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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. 

Moodle upgrade and course format UX project

By Eliot Hoving, on 9 October 2023

The Digital Learning Environment (DLE) Moodle UX (User Experience) team would like to wish staff and students an excellent start to the 2023/24 academic year. 

By now, many of you will have noticed that UCL Moodle has been given a much-needed update.  Student and staff feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Nonetheless, the Moodle UX team is continuing to develop UCL Moodle based on UX research, accessibility requirements and user feedback. 

UCL Staff can receive early access to developments and participate in opportunities to feedback and shape UCL Moodle by joining the Moodle Development User Feedback Teams group. Alternatively, you can email questions and feedback to digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk 

There are a few quick steps we recommend staff take to update their course to make the most of the new look of Moodle and its new features.  You can read about them in the Moodle 4 – Quick tips for updating your course guide. 

The why about Moodle text editor changes 

As part of the upgrade to UCL Moodle, the ability to change font colour and font family has been removed from Moodle’s text editor.

Font colour has been removed to encourage content in Moodle to meet accessibility requirements.  This is in response to feedback from students who have reported that text on Moodle has often been formatted with poor colour contrast (e.g. red text on a white background) or that colour has been used to indicate information which is not accessible (e.g. conveying information solely using green or red colours). For further guidance, you can read the Digital Accessibility team’s guide on the Visuals and the use of colour. 

Changing font family has also been removed to avoid text that breaks UCL’s design system. Keeping text to a consistent font family will make it easier for students to read content and will also support a consistent and improved experience across UCL’s many webpages and applications.   

 

Upcoming changes to UCL Moodle theme

We’d also like to update you on some upcoming changes which should come into effect soon.

1 – New banner and navbar 

The UCL logo banner and navbar has been redesigned to align Moodle to UCL’s new design system and to conserve vertical space. This should make Moodle more accessible and improve useability on smaller screens and mobile devices.

 

Old banner

Old UCL Moodle Navbar

New banner

New UCL Moodle navbar

2 – New course index page 

The course index page is where staff and students can search or browse for courses. This page has been redesigned based on UX interviews with staff. The new design removes unnecessary information and should be easier to use. 

Old course index page

Old UCL Moodle course index page

New course index page

New UCL Moodle course index page

 

3 – SCORM package default setting changes 

Based on user feedback and an analysis of how SCORM packages are used at UCL. The following changes are planned to the default settings of SCORM packages:  

  • Disabled Preview Mode set to “Yes” 
  • Display Course Structure in Player set to “Disabled”.

We expect these changes to save users’ time when creating new SCORM packages. The changes will not impact already existing SCORM packages, and the default settings can always be changed when creating a new SCORM activity if required. 

Course format UX project 

The Moodle UX team is currently working on wrapping up the Moodle theme development (for now), with a specific focus on improving and embedding accessibility.  

Once complete, we will start working on a UX research project on Moodle course formats. Moodle course formats control how content is structured within a course (e.g. topics, weekly topics, tabs, flexible format, grid). We will be interviewing staff and students to better understand how different course formats are used. Based on the findings, we aim to build a bespoke UCL Moodle course format that fulfils UCL student and staff needs and builds on the best elements of other Moodle course formats. 

If you are interested to find out more or participate in this research, please email e.hoving@ucl.ac.uk.  

 

 

UCL Moodle has been Upgraded to Moodle version 4.2

By Jason R Norton, on 27 July 2023

We are very happy to announce that UCL Moodle has been upgraded to version 4.2 (from version 3.11) and our new UCL “Theme” has been enabled.

UCL Moodle Login Screen

UCL Moodles new login page

 

To keep this post brief, we are signposting existing and new resources that are now available.

Resource List

Updated Moodle Resource Centre – Moodle mini-guides have been updated to reflect Moodle 4 changes and a new top level landing page introduced to ensure new Moodle 4 items can be highlighted. (N.B. some updated resources are being released over the next 48 hours)

Moodle 4 self paced Training Course – An online Moodle course that will walk you through all the key changes within the Moodle 4.2 environment, and as a bonus will award a nice badge on completion.

Moodle 4.2 Demo Instance – We know that trying things out in a new environment may be a little nerve wracking, so we will be ensuring that the Moodle 4.2 demo environment is up to date and available for all staff to test various functionality. You will not be able to do everything because integrations with other systems (eg SITS) will not be enabled, but most Moodle based activities and course editing testing will be available.

Student Resource – The team have updated the basic introduction to Moodle for students.

Previous Moodle Upgrade Blogs – A link to the archive for all the previous Moodle 4 upgrade blogs that have deep dives into specific new or changed features.

Moodle 4 – Quick tips for updating your course – A mini guide on updating course elements post the Moodle 4 upgrade.

For those of you who may like to look at Moodle HQ’s own detailed release notes, below are links to all versions that are included in this upgrade.

Moodle 4.0

Moodle 4.1

Moodle 4.2

 

Note: Academic Year 23/24 Portico Mappings and Lecturecast Sections

Portico Mappings and Lecturecast Sections for the academic year 2023/2024, will NOT be available until after the 1st of August 2023, when data for the next academic year is made available within SITS.

 

What next for UCL Moodle ?

Post Moodle 4 Code refinements and bug squashing

Releasing a new version of any software always requires a period of review and bug fixing. While our team has spent hundreds of hours with various forms of manual and automated testing, its only when you, our users, use the platform that some bugs and minor feature issues will be detected. The support team will be actively prioritising tickets regarding Moodle to our development team who will continue to work to resolve any identified issues as quickly as possible.

Any issues discovered will be listed on our known issues page. If you encounter any issues please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

Post Release Theme Development

Working with our partner Titus Learning, our small theme feature team will continue to make minor changes and improvements based on your feedback up until the start of the new undergraduate session. Once that work has been completed the team will begin to look at our Moodle course formats, another key UI/UX feature of our Moodle platform. They will be looking to bring our course formats into alignment with the new UCL Theme, helping to support consistency across course formats and working to improve accessibility.

Moodle Roadmap

The product team will be working over the summer to refine our medium to long term roadmap. This we aim to have published by the end of September to all our users.  The team have a lot of feature requests, required developments and general operational requirements in our backlog that need to be prioritised and aligned with the work of the Digital Education Portfolio and various strategic goals.

We thank you all for your patience over the last 18 months of active development and I also wish to thank all of those who have engaged with the product team in providing feedback and ideas that have helped us develop a better Moodle.

many thanks

Jason Norton

Product Manager for Digital Learning Environments

 

Moodle 4 – Quick tips for updating your course

By Eliot Hoving, on 27 July 2023

Moodle 4.2 and UCL’s new theme introduce a series of changes aimed at improving the user experience of students and staff.

For the most part, content will look and operate the same. However there are some quick steps you can take to update your course and make the most of the changes.

Consider how you can use the course index menu 

One of the new features of Moodle 4 is the course index menu, which is the new left-hand menu. 

Course index menu

Course index menu

This menu shows a link to all the resources and activities on your course.  

It may take some time for UCL to make the most of this new feature. Be aware that students and staff can close the menu, and access a course as they would have done in the past.  

I’d recommend viewing the course index menu, in its current state, much like an index of a book. It allows you to quickly look something up when you need to, but when your reading you don’t have to go back to the index to get to the next chapter, you simply keep reading. In the Moodle context, students and staff can use the course index menu to quickly find content they want when they need to, but when going through a course they can equally just view the content on the main center page and navigate to the next content item or section from within the main center page.

If we think of the course index menu like a book index, some of its quirks start to make more sense: 

  • The text is truncated so long section or activity headings won’t show in full. It’s best then that the text starts with the most important information, so it allows students to identify or recall what the content is. Numbering content can improve the readability of the index too. 

Numbering content

  • If you used a Label or “Text and Media area” as they are now called to create a horizontal line or add an image, the words “Label” or “Text and Media area” will show in the course index menu. You could delete them if they aren’t essential or add some text to them so this text will then show (see caveat below). 
  • Labels or “Text and Media areas” as they are now called, will also show in the course index menu. All the text in the Label will show, up to point it is truncated. If you want to avoid this, you could move your content from a “Text and Media area” to a Page so that only the Page title shows. UCL developers are investigating whether a seperate title for “Text and Media areas” can be created.

One feature that is particularly nice about the new course index menu is that it shows a green indicator alongside an activity when it has been completed, which allows students to quickly see what content they have done and importantly what they have remaining to do. This functions as a built in course checklist for students.

 

Green indicator in course index menu will show when an activity is completed.

Set up your course summary and image

In the past, it was common for Moodle courses to include a banner image at the top of their course. In Moodle this was called section 0.  Section 0 is now no longer displayed automatically to the student, instead the theme shows the course image at the top of the course. Course images are also shown to the student on their “My courses” page and when a student searches for a course. Whereas in the past you would have to add an image to section 0 and as a course image, now you just need to add it as a course image and it will automatically display at the top of your course. 

In the example shown, the course image is showing at the top, and the old banner image under section 0, which has been named “General”. If you have an old banner image, you can remove it by editing the section, or by using the bulk edit tool as described below.  

Course banner image

Course summaries will also be shown at the top of the course page. In the past the course summary was not easily visible to staff, so often the template text provided in baseline templates would go unedited and would often be shown to students when searching for their courses.  

A completion progress bar and percentage will also show which indicates to the student how many activities they have completed in the course. This will only show when activity completion is enabled on a course.

To add a course summary and image: 

  1. Open your course. 
  2. Click the Settings tab. 
  3. Scroll down to Description. 
  4. Under Course summary, include a brief description of your course. We recommend keeping it brief, think tweet length, 280 characters. 
  5. Under Course image, upload a file (I’d recommend that your image doesn’t include text as it may appear distorted on certain devices, and selecting an image with the size of 550px by 280px. I found my image on UCL’s Imagestore – a free repository of UCL images.) 
  6. Click Save. 

Spring clean using the new Bulk edit tool 

With the new Moodle theme it’s a good time to delete any old content, or formatting that doesn’t fit so well with the new layout and colour scheme (e.g. old course banner image). 

The new Moodle bulk edit tool makes it easier than ever to delete content. It is currently available on the standard “topics” or “collapsed topics” format. For courses in the tab format, you can use the Mass actions block. 

Simply: 

  1. With your course open, turn on edit mode. 
  2. Click Bulk edit at the top of your course. 
  3. Select the content you want to delete. 
  4. Click Delete at the bottom of the page. 

 

Check block images aren’t distorted 

The Moodle block region to the right of a course is now narrower which may distort some of the images you’ve used in the past. 

In previous templates it was common to layout content using a table. This type of formatting is not ideal, as it can lead to inconsistent results based on a user’s device and is harder to read for screen readers. 

So I’d recommend removing any table formatting, and laying out content and images vertically, with minimal styling. 

 

Before 

Block before

After 

Block after

 

Onetopic/Tabs format only – fix colour contrast of tabs 

Due to the colour changes made in the new Moodle theme, your course tab colours may or may not look readible and meet accessibility colour contrast requirements. 

You can change individual course tabs individually, by editing them. 

Alternatively, if you want to reset your course tabs to the default colours, you can temporarily change the course format to the “Topics” format under the Settings tab and click save. You can then change the course format back to “Tabs” which is the format “Onetopic” on Moodle. 

Note: This will remove all your colours and you won’t be able to get them back. 

 

Before 

Tabs before

After 

Tabs after

If you have any difficulty updating your Moodle course, please get in touch with your Faculty Learning Technology Lead.

If you notice any issues or errors, please report them to itservices@ucl.ac.uk so the relevant team can investigate.

Moodle 4 Upgrade Scheduled for 27th July

By Jason R Norton, Aurelie, Eliot Hoving and Kerry, on 17 July 2023

We’re thrilled to announce that after months of diligent work and numerous development sprints, we have scheduled the much-anticipated upgrade to Moodle 4 for Thursday, 27th July in the  early morning.

Moodle is expected to be unavailable between 01:00am and 09:00am

The Moodle 4 upgrade comes with an array of new features and significant improvements, making Moodle more intuitive, efficient, and engaging for all users.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • UCL Moodle will be temporarily unavailable on the morning of Thursday 27th July as we execute the upgrade. We aim to keep this downtime as minimal as possible and thank you for your understanding.
  • Once the upgrade is complete, you will be able to log back in and explore the new-look Moodle. Take some time to navigate the upgraded system and familiarise yourself with its new functionalities.
  • The self-paced course ‘Moving to Moodle 4.2‘ is available to guide you through the transition. We highly recommend going through this course if you need help adjusting to the new system.
  • You can still visit our Moodle 4.2 Pre-release resources wiki page.
  • Support wiki pages for students and staff will progressively be updated to version 4 from Wednesday 26th July through to the day of the upgrade on Thursday 27th July.
  • The 4-demo.preview instance of Moodle will be maintained through the summer period. This will enable you do any tests on your courses in a demo instance before you may choose to do them on your actual courses.

If you encounter any issues or have any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Digital Education team.

While we are extremely excited about Moodle 4 and believe it will significantly improve our learning environment, we understand that adapting to such a significant change may take a bit of time. We appreciate your patience and feedback as we navigate this transition together.

The team have created multiple blogs on the Moodle 4 feature set, all can be viewed in the archive at the Moodle 4 blog archive.

We can’t wait for you to experience Moodle 4!

Happy Moodling!

The Digital Learning Environments Team

Countdown to Moodle 4: Entering the Final Stretch

By Aurelie, Kerry, Eliot Hoving and Jason R Norton, on 12 July 2023

Hello Moodlers! We’re back with the penultimate post before the Moodle 4.2 upgrade. While we’re diligently aligning all aspects for a smooth transition, we appreciate your patience as we’re moving closer towards finalising the upgrade date.

With the upgrade to Moodle 4 just around the corner, we want to provide some essential updates and tips to help you prepare.

Sprint Update and Progress

Our work to prepare for the upgrade continues at a brisk pace as we fine-tune and test the system.

  • Student communication: Expect communication to all students soon via our central communications team, explaining the upcoming changes and including access to our Demo Preview site.
  • Orientation: We designed a User Tour for students to be oriented in the new platform and this is now deployed to all users on our Demo Preview site if you would like to preview it.
  • Final theme code deployed: The last theme code is out. Any further changes to the theme will take place after the upgrade.
  • Preparing for load testing: Our team is on the mark for load testing, slated to commence in the upcoming sprint. We aim to ensure Moodle 4 can handle high-demand periods without a glitch in performance.
  • Miniguides update: All the wiki Moodle miniguides are being tested, verified and updated. These will be updated to correspond with the new platform in time for the upgrade towards the month-end.
  • Stacking up on STACK: We’re working on updating the STACK engine for STACK question types in quizzes.
Preview of the Student User Tour

Preview of the Student User Tour

Prepping for the Upgrade: Your Part

In anticipation of the upcoming transformation, there are several things you can do to ensure a smooth transition.

  • Awareness: If there are colleagues who might not be aware of the upgrade, kindly spread the word.
  • Familiarise: Explore the Moodle 4.2 Pre-release resources wiki page for a comprehensive understanding of the upcoming changes.
  • Preview: Use our demo site to visualize how your course(s) will appear post-upgrade. If you haven’t yet done so, you can see how your UCL Moodle courses will look on our Demo Preview site and report any issues to our team.
  • Learn: Engage with the self-paced training module for a grasp of the changes from Moodle version 3.11 to version 4.2.
  • Connect: Discuss with your Faculty Learning Technology Lead about other available training options in your faculty or department.

Getting in Touch

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Digital Education team. Stay tuned for our next update in a fortnight, where we’ll share more details on the Moodle 4 upgrade. Until then, happy Moodling!

The Digital Learning Environments Team