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Moodle 3.9 Upgrade and New Features – Tuesday 10th November 2020 

Eliot Hoving and Jon-Luc Holmes6 November 2020

Digi-Ed is excited to announce that Moodle will be upgraded to Moodle 3.9 on Tuesday 10th November 2020. This upgrade will take place in the early morning (1am-2am) to minimise any disruption to staff or students. The upgrade delivers the following new features and improvements as well as performance enhancements and required bug and security fixes. 

Activity chooser 

A new activity chooser is available that makes it easier to locate, star and view recommended activities and resources for use within Moodle. 

Moodle Activity Chooser

Participants filter 

A new participants filter is available which provides more options for searching the list of enrolled users on your Moodle courses. This new filter allows you to search participants by the role they’re assigned on your course or filtering by group. 

Moodle Participants Filter

Whole forum grading 

Forums can now be awarded an overall discussion forum grade. This makes it easier for tutors to use Forums for assessment. Tutors and course administrators can set setup a forum to be graded while students can submit posts and view the grade they have received for their contributions. 

Moodle whole forum grading

Forum reporting 

A Forum summary report can now be generated by Tutors to show student forum engagement. 

Moodle Forum reporting

Activity completion 

A new activity completion criterion is available which allows access to an activity or resource to be restricted based on completion of the previous activity within the course. This allows for content to be moved around or added to your Moodle course without having to reconfigure access restrictions and completion tracking. 

Moodle activity completion

Emojis for Moodle messaging and Forums 

Emojis are now available in Moodle messaging. They can also be added to Forums and other Moodle content using the new emoji picker in the Atto text editor. 

Moodle emojis

Additional Changes 

Alongside the features listed above, the following improvements are also available on Moodle: 

  • You can now filter the Moodle calendar by day and month instead of just listing upcoming events 
  • The question bank now shows question ID numbers within the list of questions for each category 
  • Book resources now have clearer and easier navigation options to improve the user experience for moving between pages 

Full details of all changes between Moodle version 3.7 and 3.9 can be found on the Moodle 3.9 upgrade wiki page.

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

Lecturecast: what analytics should you use?

Samantha Ahern22 October 2020

There are two types of analytics available from within Lecturecast (Echo360), these are:

The course analytics will provide information about student use of the ALP tools, in addition to interactions with the inidividual media resources. The individual media analytics only provides analytics about the specific media item.

Which set of analytics you use, will depend on how you have added Lecturecast materials to your Moodle course.

If you have embedded recordings in your Moodle course using the Atto editor:

Atto editor toolbar highlighting Echo360 plugin

 

 

Then to obtain accurate viewing data for the recording you should use the Individual media analytics.

Please note that students will not have access to the addiitonal tools such as confusion flags and note taking if recordings are added in this way.

Whereas, if you have linked to recordings ore presentations via the Lecturecast activity in Moodle, you would use the Course and student analytics.

Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate gotchas – don’t get caught out!

Eliot Hoving21 October 2020

Using new technologies for the first time, or in a new way, can be challenging. Not everything goes right first time. This is certainly the case with using webinar tools such as Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate to teach online. There are numerous “gotchas” or unexpected outcomes caused by any number of often opaque settings, differing teminologies, varied scenarios and workflows, and half-way integrations. 

To assist staff in avoiding some of the common pitfalls, Faculty Learning Technologist Neil Roberts and Digital Education reached out to staff across UCL to find and share the common issues or “gotchas” that can emerge when using Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate.  We provide them below.  

If you have your own gotchas to add, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk. This guidance is subject to change as new gotchas, tips and features are discovered. For the latest guidance always check the relevant UCL staff guide, and when in doubt, contact zoomsupport@ucl.ac.uk for Zoom guidance or contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk  for Blackboard Collabaorate guidance.

 Zoom through Moodle gotchas: 

These gotchas refer to Zoom meetings created directly in Moodle using the Zoom meeting plugin. 

  • Only UCL Zoom account holders can be made alternative hosts through the Moodle plugin.  
  • You can only schedule a meeting on behalf of another user if you have obtained scheduling privileges from them. See the Zoom ‘scheduling privileges’ guide. 
  • You can only pre-assign breakout rooms and create polls in advance of a meeting if you are the host of the meeting. Whilst you can create your Zoom meeting in Moodle, to configure breakout rooms and polls you must edit your meeting in the Zoom web portal. These options are not currently available in the Zoom Moodle plugin. 
  • If you receive a ‘Zoom received a bad request: {$a} error message’ when creating a Zoom meeting on Moodle, it is likely your Zoom meeting password is not secure enough. Please enter a more secure password!   
  • Students don’t need the password to join a Zoom meeting created in Moodle. All students need to join a Zoom meeting, is to click the join meeting button on Moodle. 
  • When scheduling for a guest with a non UCL email address you must be in the meeting to hand over the host access.
  • Zoom recordings will be automatically transferred to the host’s personal library on Lecturecast. This process is usually quite quick but can take 72 hours for Zoom to prepare the recording, plus an additional 24 hours for the transfer to Lecturecast.

Zoom gotchas:

These gotchas refer to using Zoom directly, either via the Desktop app or web portal. 

  • Zoom join links include the password so don’t share them publicly 
  • There can only ever be one host in a meeting who has full control. Adding an alternative host won’t allow more than one person to fully control session. 
  • A host can only have 1 meeting running at one time. If you want to run multiple meetings beginning at the same time for different groups of students, you should create one meeting and use breakout rooms. If you definitely need seperate Zoom meetings, ensure there is a different host for each meeting. Note. having a different alternative host per meeting does not get around the restriction that a host can only have 1 meeting at one time. To schedule meetings on behalf of another user, see Zoom ‘scheduling privileges’ guide.
  • A UCL person needs to claim their Zoom account to be designated an alternative host. 
  • You can only pre-assign up to 200 people in breakout rooms 
  • If the host loses internet connection, and there is no co-host, a random participant will become the host. If the host rejoins, there may be some delay before host permissions are restored. 
  • If you have paid for a live transcription service, the ‘ api token’ required to transcribe a meeting can only be generated 24 hours before the meeting. There are many more accessibility tips for using Zoom.
  • It may take up to 72 hours for a Zoom video recording to be processed during busy times.  
  • Zoom recording file sizes can often be very large, and can therefore take a long time to download for you and your students. Consider stop-starting your Zoom recording to create multiple files of more manageable lengths and file sizes. 
  • Zoom may not show webcam input if Teams is running in background. When in doubt, turn off Teams. 
  • The chat view is limited as there is only one text box. It is hard to search through individual conversations. 

Blackboard Collaborate gotchas:

These gotchas refer to using Blackboard Collaborate. 

  • Convert to PDF before uploading slides. This will enable you to check fonts and formatting – if you are doing this on someone else’s behalf remember some fonts may not be supported and so wording may be illegible.  
  • Uploaded files are converted to pdf type format (actually Blackboard’s internal whiteboard format) so you can’t use animations/transitions in PowerPoint. 
  • Consider using the PPSpliT plugin to preserve text reveals (such as bulletpoints) when converting to PDF. Because the plugin alters the document, use it on a copied version of the document. 
  • Let one person be in charge of creating breakout rooms. Breakout configuration is not shared with others until rooms are enabled, so another organiser could create a competing set of rooms and overwrite yours. 
  • The stop breakout rooms buttons don’t have an ‘are you sure’ interlock – very easy to end a breakout session prematurely, which loses all the rooms’ contents and requires someone to manually rebuild the groups (if the groups were random, they may not be easily recreatable). 
  • Content created in breakout rooms is lost when they are stopped – it is possible to copy things out before that, otherwise have participants make screenshots. 
  • Anything draft/not activated isn’t saved if you are removed from a session – this could be text, a poll or breakout room configurations. 
  • As a moderator, don’t enter a Blackboard session from Moodle when you are in student view. This will pull you in to the session as if you were a student so you would only have a standard participant role and not be able to control session. 
  • Using Edge as your browser can cause problems with interface – recommendation use Chrome/Firefox/Safari only.  
  • Sharing a PowerPoint presentation full screen to make use of animations means you can’t see the chat. Workaround: Get around this by using ‘browsed by an individual view’ in PowerPoint and rearrange screen accordingly. This video from BBCU explains when to use Share files with pptx, and when and how to use PowerPoint on share screen in an individual window to be able to see the chat and session controls. 
  • Sharing a video application may not always broadcast the sound – check this before start of any session. 
  • The stop share buttons don’t have an ‘are you sure’ interlock – very easy to accidentally close an activity. 
  • Chat history is not available to new participants. If you leave session and rejoin the chat history is lost. 
  • If you use the eraser while using the Blackboard Collaborate whiteboard it erases everything on the whiteboard immediately.

Moodle new features – Friday 16th October 2020

Jon-Luc Holmes16 October 2020

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

Embed Quiz Questions Anywhere is a new plugin that allows staff to embed quiz questions directly within their Moodle content. Staff can embed any question from their courses question bank into their Moodle activities for use as formative assessment. Students can then answer these questions as they work through their Moodle content. These answers can then be reviewed on a per activity or course wide basis. To learn more, see the Embed Quiz Questions Anywhere miniguide.

An example quiz question embedded directly within the contents of a Moodle page resource

Embed Quiz Questions Anywhere allows staff to embed quiz questions into any content on their Moodle course. Click the image to expand it.

Hypothes.is is a new LTI that is now approved for integration with Moodle. Staff who own a license for this product may now add the Hypothes.is activity to Moodle for collaborative annotations by students. These resources can be webpages or uploaded PDF documents. Student annotations can be individually filtered and graded with those grades carrying back to the Moodle gradebook. To learn more, see the Hypothesis miniguide.

Hypothesis

Hypothesis allows for students to collectively annotate a document. Click the image to expand it.

Further work on a range of other enhancements, are currently underway. To stay up to date with the latest learning technology enhancements at UCL, see the Moodle Release Roadmap.

Moodle new features – Wednesday 17th September 2020

Jason R Norton17 September 2020

Digi-Ed is pleased to announce the following activities have been released into live Moodle.

Moodle Zoom Integration: 

You can now create a Zoom meeting from Moodle. Firstly, Tutors need to set up a UCL Zoom account. Then in Moodle, a Tutor can simply turn editing on, click Add an Activity and select Zoom to create a Zoom meeting. Students will then be able to join the Zoom meeting from Moodle. The Zoom meeting will appear automatically in a student’s Moodle calendar to help them stay organised.  

To learn how to add a Zoom meeting to Moodle, see the Moodle Zoom wiki page. For guidance on using Zoom, see the Zoom SharePoint site

Guidance on making the correct platform choice for can be found HERE.

 

Other Moodle Changes

The Moodle Hub page has now been removed. When you now go to moodle.ucl.ac.uk you will be directed to the home page of the 20/21 Live Moodle. If you require access to the 19/20 LSA Moodle, this can be achieved by following the link from the Moodle Snapshot page which is located in the Services drop down menu in Moodle. Or from the link in the top block of your Moodle home page once you have logged in.

 

 

We have changed the colour of the Moodle headings after recieving feedback from end users and our accessibility team. The new colour is more accessible for those with some visual impairments and has a better contrast ratio with their respective backgrounds.

Previous Colour

New Colour

 

Further work on a range of other enhancements, are currently underway. To stay up to date with the latest learning technology enhancements at UCL, see the Moodle Release Roadmap. 

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.