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The Moodle Flexible course format is being phased out from July 19th.

By Eliot Hoving, on 14 February 2024

Why is this change being made?  

The Flexible format plugin has reached end of life and is no longer supported by its maintainer. The plugin has multiple usability and accessibility bugs. The planned upgrade to Moodle 4.4 over the summer will further impact both the function and look of the plugin making the format unusable. 

What do staff need to do? 

Staff using the Flexible format should manually change their course format by the 19th July so they can ensure their course is correctly updated and so they can communicate guidance or notice to students on the course.  

After the 19th July, Flexible format will no longer be available and courses in this format will be automatically converted to the Topics format to ensure that the course continues to function for students and staff. This includes course from the current academic year and those from previous years. 

You can view which course format you are using by going to your course page and clicking settings. 

Course page showing the settings option.

 

Under Course format you will see the format in use. 

Editing course format menu

Research by the Moodle UX team suggests many staff switched to the Flexible format for its visual appeal and to avoid accessibility issues in the Grid format. Recent updates to the Grid format have significantly improved its accessibility and in this respect it is now preferable to Flexible format.  Staff may be tempted to switch back to the Grid format. However, further research by the Moodle UX team shows that using images for each topic/week is not effective unless you take considerable time to design your images. In most cases, images take up space without providing meaningful information to students, or worse they are confusing to students. Staff can continue to use Grid format, however Moodle UX research shows using the Topics format is a better approach for academic courses. 

Before (Flexible format) 

Flexible course format

 

After (Topics format) 

Topics course format

 

 

Changing course format will remove any section images, so staff should save these images prior to changing formats if they wish to re-use them.  

Staff can experiment with how their course looks in another course format using the 4-demo environment. 

Questions?  

If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with the Digital Education team. 

Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer Pilot Update

By Kerry, on 9 February 2024

As some of you may be aware, a new Moodle integration is due to be released in the spring which has been designed and developed by the DLE Team to improve the process for transferring marks from Moodle to Portico. It is called the Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer Integration and we are currently trialing this with around 40 course administrators across the institution.

The pilot kicked off on 8 January and will run until 29 February 2024. The purpose of the pilot is to test the Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer Integration using the newly designed Marks Transfer Wizard and its marks transfer functionality that was developed following the Phase 1 Pilot, which took place with a very small group of course administrators at the end of last year. This wizard provides a more streamlined experience for end users by putting the core assessment component information at the centre of the tool which can then be mapped to a selection of Moodle assessments.

Pilot Phase 2 is the last pilot phase before an initial MVP (Minimal Viable Product) release into UCL Moodle Production in late March 2024. Currently, users can take advantage of the integration if the following criteria are met:

  1. They have used the Portico enrolment block to create a mapping with a Module Delivery on their Moodle course.
  2. Either of the following assessment scenarios is true:-
    1. Only one Moodle assessment activity is being linked to one assessment component in SITS.
    2. Only one Moodle assessment activity is being linked to multiple assessment components in SITS.
  3. An assessment component exists in SITS to map against.
  4. The Moodle assessment marks are numerical 0-100.
  5. The assessment component in SITS is compatible with SITS Marking Schemes and SITS Assessment Types.
  6. For exam assessments, the SITS assessment component is the exam room code EXAMMDLE.

The Marks Transfer Wizard currently supports the transfer of marks from one of the following summative assessment activities in Moodle:

  • Moodle Assignment
  • Moodle Quiz
  • Turnitin Assignment (NOT multipart)

We intend to collect feedback on the new Marks Transfer Wizard from pilot participants to improve the interface and workflow for a general UCL-wide release in late March 2024 and also to prioritise next step improvements and developments following the launch.

So far informal feedback has been very positive: users say the assessment wizard works well and will save them a lot of time. The pilot has also been useful for exploring where issues might arise with Portico records or Moodle course administration as well as for gathering frequently asked questions and advice on best practice which will feed into our guidance for wider rollout.

So what are the next steps? Well, we will continue to support our pilot participants until the end of February. In mid-February, the Marks Transfer Assessment Wizard will be updated with some interface improvements so participants will be able to feedback on these too. Towards the end of February, participants will be asked to complete a survey and some will take part in a focus group to help us evaluate the success of the MVP integration and to prioritise our plans for future developments. In addition, our Change Manager is working with us on a communications plan for wider release on UCL Moodle Production and is currently in the process of recruiting a network of champions to cascade guidance and best practice on Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer across UCL, as well as to help us to continue to gather feedback on the user experience. More information about this exciting new development will be available in the coming months!

Moodle Boards Update

By Kerry, on 17 January 2024

Just a quick update for Moodle Board users or former or future users! The issues with staff and students not being able to move posts between Board columns have been resolved in the latest version which is available on Moodle 4.3. A few other improvements have also been made.

If you are not aware, the Board module for Moodle is a plugin that enables a post-it or sticky note type of activity for students (think Padlet but with restricted access on Moodle). This is a collaborative activity where tutors set out a number of columns with optional headings and then students add contributions to the columns. Students do not see who has posted what.

Screenshot of an example Moodle Board

Screenshot of an example Moodle Board

There are several useful pedagogic applications of Moodle Boards including:

  • Icebreakers, introductions
  • Exit tickets – e.g. posting something that is still not clear (“muddy”) or providing general feedback
  • Collaboratively sharing content, resources or links
  • Students’ reflections during group breakouts
  • SWOC analysis for group projects

To see a guide for Moodle Boards, please view our updated mini guide.

Changes to the LTI External Tool Activity Type in Moodle 4.3

By Jason R Norton, on 8 January 2024

Add/Configure LTI External Tool

In Moodle 4.3 the add/configure “LTI External Tool” function is no longer accessed by opening the add Activity/Resource button.

The add/configure option is now located by going to Course navigation > More > LTI External tools.

 

image showing drop down menus in Moodle.

Moodle 4.3 LTI category Level Restrictions

Moodle 4.3 brings the ability to restrict the visibility of LTI tools to any category within Moodle. This enables LTI tools that are faculty or departmentally licensed to be made visible to those specific categories in Moodle. Previously, LTI’s were restricted to either site wide or to specific courses. This could cause frustration in multiple configuration setups across many individual departmental courses. To make use of this function, please contact the Digital Education Support Team via digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk as restrictions are only available to site administrators.

 

Full Details of Moodle 4.3 changes to LTI External Tools can be found on Moodle Docs at the following URL https://docs.moodle.org/403/en/LTI_External_tools  a video covering these changes can also be viewed below.

 

 

 

Upgrade to Moodle 4.3

By Eliot Hoving, on 20 December 2023

UCL Moodle is being updated from Moodle 4.2 to Moodle 4.3 on Thursday January 4th 2024. The Digital Learning Environment team expects minimal disruption. 

Moodle is expected to be unavailable between midnight and 04:00am on Thursday January 4th 2024. 

The upgrade to Moodle 4.3 will bring several benefits including: 

  • streamlined display of course activities including smaller icons, less white space, and a drop down menu for activity completion which should save screen space and improve the user experience on course pages, 
  • the ability to add titles to text and media areas or “labels”, 
  • quicker to access editing menus for visibility and completion criteria to make editing content easier for staff, 
  • and a number of bug fixes and security updates. 

For a quick summary of the changes see Moodle’s new features page. Please note that UCL Moodle doesn’t use Matrix communication or MoodleNet. 

If you have any feedback or questions about the upgrade, please get in touch with the Digital Learning Environment team. 

‘Advanced Moodle Quiz and Question Bank’ self-paced course

By i.niculescu, on 14 December 2023

We are pleased to introduce the ‘Advanced Moodle Quiz and Question Bank’ self-paced course which is now available at https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=40483 

This course is aimed at academics and professional services staff who want to deepen their use of Moodle to create and manage quizzes.

The estimated completion time is 2 to 3 hours. We’ve designed it with flexibility in mind, allowing you to progress through the material in smaller, digestible chunks that fit into your busy schedule.

This is an exciting opportunity to learn how to:

  • Confidently manage the Moodle question bank interface.
  • Organise question banks clearly with categories and tags.
  • Use Moodle’s advanced quiz settings to make your tests more engaging.
  • Analyse quiz results to improve your questions and teaching methods.
  • Build a Moodle quiz that uses advanced features effectively.

The course includes step-by-step guides, links to further resources and knowledge-check quizzes. You also have the option to receive a certificate at the end of the course.

After completing the course, staff can get further support by getting in touch by email via digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

This version of the course will be further developed during term 2 as we receive feedback and input from the UCL community. We will make sure that everyone will be notified when new materials will be added to the course.

P.S: A workshop version of this course will also become available from January 2024. More info to follow!