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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'Moodle' Category

Remote but not solo, Moodle and Group Work

Samantha Ahern24 June 2020

Social learning is an important part of the learning experience for students. It enables knowledge consolidation and application, and opportunities for cross-curricula and inter-disciplinary learning. In addition, through working in groups students are able to develop valuable employability skills such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving and negotiation. However, group work can be tricky to design and mange effectively and needs careful consideration. I recommend reading: Burke, A. (2011). Group work: How to use groups effectively. Journal of Effective Teaching, 11(2), 87-95.

Moodle can be used to facilitate this rich learning experience through use of the group feature. Separate groups allow students to contribute and see work within their own groups,  visible groups on the other hand allow students to only contribute to their own group work but they can view work taking place in other groups.

The following activities could be set up for collaboration amongst groups of students:

  1. Forum: create a forum (just one),  assign students to groups, students will only see post made in their group,  give students a clear task. – staff can review what is happening in each group. For more information and links case to studies see the Discussion Forums MiniGuide.
  2. Chat: group chat sessions-  create a space where students can arrange to meet and work collaboratively on a task. For more information see the MoodleDocs article Using Chat.
  3. Glossary: In groups or as a cohort build a glossary of key terms that students may encounter on the course. Might be really useful e.g for medical terms. Each time the term is used on the course a defintion will be highlighted. For more information and links case to studies see the Glossary MiniGuide.
  4. Database: share resources and entries e.g. create a collaborative resource bank, or peer review of shared work. For more information about how to use databases and ideas for usage see the MoodleDocs article Using Databases.
  5. Workshop: enables students to peer review work submitted by others. Students can be assigned work to review or students can be assigned work to review randomly. There is a lot to be considered and set-up for the effective use of Moodle workshops, their use needs to be carefully planned in advance for them to be a meaningful part of a module’s design. For more information see the Moodle workshop for peer assessment MiniGuide.

Related Arena case studies

Some of these case studies make use of Moodle, others do not. But all discuss an element of group work that could be modified for a Connected Learning and facilitated via Moodle.


Teaching videos: which platform should I choose?

Eliot Hoving12 June 2020


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.


H5P News

Janina Dewitz12 June 2020

Good news for anyone who is looking to make their Moodle courses even more interactive: as of today, several previously unavailable activities are now ready for you to try out.

All new modules are now available under “Interactive Content” in the list of available Moodle activities. Let’s dive in and see what’s available!

Among the new activities we have added are the beta version of the Branching Scenario, the Questionnaire tool and the 360 Virtual Tour module. The latter allows you, for example, to create an interactive walk-through of your lab or department right inside your Moodle course. All you need to get started are static images or, even better, 360 photo spheres of a location. Add information cards, navigation and even audio to make the experience even more immersive.

If you are looking for icebreaker tasks, you might like to try out the Personality Quiz maker. It allows you to create a series of multiple choice questions where each answer option corresponds to one or more predefined “personality types”/profiles/categories. Head over to the H5P example page to see the Personality Quiz in action. Or find out what kind of Moodler you are in our own lighthearted personality quiz (login required).

The Word Search and the Memory game may seem like frivolous additions to the toolbox, but used creatively, the memory game, for example, can be adapted to serve as a “Flashcard race against the time” to aid revision of terminology. Here’s one I made earlier to illustrate the point:

We would love to hear how you are using these activities in your courses – what will you create? Share your ideas and links to your creations in the comments below.

For more information about all the H5P activities we have in our UCL Moodle, please refer to our set of Mini Guides.

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.

Moodle: How do students use yours?

Samantha Ahern15 April 2020

Moodle is what UCL uses for it’s institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is an important part of the student experience and facilitates blended learning. How integrated Moodle courses are with the overall delivery of  modules vary, but all courses should meet UCL’s E-learning baseline.

Your Moodle courses will contain a variety of resources and activities, but how do we know what students are engaging with and when? Are any changes you’ve made to the course having the desired effect?

This is where Moodle reports can help.

Moodle reports are available to tutors and course administrators of a Moodle course. There are six reports available in the Course administration block in your Moodle course. These are:

  • Accessibility Report,
  • Logs,
  • Live Logs,
  • My feedback,
  • Activity Report,
  • and Course Participation.

The four reports that are most useful are Accessibility Report, Live Logs, Activity Reports and Course participation.

The Accessibility Reports is the report produced by Blackboard Ally and will open in a new window. It will give you an overview of the accessibility of your course, a breakdown of the content types and show you the accessibility scores and number of issues for each item in your course.

Information about the Live Logs, Activity Reports and Course participation report are available in the UCL Moodle Staff Guide. 

Why should we be interested in these reports?

By regularly reviewing reports we are able to identify the following:

  • Identify which resources students are using
  • The pattern of student usage
  • An indication of student engagement

I’ve said indication as Moodle interaction in and of itself does not determine how engaged a student is with their course or the course materials.

Resource use

Activity report example - how views of a resource and how many unique users have made those views.

Activity report examples

This a section of the Activity report for one of the Moodle courses I administrate. The report shows how many views each resource has had and the number of unique users who have viewed it.

We can see that Share Accessibility Ideas has had 24 views by 7 users, on average each user has looked at the page 3 times. Although it is as likely that 1 person has viewed it 18 times and everyone else just the once.

Although we won’t know the exact usage, it does give us an indication of what recources are popular and what is revisited. This will enable you to identify what resources students are accessing and what they are not choosing to access or unable to identify as being important.

As always, statistics only tell part of the story, but they give you a jumping off point for further investigation including student feedback.

Keeping on track

Activity completion tracking will give you an indication of your students’ activity within the Moodle. It will help you identify those students that are potentially off-track.

Course participation report showing activity completion for a section of the course

Course participation report example

Activity Completion report showing with students have completed which tasks.

Activity Completion report example

The Activity Completion report is available on courses where course completion is enabled. Where this is the case you can specify the tasks to have a completion status. A completion tick box will be located next to the activity. These can be set to manual or automatic completion. This can be especially useful where there are core activities you want students to complete or access.

The Course participation report is available for all courses. The report enables you to review who has completed All Actions for each Activity module within the course. The Activity module optins will vary depending on the content of your course, as shown below:

Activity Module list for Course participation report illustrating inclusion of Books and Lessons in addition to Forums and Quizzes

Activity Module list for Course participation report for Course A

Activity Module option list for Course participation report of a course with less variety of resource type.

Activity Module option list for Course participation report of course B

As you can see for some items on this list there is no real notion of completion. So in some cases this may indicate that a student has accessed that particular resource. In this report so can also specify the time period of review, from 1 to multiple weeks. From this screen you are able to send a message to a student or group of students, providing a feedback opportunity.

Note of caution

Moodle reports enable course administrators to monitor activity in the course and to see what resources in the course are or are not being accessed. These may be used by course teams to support your teaching and learning and must be used in compliance with the UCL privacy policy for students.

Although they may be used to identify students that potentially need additional guidance or support, this should not be done in an automated manner and should not be the sole data used for this purpose.

UCL does not have a definition or policy relating to “engagement”, in addition, attendance with regards to Moodle is not associated with UCL’s attendance policy. These data therefore cannot be used in  a punitive manner with regards to Personal Tutor interventions or any of the academic regulations, policies and procedures applicable to all UCL taught and research students (UCL Academic Manual).