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Moodle new features – Wednesday 2nd September 2020

Eliot Hoving2 September 2020

Digi-Ed is pleased to announce the following activities are now available on UCL Moodle.

A person marking a checklist off.

The Checklist activity allows staff to create a checklist for students to complete on Moodle. The checklist can be configured to show required and/or optional tasks which students can tick off. Teachers can view and comment on the student’s progress. It is also possible to automatically generate a checklist for all the current course activities and resources on a Moodle course. Further course content can be restricted until a specific checklist is completed. To learn more, see the Checklist miniguide.

MATLAB Grader is now integrated with Moodle. Staff can now add interactive MATLAB coding activities to Moodle for students to complete. MATLAB activities include a range of automatic grading options and analytics on student engagement. Student grades from a MATLAB activity are also captured in the Moodle Gradebook. To learn more, see the MATLAB Grader miniguide.

Book

Interactive Book (a new H5P activity) allows staff to build a book of informational content and H5P activities such as questions, or interactive videos. As with all H5P activities, student responses are not stored in the Moodle Gradebook, however H5P allows for staff to easily create engaging formative activities. Try an Interactive Book example on the H5P webpage or view the UCL H5P miniguide for more information.

The Mass Actions block  is a time-saving block for the Moodle power users among us. When the block is added to a Moodle course, it allows staff to edit several activities or resources on Moodle at the same time. Editing options include hiding, indenting, moving or deleting content. To learn more, see the Mass Action block miniguide.

More Moodle improvements are coming in preparation for term 1 2020-21. To stay up to date with Moodle’s direction and development, see the Moodle Release Roadmap.

Teaching videos: which platform should I choose?

Eliot Hoving12 June 2020

Decorative.

As you prepare your Moodle course for next term, in addition to vital asynchronous activities, you will likely want to add a few videos of yourself or a screen recording of your lecture. By now you’re probably aware that UCL has a plethora of technologies. This is partly a necessity, as UCL teaching practices vary so no single tool will get the job done for everyone, but sometimes it’s a little unclear which to use.

 

To help you decide, Digital Education with help from the Digital Media team and IT for SLASH team has put together this comparison table of the three centrally supported media platforms: Lecturecast, Mediacentral and Microsoft Stream.

 

The table hopes to clarify some of the common questions; e.g.

  • Does the platform allow students to download recordings?
  • Can I upload a pre-recorded video e.g. a video recorded in PowerPoint?
  • Can I restrict who views the video?
  • Can I see analytics on whose watched the video?

 

If you need further advice on creating and sharing video, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

 

Improve your mathematics and science quizzes with STACK

Eliot Hoving11 June 2020

The STACK question type is now available in UCL Moodle Quizzes. STACK allows for rigorous mathematical assessment. Until now, mathematical questions often needed to be multiple choice questions, but with the STACK question type, students can enter mathematical responses directly into Moodle.

Students can input equations directly into Moodle and see a preview before submitting.

Figure 1: Students input equations directly into Moodle, and can see a preview before they submit.

STACK questions can have multiple parts, and each part can be evaluated separately. STACK  questions can also include randomly generated components, making it a lot easier to create a range of practice questions, and also preventing student colluding during a quiz.

The feedback options for staff are dramatically enhanced. Student responses can be evaluated against a series of tests, with different feedback and grading returned to students based on the test outcomes. For example a student’s response could be automatically graded to receive a mark of 1 if it is algebraically equivalent to the correct answer, but lose a mark of 0.1 if it is not properly factorised, for a total mark of 0.9. There are many more tests as well.

Student feedback can be tailored to their response.

Figure 2: Student feedback can include tailored responses, equations and even graphical plots.

To learn more about the STACK question type, see the STACK Moodle user guide.

If you are interested in receiving support to introduce STACK into your Moodle quizzes, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

STACK training workshops (various) – sign up now!

The team behind the Stack question type, are currently offering training on STACK from Monday 15th June 2020 10:00-12:00 BST. Reserve your place.

Demonstration course now available at UCL

A Demonstration course which includes multiple question types created in STACK for you to test, analyse and adapt is now available on UCL Moodle. The course is based on the excellent STACK demonstration course provided by the creators of STACK.

To get access, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Images courtesy of the STACK Documentation page.

 

Make your announcements stand out with the Moodle News Slider

Eliot Hoving4 May 2020

The News Slider is a new feature available in UCL Moodle. It displays up to 7 announcement posts to staff and students. The slider sits at the top of a Moodle course, where it cycles through a summary of each post and draws the attention of students to important course announcements. Student can click through to the post and access information quickly.

News Slider

The News Slider takes a few steps to configure, but once set up it can give your course a nice modern look and greatly improve the likelihood that students will read your course announcements. Find out more by reading Digital education’s guidance.

Minimise eye-strain with the BeeLine Reader alternative format

Eliot Hoving31 March 2020

The BeeLine Reader alternative format is now available on UCL Moodle for students and staff.

You and your students have almost certainly felt eye-strain from too many hours reading online, or confusion at staring at a wall of internet text and not knowing where to begin.

The BeeLine Reader provides an innovative solution. It works by adding a colour-gradient to text which allows the eye to focus and move along one line to the next. It designed to make reading online quicker and easier on the eyes. Here’s an example.

With the BeeLine Format:

Beeling alternative format. Font colour of text has a colour gradient to help with reading.

Without: 

Text before Beeline format. Font colour is black.

Example Text: Aerogel by Dr Zoe Laughlin licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

I personally found that it took a while to get used to the BeeLine colours, but thereafter I was able to identify key headings and sentences much more effectively.

You can try out the BeeLine Reader on your UCL Moodle course now. Simply locate a Word or PDF document, click the Ally download icon net to the file name and select BeeLine Reader. Ally will convert the document to an HTML file for you to read in your browser with the BeeLine colour gradient.

Due to COVID-19, students are likely to be reading more content online now that they don’t have access to UCL printing services. BeeLine Reader and Ally’s other alternative formats can greatly assist all students, especially those with specific needs, to effectively engage with digital content whilst supporting their health and wellbeing, so please recommend Ally’s alternative formats to your students. You can learn more about Blackboard Ally by reading the staff guide or promote it to students using the student guide.

New Accessibility Tool lets you customise Moodle

Eliot Hoving20 January 2020

A new Moodle plugin, the Accessibility Tool, will be available on Wednesday 22nd January 2020 for staff and students.

The tool allows students and staff to customise the appearance of the Moodle platform through changing Moodle’s colour scheme, font style, readability and text size. The tool can help reduce eye strain and improve concentration. Changes made using the tool only apply to the user, and only apply to the Moodle platform, not documents uploaded or stored on Moodle.

Green on Black Colour Scheme:

Moodle platform where 'Green text on a black background' colour scheme has been selected via the Accessibility Tool.

White on Grey Colour Scheme:

Moodle platform where 'White text on a grey background' colour scheme has been selected via the Accessibility Tool.

Text Size – default

Default Text size on Moodle.

Text Size – Massive text size

Massive text size, which is larger than the Default text size.

How to edit your accessibility preferences?

To customise your preferences, simply:

  1. Log onto Moodle
  2. Click on your name on the top right of Moodle to open up the user menu.
  3. Select Accessibility Tool.

Moodle's user menu contains the Accessibility tool option where you can customise Moodle's appearance to suit your needs.

The release of the Accessibility Tool follows on from Digital Education’s efforts to improve the accessibility of Moodle content through training and support and releasing Blackboard Ally. See the Creating accessible content webpage for more detail.

Students and staff can be directed towards this blog post to learn about the Accessibility Tool, or alternatively to the updated Staff guide or Student guide.

If you have any questions please contact Digital Education at digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.