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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

Moodle Zoom integration

Tom Walters6 December 2022

Due to an authentication issue, some staff are currently unable to create new Zoom activities from within Moodle. Staff and students should be able to join existing meetings as normal.

Our technical teams are investigating as a matter of urgency, and will provide updates as soon as they know more. In the interim, if you urgently need to create a new Zoom meeting in the next few days, please contact:


from your UCL email account.

Obtain professional recognition for effective technology use in education

Karen Shackleford-Cesare1 December 2022

By joining the 2023 Bloomsbury Learning Exchange (BLE) Cohort and working towards CMALT accreditation. You may be a tutor, a PGTA, an ELO, a TA, a Librarian, a Learning Technologist, etc. Anyone in fact, who is a staff member at one of the institutions affiliated to the BLE (namely, Birkbeck, LSHTM, RVC, SOAS, UCL, City, University of London and UoL) and has been using technologies effectively to teach or support teaching and learning. Indeed, since the pandemic hit many more staff at UCL have been doing just that.

What is CMALT?

CMALT stands for Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology and the CMALT Accreditation Framework provides pathways to peer-assessed accreditation for a cross-section of learning technology focused professionals, educators and administrators in the UK and internationally.

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. There are three different pathways to choose from to best match your experience.

In the past five years, over 100 staff members from across the BLE partners have set off on their CMALT voyage – with many achieving their CMALT accreditation. Previous cohorts have comprised academics, course administrators, librarians, learning technologists, careers advisers and other professional support staff who all have a strong interest in technology to support learning.

Find out more about it

There will be two Introductory webinars on:

  1. Thursday 8th December 2-3pm 
  2. Thursday 19th January 1-2pm

Please complete this booking form to receive a link to join your preferred session or to watch a recording of it if you’re unable to attend either.

Stata – reporting without all the cut and paste

Jim R Tyson7 November 2022

It’s more than a year now since Chuck Huber (Stata Corp Director for Statistical Outreach) posted a series of long, detailed posts about new functionality in Stata 17.   The new, revised table command, and the use of the new collect command.

Over this past year, I’ve been getting to grips with them by reading the Stata blog, hanging out in Stata forums, and even venturing (timidly) a question on Stack Overflow.  It’s only an impression, but it seems to me that the new stuff is only slowly gaining traction among Stata users.  Which is a shame.  It may be a small exaggeration to call it exciting, but this stuff really will make life easier.

The new table command alone is a boon for regular users of Stata.  It provides a nice, logical, flexible approach to building tables in Stata. Where once we had to navigate a smallish bundle of user contributed commands such as taboutestoutesstab and of course the old table and tabulate, to get the output we wanted, formatted as we wanted it, and then wrangle it into Word or some other format, there’s one command to rule them all.  People might well still use their old favourites, but there is much less need to.  And, behind the table functionality, lurks the new collect command – a uniform and (relatively) simple way of accessing and laying out all the stuff computed by Stata commands that we don’t usually see in the default output.

Previously, the laying out of table output was unnecessarily complicated and rather basic.  The new command not only makes it easier, but combined with putdocx, putexcel, and putpdf, provides a simple way to push your output into a suitable format for reporting.  With collect, you can capture the output of Stata commands and use the same techniques to format, layout, label, and decorate in almost any way you want.  So, it’s not only about cross tabulations of data, but, for example, running multiple regression models and laying the results out for comparison.

To my mind, the real impact of this is to encourage us all to stop the cut, paste, wrangle approach – using Stata and Word interactively – and move to scripting more of the reporting stage of research.  This is good for us – the code we write to do it is re-usable; the analysis is more reproducible; we can standardize reporting more easily.

It’s true that moving from interactive use to scripting requires some up-front effort: you have to spend some time learning table and collect.  But it will be worth it.  Scripting this stuff means more time thinking through what output we really want, and less time hunting through menus and searching help for options.

So, after my year with all this, I’m taking a second shot at spreading the word.  On December 2nd I’m running a two hour workshop to introduce these commands.  The workshop requires some basic Stata knowledge and a commitment to scripting your analysis with do files, but you don’t have to be a Stata maven to attend (I’m not), just someone who wants an easier life and better Stata reporting.

You can book at https://tinyurl.com/StataTablesDSD and I hope you will!

Global Deactivation of Portico Mappings

pauline.harding4 November 2022

Portico mappings on Moodle pages were globally deactivated on 14th November, 2022.

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

Updating your Moodle course for 22/23

pauline.harding4 October 2022

With new students starting this week, please check your Moodle courses are up to date.
Do not amend your 21/22 Moodle courses.
Please carefully check which course you are viewing before you make any changes, to avoid
permanent deletion of student data and grades.

The academic year 22/23 should be visible at the end of the course full name (with 22-23 visible within the short name).

If you have any concerns, please email us at digi-ed@cul.ac.uk with the course title (and a URL link to the course) prior to making changes.

Portico Enrolments
If you wish to enable automatic student enrolment based on Portico module selections, please check the correct Portico mappings are present and have been activated within the course Portico Enrolment block.

The following is an example of a Term 1 (T1) module delivery:

View of the Portico Enrolment Block once a mapping has been added and activated:

You can find further information on checking and updating your new 22/23 Moodle course on the UCL wiki page:

Transcripts and closed captions in Lecturecast (ASR)

Silvia Giannitrapani20 September 2022

From 20th September 2022, media transcripts will be automatically applied to the closed captions track if they meet the 90% confidence score threshold.

We have activated automatic transcription and closed captions by default in Lecturecast as an additional supporting tool to provide fully accessible videos for our students as part of UCL’s digital strategy.

Aside from being an aid to viewers with auditory impairment, transcripts and captions can be extremely useful as a study tool.  Students often search large amounts of text using keywords to pinpoint passages of interest; Lecturecast transcripts, which are searchable and synchronised with the recording, allow similar searches of video presentations.

Lecturecast has built-in ASR (automatic speech recognition) to produce recording transcripts. Transcripts are automatically created for any media uploaded to Lecturecast and are available to viewers once a recording’s audio file has been processed.

Closed Captions use the same ASR file as the transcript but are not available if they do not meet the 90% confidence score threshold or until the ASR file has been ‘applied’ to a recording (until then the CC button in the player will be inactive).

Closed captions will NOT be automatically applied to:

  • New recordings with a confidence score lower than 90%
  • New Zoom videos automatically transferred to Lecturecast
  • Older recordings made prior to the 20th September 2022.

Closed captions can still be manually applied using the ‘apply to CC’ button in the transcript editor after review/corrections are made.

See below an example of what a transcribed lecture with closed captions would look like:

Lecturecast player with both transcripts and closed captions showing

Lecturecast player with both transcripts and closed captions showing


Further information and detailed instructions are available on the ‘Transcripts and closed captions in Lecturecast (ASR)’ mini guide.

Please contact lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk with any questions.