Learning Technology

Giving credit to the author [Moodle images #2]

June 24th, 2016

Someone once told me about a time they went to a conference to learn about others’ research on their subject of interest, only to hear their own research spouted back to them by one of the speakers, without any acknowledgement.  When you put hard work into creating something, the last thing you want to happen is its re-use without any acknowledgement: it feels a bit like theft.  That’s unless of course you’ve made it available in the ‘public domain’ allowing anyone and everyone to chop and change and share it as they wish with no reference to you at all just to get it out there, far and wide.  But most people don’t do this.

Most people want a little credit, even if they give you freedom of use and amendment.  So, how can you acknowledge the work of others, particularly when it comes to images?

In Moodle there’s an attribution tool as part of the image upload process that allows you to enter the details of the author, date it was put out there, the type of copyright associated with it and a link or reference to where you got it from.  It’s a quick and easy way to give acknowledgement to the author and avoid the copyright police.

If you want to know more about copyright, here’s a post made by a UK law firm that explains it further in a reasonably user-friendly way and the University of Nottingham’s guidance on copyright.

Below is a video about how to add an attribution to your images in Moodle, particularly for images you obtain from Flickr, and how to check the copyright licence associated with them so you know exactly how you can use and best acknowledge them in your module.


First post in this series: Enhancing your module with images

Angelique Bodart

Assessing students with video #1: video presentation on a topic

June 21st, 2016

Increasingly, lecturers are asking students to upload video as part of their module or course assessment. There are many ways to submit video, including uploading to YouTube and submitting a URL, and adding a video to a shared drive. At the University of Nottingham one of the options available for assessment in Moodle allows students to submit their own audio and video via the Media Assignment. This is a plugin from Kaltura in which the student’s video is uploaded to MediaSpace – which is a much more efficient way of storing and displaying video than uploading it into Moodle.

I asked Dr. Sally Hibbert at the Nottingham University Business School about the way she assesses students using video in her module Consumer Behaviour and Consumption.

Students work in groups to produce a Video Presentation on the topic: Can digital technology motivate and enable sustainable consumer behaviour? They used a variety of video technologies and approaches (see screenshots below).

Is the Moodle Media Assignment useful for this?


Are there any issues with the assignment?

It was too long and editing took the students days – we’ve shortened it for next year. They were great at finding software [to create and edit videos] online themselves, but asked for some suggestions for the future. There were odd people who struggled to submit so I had to be flexible with the deadline.

What benefits does Moodle Media Assignment offer over other ways of submitting videos?

The system seems to take video taken with all sorts of devices without problems.

What did the students think?

They were pleased with the finished product, but it was time-consuming to produce the content.

Help and support for University of Nottingham staff

If you’d like to add a video assignment to your module (or use video in any way) you can get help from the Learning Technology Consultants and the Media Production Group. Contact us at learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk in the first instance.

There is Help material available as well:

How to add a Media Assignment activity to your Moodle module

Enhancing your module with images [Moodle images #1]

June 17th, 2016

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words, but they can also be a way to encourage you to read the words as they draw your eye as you scroll down.  Images break up text and give the reader a rest from reading. They enhance the look of a page by adding a bit of colour.

The important thing to remember when you’re adding an image to your module in Moodle is the sizing.  You want it big enough to be recognised by the viewer – even if subconsciously in the way an icon would be – but not too big that it becomes imposing or distorts the surrounding text.  This all sounds a bit OTT for just adding an image, I know, but there are optimum sizes for images depending on what you’re using them for.  My advice is that you try to stick to them as much as possible to make sure your image is having the right effect.  For example, a square icon should be 50*50 pixels, however if you’re working with a rectangle then the smallest side should be 50, as below.



Icon 50*70     Small logo 100*150            Large logo/small image 150*200


                 Large image 250*350

If you need to add in an image bigger than this, because it’s essential to the course, then it’s best to upload it as a file or place it with a collection of images in a folder, along with a zip of them all for easy download.  Remember, the maximum file size is 250Mb, so if yours is larger than this you’ll need to zip it up to compress it.

Below is a video about how to add images, change the sizing and most importantly, how to add an image description, so that screen readers don’t just glance over it.


Angelique Bodart

Not getting emails from Moodle – why is that?

June 13th, 2016

A common question from users is why they, or their students, aren’t receiving emails from Moodle. Here are some of the commonest reasons why this might be, and some special cases that can affect emails from emails.

They are marked as clutter

The emails are being swept into Outlook 365’s Clutter folder (or your junk folder in other types of email program) – it’s advised to check your Clutter (or Junk) folder regularly.

Emails are arriving as a single email with subject line Moodle.Nottingham: Forum Digest

Individuals can have their email setting as either individual emails or once-a-day digest. If they are set to Digest then – for that individual – all emails including those from Announcements are rolled up into one daily email (which arrives around 5-6.30 pm UK time).  It’s vital to read any email with subject line Moodle.Nottingham: Forum Digest  

Because some students may have their emails set to Digest then messages must be timely – if you want to send out an email at 9 am saying the 11 am lecture has been cancelled, some students may not get it because they will not get the Digest until 5 pm or later. For such time-sensitive alerts, please use a different way of sending email (e.g., a list from the module record in SATURN)

User has a filter in Outlook

One way to organise your emails from Moodle is to set up a rule within Outlook to sweep emails into a particular folder – but don’t forget to read them!

Message has been sent out as (private) instant Message rather than an Announcement.

If you use the Participants list to send out information, it is sent via the instant Messages facility which is more like a text message than an email.  Again, individuals can decide by editing their own profiles whether or not to receive these messages by email. We find most people seem not to read the messages that pop up in the middle of your screen (see screenshot right), and if email is turned off in their profile as well, then your message won’t get through.

It’s worth remembering that there is NO subject or module context on instant messages – it is sent from one person (e.g., teacher) to another (e.g., student) so you should include all relevant information, such as the name of the module, in the message to give it a context.

Announcement emails cannot be turned off by the recipient (although they may arrive as a Digest, see above) so are more likely to be delivered.

Announcements to empty groups

In one case, a group of students were not receiving emails from posts in Module Announcements. This was because the Announcements had been set up to allow group emails. The post was directed at a specific group. However, there were no students in the group, so no-one had received it. When sending posts via Announcements or another forum with groups, it’s a good idea to check that you’re sending it to the correct group (or to All participants) and that the group has the right students in.

More help

These are just some of the reasons why you or your students may not receive emails from Moodle.  If you are having an issue with this and none of these seem to apply to you, get in touch with your Moodle support team (learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk for University of Nottingham users) and give us as much information as possible including:

  • when the message was sent (date and time)
  • how it was sent (e.g., using Announcements or Participants)
  • who DID receive the email and who DIDN’T
  • forward a copy of the email if at all possible.

Moodle rollover to Academic Year 16-17

June 8th, 2016

We will shortly be commencing rollover in Moodle from 15-16 to 16-17 modules.  Teaching staff will start to see your 16-17 modules appearing in your module list when you log in.  Please do not start to work on these modules until you have received an email from us saying it is ok to start editing, as we still have some preparation to do.

We have discussed with each School whether the content is to be copied over for modules.  However, if you do NOT wish to have the content of your modules carried over from 15-16 to 16-17 (and have not already informed us about this), you have the option to start from the basic School template. An example might be if you are taking over a module and want to start with your own materials not those of the previous convenor. In this case please email us with this preference at learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk by Friday June 10th.  Modules that are suspended or dormant will not be recreated. New modules will start with your School template.

Please don’t edit the 15-16 modules as it is intended that they are archived as taught. If you urgently need to start work on your 16-17 module – or have any other questions – do let us know.

Can I upload materials to Moodle without breaching copyright?

June 8th, 2016

If the material you’re uploading was written by you, or you have permission from the copyright holder, then you can freely upload material to Moodle or use it in lectures and presentations.  With the usual disclaimer about us not being lawyers, there are some common sense approaches to take when considering copyright in preparing materials for lectures, presentations and Moodle.

The University has blanket licences which cover a number of sources – those from the Copyright Licensing Agency, Newspaper Licensing Agency and Educational Recording Agency cover use of text-based works, newspapers and television/radio broadcasts.  Under the ERA+ licence, Box of Broadcasts (BoB) can be used to record and access television and radio programmes – but these can only be used within the UK.

Scans can be made of extracts and images from books and journals for delivery to students on a specific course. These must be delivered securely e.g., by using Moodle, not open web-pages. Also, scanning must only be carried out by the library scanning service, or ‘designated scanners’ in certain schools: our Library runs a scanning service to support this.  Each module can have up to one chapter of a book, one article from  a journal issue, one paper from a set of conference proceedings and so on.

There are certain fair-dealing exceptions to copyright law, and one of them (Section 32 CDPA) is the exception for the purpose of illustration of a teaching point. The key points here are that it must be the person doing the teaching who does the copying, even digitally, it must be for a non-commercial purpose and the source must be acknowledged. The amount copied and the way it is delivered should respect the rights of the copyright-holder and be considered fair-dealing (=reasonable).

Use of scans/uploads of copyright works should be accompanied by a comprehensive categorised and annotated reading list, explaining carefully the relative importance of the reading materials, and the scans/uploads should not replace the need for a textbook if one exists.

Further resources

New Test Your Text Turnitin dropboxes

May 12th, 2016

turnitinAs we near the end of the semester we know that there is a vast increase in the number of assignment submissions through Turnitin. This includes Test Your Text. To speed up students getting their similarity reports, we have taken action to replace the Test Your Text module in Moodle with a new one, and with brand new assignment submission dropboxes.

This should improve performance for all students. A few students who submitted yesterday through the old boxes may now no longer be able to access their originality report. In such cases students should submit again in Test Your Text – the submissions will not match against previous ones.

Digitising and Visualising: recordings of T & L Seminar on 4 Nov 2015

May 11th, 2016

The topic of our session on Wednesday 4th November 2015 was digitising and visualisation, images and identification.

Susan Anderson (GEM) talked about the “virtual microscope” developed in 2009 and currently used by about a thousand students around the University.

The subject of Jon Henderson’s talk could hardly be a greater contrast – ground truthing digital images of underwater sites and how they can be turned into three-dimensional visualisations.

List of Teaching and Learning Seminar Recordings

T & L Seminar Wed 18 May: What do the UST, DUST and the STN network do at the University of Nottingham?

May 10th, 2016

Ever wondered what the University Senior Tutor does … or the Senior Tutor Network? Perhaps you’ve never heard of either. A new University Senior Tutor was appointed earlier in the year (Pam Hagan) and, for the first time, a Deputy University Senior Tutor (Gaby Neher). Gaby will attempt to answer these questions – and others – during her talk and, with Pam in the audience, the two will then take questions from the floor.

Date: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Time: 12.30 p.m. with hot drinks from 12:15 p.m.

Location: Room A39, Sir Clive Granger Building, University Campus

To be sure we have enough tea and coffee, please email laura.dominguez@nottingham.ac.uk if you intend to be present.

See https://mediaspace.nottingham.ac.uk/channel/Teaching-and-Learning-Seminars/37375801 for recordings of past talks. (UoN login required.)

Final note: the last talk of 2015–2016 (on two recent NOOCs) will take place on Tuesday (not Wednesday), May 31st.

4 good reasons to optimise the size of your images in documents

May 5th, 2016

When creating documents, it’s always good practice to include in them only images that are of an appropriate size. For example, there’s hardly ever any need to upload the original 10MB photograph that your modern camera or smartphone took. Reducing the size BEFORE adding it to the document is good practice and will keep the size of your document low. This is particularly important if you are storing or submitting it online, e.g., to a Moodle or Turnitin assignment dropbox.

Two ways of reducing that image size are

  1. to crop the image or make it smaller and
  2. reduce the file quality and thus the size.

The online quality of an image doesn’t need to be as high as if you are printing it onto paper.

There are a number of reasons why you should compress images in Office files.

  1. Saves space on your disk storage.
    In this day and age of having many hundreds of Gigabytes of storage readily available, this would seem a non-issue. However, large files have an increased risk of data corruption due to disk failure than small files. Also whilst hard disks are generally very large, USB storage can be much smaller, so to be truly portable file size is very important.
  2. Saves space on institutional disk storage.
    Even corporate or University systems have finite disk storage space, and each person has a finite amount allocated. In your personal file share, in Moodle or as electronically submitted assignments, a smaller file takes up less space.  There are also upload limits built into online software.
  3. For Turnitin assignments for example, 20 MB is the largest file size allowed (40 MB is on the way…).
  4. Documents load faster, and presentations run faster.
    Logically, if you have a number of big images in a document, it will take longer to load into the system, so using small files will mean you (or your readers) have to wait for less time for the file to open. Also large images take longer to draw on screen and when doing presentations this can cause a lag on screen. When students submit assignments, they are quicker to mark if kept as small as possible. Students might even get feedback quicker!

With thanks to Claire Chambers, School of Geography, for the initial document on which this post is based.