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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'Our Views' Category

Save the date – join our July Jamboree!

Steve Rowett23 June 2022

Colourful bunting adorns the UCL Quad advertising the July Jamboree
You will all be familiar with the larger online platforms for education at UCL: Moodle, Lecturecast and so on. But beyond these, there are many more tools that are used to support both online and campus teaching.

The July Jamboree celebrates some of these, and gives you a chance to see them in action.

Each day from Monday 11th – Friday 15th July 2022 we will showcase these tools, and give you chance to meet the vendors or those from UCL that support or use them. All of these sessions will run online using Zoom from 12pm-1pm, giving you the chance to see presentations from the vendors and talk to them in private breakout rooms to answer any questions or see demos in more depth. No need to register, just use the links on this page to join the Zoom call (UCL login required).

The session presentations will be recorded and made available with captions from this page after the event. The breakout rooms will not be recorded.

Monday 11 July: Learning design and content

This session showcases:

Tuesday 12 July: Feedback and interaction

This session showcases:

  • Audio and video: Martin Compton and Marieke Guy from UCL share some tips for making videos on a mobile phone, and using tools for audio feedback to students (pre-recorded video) (find out more about making videos on mobiles or audio feedback)
  • GoReact: GoReact brings together online tools for video + feedback, deliberate practice, and more so you can empower confident skills in any discipline or profession (find out more about GoReact)
  • Mentimeter: Engage your audience & eliminate awkward silences (find out more about Mentimeter)

Wednesday 13 July: Mathematics and coding

This session showcases:

  • Matlab and Simulink: MATLAB is a programming and numeric computing platform used by millions of engineers and scientists to analyze data, develop algorithms, and create models (find out more about Matlab and Simulink)
  • CoCalc: CoCalc is a cloud-based collaborative software oriented towards research, teaching, and scientific publishing purposes (find out more about CoCalc)
  • Overleaf: LaTeX, evolved – The easy to use, online, collaborative LaTeX editor (find out more about Overleaf)

Thursday 14 July: Simulations in STEMM subjects

This session showcases:

  • Labster: Labster provides STEM curriculum-aligned virtual laboratory simulations within biology, biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology, chemistry, physics and more (find out more about Labster)
  • Lt: Lt is an online learning platform with ready-to-use content for life sciences, nursing, and medicine (find out more about Lt)
  • Learning Science: Transformative digital tools for science educators. Outstanding learning experiences for students (find out more about Learning Science)

Friday 15 July: Reading, writing and annotating

This session showcases:


UCL Moodle Upgrade to Moodle 3.11

Jason R Norton1 March 2022

During the week commencing  04/04/22, UCL Moodle will be upgraded to version 3.11.  With this upgrade, there are number of key changes designed to enhance the user experience for both staff and students. This upgrade will include features from Moodle 3.10 and 3.11

The key new feature is the introduction of Turnitin functionality for the following activities:

  • Moodle quizzes- for Essay Type Questions
  • Moodle forums
  • Moodle Workshop

Each of the activities will allow students to make submissions which will be checked against the Turnitin database and will generate a similarity score.  These activities will behave in a similar way to a Moodle assignment with Turnitin integration.

For guidance on how to set one of these activities up on your Moodle course, please see our online guides:

Enabling Turnitin for essay type questions

There are also several smaller changes coming, with changes most noticeable to students.  Course completion will be enhanced, and will include:

  • Activity dates and completion conditions being shown at the top of the activity page
  • Manual marking option for students
  • Additional display settings (or staff)
  • Improved activity completion reports


For full details about the new features in Moodle 3.10 please see Moodle 3.10 features

For full details about the new features in Moodle 3.11 please see Moodle 3.11 features

Please note at the current time we are still evaluating/reviewing the Accessibility Toolkit feature and will not be releasing this feature with the Moodle 3.11 release.


Or watch this  YouTube playlist of 3.10 New features created by Moodle HQ

Or watch this  YouTube playlist of 3.11 New features created by Moodle HQ


For a comprehensive list of all changes in Moodle 3.10, please see the Moodle release notes.

For a comprehensive list of all changes in Moodle 3.11, please see the Moodle release notes.

If you have any questions about this changes, please email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.



Would you like professional recognition for effective technology use in education?

Karen Shackleford-Cesare28 January 2022

If so, why not join the 2022 Bloomsbury Learning Exchange (BLE) Cohort and work 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, in the last two years many more UCL staff members 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.

Join the BLE CMALT Cohort

Registration for the BLE CMALT Cohort is now open! (Until March 1st 2022*). If you missed our two Introduction to CMALT sessions, our slides are available to view here and the session’s recording is here. Attached is the CMALT Prospectus; further information about CMALT and the Association for Learning Technology can be accessed here: https://www.alt.ac.uk/certified-membership

When you have decided, which of the 3 CMALT pathways you may wish to pursue, (download the CMALT Prospectus for details), then please complete our sign up form. Thereafter more information will be emailed to you. The first cohort meeting was or will be on Thursday 3rd Feb, 1 – 2.30pm and was recorded. Future meetings will take place on the first Thursday of every month for no more than 8 months.

Late starters are very welcome! (Until March 1st 2022*). So, if you are interested please do get in touch using the aforementioned form.

*It is also possible to pursue CMALT accreditation independently at any time. See CMALT Support for details.

Global deactivation of Portico Mappings

Zaman Wong9 November 2021

Portico mappings on Moodle pages were globally deactivated this morning, 9 November 2021.  Enroled students will retain access to their Moodle courses.

How will this impact students on my course?

  • Students who are already enroled on a Moodle course WILL continue to have access to that Moodle course.
  • Students who join a Module on Portico WILL NOT be automatically enroled onto the corresponding Moodle course.  Students can still be manually enroled.
  • 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 unenroled from the Moodle course when their Portico record is changed.  Usually, this is desirable when students change/drop modules within the first few weeks of term.  However, if students are automatically unenroled after they have been awarded any grades, these grades become inaccessible, which can be very problematic.

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

Why deactivate Portico mappings?

To reduce the likelihood of this particular ‘inaccessible/missing grades’ problem occurring, Portico mappings are deactivated on all Moodle courses, six weeks into each term.

Can I re-activate Portico mappings on my courses?

Yes.  However, please assess whether you risk losing access to some students’ grades before you do this.  Once a mapping is active, students will be automatically enrolled or unenrolled that evening.  See instructions on re-activating Portico enrolments

Note: Portico enrolments can be deactivated within the course at any time by anyone with Course Administrator or Tutor access, thereby stopping any automatic changes of students enroled on the Moodle course.

Intentional Hospitality

Samantha Ahern8 November 2021

Black & white illustration of the Mad HatterEarlier this month I ran a workshop for a small group of colleagues on the topic of Intentional Hospitality, and in particular on Intentionally equitable Hospitality within learning spaces. Whether they be offline, online or hybrid.

The ideas begind this workshop and the resulting discussion I hoped would ensue were partly driven by two particualr articles that I had read:


The Oxford English Dictionary defines hospitality as “friendly and generous behavior toward guests“. In the University context we most commonly come aross this with regards to academic hospitality. Academic hospitality can take multiple forms (Phipps and Barnett, 2007):

  • It takes material form in the hosting of academics giving papers.
  • It takes epistemological form in the welcome of new ideas.
  • It takes linguistic form in the translation of academic work into other languages.
  • It takes touristic form through the welcome and generosity with which academic visitors are received.
  • These forms intersect each other and may co-exist at any one time.

But what does hospitality mean in a teaching and learning context? And how do we extend hospitality to and foster a sense of hospitality within our student body and in our learning spaces?

Additionally, we need to consider what limits our ability to be hospitable.

  • Thinking about the following question prompts, what does it mean to be intentionally hospitable:
  • How do we make students feel welcome in all our teaching and learning spaces?
  • Are students able to bring their whole selves to these spaces?
  • Whose contributions are privileged and how?
  • How can we democratise contributions?
  • Is there a sense of psychological safety?

What can we do to create spaces where we are intentionally equitably hospitable?

These are not questions that I have answers to, but as a community they are things we should think about and discuss. I am more than happy to run additional workshops with colleagues or to share the Mentimeter presentation I have created with question prompts. Please email me: s.ahern@ucl.ac.uk

Further readings:

Get in quick: demos and workshops for the new session

Jim R Tyson12 October 2021

As well as our popular training courses in this new session, we are also offering some short demonstration sessions that are geared not towards teaching you to use software apps, but to understand a task associated with learning or research, to know what software is available and how to choose the right app for your work.  These are:

These are all around an hour long with some time for questions.

We are also offering:

DSD: In a Nutshell: Starting an Nvivo Project (10 December)

which will cover starting a new project, essential memoing, importing data documents, basic coding and simple queries.

And finally a longer workshop which will which will introduce Zotero for collecting and organising bibliographical references and pdfs, and also using Zotero extensions to annotate papers and generate reports on your reading:

DSD: Kick-starting your literature review (15 December).

These sessions are very valuable before you start out on a research project and can help you understand not only what software you may end up using, but what support and training you can expect at UCL.

Further information and booking links

If you have never booked a course with use before we recommend you go to full details of how to book and other practical information about our courses.

For staff on payroll and those who have previously booked on MyLearning:
Book via MyLearning

Everyone else:
Book via UCL Learning pages (this includes students and non-payroll staff, unless you’ve previously used MyLearning)

See you there!