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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

Discover your Digital – AI questions added to the Discovery Tool

By Caroline Norris, on 22 February 2024

The Discovery Tool consists of reflective question sets which explore your digital practices and confidence levels.  The main question set looks at overall digital capabilities but there are also additional question sets for staff covering effective teaching and accessibility and inclusion and leadership all from a digital perspective.   The tool can also be used by students and there is a general question set for all students and one aimed at new students.

See below for full details of how to use the tool and upcoming workshops on 6 March, 23 April and 13 May.

New for 2024 there is now a question set on Digital Skills in AI and Generative AI for staff and a similar question set will be available for students in March.

The staff AI questions are arranged under the following categories:

  • Responsible AI
  • AI and digital proficiency
  • AI and digital productivity
  • AI and information and data literacy
  • AI and digital communication
  • AI and collaboration and participation
  • AI and digital creativity
As with other question sets you get a customised report  indicating your confidence and proficiency in each area represented in a chart (pictured right) and some suggested next steps to develop your skills.
All the reports signpost to a wealth of free resources and these have been augmented with additional AI-focused content.  We have also added customised UCL resource cards which signpost relevant UCL policies, guidelines, resources and learning opportunities.
Want to find out more?  Visit the Discover your digital web page for details about how to use the tool or come along to a workshop to try it out.  We can also arrange workshops for specific groups of staff or students.  Contact us with any queries.

New Moodle training – Quiz, Question Bank and Gradebook

By i.niculescu, on 20 February 2024

The Digital Education team is launching new Moodle training packages.

Who is this training for?

These training packages are aimed at staff who are comfortable navigating the Moodle interface and understand its basic functionalities.

It is aimed at both academic and professional services staff.

What does the training cover?

Moodle Advanced Quiz and Question Bank

  • an overview of Moodle question types
  • building a Moodle Quiz that uses advanced features
  • accessible and inclusive quiz design considerations
  • advanced quiz settings such as feedback, question randomisation, and adaptive mode
  • an overview of the Question Bank interface
  • how teams can manage question banks
  • organising question banks clearly with categories and tag
  • analysing question usage and quiz results

Moodle Gradebook

  • an overview of the Gradebook interface
  • basic functionalities and how to access key features
  • advanced features such as grade calculations, scales, outcomes and customised reporting
  • considerations for regular checks and maintenance of gradebooks

How can I learn?

Self-paced online course, workshops, or a combination!

The same information is covered by both the self-paced online courses and the online synchronous workshops, the only difference is the delivery mode.

How do I access the self-paced courses or book a workshop?

Self-paced courses

The estimated completion time for each course is between 2-3 hours.

Online synchronous workshops (equivalent to self-paced courses)

You can register using MS Forms, this will automatically generate an Outlook calendar invite which includes all the necessary information for joining the workshop.

Each workshop is 90 minutes long and will take place online.

Advanced Quiz Management in Moodle

Question Bank & Question Analytics in Moodle

Moodle Gradebook

Depending on your role, existing knowledge and availability, you can choose the combination which best suits your needs e.g. one workshop for Question Bank and self-paced course for Advanced Quiz. After completing the online courses or workshops, staff can get further support by getting in touch by email to digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

The training packages will be further developed as we receive feedback and input from the UCL community. Course participants will be notified when new materials will be added to the courses.

If you missed one of our workshops, please use the ‘Registration of interest’ form and we will contact you as soon as it becomes available again.

Global Deactivation of Portico Mappings

By pauline.harding, on 20 February 2024

Portico mappings on Moodle pages were globally deactivated on 22nd February 2024.

Enrolled students will retain access to their Moodle courses.

How will this impact students on my course?

  • Students who are already enrolled on a Moodle course WILL continue to have access to that Moodle course.
  • Students who join a Module on Portico WILL NOT be automatically enrolled onto the corresponding Moodle course.  Students can still be manually enrolled.
  • Students who leave the module on Portico WILL NOT be automatically unenrolled.

Moodle and Portico mappings

If Portico mappings are active on a Moodle course, student enrolments on that course are automatically updated overnight to mirror the student registrations in Portico.  Consequently, students who change courses or withdraw from their studies are automatically enrolled or unenrolled from the Moodle course when their Portico record is changed.  This is desirable when students change/drop modules within the first few weeks of term, however, if students are automatically unenrolled after they have been awarded grades, these grades become inaccessible, which can be very problematic.

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

Why deactivate Portico mappings?

To reduce the likelihood of this particular ‘inaccessible/missing grades’ problem occurring, Portico mappings have been deactivated on all Moodle courses.

For more information about Portico deactivation and why this is done, please see the wiki guide – Deactivating Portico enrolments.

Can I re-activate Portico mappings on my courses?

Doing so may unenrol existing students in error.  Before making any changes, please contact us at digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

The Moodle Flexible course format is being phased out from July 19th.

By Eliot Hoving, on 14 February 2024

Why is this change being made?  

The Flexible format plugin has reached end of life and is no longer supported by its maintainer. The plugin has multiple usability and accessibility bugs. The planned upgrade to Moodle 4.4 over the summer will further impact both the function and look of the plugin making the format unusable. 

What do staff need to do? 

Staff using the Flexible format should manually change their course format by the 19th July so they can ensure their course is correctly updated and so they can communicate guidance or notice to students on the course.  

After the 19th July, Flexible format will no longer be available and courses in this format will be automatically converted to the Topics format to ensure that the course continues to function for students and staff. This includes course from the current academic year and those from previous years. 

You can view which course format you are using by going to your course page and clicking settings. 

Course page showing the settings option.


Under Course format you will see the format in use. 

Editing course format menu

Research by the Moodle UX team suggests many staff switched to the Flexible format for its visual appeal and to avoid accessibility issues in the Grid format. Recent updates to the Grid format have significantly improved its accessibility and in this respect it is now preferable to Flexible format.  Staff may be tempted to switch back to the Grid format. However, further research by the Moodle UX team shows that using images for each topic/week is not effective unless you take considerable time to design your images. In most cases, images take up space without providing meaningful information to students, or worse they are confusing to students. Staff can continue to use Grid format, however Moodle UX research shows using the Topics format is a better approach for academic courses. 

Before (Flexible format) 

Flexible course format


After (Topics format) 

Topics course format



Changing course format will remove any section images, so staff should save these images prior to changing formats if they wish to re-use them.  

Staff can experiment with how their course looks in another course format using the 4-demo environment. 


If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with the Digital Education team. 

Changes to the LTI External Tool Activity Type in Moodle 4.3

By Jason R Norton, on 8 January 2024

Add/Configure LTI External Tool

In Moodle 4.3 the add/configure “LTI External Tool” function is no longer accessed by opening the add Activity/Resource button.

The add/configure option is now located by going to Course navigation > More > LTI External tools.


image showing drop down menus in Moodle.

Moodle 4.3 LTI category Level Restrictions

Moodle 4.3 brings the ability to restrict the visibility of LTI tools to any category within Moodle. This enables LTI tools that are faculty or departmentally licensed to be made visible to those specific categories in Moodle. Previously, LTI’s were restricted to either site wide or to specific courses. This could cause frustration in multiple configuration setups across many individual departmental courses. To make use of this function, please contact the Digital Education Support Team via digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk as restrictions are only available to site administrators.


Full Details of Moodle 4.3 changes to LTI External Tools can be found on Moodle Docs at the following URL https://docs.moodle.org/403/en/LTI_External_tools  a video covering these changes can also be viewed below.




Upgrade to Moodle 4.3

By Eliot Hoving, on 20 December 2023

UCL Moodle is being updated from Moodle 4.2 to Moodle 4.3 on Thursday January 4th 2024. The Digital Learning Environment team expects minimal disruption. 

Moodle is expected to be unavailable between midnight and 04:00am on Thursday January 4th 2024. 

The upgrade to Moodle 4.3 will bring several benefits including: 

  • streamlined display of course activities including smaller icons, less white space, and a drop down menu for activity completion which should save screen space and improve the user experience on course pages, 
  • the ability to add titles to text and media areas or “labels”, 
  • quicker to access editing menus for visibility and completion criteria to make editing content easier for staff, 
  • and a number of bug fixes and security updates. 

For a quick summary of the changes see Moodle’s new features page. Please note that UCL Moodle doesn’t use Matrix communication or MoodleNet. 

If you have any feedback or questions about the upgrade, please get in touch with the Digital Learning Environment team.