X Close

Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

Inspiration for Mac – to be discontinued

Michele CFarmer10 May 2019

At a conference yesterday, I found out that Inspiration for Mac is to be discontinued. I will post more info  when I have it.


Improving Inclusivity – observations from the UCL Education Conference 2019

EliotHoving9 April 2019

I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 UCL Education Conference on Monday 1st April 2019. The conference was themed around:

  • Widening participation
  • BME (Black Minority Ethnic) Attainment
  • Assessment and Feedback
  • Supporting student success
  • Digital education and innovations

Although it was April Fool’s day, and Brexit loomed large, the conference was full of sober analysis and creative initiatives.

The opening plenary by Anne-Marie Canning MBE challenged Universities to play a greater role in promoting inclusivity in their internal practices, and in the broader public sphere as powerful and influential institutions capable of bringing about change. A subsequent panel discussion raised plenty of questions over the structural and everyday challenges to inclusivity, including whether inclusivity was a process or an outcome. This set the tone for the workshop sessions for the remainder of the day. I attended three sessions, which were part of the Digital education and innovations stream of the conference. Each session demonstrated a creative and pragmatic way to improve inclusivity in the classroom.

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

Multisensory and personalised feedback

Maria Sibiryakova presented her approach to teaching writing in Russian. She highlighted the challenge of teaching to a diverse cohort where students can have different experiences of living in Russia and different interests in learning Russian. In the course, students complete seven mini-essays (500 words each) and Maria provides audio and written feedback to students, which combine to “feedforward” into the next assessment.

Maria presented some of the benefits of using audio feedback, including:

  • Multisensory feedback – hence more accessible,
  • Improves teaching presence – students hear you and your voice,
  • Conversational and personalised feedback, and
  • Often quicker to produce.

Maria used a tool called VoiceThread, which has some intriguing features. It’s also possible to deliver audio feedback using Turnitin Assignment.

Photo by Adi Chrisworo on Unsplash

Open in class discussion with Moodle Hot Questions

Rebecca Yerworth and one of her students, Xu Zhao, demonstrated how Moodle’s Hot Question activity can facilitate in-class discussions.

The Moodle Hot Question activity allows for students to submit questions and/or answers via Moodle on their phone or laptop. This facilitates class discussion by increasing the participation of students who otherwise wouldn’t speak up in class due to personal or cultural reasons. Rebecca moderates the discussion live in class, answers questions, and draws out connections between different student answers. She also finds the Hot Questions activity flexible to use as it can be enabled in Moodle and switched on with a click of a button when a new discussion is needed.

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

Welcoming new Chemistry students through a Moodle module

Dr Stephen E. Potts presented on the development of a Moodle module for welcoming new Chemistry students.

The UCL Chemistry Undergraduate Welcome Page introduces students to the Department, their degree programme, a typical timetable, Lab safety, and even how to submit an assignment on Moodle. It also includes some fun stuff like how to join the UCL Chemical and Physical Society and a collection of molecules with silly names. The module is designed to be delivered completely online, so is Baseline+ compliant, and is released to students when they are registered but before they arrive on campus.

I found the module was a great example of making Moodle look good (yes, it’s possible!). It was visually enticing, clearly structured, and combined quiz activities, video, text and image to engage students. The course has received positive feedback so far, and Stephen plans to build on the module, possibly to include multi-lingual content. I was also really impressed by the virtual tour of the Department. Students click through main buildings and labs, in a similar manner to Google maps, and can also click on information points to view location specific information. The tour was created using a 360 camera and Google Poly.

These three presentations demonstrated some of the everyday ways that inclusivity can be improved through teaching practice and technology. They also showed that improving inclusivity can often be accomplished as part of improving student engagement overall. There was much more to the conference than can be summarised here, and you can read the conference Abstracts to find out more. A tremendous thank you to all the organisers and presenters!

The Turnitin Plagiarism plugin tool for Moodle assignments is finally here…

Janice K MKiugu29 March 2019

Digital Education are pleased to announce that the Turnitin Plagiarism plugin tool for Moodle assignments will be available on New Moodle from 2nd April 2019.

This means that assignments submitted via the Moodle assignment tool can now be checked for similarities in text and a Similarity report generated.

Enabling this will ensure parity across assignment types in Moodle (with regards to similarity checking) and will allow staff and students to have the ability to check all pieces of work for similarities in text and not just those submitted via a standard Turnitin assignment.

All staff will be able to enable the setting on Moodle assignments. However, this will be run as a pilot as some but not all institutions that have the plugin enabled have reported a few issues with the plugin that can be resolved, but require workarounds. Digital Education need to ensure that these issues can be resolved and managed.  The pilot will run till the Moodle Snapshot is taken on 26th July 2019.

There are a few key things to note:

Does the tool work with group submissions?

Yes, however note that:

  • Only the student who made the submission will be able to view the similarity report and will need to share it with other students in the group.
  • All marking should be done using the Moodle Grading tools to ensure all students in the group have a grade recorded and can see any feedback given.

What impact will the plugin have on existing Moodle Assignments?

None at all. Existing assignments will remain as they are. If the plugin is enabled for assignments that have already been set and submissions made, then no similarity report will be generated. Students would have to resubmit to get a similarity report.

Can I set up a Moodle assignment with Turnitin enabled and grade the work in Turnitin feedback studio?

No, we do not recommend this. Turnitin should only be used for similarity checking and NOT for grading when it is enabled in a Moodle assignment.   We have detailed reasons for this in on the wiki guide.

For additional guidance on how to use this tool as a staff member, please refer to the guide – Moodle Assignment with Turnitin integration. Alternatively, if you are a student please see – the student guide .

For specific queries or support, email: digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Digital Education Services

A Quick Introduction to Unix evening course – places available

Jasmin EMullings4 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

Educause – Key issues in T&L in 2019

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

Develop your digital skills this academic year – new dates released

Jasmin EMullings7 February 2019

ISD Digital Skills Development has released new dates for the second half of Term 2. As usual, we are offering a wide range of courses covering Excel, Photoshop, Matlab, Stata, and more..

New this February we have a course in Markdown, a lightweight markup language that allows the creation of formatted documents using only plain text.

Following our successful introduction of Excel Essential Skills workshops last year, we have now added Word workshops for students. Find out how to Make light work of writing up  in our Sway presentation.  (Want to make your own Sway?  Come along to a mini demo session with Digital Skills Development at IOE.)

See below for our current schedule of courses and workshops and details of how to book.

More digital skills development opportunities

Digital Skills Development at IOE offer training in a wide range of digital tools including Microsoft SharePoint, Teams, OneNote and Visio, screencasting, infographics, mind mapping and presentation tools, with some sessions specifically aimed at Mac users. You can also learn about text-to-speech software, polling, blogging and much more.  Visit the Digital Skills Development at IOE booking system for details and to book.  Sessions are open to all UCL staff and students.

We have a vast range of high-quality video-based courses available at Lynda.com. These cover technical skills but also business, personal and creative skills as well.  Visit the UCL Lynda.com 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.

19/02/2019 10:00 13:00 Getting Started with Markdown
20/02/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 2
21/02/2019 10:00 13:00 Data Visualization in R with ggplot2
26/02/2019 10:00 13:00 Introduction to Photoshop CS4
27/02/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 2
01/03/2019 09:00 10:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
01/03/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 2
05/03/2019 10:00 13:00 Advanced statistics with Excel 2016
06/03/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 3
07/03/2019 10:00 13:00 Managing Long Documents in Word 2016 (STAFF ONLY)
12/03/2019 10:00 17:00 Introduction to Matlab (Part 1)
13/03/2019 10:00 13:00 Kick-starting your literature review
13/03/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 3
14/03/2019 10:00 17:00 Introduction to Matlab (Part 2)
15/03/2019 09:00 10:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 3
15/03/2019 10:00 11:00 Word Essential Skills – WORKSHOP 3
20/03/2019 16:00 17:00 Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 3
20/03/2019 17:30 20:30 A Quick Introduction to UNIX
21/03/2019 14:00 17:00 Introduction to Visualising Data with Matlab