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Dynamic teaching using Active Learning Platform tools

Janice K MKiugu22 November 2019

Active learning refers to any learning activity which involves the active participation of the student and it’s not a new idea – Active learning: Quick guide

Beetham H. (2007) notes that  students learn more effectively when they:

  • are active;decorative
  • are motivated and engaged;
  • can bring their existing capabilities into play;
  • are appropriately challenged;
  • have opportunities for dialogue;
  • receive feedback;
  • have opportunities for consolidation and integration.

There are a wide range of learning technologies that can that help support the process of active learning. Among those available to UCL staff are the engagement tools within Lecturecast. Staff don’t need to be using Lecturecast for recording to take advantage of these tools. Existing presentations such as PowerPoint slides can be uploaded, and interactive elements e.g. polling slides easily added.

Before, during or after the delivery of the lecture, students are be able to:

  • Flag confusing content;
  • Bookmark slides they may want to revisit during their revision;
  • Take notes – these are personal and only visible to the specific students. Students can later download these notes;
  • Ask questions and engage in discussions;
  • Respond to interactive question slides.

Staff are able to:

  • Deliver lectures with interactive question slides thus making classroom sessions more engaging;
  • View points in the lecture where students may have been confused;
  • View questions raised in class and respond to these either during or after the lecture;
  • Generate in class discussion while lecturing or after the lecture;
  • After the lecture, view student engagement with lecture slides and recordings;

To find out more or to organise bespoke training for teaching staff in your department/programme team, please contact Digital Education: digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Useful links

References

Beetham, H. (2007) ‘An approach to learning activity design’, In: Beetham, H. and Sharpe, R., Eds. Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering e-learning, Abingdon: Routledge. (pp 26-40.)

Higher Education Academy and Centre for Materials Education, 2008, ‘Active Learning’, Higher Education Academy, available from https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/active-learning-quick-guide , last accessed 21st November 2019

Check your Moodle course with Ally’s course accessibility report

EliotHoving13 November 2019

Blackboard Ally now includes a course accessibility report for every UCL Moodle course.

The course report shows you:

  • a course accessibility score,
  • a summary of the different types of content on your course, and
  • a list of all the issues identified on your course, including an “easy to fix” summary and a “low scoring content” summary.

Decorative image showing Ally's course report

To view Ally’s report on your course, tutors or course admins simply go to their Moodle course and click Accessibility report under the Navigation block. You can also run the report in the Administration block by clicking Reports and then Accessibility report.

Ally helps you prioritise work and track your progress:

The report allows staff to work through a series of files with low accessibility scores or focus on a single issue that may appear in multiple files.

From the report, staff can view “easy to fix” issues, such as documents that are more easily editable (PowerPoints and Word Documents). Ally considers adding alternative descriptions to images as “easy to fix” because you can add alternative descriptions directly using Ally without the need to download, edit and upload the file. This is a nice time-saver but writing alternative descriptions can be challenging, for advice see our guide on Visuals and use of colour.

The Ally course report will also update over time to allow staff to track their progress.

Ally also flags HTML content on your Moodle course:

HTML content refers to content that is written into Moodle such as text added to a Moodle section, page, book, or label through Moodle’s text editor. Ally can help identify text with insufficient colour contrast and unused formatting that can arise when Moodle content is copied and pasted from Word. However, fixing HTML issues can be challenging so, for now, we suggest staff focus on Ally’s guidance on their documents.

If you have any questions, please see the Blackboard Ally UCL wiki or get in touch with digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

UCLeXtend platform migration

JoannaStroud25 October 2019

In recent months staff from Digital Education have been engaged in a project to migrate the public-facing short courses platform, UCLeXtend, to a new hosting provider. As part of this process the platform will be upgraded to a version of Moodle that offers several GDPR compliant features in addition to an updated interface.

A change of theme

As part of the migration we are also taking the opportunity to refresh the platform’s aesthetic, or ‘theme’, which in recent years has required continued investment to remain functional. This change will mean that the platform’s existing courses look different, although underlying functionality will remain the same and the content and activities present will not be changed. Course layouts will bear greater similarity to the internal UCL Moodle platform and course teams will have more choice over how their courses are structured and presented. 

The new site theme’s primary differences are as follows.

At site level

  • The UCLeXtend homepage will be refreshed with a change in colours and imagery, in addition to separate buttons for UCL and non-UCL logins (see work-in-progress screenshot below); 
  • Upon login, learners and staff will be presented with a dashboard of their courses. This dashboard can be controlled by individual users, giving the opportunity to highlight recently visited courses and ‘favourite’ or hide courses.

Screenshot of updated UCLeXtend homepage, with photograph of UCL Portico in background and log in buttons visible

At course level

  • Section navigation will move from the top of the page to the left-hand side. The left-hand navigation panel can be expanded or collapsed by the user; 
  • There will be greater control over the layout of each course with course formats; 
  • Courses can feature an illustrative image that is presented on both the course dashboard and as a background upon entry (see work-in-progress screenshot below).

Screenshot of new course layout with expanded and collapsed navigation bar shown

Key information

The migration is anticipated to be completed in the week commencing 18th November 2019 (updated: 13/11). A notice will be applied to the front page of the platform as to the precise date and time and it should be unavailable for a few hours at most. Teams with live courses during this period will be contacted separately with further information about how to manage the transition.

If you have any questions please get in touch with the Digital Education team at extend@ucl.ac.uk.

Lecturecast Update(Summer 2019)

Janice K MKiugu6 September 2019

For those new to UCL, Lecturecast is UCL’s automated lecture recording system.

It is designed for course tutors/administrators to record their lectures as supplemental resources and share them with their students via the respective Moodle course. Lecturecast is not a replacement for lecture attendance and is provided to complement lectures and provide an additional resource to support student learning.

Guidance on using Lecturecast is available via the Lecturecast Resource Centre

Preparing for 2019/2020

  1. Staff can now schedule recordings for the 2019/2020 academic year. Note that to schedule a recording, the event must be timetabled via CMIS, take place in a Lecturecast-enabled teaching space and be less than 4 hours long. Staff will only be able to schedule events taking place within the next 3 months (on a rolling basis).
  2. Ensure you unlink mappings to old Lecturecast recordings from your Moodle courses(s) and add a new link/mapping (s) for the 2019/2020 sections.

New for 19/20

You may notice a few improvements to the Lecturecast system for the 2019/2020 academic year. These include:

1. Student Analytics are now updated more frequently

The student engagement data on the Analytics tab in Sections (when viewing the list of recordings in Moodle) is now updated at least hourly (instead of once daily). Student interactions with class media and with the section as a whole are provided throughout the day, allowing staff to view data with closer to real-time status.

2. Schedule recordings for non-teaching events

It is now possible to schedule recordings for non-teaching events. The events must be CMIS timetabled, occur in a Lecturecast enabled room and be less than 4 hours long.

As these events are not associated with a module code, the recordings will be placed in the personal library of the staff member scheduling the recording. Staff can then download the recording and upload it onto a streaming server such as UCL Media Central.

Note:  Lecturecast is designed mainly for the recording of lectures. If you are looking to record a special event e.g. an inaugural lecture, conference and need a high quality recording then please contact Digital Media services video@ucl.ac.uk who provide video and editing services.

3. Universal Capture replaces Personal Capture

Action may be required:  If you are still using Personal Capture, please upload all video recordings immediately and install Universal Capture.

‘Universal Capture’ which is now available to download via the Lecturecast interface has replaced ‘Personal Capture’. Personal capture is no longer supported or available to download.  The Universal Capture tool allows staff to record audio, video and their laptop displays in much the same way as the Personal capture system but with a greater degree of reliability. Content is also packaged and uploaded as you record, meaning that the completed recording is available much sooner. To download Universal Capture, use the ‘Downloads’ link available from the settings icon in the Lecturecast section. Ensure you select Universal Capture: Personal. A video demo of Universal Capture is available on the the Echo360 support pages.

4. Pilot of automatic transcripts for Lecturecast recordings

Over the next few months, Digital Education along with several volunteers from across the university will be running a pilot of the Lecturecast ‘automatic speech recognition’ (ASR) functionality. ASR has the potential to provide invaluable support for students with hearing difficulties but can be a useful additional resource for all students. However, the system needs to be tested with a range of voices, accents, and subjects, including those with discipline-specific or specialist terminology, in order to assess the accuracy of the resulting transcripts and how much work might be involved to correct them. The project has been prompted by the legislation that came into effect last autumn to ensure that digital content is accessible by everyone, and we would also like to explore how useful students in pilot groups find the service.

For more information,contact digitalaccessibility@ucl.ac.uk

Training

To sign up or register an interest in upcoming training sessions, use the links below.

Useful resources:

How to add an image to your Moodle Course Card

EliotHoving23 August 2019

You have probably noticed that your Moodle home page looks different thanks to the Moodle upgrade.

 

The Course Overview now includes a card  for each course, which includes an image. By default Moodle displays a tessellated pattern, but you can add a more meaningful image as follows.

 

Before:

Moodle Course Card View

After:

Moodle Course Card View now with image added.

First things first, get your image ready. We recommend including an image without text as text can appear distorted when the image is resized to fit the card. Your image needs to be rectangular. I used an image that was sized 900px by 600px which I found on UCL’s Imagestore – a free repository of UCL images.

You then need to:

  1. Open your course in Moodle.
  2. In the Administration block, click Edit settings.
  3. Under Course image, upload your image.
  4. Click Save and Display

If you return to the Moodle home page, your image will now display.

 

If you’d like to know more about the Moodle Course Overview, check out the Moodle Dashboard video.

 

Key Dates: Moodle Upgrade, Snapshots, Late Summer Assessments (2019)

Anisa I YPatel21 June 2019

Over the summer there will be a number of outages and changes to the Moodle service. These are needed to deliver:

  • A Moodle version upgrade
  • Yearly Moodle Shapshot and consolidation of previous Snapshots to ensure GDPR compliance
  • URL changes will also be made

A summary of the outages, changes and timelines is provided in the table below:

Moodle Summer Upgrade Overview

DATE WHAT IS HAPPENING DETAILS
25 June 2019 – 11 July 2019 Moodle Snapshot service at risk
  • the number of Moodle Snapshots will be reduced from 7 to 5 years to comply with GDPR data retention requirements
6 – 7 July 2019 Legacy Moodle to become the 17/18 Snapshot
  • the link to the Moodle 17/18 Snapshot will now be under the Services drop down menu on Moodle
8 July 2019 Link to Legacy Moodle (Moodle 17/18) will be removed from the UCL Moodle front page
  • the link to the Moodle 17/18 Snapshot (Legacy Moodle) will now be under the Services drop down menu on Moodle
26 – 27 July 2019 Moodle service outage
  • upgrade from Moodle 3.4 to Moodle 3.7
  • yearly 18/19 Snapshot will be taken
  • 18/19 Snapshot will be made available for Late Summer Assessments (LSA) until 20/09/2019
28 July 2019 URL changes
27 – 29 July 2019 Moodle service at risk
  • avoid any time bound activities such as quizzes or assignments with deadlines that occur during this period
20 September 2019 https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk will take you directly to live Moodle
  • the link to the Moodle 18/19 Snapshot will now be under the Services drop down menu on Moodle

Moodle Summer Upgrade Timeline

 

We apologise for any inconvenience the outages and changes cause.

If you have any questions, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk