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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Update on the Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer Wizard

By Kerry, on 6 June 2024

Since the release of the Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer Wizard in March 2024, we have an important update for you. When selecting a source Moodle activity to transfer marks from, Moodle activities can now include a Grade Item or Grade Category from the Moodle Grade Book.

Previously, it was only possible to transfer marks from a single Moodle assignment, Quiz or Turnitin assignment to one or more than one assessment component in Portico.

From 6th June 2024, you will also be able to select a Grade Item that you have manually created in the Moodle Grade Book. In addition, you will be able to transfer marks from a Grade Category. This means that if you have set up a Category in the Grade Book which has its own aggregated grade calculated from its Grade Items, you can also transfer this grade to one or more than one assessment component in Portico.

Please ensure that the Grade Item or Category meet the following criteria before completing a marks transfer:

  • The mark is numeric (letter grades are not eligible) so the Grade type should be set to “value”.
  • The maximum value is 100.
  • The Grade display type is set to “Real” (other display types will not be recognised by Portico so the item or Category would not show up as a Source activity in the Marks Transfer Wizard). 

These developments were prioritised following user feedback during the pilot earlier this year. Our next priority will be to analyse requirements for SORAs, ECs, LSAs and other special cases.

You can access guidance on how to use Marks Transfer in our Wiki, which includes short screen recordings. There is now also a short Tour on Moodle for users getting started with the tool.

If you are experiencing issues with using the Marks Transfer Wizard, please check our FAQs (which are frequently updated) and if you are still unable to resolve your issue, you should contact the Digital Education Support team at digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

For any issues with Portico data, contact examboards@ucl.ac.uk or for issues with incorrect assessment set up, contact lifecycle@ucl.ac.uk.

For general feedback or suggestions on future developments, please contact your Faculty Champion.

Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer Pilot Update

By Kerry, on 9 February 2024

As some of you may be aware, a new Moodle integration is due to be released in the spring which has been designed and developed by the DLE Team to improve the process for transferring marks from Moodle to Portico. It is called the Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer Integration and we are currently trialing this with around 40 course administrators across the institution.

The pilot kicked off on 8 January and will run until 29 February 2024. The purpose of the pilot is to test the Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer Integration using the newly designed Marks Transfer Wizard and its marks transfer functionality that was developed following the Phase 1 Pilot, which took place with a very small group of course administrators at the end of last year. This wizard provides a more streamlined experience for end users by putting the core assessment component information at the centre of the tool which can then be mapped to a selection of Moodle assessments.

Pilot Phase 2 is the last pilot phase before an initial MVP (Minimal Viable Product) release into UCL Moodle Production in late March 2024. Currently, users can take advantage of the integration if the following criteria are met:

  1. They have used the Portico enrolment block to create a mapping with a Module Delivery on their Moodle course.
  2. Either of the following assessment scenarios is true:-
    1. Only one Moodle assessment activity is being linked to one assessment component in SITS.
    2. Only one Moodle assessment activity is being linked to multiple assessment components in SITS.
  3. An assessment component exists in SITS to map against.
  4. The Moodle assessment marks are numerical 0-100.
  5. The assessment component in SITS is compatible with SITS Marking Schemes and SITS Assessment Types.
  6. For exam assessments, the SITS assessment component is the exam room code EXAMMDLE.

The Marks Transfer Wizard currently supports the transfer of marks from one of the following summative assessment activities in Moodle:

  • Moodle Assignment
  • Moodle Quiz
  • Turnitin Assignment (NOT multipart)

We intend to collect feedback on the new Marks Transfer Wizard from pilot participants to improve the interface and workflow for a general UCL-wide release in late March 2024 and also to prioritise next step improvements and developments following the launch.

So far informal feedback has been very positive: users say the assessment wizard works well and will save them a lot of time. The pilot has also been useful for exploring where issues might arise with Portico records or Moodle course administration as well as for gathering frequently asked questions and advice on best practice which will feed into our guidance for wider rollout.

So what are the next steps? Well, we will continue to support our pilot participants until the end of February. In mid-February, the Marks Transfer Assessment Wizard will be updated with some interface improvements so participants will be able to feedback on these too. Towards the end of February, participants will be asked to complete a survey and some will take part in a focus group to help us evaluate the success of the MVP integration and to prioritise our plans for future developments. In addition, our Change Manager is working with us on a communications plan for wider release on UCL Moodle Production and is currently in the process of recruiting a network of champions to cascade guidance and best practice on Moodle-SITS Marks Transfer across UCL, as well as to help us to continue to gather feedback on the user experience. More information about this exciting new development will be available in the coming months!

Important Update: STACK upgrade and its impact on existing questions

By Aurelie, on 19 July 2023

The STACK Moodle plugin is getting an upgrade!

What is STACK?
STACK is a powerful system for creating and managing online assessments in mathematics, science, and related disciplines. It’s integrated into our Moodle platform, providing a seamless experience for creating complex, auto-graded questions.

The new version, STACK 4.4, was initially released in July 2022 and is now being implemented in our Moodle platform on Tuesday 25th July. This major update focuses on enhancing the performance and overcoming limitations of the previous systems, particularly in the Potential Response Tree (PRT) and Computer Algebra System Text (CASText) systems.

However, it’s important to note that the new version of STACK has become more stringent in terms of logic and syntax. As a result, certain questions may not function as they did before. This is due to the enhanced logic/syntax checks incorporated in the new version, aimed at improving the accuracy and consistency of STACK assessments.

We have conducted tests and identified the questions that may be affected by this change. These are listed in a report on our wiki (you need to be logged in with your UCL account to view the report). We understand that this may require adjustments to your current questions and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
We recommend reviewing and updating your questions as necessary to ensure they function correctly after the upgrade.

To help you navigate these changes, you can review the list of key issues that might arise and their solutions in the Release Notes.

As always, we’re here to support you during this transition. If you have any questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Digital Education team.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we work to improve our Moodle platform and assessment tools.

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