Learning Technology

Moodle Newsletter June 2014

June 27th, 2014

This newsletter provides users with the latest information about moodle.Nottingham, and hints and tips.If you have a query about using Moodle, visit the Moodle help site. Any issues, email Learning Technology.

Annual Rollover

In preparation for the start of the next academic session, Moodle rollover has started with 2014/15 SATURN modules being created in Moodle. Do not edit 13-14 modules – we will let you know as soon as your 14-15 modules are available to edit.

In order to populate the modules, content will be copied from the 2013-14 version for you to then edit and amend for the 14-15 session. This has been discussed with your School Moodle contacts but if you would prefer to start from scratch and have not yet had a chance to say that you do not want your content copying for you then please email us.

New modules for the coming academic session will be hidden from students by default. It is important that you edit the material in the 14/15 modules ready for the new year before you make your modules available to students in September for start of session.

13/14 modules – ready for archiving

In the same way as last year, 2013-14 modules will still be retained with their current content for students (and staff) to access them for the duration of the students’ time at the university. Please do not amend 13/14 modules.

Moodle Everywhere

Please make sure that your modules comply with the Moodle Everywhere mandate that can be found on Workspace.

We have a checklist and some suggestions for how to implement Moodle Everywhere. Many Schools have their own guidelines.

Upgrade/new features

The upcoming Moodle upgrade will take place on 28 and 29 August (Moodle will be unavailable during this time).

Moodle will be upgraded and given a new look and feel. Some of the new features include:

  • Mobile-friendly
  • Drag and Drop files onto the Moodle page
  • Simpler editing interface
  • Easier to add new sections (topics)
  • More help with Add an activity or resource
  • Improved assignment, including: Built-in Turnitin check, Group assignments, Blind/anonymous marking, Bulk upload of feedback, Workflow monitoring

For more information check out Moodle Help on Workspace.

Training Sessions Coming Up

There are several training sessions coming up. Please follow these links for more information and to book.

Key Moodle Basics

Session dates:

  • Tuesday 29 July 2014 2-4pm
  • Tuesday 9 September 2014 2-4pm

You can also call into B17 in Pope Building for a consultation – please email or call us first if possible.

Look out for new sessions in your Schools over the coming months as we are visiting Schools to update groups of staff about the upgrade of Moodle. If you’d like us to visit you and your colleagues, please let us know.

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Xerte Online Toolkits – some examples

June 11th, 2014

The Xerte community have shared some great examples of Xerte Toolkits that can be really helpful to see how they can be used and get inspiration for creating your own.



Case studies on using Xerte Toolkits

Other resources

ETAG (The Education Technology Action Group)

June 9th, 2014

The Education Technology Action Group (ETAG) was set up in February 2014 by three ministers: Education secretary Michael Gove, Matthew Hancock(Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for further education, skills and lifelong learning) and Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts. It is chaired by Professor Stephen Heppell, Chair in New Media Environments at Bournemouth University and includes as members representatives from JISC, ALT and Naace.

Matthew Hancock announced the creation of ETAG at the BETT Show in January. He said: “Today I am delighted to announce a new Education Technology Action Group. This group of experts will identify how learning technology can be best used – across schools, universities and colleges. I’m hugely proud that we have a distinguished membership – chaired by Professor Stephen Heppell – and that Anant Agarawl, President of EdX, will attend our first meeting.”

Professor Stephen Heppell said: “We were given an unequivocal steer by our ministers to be bold and ambitious; to clear away impediments and to be world leading. They reminded us that technology could and should help make learning fun. It was a wonderful brief to be given, from the heart, and we will be open and inclusive in achieving what was asked of us – an action group, not a faffing around group!”

The group covers schools, further education colleges and Universities.

Between now and 23 June 2014, ETAG is seeking your input to help shape their recommendations in the following areas:

  • connected institutions;
  • data and infrastructure;
  • understanding and accrediting learning.

To find out more and to contribute see: http://feltag.org.uk/etag/contribute-to-etag

ETAG core members reflect a wide range of experience from the education and technology sectors and include:

Professor Stephen Heppell (Chair, Bournemouth University),
Mark Chambers (Naace)
Ian Fordham – The Education Foundation
James Penny – European Electronique
Maren Deepwell – ALT
Professor Diana Laurillard – Institute of Education, University of London
Jill Lanning – Federation of Awarding Bodies
Phil Richards – Jisc
David Hughes – NIACE
Bryan Mathers – City & Guilds
Manoj Badale – Blenheim-Chalcot
Bob Harrison – Education adviser for Toshiba Information Systems UK Ltd
David Brown – Ofsted National Lead for ICT
Professor Peter Twining – Open University
Pauline Odulinski – Education Training Foundation
Professor Angela McFarlane – College of Teachers
Karen Price and Niel McLean – E-Skills UK
Geoff Mulgan – Nesta
Dominic Savage – BESA
Dawn Hallybone – Oakdale Junior School
Lizzie Noel – New Schools Network
Gary Spracklen – Head of Innovation and Technology at IPACA

Moodle Magic 2: An all-School community page

June 5th, 2014

There are often documents, policies, information, news and announcements about events and information of relevance to all students and/or staff in a programme, a unit or a whole School.  This example comes from the School of Economics where Charlene Hill created a module Community Page (Economics) (UK). The School wanted to have a single place for information for all students in the School. This information used to be in the Portal, while other Schools may have similar information in Workspace.

What we did: We created a module in Moodle that is a one-stop shop for all of our course information, including

  • timetable links,
  • exam office links,
  • whole-school presentations
  • news and announcements
  • Past exam papers and feedback for every single module for the past three years (as Moodle Books)
  • Term dates (a popular question in the office)
  • Learning Community Forum
  • RSS feeds from School’s website

How it worked: Students find it easy to find the past exam papers and feedback for every single module, for the last three years (as Moodle Books) It’s easy to edit and staff can see what’s missing and arrange to add it Can add answers to frequently asked questions to the page so it continues to become more useful as time goes on.

How it was received by students: Students wanted one place to look for everything – and prefer that this is Moodle.

The module is linked to core modules in each year so that students automatically have access to it (self-enrolment can also be made available).

Recommendations and tips

  • Simple to create: simply contact the IT Help Desk to ask for a module – remember to give the full name you’d like for the module, and details of any editing teachers.
  • The Moodle Book works very well for our exam papers

Further information

Video of Charlene Hill demonstrating the module:


Creating video to support teaching and learning – event at Nottingham

June 2nd, 2014

Creating video to support teaching and learning
(“Changing the Learning Landscape” insights) 

This Higher Education Academy (HEA) sponsored event will be an opportunity for participants involved in the creation of video for teaching and learning to share their experiences and insights and to network with other practitioners.

Location: C15 Pope Building, University Park, University of Nottingham

Date: Thursday 12th June 2014 (13:00-16:00)

The event will disseminate insights and lessons learnt from an HEA funded ‘Changing the Learning Landscape’ mini-project undertaken at Nottingham, to install a ‘self-service’ studio.

The event provides an excellent opportunity for participants to develop technical and pedagogical support networks.

Please register at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/creating-video-to-support-teaching-and-learning-changing-the-learning-landscape-insights-tickets-11735433999   or http://tiny.cc/nzfbgx

More information at http://nottingham.ac.uk/teaching/events/video-in-tandl.aspx

Changing the Learning Landscape events

May 30th, 2014

Do you want to know more about using digital technologies in learning and teaching? If you want to explore innovative uses of digital technologies to enhance your teaching practice, don’t miss out on this hands-on opportunity with CLL.

The three CLL workshops in June are aimed at academic staff, and others who teach and support learning in higher education. The events will showcase discipline-specific uses of digital technologies and explore how different approaches might transfer across disciplines. They will also engage with current advances in technology-enhanced learning and consider ways in which practitioners can take advantage of the opportunities they offer. By providing examples of teaching practice from across the sector, participants will discover how the implementation of technological approaches has enhanced learning and teaching, and will gain inspiration for their own practice.

Workshop dates:

*   10 June – University of Derby. Online assessment and feedback: Ensuring effective use of technology and innovative practice <http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2014/10_June_Online_assessment_CLL>

*   11 June – University of Hertfordshire. Flexible and seamless learning <http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2014/11_June_Flexible_Seamless_CLL>

*   18 June – University of Bradford. Simulations, virtual worlds and augmented reality – (currently being developed).

For further information on any of the above events and to book, visit http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/cll or call us on 01904 717574

Changing the Learning Landscape (CLL) is a HEFCE-funded programme supporting and encouraging higher and further education institutions to make a step change in how they adopt effective and strategic uses of online technology in teaching and learning.   The programme is a unique partnership between the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, JISC, the National Union of Students, the Association for Learning Technology and the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

TechDis webinars coming up soon

May 28th, 2014

30 May 2014, 13:00, Online workshop, Xerte Friday

Xerte Online Toolkits Installation and management - During this session we’ll look at what’s required, who should be involved and what you should know whatever your role.

10 June 2014, 13:00, Online workshop, TechDis Tuesday
Strategies for the deployment of technology to support learners - Kevin Hickey from Jisc RSC North West will lead this one hour webinar which will look at why it is important to have a plan.

27 June 2014, 13:00, Online workshop, Xerte Friday
Xerte showcase - Lisa Featherstone and the team round up some of their favourite examples of Xerte Online Toolkits used to teach inclusively.

Please note that while the webinars are free, it is necessary to register for them at least 24 hours ahead of time

Moodle Magic 1: Sending a message to students (Announcements / News)

May 19th, 2014

A common question to our Helpdesk is about the most appropriate way to send messages to students and other participants.  This post covers sending a message to students  via the Announcements / News forum. Other choices are covered in our Moodle Help website article on How do I send messages to students.

The examples detailed here come from Sally Hanford and my own Adobe Connect course for staff, and from Chris Walters in Biology talking about sending messages to students of a Microbiology module.

Adobe Connect course (online)

The Adobe Connect training course is entirely online. On one occasion we wanted to inform all participants about an Adobe Connect event so that they could experience one before the course starts. Students (participants) were already enrolled.

What we did: We used the News Forum (often now called Announcements) via the Latest News block. We typed in a message which was sent by email to all students.

How it worked:

  • The email was sent FROM the Moodle system – so it will have the module code in the Subject.
  • It went to some students after 30 minutes, and some at the end of the day. Editing teachers and students (participants) can re-read the message at any time by visiting the News Forum.
  • The Sender’s personal email is in the REPLY TO field which means that students can respond by email directly to sender

How it was received by students:

  • Students cannot turn off News Forum / Announcements
  • Users can edit their preferences in their profile settings to choose
  • One email at a time OR
    Digest of all emails – once per day at around 5 pm (can have just Subjects or full post content)

Email preferences can be edited in your profile (see screenshot, right).

So why didn’t we use the facility to message participants?  Here are the reasons:

  1. If users are online Announcements still arrive by email  whereas messages do not by default get sent by email if the recipient is online – they simply “po up”.
  2. With messages we don’t know how they will receive a message- a message is person-to-person not relating to a particular module.
  3. A message doesn’t have the context of the module so they might not realise that’s why they are getting it
  4. Students can turn off getting messages – but they can’t turn off Announcements emails
  5. Announcements posts are always there for them to refer back to (see Latest news block)

Microbiology module

The 11 am Microbiology lecture was unavoidably cancelled at short notice and we needed to let students know as soon as possible.   One way to contact students was to use the News Forum / Announcements but students may not have got that message in time (if they are set to Digest).

What we did: We used three routes for delivering this message:

  1. Sent out a message via Announcements (Still useful, because that puts a message clearly in the Moodle space for the module)
  2. Emailed all students via SATURN
  3. The lecturer in the 10am class also made the announcement

Further information

Structuring and facilitating conversations online workshop recorded

May 16th, 2014

At the University’s recent Teaching and Learning conference on Students in Conversation (Tuesday 29th April 2014) Sarah Speight and I ran a workshop on “Structuring and facilitating conversations online”.

At Nottingham online learning has become part of our core provision. We offer increasing numbers of courses online; we use ‘blended’ approaches combining face to face and online, and we use online to ‘flip’ our classrooms by changing the ways in which we use contact time.

This workshop focused upon frameworks and methods that can be used to support meaningful dialogue (both peer to peer and student-tutor) in online spaces. We shared learning from Nottingham’s first NOOCs and MOOCs – both what worked well, and less well. We considered the links between online interaction and assessment, and how student learning can be evidenced.  We also provided colleagues with some simple tools for designing an ‘e-tivity’ for use with their own students.

Presentation: Etivities workshop

Reasons to update your browser

May 13th, 2014

There are all sorts of reasons to ensure you have the latest version of your browser of choice – or  consider having a second browser on your desktop computer (the University provides Chrome at present as an alternative to Internet Explorer). Here is one reason for ensuring your browser is updated: we have had a notice from Turnitin that they will be ending support for Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) browser starting in July 2014. This was originally announced in December 2013 and users accessing Turnitin in IE8 have been notified upon logging in if they have gone directly to submit.ac.uk.

From July 1, 2014, Turnitin will no longer test or fix features and bugs found only in Internet Explorer 8. This does not mean that Turnitin will immediately stop working in IE8, only that they no longer guarantee full functionality long term. They recommend that Internet Explorer 8 users move to a current version of Firefox, Chrome or Safari or  Internet Explorer 9 or 10.

As web-based systems and services develop and especially as manufacturers make them more mobile friendly, the result tends to be that it is essential to use an up-to-date browser to be sure of reliably accessing all the features offered.  When we move to Moodle 2.6 in August for example it will be possible to drag and drop files onto the Moodle page so long as you have Internet Explorer 10 or higher, or an up to date version of one of the other browsers.