materials and technical documentation
    • developing test scripts for UAT
    • recording test results or bugs
    • creating knowledgebase articles
    • recording process for business analysis and process review

    If you have ever done these jobs, then you might have combined several tools, for example

    a screenshot tool (Windows has one built in), Word, an image editor (Paint or Photoshop), with a workflow like this: take all your screenshots, insert them into word editing, cropping etc as you go, adding explanatory text.

    Stepshot brings all this together in one tool. You set it up to record the activity and select to create a screenshot for mouse clicks or keyboard actions or to use a specific hot key combination for screenshots. As you go through the activity recording images you can also give each a descriptive title and a comment. When you stop recording StepShot opens its editing tool. This latter looks a bit like PowerPoint: your images are listed vertically down the left while the main window allows you to edit an image and add text.

    Click to see the animation!

    This is already a vast improvement on hacking documents together with separate applications, none of them specifically designed for the job, but wait there’s more! StepShot can export your document when you have finished, as Word, PDF, HTML, XML or DITA and can publish directly to Confluence, SharePoint or WordPress. (If they add a PowerPoint option I’ll throw a party). There are simple built in templates for output and with a little effort you can create a customised or branded template.

    So, currently about a dozen people at UCL have taken up a license (UCL staff members can contact ISD Training Administration for licensing information. To use StepShot you do need admin rights on your Windows or Mac PC.). It has been used to create training materials for lecturecast (published on Confluence), it has been used in UAT creating test scripts, it has been used by software testers to record bugs and communicate them to developers. No one currently using it has had more than a two minute informal introduction to the product but people seem to pick up its basic use very quickly. Users report that they enjoy using it as well. The most commone response using it for the first time has been about the immense time savings you can achieve and next about the simplicity of use. One or two people have commented that they don’t really like the look of the output, but this is largely because they haven’t learned how to customise output. I have offered a short workshop on customisation and hope to run it again.

    I have created a Microsoft Team site and I will be keeping in touch with people using it since I have been asked to feedback our experience to the developers.