X Close

Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


UCLeXtend platform migration

By Jo Stroud, on 25 October 2019

In recent months staff from Digital Education have been engaged in a project to migrate the public-facing short courses platform, UCLeXtend, to a new hosting provider. As part of this process the platform will be upgraded to a version of Moodle that offers several GDPR compliant features in addition to an updated interface.

A change of theme

As part of the migration we are also taking the opportunity to refresh the platform’s aesthetic, or ‘theme’, which in recent years has required continued investment to remain functional. This change will mean that the platform’s existing courses look different, although underlying functionality will remain the same and the content and activities present will not be changed. Course layouts will bear greater similarity to the internal UCL Moodle platform and course teams will have more choice over how their courses are structured and presented. 

The new site theme’s primary differences are as follows.

At site level

  • The UCLeXtend homepage will be refreshed with a change in colours and imagery, in addition to separate buttons for UCL and non-UCL logins (see work-in-progress screenshot below); 
  • Upon login, learners and staff will be presented with a dashboard of their courses. This dashboard can be controlled by individual users, giving the opportunity to highlight recently visited courses and ‘favourite’ or hide courses.

Screenshot of updated UCLeXtend homepage, with photograph of UCL Portico in background and log in buttons visible

At course level

  • Section navigation will move from the top of the page to the left-hand side. The left-hand navigation panel can be expanded or collapsed by the user; 
  • There will be greater control over the layout of each course with course formats; 
  • Courses can feature an illustrative image that is presented on both the course dashboard and as a background upon entry (see work-in-progress screenshot below).

Screenshot of new course layout with expanded and collapsed navigation bar shown

Key information

The migration is anticipated to be completed in the week commencing 18th November 2019 (updated: 13/11). A notice will be applied to the front page of the platform as to the precise date and time and it should be unavailable for a few hours at most. Teams with live courses during this period will be contacted separately with further information about how to manage the transition.

If you have any questions please get in touch with the Digital Education team at extend@ucl.ac.uk.

Open Educational Resources University

By Matt Jenner, on 15 February 2011

Kindly grabbed from this week’s Times Higher Education:

A group of universities are in the planning phase of merging already existing Open Educational Resources (OER), aka free online learning materials, to create a degree programme which can be studied online, for free.

The project brings together the OER Foundation, the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, Athabasca University in Canada and Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand. ‘If we get this right…an OER university degree could be ’10-15 per cent’ of the cost of a traditional degree.’


With news like this we sometimes wonder what the reaction would be at UCL if such an movement were to happen more locally, either in other institutions or perhaps our own. Technically we have the tools required to do this, but it takes much more than just Moodle to teach, and learn, entirely online. But this is already happening in some modules at UCL and has been for some time, but not degree level, yet… (plans are already being drawn up for entirely online courses and more supporting technologies).

The most significant part of this is the fees, or lack thereof. The universities involves are awarding bodies and less involved in the teaching process.  This is another step in the direction of independent learning.