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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'Technology blogs' Category

MS Teams for teaching – some considerations

Samantha Ahern12 October 2021

If you are planning on using MS Teams as part of your students’ teaching and learning experience there are a few things that you should be aware of, and some things that you can do to create a more cohesive experience.

Firstly, MS Teams is not integrated with Lecturecast, Moodle or Portico. This means that there is no automatic mechanism for adding students to a team, nor an ability to create MS Teams meetings from within Moodle or for the recordings to automatically be added to Lecturecast.

However, we can use Office 365 tools to bulk add members (students) to MS Teams teams, and there are some things we can do in Moodle to create a more cohesive experience for our students.

Bulk enrolment to a MS Teams team

If you have the names and email addresses of those you want to add to a team, you can do so via a .csv file and Power Automate. Power Automate is available via Office 365.

Email addresses need to be in the form username@ucl.ac.uk – on my instance this would be cceasah@ucl.ac.uk or the process will fail.

Step-by-step details can be found via the following external blog post: Adding bulk users from a .csv or Excel file to a Microsoft Teams team with Power Automate

You will create a flow that looks like this:

A four stage flow: Manually trigger a flow, List rows present in a table, Apply to each, Apply to each 2

Alternatively, you can make use of the Team link and ask students to add themselves as Team members. For more information see: Create a link or a code for joining a team

Adding a scheduled Teams meeting to Moodle

Screen shot showing how to add a Team channel to a meeting

Invite a channel to a meeting

Teams meetings can only be created in MS Teams. You can create a meeting for your Team, however, anyone outside of the team that joins the meeting will not be able to view the chat. This is not ideal if you plan on having guests. Or, you can create an event and either invite a mailing list, if you have one, or invite yourself.

For more information see: Schedule a meeting in Teams

Scheduled meetings can be added to a Moodle course via the URL resource. This should be added in the corresponding section for that week’s learning and labelled in a meaningful way. See the Connected Learning Baseline for guidance.

This will then enable your students to view the events in the context of the rest of their learning and ensure all activities can be accessed from one place.

Adding a Teams meeting to the Calendar and Upcoming Events block

Unlike Zoom activities, these Teams meetings will not show automatically in the Calendar and Upcoming Events block. If Activity Completion is enabled, we can set an Expect completed on date and time for the URL resource. This will then show in the Upcoming Events block. It can also be viewed in the calendar alongside other activities.

Enable setting of an expected complete date and time, this should correspond to the meeting date and timeURL activity expected completion date and time shown in Upcoming Events block







By adding the activity to the Upcoming events block it increases the visibility of the event to students and helps them plan and manage their time.

Making Teams meetings recordings available to students

The recommended platform for making recordings available to students is Lecturecast(Echo360). As there is no integration between Teams and Echo360, recordings need to be downloaded from MS Stream and then uploaded to your library on the Echo360 platform before sharing to Moodle. It is generally recommended not to share MS Stream links directly with students.

Other considerations

If you intend to share files in Channels or during Teams meetings think carefully about where these files will go and how they will be organised. Files can very easily get lost if they are not well named or stored in a meaningful structure. It should be noted that files cannot be moved between Channels within the Teams interface, this can only be done via Sharepoint. Learn more about working with files in MS Teams.

When using multiple platforms it’s very important to clarify which platforms will be used when, and for what. It is also important to set boundaries. Where possible Moodle should be the main hub for teaching and learning.

Moodle Boards – a virtual post-it note activity added to Moodle

Rod Digges16 September 2021

Moodle Boards have been added to the variety of activity options available in Moodle courses. A Board allows students and staff to add post-its to a virtual board where they may be organised and optionally ranked. Post-its may include plain text, images, links and YouTube videos.

On the Board, Students can:

  • Add a new post with any of the following:
    • A heading.
    • Some text.
    • A link.
    • An uploaded image.
    • An embedded YouTube video.
  • Edit or Delete one of their posts.

They can also do the following depending on the board’s settings:

  • Move their notes among columns *see caveat below.
  • Star (vote up) someone else’s post.

The teacher can set up the activity with the following options:

  • A closing date for submissions.
  • How the posts are ordered in a column, by date or star count.
  • Whether posts can be starred – by students, teachers, or neither.

On the board a teacher can:

  • Move any of the posts from one column to another.
  • Download a copy of the board contents.
  • Download a spreadsheet of submissions of the students.

*Please note that the currently installed version of Board does not allow students to move their post-its between columns – the ability to do this will be added shortly. This version has been released primarily to give teaching staff an opportunity to preview the tool.

A Moodle mini-guide for the tool is also available.

Updated Turnitin plugin in Moodle

Aurelie15 September 2021

On Thursday, 16th September 2021, our Moodle site will be upgraded to version 3.9.10 and the latest version of the Turnitin plugin will be released. Moodle will be in maintenance mode from 1:00am to 2:00am and you won’t be able to access Moodle or Turnitin during this time.

Here is a short summary of the changes and bug fixes you might notice when using the new Turnitin plugin:

Turnitin classes now expiring along with a Moodle course

Turnitin now synchronises dates in Moodle with the Turnitin database. When your Moodle course end date is over a year old, those classes also expire in Turnitin. This will free up the active student count for those classes.
Important: Turnitin classes older than one year expire and cannot be edited unless they are re-activated. 

Draft submissions will not stick in pending status 

A bug had caused some draft submissions to stick in ‘pending’ status and not generate a Similarity Report. This bug has now been fixed and draft submissions will generate Similarity Reports if enabled. 

Change in default activity tracking Moodle setting 

A bug had prevented users from being able to alter the default activity tracking setting within Moodle when Turnitin was also enabled. This bug has now been fixed, and you can use this feature alongside Turnitin without error. 

Submit button no longer visible after the due date 

The submit button will no longer be shown to students who have already submitted to the assignment when the due date has passed. The current functionality will remain for users who have not already submitted. 

Deleting parts without errors  

The option to delete a part will now only show after there is more than one part used. When there is only one part, we’ll no longer show the deletion option to prevent the assignment from potentially breaking. 

Creating or accessing Moodle assignments when Turnitin is disabled 

If Turnitin is disabled for an assignment and Turnitin is unavailable by having the wrong configuration options or being under maintenance, then an error message would be shown. This bug has been fixed, and Turnitin being unreachable will no longer impact your ability to create or access your content. 

Moodle Course name sync 

Changes to the Moodle course name will be reflected everywhere in Turnitin. When a Moodle course title is changed, this will now be updated in Turnitin too. This will include the digital receipts students receive when they submit their paper. 

Grades removal 

When a grade is removed from Turnitin, this removal will also be reflected within Moodle as the submission being ungraded. 

Turnitin icon display in Moodle assignment

In Moodle assignment, the Turnitin similarity report now has an updated Turnitin icon. Turnitin icon display on Moodle assignment


Lecturecast Live – UCL’s new live streaming feature

Jill Reese10 September 2021

Lecturecast Live is a new feature within Lecturecast, UCL’s video capturing service, and installed across 180 teaching spaces. It now facilitates live streaming of in-classroom sessions, which remote students can access via their Moodle courses in the same manner as Lecturecast recorded teaching events. This is one of the basic hybrid teaching options introduced for the 21/22 academic year.

The live streaming function should be selected when scheduling modular events for which remote students need synchronous video transmission of a teaching event. UCL is a campus-based institution with the primary mode of teaching and learning designed to be face to face, and thus live streaming is not enabled by default.

Scheduling Lecturecast Live 

Course administrators will first access Lecturecast Scheduler and complete the initial steps to search for a CMIS booked and confirmed event. Once the teaching event is located and its tickbox is selected, users can either select ‘Create Event’ if it has not yet been scheduled for capture or ‘Edit Event’ to modify an already scheduled capture event. Lecturecast Live is an option listed within ‘Additional Capture Info’ (see image).

The edit schedule pop up window is shown with an arrow pointing to the new tickbox to 'Enable live stream'.

The box next to ‘Enable live stream’ must be ticked and the schedule saved. Please see step 3.3 in the Create & Edit an Individual Schedule Lecturecast Scheduler guidance.  

Bulk scheduling with live streaming has also been enabled. Please note that it can only be used when creating new schedules.

Moodle course administrators and tutors will not need to take any additional steps in Moodle to link and enable live streams than they have for other Lecturecast events. 


Accessing Lecturecast Live 

Students will not need to take any additional steps in Moodle to access live streams than they have for other Lecturecast recordings. 

Both students and staff will see which sessions have been scheduled for live streaming, or are currently live streaming, by the addition of a ‘LIVE’ icon to the right of the event name within Echo360 (see image). Upcoming live streams are in grey while current live streams are in green. 

List of past, current and future teaching events listed in Echo360 interface. Live streaming scheduled events noted by 'Live' icon next to event title.

The video interface will open once the event is selected. If the live stream is upcoming then students and staff will see a countdown until the live event begins. If the event is currently live streaming then students and staff will need to click on the bottom left option ‘Show Live Stream’* (see image). We recommend reminding students of this step should they encounter difficulties starting the live stream. 


Video interface with the option 'show live stream' highlighted in red

*We are providing feedback to Echo360 on student and staff experience in accessing the live streaming function. Please contact lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk with any comments and suggestions. 



  • Fully integrated with Moodle so students will access live streaming teaching events in the same way that they currently access Lecturecast recordings. 
  • Live streaming is automatic once scheduled. 
  • Students have the same view as Lecturecast recordings, which include the in-room video feed of the lectern and a feed of the presentation materials shared using the in-room audio-visual system. Audio continues to be captured using in-room mics. 
  • If students have connectivity issues, they can reconnect to the live stream or view the recording via Moodle once the teaching event is completed and the video has been processed and made available. 
  • Teaching staff can access viewing analytics as they would with any Lecturecast recording. 
  • Available via web browser so no additional software required. 


  • Of the basic hybrid options for 2021/22, Lecturecast Live is the least interactive for remote students taking part in synchronous teaching and learning because it is a one-way video stream. 
  • There may be a ten second delay or more for those viewing the live stream.

Future roadmap 

  • The Lecturecast Scheduler tool will continue to be enhanced to further facilitate the scheduling of live streaming. 



Detailed guidance on using Lecturecast, including the scheduling of live streaming, can be found in the Lecturecast Resource Centre wiki.  

Resources for basic hybrid teaching options can be found via the following: 

Basic Hybrid Teaching in UCL’s Spaces for Term 1 of 2021-22  

Support for staff teaching on-campus and online students together  

UCL Education Planning FAQs and Town Halls 2021-22 


Case Studies 

Echo360 Webcasting & Livestreaming articles https://echo360.com/category/webcasting-live-streaming/  

Digital Education are keen to understand which live teaching tool you use and perhaps more importantly how you use it. Please contact lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk if you would be willing to share your experiences in a case study. 

Collaborating on presentations with Mentimeter

Steve Rowett1 September 2021

Mentimeter (or just ‘Menti’) has been a big hit at UCL, with thousands of staff and students having used it so far for voting and polling in face-to-face and remote classes. But the one thing that everyone has wished for is the ability for a teaching team to collaborate on writing presentations.

The good news is that Mentimeter have listened to our wishes, and incorporated this into the platform. To share a presentation with UCL colleagues, just click on Share, and choose ‘Invite Collaborators’, enter their email addresses and you are done!

Option to 'Invite Collaborators' in Mentimeter

Option to ‘Invite Collaborators’ in Mentimeter

Those who you invite will now see your presentation in their list, and you can collaboratively add and edit questions to the same presentation. Mentimeter have also provided a full step-by-step guide to take you through the process.

DigitalWhiteboards: the good, the bad and the ugly

Samantha Ahern23 August 2021

Digital Whiteboards can be a very useful addition to your digital pedagogy toolkit. However, they come with a number of considerations. The most important of these is accessibility. For this reason UCL does not have any institution-wide licences for any digital whiteboards featured.. It was felt that there were too many accessibility concerns.

If you are going to use these types of tools you need to have a good understanding of your audience and know that it will not disadvantage any of the participants. If there is a risk of potential disadvantage an equitable alternative should be used instead. For more information about alternatives see the Digital Education blog post: Alternatives for Digital Walls like Padlet

The video below (run time: 32mins) provides an overview of 5 digital whiteboards, their key features and key considerations for use:


The above video explored the browser versions of the digital whiteboards. There are apps available for some of the digital whiteboards. However, these have yet to be explored.

  • Miro and Mural
    • Mobile and tablet (iOS and Android)
    • Desktop (Mac and Windows)
    • Interactive displays
  • Mural and ConceptBoard
    • MS Teams

Accessibility Considerations

Many of the digital whiteboards present a number of challenges for users. The key areas for consideration are outlined below.

See also the central UCL guidance on Creating Accessible Content.


Due to the vastness of the digital whiteboards, they can be difficult to navigate and it is very easy to become disorientated whilst using them. It is important to carefully structure the board whether you are using it to share information or for collaborative tasks.

  • Make use of templates where appropriate
  • Use section tools to segment the board for different activity or group zones
  • Reduce the busy-ness

Colour and backgrounds

In many of the boards it is possible to change background colours and images, and use a variety of different coloured notes.

  • Avoid using colour alone to depict meaning
  • Is there a strong contrast between text and it’s background colour?
  • If using a background image, can added items clearly be seen?


Much the same as any document containing text, consider the size and style of the font being used. Avoid use of italics and block capitals. Where required use bold text for emphasis.


Where available make use of presentation mode, this will enable both yourself and your participants to focus on the specific sections of interest throughout the presentation.