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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


The Lecturecast Clinic: Appointments now open

By Katy O Foster, on 6 February 2024

As part of the suite of support for users of Lecturecast available for UCL staff, colleagues from the Educational Media team will now be offering one-to-one consultations via The Lecturecast Clinic.

These one-on-one online appointments can be used to address any queries or topics related to Lecturecast, aiming to assist staff with their teaching needs.

Before booking an appointment, staff are also advised to complete the short online course Getting started with Lecturecast (Moodle) to gain a foundational understanding of Lecturecast.

To book, visit the booking page. New available sessions will be continually added.

Other Lecturecast support resources available:

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

Countdown to Moodle 4: Unfolding the New Dashboard

By Aurelie, Jason R Norton, Kerry and Eliot Hoving, on 26 June 2023

Welcome back to our latest blog update on the anticipated Moodle 4 upgrade. We’ve made significant progress and are excited to share with you the transformative features of the updated dashboard. But first, let’s catch up on our recent sprint updates. 

Sprint Update and Progress 

Our dedicated team has been diligently addressing numerous significant advancements: 

  1. Theme Finalisation: We’re on the brink of finalising our theme, shaping a fresh and engaging user interface. 
  2. Turnitin now in the Feedback block: We’ve upgraded the Feedback block to now include Turnitin feedback for students, making it more intuitive and efficient. 
  3. Testing: Extensive testing within multiple environments and PHP unit testing is ensuring a stable and secure platform. 
  4. Accessibility Review: In collaboration with the Digital Accessibility team, we’re undertaking a thorough accessibility review. This vital work aims to draft an accessibility statement for Moodle 4, outlining our compliance with accessibility guidelines and a roadmap for future enhancements. 
  5. STACK Installation: The latest version of STACK engine (Quiz question type) has been installed for testing – it’s not deployed yet to the Moodle 4 Demo Preview. 
  6. Security Upgrade: We performed a security upgrade on Moodle 3.11 (current UCL Moodle) to ensure the security and stability of our current platform in anticipation of the Moodle 4.2 upgrade. 
  7. Training: We have completed the delivery of train-the-trainer sessions to 90 nominated members of staff. We have also updated content for the Moving To Moodle 4.2 self-paced course, as the theme is evolving.

Unveiling the New Dashboard 

The dashboard has seen a significant transformation. Let’s explore what it has to offer: 

For Students 

  • Alert Section: Stay informed about critical Moodle platform alerts, keeping you abreast of important updates, changes, or issues. 
  • ‘Pick up where you left off’ Block: This feature highlights your recently accessed courses and activities, allowing you to seamlessly resume your work. 
  • Deadlines Section: Stay on top of your tasks with this timeline of upcoming activities. Activities with a cut-off date will be prominently displayed on your timeline. 
  • Feedback Block: A feature aiming to gather all of a student’s assessment feedback in Moodle in one convenient place. 
  • News Block: Keep up to date with the latest UCL news with our streamlined News block. 
Moodle 4 Student dashbaord with the new Alert section, 'Pick up where you left off', Deadlines, Feedback block and News.

Moodle 4 Student dashbaord with the new Alert section, ‘Pick up where you left off’, Deadlines, Feedback block and News.

For Staff 

  • Alert Section: Stay up to date with critical Moodle platform alerts. 
  • ‘Pick up where you left off’ Block: This feature displays your recently accessed courses and activities. 
  • News Block: Receive the latest UCL updates right on your dashboard. 
  • ‘My Courses’ in the Navigation Bar: Access a hub containing all your courses. Hide/show courses, favourite relevant ones, and filter by past, present, and future. 

Feel free to explore these features and more in our Moodle 4 Demo Preview. 

Getting in Touch 

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 exciting news and progress on the Moodle 4 upgrade. Until then, happy moodling! 

The Digital Learning Environments Team 

Countdown to Moodle 4: Gearing up for Change

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

Welcome back to our fortnightly news release dedicated to the Moodle 4 upgrade. As we draw nearer to the upgrade, we’re thrilled to share the progress we’ve made and highlight the new features set to enhance your Moodle experience. 

Sprint Update and Progress 

Since its launch on 30 May, over 200 staff members have visited our Demo Preview site. We’re actively recording and addressing the feedback received. If you haven’t yet done so, it’s not too late. You can see your UCL Moodle courses in the Moodle 4.2 Demo Preview, too and report any issues to our team. 

Our ‘Train the Trainer’ workshops have been underway since the 30 May, and we’re proud to share that 47 trainers have already earned their Moodle 4.2 Trainer badges. 

In addition to our team, 79 members of staff have enrolled in the ‘Moving to Moodle 4.2’ self-paced course, with five participants already completing it and receiving their Moodle 4.2 Explorer badge. 

Introducing improved course content management 

Moodle 4.2 brings a wealth of improvements designed to simplify course content editing. Here’s a glimpse of what’s new: 

  1. Edit Mode Toggle: Simplify course updates with the new Edit Mode toggle replacing the “turn editing on” button. This makes it clear when you’re editing versus viewing.  

    The Edit mode toggle at the top of the page

    New ‘Edit mode’ toggle.

  2. Add Content Anywhere: You can now add activities or resources anywhere in a section, thanks to the new PLUS icon. Click, choose your activity, and you’re set!

    demonstration of adding content anywhere in a section quickly with the PLUS icon

    Click on the image to enlarge and see the animation.


  3. Course Settings and Menu Tabs: These course administration functions have moved from the block drawer to the top of the course page for easy access. Adjust course settings, view grades, or manage course participants, and more, all in one place.

    course adminsitration tools now above the course with a 'more' menu.

    Course administation tool, above the course, using submenus.

  4. Reorganise Course Content: The Course Index feature makes reorganising content a breeze. Simply drag and drop sections and activities to reorder them.

    Course content management via the Course Index.

    Course content management via the Course Index.

  5. Group Membership Visibility: You can now control who sees the members of groups, enhancing privacy and targeted communication. 
  6. Activity and Resource Icons: We have colour-coded and unique icons for different activity and resource types, providing clear guidance on the nature of each activity. 
  7. Displaying Activity and Resource Types: The type of activity or resource is now visible when editing the course, helping quick identification.
    Text and Media Area: The Label resource is renamed to a more intuitive ‘Text and Media area’. 
  8. Easy Item Indentation: Indenting items for better course organisation is now straightforward and accessible. Just select ‘Move right’ in the options menu.
    screenshot of the Move Right function for indenting content
  9. Permalink to Sections: Share direct links to course sections with the new Permalink feature.
    Bulk Editing Actions: One of our favourite new features, move, duplicate, or delete multiple activities or resources simultaneously with the new Bulk Edit feature, saving time and effort.

    demonstration of bulk editing

    Click on the image to enlarge and see the animation.

To see these new features in action, visit your course(s) in our Demo Preview site.
To explore the new course management features and new bulk editing capabilities, check out the ‘Course management’ section in the ‘Moving to Moodle 4.2’ self-paced course.  

Getting in Touch 

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 exciting news and progress on the Moodle 4 upgrade. Until then, happy moodling! 

The Virtual Learning Environments Team 


Countdown to Moodle 4: Ready, Set, Demo!

By Aurelie, Jason R Norton, Kerry and Eliot Hoving, on 30 May 2023

Welcome back to our fortnightly news update, spotlighting the eagerly awaited Moodle 4 upgrade. Each day brings us closer to this landmark development, and the anticipation continues to build. 

Sprint Update and Progress 

In the current sprint, we have made considerable progress on various elements of the new UCL Theme and its alignment with UCL’s design requirements. This means our theme will align with the UCL brand guidelines and design principles to make the UCL Moodle feel part of the UCL based web experience. 

Our technical team, including developers, analysts, and infrastructure experts, is diligently working on the Moodle software. They’re going through the code, running automated tests, resolving issues, and preparing our systems on Amazon Web Services (AWS), a cloud-based platform we use for our digital resources, for future stress tests next month. In addition, they’re assisting other team members as they add new features and improvements to Moodle 4.2. They’re also ensuring that our current Moodle 3.11 system is running smoothly. 

Our team is particularly excited about the launch of the ‘Train the Trainer’ workshops, that will be kicking off today. This three-hour online workshop is designed to equip departmental trainers with the knowledge to navigate the upgraded Moodle 4.2 and pass that knowledge on to their teams. In addition to the live online workshop, participants will have access to an array of support resources to aid them through the transition. 

Demo.Preview Moodle Instance available!! 

Today’s big news: our Demo Preview is live as of the 30th of May! Tutors and course administrators can now explore the upgraded Moodle 4.2 interface, allowing them to preview how their courses will appear post-upgrade. We urge everyone to seize this opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new layout and features in preparation for the late-July upgrade of our production environment. 

Moodle dashboard

What is 4-demo.preview-moodle.ucl.ac.uk? 

This restricted-access instance of Moodle is a copy of our production environment that has been upgraded to Moodle 4.2 and has the new UCL Moodle theme applied (in development). 

This demo.preview instance of Moodle is to give you early access to:  

  1. Experience Moodle 4.2 and its new navigation. 
  2. Experiment the new features that we have highlighted in our previous blogs e.g., improved question bank. 
  3. See how your Moodle courses will look after the late-July upgrade. 
  4. Plan any changes that you may wish to make to your courses. 
  5. Provide feedback on the new UCL Theme via a dedicated form that can be accessed from the bottom banner which is displayed on every page. 

Important notes about 4-demo.preview-moodle.ucl.ac.uk 

While we have made this instance available for you to experience Moodle 4.2 and the new UCL theme, there are several important caveats that users need to be aware of. 

  1. The demo.preview instance will be Moodle 4.2: this will be the version of Moodle that goes live in the late-July upgrade 
  2. The demo.preview instance will be WIPED and UPDATED every fortnight. This means anything you do within the preceding two weeks will be lost. The demo.preview instance should be used for testing and learning only. It should not be used as a “live” environment in any way. The team will signpost this via a banner visible on every page. 
  3. As part of the fortnightly demo.preview WIPE, the Moodle teams will deploy code fixes to both Moodle and to the new UCL theme. 
  4. The new UCL theme is still in active beta development with an intended change freeze to occur from the 30th of June. Prior to that date, all elements of the theme (colour, layout, etc) should be considered as beta and subject to possible change. Our development partners are actively working on feedback already received and changes will deploy as of the fortnightly WIPE. 
  5. The demo.preview is running on a reduced infrastructure. We do not yet have a measure of how many users may access the site, so we will need to adjust the resources for demo.preview as we receive updated metrics. Because of this, you may experience an initial slowness to the site, but we will aim to increase resources as we monitor the load. The speed of this Moodle instance should not be used to compare to our production instance of Moodle which has significantly more resources available to it as well as auto-scaling. 

Moodle 4.2 Pre-release resource Wiki page 

The team have also created a Pre-release resource page, where you can find various resources, report issues and other relevant guidance. This resource and FAQs will grow over the next few months before transitioning to the new Moodle 4.2 resource centre. 

Self-paced course 

Moreover, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of the Moving to Moodle 4.2 training site today. This self-paced course is ideal for staff who may not be able to attend the trainer-led sessions in their respective departments. 

This course is designed to help you familiarise yourself with the new interface and features ahead of the official upgrade scheduled for the end of July. It provides the flexibility to set your own pace for learning and the convenience to revisit the materials as often as necessary.
Plus, you’ll receive a digital badge upon completion of the course as a recognition of your efforts! We believe this training will significantly improve your experience of the transition to Moodle 4.2. 

Moving to Moodle 4.2 course page

Getting in Touch 

Our Digital Education team is on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have. 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 exciting news and progress on the Moodle 4 upgrade. Until then, happy moodling! 

The Virtual Learning Environments Team