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Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'MyPortfolio' Category

Compared: MyPortfolio and Campus Pack

Domi C Sinclair9 November 2015

Update July 2017: Please note that the ability to add new instances of Campus Pack tools in UCL Moodle has been removed as part of the this year’s Moodle upgrade. The page below is for reference, and staff should see our Campus Pack Guidance page for more information on possible alternative tools that offer similar functionality.

Having a lot of tools to use can be a mixed blessing. On one hand it is great to have such a selection to choose from, whereas on the other it can be confusing and overwhelming. In E-Learning Environments (ELE) we aim to help you navigate the myriad of tools and find the one that’s right for you. In this post we will be looking at MyPortfolio, Campus Pack and Moodle. If you haven’t heard of some of these tools before, then don’t worry I will start by introducing them so you can get a better idea. You will see that although they have some similar functionality they can serve different purposes.


MyPortfolio is our online portfolio platform at UCL, it is based off of Mahara open-source software. Originally this was billed as an employability tool, due to it’s CV builder function, however it has evolved and can do a lot more than just online CVs. At it’s core MyPortfolio is an individually owned space, that gives students a place to work and control their own content. This can be done privately and then shared at various different levels, from public, to groups or just a single user. MyPortfolio is available to everyone with a UCL username and password, and can be used independently or as part of studies and assessment.

Some of the key functionality it contains are journals, ability to upload files and embed external content.

MyPortfolio is great for allowing students to create their own portfolio of content, whilst working with the flexible layout and using images to create their own design. Within MyPortfolio it is possible to create a ‘Collection’ which forms a mini website, with tab or side bar based navigation. In the past students have relished the opportunity to let their creativity flow and created impressive pages which really utilise the flexibility MyPortfolio affords.

Groups are another popular feature, allowing students to collaborate on pages and communicate using a forum. If there is any nervousness about creating shared work, then it is possible to create pages in a personal portfolio space and then share a copy with the group – ensuring the student retains an original as evidence of work.

Most pages and collections in MyPortfolio can be exported as either HTML or LEAP2A (which is a specialised portfolio format), so that they can be stored or transferred to other hosting locations. It is also possible for students to maintain access to MyPortfolio if they ensure after graduation that they continue to update their password as required.

You can access MyPortfolio directly through the web address https://myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk


Most people will be familiar with Moodle, this is UCL’s virtual learning environment (or VLE) it is our core online learning tool. If you are still unfamiliar with Moodle then you can learn more, and get to grips with the basics by taking our Getting Started with Moodle online course.

Although Moodle does have the ability to run blogs, it is not as good as the MyPortfolio journals, or the Campus Pack blogs (which we will talk about in the next section). Another feature you can find in both Campus Pack and Moodle is the wiki. This offers a collaborative space for students to work together to create a document or shared resource. It offers some tracking capabilities, so that you can track changes and see what each students has contributed. The UCL Moodle Resource Centre has more information about the Moodle blogs and wiki.

As well as the above, it is possible for external services to be embedded or linked into Moodle via LTI  (Learning Tools Interoperability) using the External tools feature. You can read more about this in the UCL Moodle Resource Centre wiki.

Campus Pack

Campus Pack is a set of tools that work through Moodle. This makes them useful as they can be used from within a Moodle course, rather than having to go to a separate website. You can find all of the Campus Pack tools under the ‘add a resource or activity’ menu in Moodle.

There are a series of tools available through the Campus Pack integration with Moodle and these include; wiki, blog, journal, podcast and LTI. The wiki tool is a nice collaborative space where students can work together as a class or in groups to create content. It has nice tracking features so that you can see who has done what work and when, which may be useful when grading group work. Unlike MyPortfolio, where blogs and journals are basically the same tool (the journal) in Campus Pack there is a distinction. Blogs are designed to be more open and shared, they can be set up on a course, individual or group basis. Journals within Campus Pack are intended as private reflective spaces, where only tutors can see what students have written.

The podcast tool is the most unique within Campus Pack as it’s functionality is not replicated elsewhere. The podcast tool will allow you to record audio directly in to Moodle, rather than having to record on an external device/ program and upload it. This makes it very quick and easy to create and share sound files with a course.

Finally the LTI tools allows you to embed external content that is LTI compliant. As mentioned above this functionality is also available in Moodle via the External tools function, and is probably easier to use this.

You can find out more about Campus Pack on the UCL Moodle Resource Centre wiki.

Additionally you can learn more about Campus Pack through Unit 3 of UCL Arena Digital titled, “How can we involve students with Campus Pack blogs, wikis and podcasts?” This unit has just finished but remains open for access. Participants can watch video tutorials, see (and still take part in) a Campus Pack wiki activity, read (and contribute to) a Campus Pack blog, and see a recording of a webinar where Tim Neumann (Campus Pack expert) discusses ways of using the tools for collaboration and assessment with UCL colleagues.

As well as the tools mentioned above, which as looked after by the E-Learning Environments team UCL also offer a number of other spaces such as the UCL wiki and UCL Personal Web Service.

If you are interested in any of the above services and think that you could utilise them in your teaching and learning please contact the ISD Service Desk for more information.



Thoughts from AAEEBL 2015

Domi C Sinclair6 August 2015

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend and present at AAEEBL 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. You might be wondering what AAEEBL stands for and what this event was all about, especially if you have never heard of it before. The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning focuses on the usage of portfolios at their annual conference. In fact one of the key points to come out of the conference was a consensus that as a community we should stop referring to e-portflios (or eportfolios depending on your preference), which is distracting and in many cases superfluous. Instead it is time we just talk about portfolios and focus on the pedagogy. This conference was very much aimed at focusing on the pedagogy, and in most cases the tool used was almost irrelevant to the presentation. In education it is far too easy to get caught up in our own silos, whether that is a department based silo or a tool based silo. When we stop and look to the outside we can often find valuable input we would have otherwise missed.

Collaboration was also a key theme from the conference. To make a portfolio effective involves everyone working together. It involves tutors and students having a clear dialogue about what is expected in the portfolio. It also can benefit from peer-to-peer collaboration, whether that is academics helping one another out with creative ideas/support or students giving each other tips and feedback. Of course it can also require working with the E-Learning team, and here at UCL we are always happy to offer advice or support around any platform, including portfolios. Currently we use the Mahara platform at UCL, you might have heard of it as MyPortfolio which is the name we use for our installation. If you’d like to find out more about MyPortfolio then you can go directly to the platform at https://myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk or visit the MyPortfolio Resource Centre in the wiki – although please note this site is currently under maintenance and being updated.

The final key theme I’d like to highlight is badges. There were a number of presentations and a keynote on the use of badges with portfolios. This seems like a natural fit as portfolios are a great way of collecting evidence for a badge. A badge in turn is a nice way to recognise competencies or skills that might not otherwise be acknowledge by assessment criteria or formal credit. The McArthur Foundation have produced a video which explains the basics of what a badge is, if you are still unsure.

At UCL we have done some pilots with badges and we’d be happy to talk to anyone about this if they wish to get in touch.

If you’d like to get a wider overview of the conversations from AAEEBL then please see my Storify, collecting my tweets and all the best other tweets from the event.

You can also see my presentation on utilizing the (portfolio) community: https://youtu.be/wcFBsON_-6Q.

Should you have any questions then please contact the E-Learning Environments team.

MUGSE 3 – London, RVC

Domi C Sinclair17 March 2015

The third meeting of MUGSE (Mahara User Group for Southern England) took place on Friday 6th March, at the Royal Veterinary College in London. Mahara is the software that at UCL we refer to as MyPortfolio, our flexible e-portfolio system.

The user group meeting had a mix of experiences in Mahara, as well as a mix of learning technology professionals and academics. The group was also lucky enough to have Don Christie from Catalyst in attendance. Catalyst are the company who are responsible for the Mahara project, and they look after the core code and carry out updates.

The session began with a group round table, with everyone having the chance to contribute problems or question and then the rest of the group offering solutions or answers based on their own experiences. After this there were a series of presentations, including help files and case studies from Roger Emery and Sam Taylor at Southampton Solent University, a look at the April Mahara upgrade from Don Christie and finally Domi Sinclair (me) talking briefly about the importance of getting involved in the Mahara community. If you would like more details about this user group please read the article from Digi Domi and follow MUGSE on Twitter @mugseUK.


Helping us to help you

Domi C Sinclair16 December 2014

When you have a problem or question E-Learning Environments (ELE) are always more than happy to hear from you, and will do all we can to help you as quickly as we can. However, this process can be slowed down if we don’t have all the information we need to investigate your problem, or answer your question. So here are some top tips for what to include in an email/ ticket to ELE, so you can help us to help you.

1. Course name (and link)

UCL is a large university with hundreds of courses, and even more modules. Therefore it is very difficult for us to investigate a problem without knowing the name of a course/ module, so that we can look at the problem and try to replicate it. A lot of problem solving is reverse engineered, so we will try to replicate the problem for ourselves and then figure out what is wrong, by using our familiarity with the components of the technology. It is also helpful to include a link to the course/ module in question, as sometimes these are not obvious when searching in Moodle/ Lecturecast. Asking for the course name is always our first step, and so by including this in your original email then you will save time and help us resolve the problem faster.

2. Activity/ resource name (and link)

As well as there being a lot of courses at UCL, individual courses may have more than one of a particular activity, such as a Turnitin assignment or forum. It will take ELE extra time if we have to search through all of them to find the problem, and it also means that sometimes we are not always sure if we have found the problem. By including the name and location of the activity in the original email ELE can go straight to it, and get to work determining the problem.

3. Screenshots

When we look at a course, it might not always be possible for ELE to replicate a problem. This might be because the issue is related to a particular browser you are using, or due to permissions on your account. As these parameters might not apply to ELE we may not be able to see the problem, which makes it much harder for us to help with the answer. If you can take a screenshot (using the PrtScn key) and then paste that into a document and send it as an attachment, it will help us see the problem and any error messages you are receiving. It can even mean that we can answer the question or give a solution straight away upon seeing the screenshot.

4. Error messages

Screenshots of error messages are good, but if you can’t take one then including what an error message says will help ELE to diagnose and resolve the problem. It also helps us if we have to deal with any third party suppliers (such as Turnitin).

4. Specifics

A summary of the problem is best as ELE might not have a lot of time to read a long email, and it may be possible to determine and resolve an issue with only a few key details, listed above. However it can also help to be specific. If you are reporting a problem then list what steps you are taking that are causing the problem, which buttons are you clicking and in what order? Details are also helpful if you are asking a question about a new activity you’d like to start, but you’re not sure which tool to use. If you include specific details about what you want to do then ELE can suggest the tool that fits your needs best.

By following these tips you will have an easier and quicker experience with ELE, and we will be able to get through more problems or questions in less time.

Please feel free to send your queries to ELE via our email address, ele@ucl.ac.uk

MyPortfolio Upgrade and User Group

Domi C Sinclair25 November 2014

Today we have upgrade the MyPortfolio system to version 1.10, you can read about the improvements this has brought on our recent post announcing the upgrade.

In addition to this the Mahara User Group for Southern England (MUGSE) was held last week. Mahara is the name of the software used to run MyPortfolio at UCL. The user group contained a number of presentations on topics such as new users of Mahara, changing the language files and up-coming improvements. You can see a full write-up of the user group on my personal blog: http://digidomi.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/mugse-2-sparsholt-college/ Please note that as this is my personal blog it is not associated with UCL and reflects my own thoughts and opinions.

The next user group will be happening in the first quarter of next year and is likely to be in London. More details will be shared nearer the time and once a location and date have been confirmed. It is also likely that the conference, which from this year will be known as the Mahara UK Hui (to reflect the systems New Zealand roots) will also be held in London, around the start of July.

If you have any questions about the MyPortfolio system please get in touch with E-Learning Environments

MyPortfolio Upgrade 25 Nov 2014

Domi C Sinclair13 November 2014

MyPortfolio will be unavailable on 25 November 2014  from 08:00 to 10:00 whilst we carry out a routine upgrade.
On 25 November we will upgrade MyPortfolio to version 1.10. There are many benefits to this upgrade, including A new editable dashboard, social media block and Open Badges backpack integration.
New editable dashboard – The dashboard now has new icons for Create, Share and Engage, which help promote the key benefits to the system. You can also now customise your dashboard so it had the information and look you want.

MyPortfolios dashboard




Social media block – There is now a social media section of the Profile which allows you to link to your sites easily. You can then include these links on any page as a nice easy series of button thank link directly to your content.

Social media block




Open Badges backpack integration – Display your public Mozilla Open Badge collections from your backpack on your MyPortfolio page.

Open Badges in MyPortfolio






If you have any questions about the upgrade please email ele@ucl.ac.uk and we would be happy to answer your questions or address your concerns.
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