Learning Technology

New Moodle feature: Pop-out button

October 17th, 2014

In response to a number of comments that it can be difficult to work in the central column as it’s not quite wide enough, even with all blocks docked, we have implemented a one-click solution.

If you find the module middle column width too narrow, try the new pop-out button. It’s at the top right of the central column on most pages (see right).

Click it again to return to the view with left and right columns.

Enabling popups to use Turnitin

October 16th, 2014

Turnitin have recently made a change to their End User Licence Agreement and require all staff and students using Turnitin to agree to Turnitin’s conditions before their submission can be accepted. These conditions may appear as a pop-up window – if you are having problems, check that popups are enabled.  On University computers as well as on your own machines, popups may be disabled by default.

We recommend that students use Chrome (or Firefox) to submit to Turnitin.

To allow popups in Chrome

To see blocked pop-ups for a site, follow the steps listed below:

  1. If pop-ups have been blocked, you’ll see the blocked pop-up alert icon in the address bar. Click the icon to see a list of the blocked pop-ups.
  2. Click the link for the pop-up window that you’d like to see (Turnitin is submit.ac.uk).
  3. To always see pop-ups for the site, select “Always show pop-ups from submit.ac.uk.” The site will be added to the exceptions list, which you can manage in the Content Settings dialogue.

More information on managing popups in Chrome.

You may need to do this for a University computer each time you log on.

To allow popups in Firefox

If pop ups are blocked then a yellow bar will appear with instructions.

To access the pop-up blocker settings:

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Options

  2. Select the Content panel.

  3. In the content panel: select Exceptions: This is a list of sites that you want to allow to display pop-ups.
  4. Click Allow to add a website – submit.ac.uk – to the exceptions list.

More information on popups in Firefox

To allow popups in Internet Explorer

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Tools Tools button, then click ‘Internet options’.
  3. Choose the Privacy tab
  4. Under Popup blocker click Settings
  5. Add www.submit.ac.uk and moodle.nottingham.ac.uk to the list of exceptions
  6. Click Close, then click OK.

More on Popups in IE


The Xerte Project and the Apereo Foundation

September 23rd, 2014

I am really excited to be able to announce that The Xerte Project has been accepted as an incubating project at The Apereo Foundation (https://www.apereo.org/). This is a fantastic opportunity for the project – as you know, The University of Nottingham has led the developments over the years. Recently, with increasing contributions from a growing community of developers it is fair to say that Nottingham’s contribution is now a much smaller percentage of the total than it once was. This reflects the growing volume of work, rather than a dwindling commitment on our part, and we remain dedicated to the project as an important platform for innovation, and for the creation and delivery of high quality content to learners here at the University.

As the project has grown, we have turned to questions around its sustainability. We have spent a lot of time over the last eighteen months or so exploring various options: we know that sustainability is a key issue for those looking to adopt the technology in other organisations and we understand that the current situation raises some questions for potential adopters: there is a sense that the project has a single point of failure. As priorities have changed here at the University, and the shape of my team has changed over the years, we do have fewer resources to put into the project than we used to have. We also appreciate that the current situation makes it hard for the project to achieve its full potential. As the only open source tool in its class it really deserves to increase its reach into new sectors and to find ways to generate and use revenue. Also, as the developer community has grown, it is increasingly important to ensure that the project continues to develop within a rigorous framework.

Over the last 18 months we have carefully explored all the options available to us, and we have chosen Apereo for its solid presence in educational technology and its excellent cultural fit with The Xerte Project. I’m really excited about this opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to working with Apereo through the incubation process.

My thanks go to all our users, contributors and developers, without whom the project could not have reached this significant milestone.

I’d like my students to vote in a poll – to add a bit of interactivity

September 21st, 2014

Although there is a feature called Vote within Moodle, that’s really intended for a full voting solution for class reps and so on. If you want to poll your students for opinions, then the best solution is to set up a Choice activity – it’s quick and simple to set up and allows you to ask a single question and offer a selection of possible responses.  Here’s an example:

Often, as in our example, the results of the poll can be used to stimulate thinking about a topic and then developed in discussions. You might also use it to quickly test students’ understanding or to facilitate student decision-making, for example allowing students to vote on a direction for the course or to choose which revision topic to focus on in the last lecture of the year.

Choice results may be published after students have answered, after a certain date, or not at all. Results may be published with student names or anonymously.

How do I do it? Add a resource / activity  and select Choice.  For more information:

What’s happened to Moodle?

September 10th, 2014

We’ve made a video for staff showing the main changes in the recent Moodle upgrade.

Setting up your reading list and adding it to Moodle

September 8th, 2014

Libraries, Research and Learning Resources (LRLR) are offering training sessions to any member of staff who would like to learn to use the online reading list system.

The system offers easy-to-maintain reading lists, the ability to collate resources and put an automatic link in Moodle, providing a clear interface for students.

You can see a list of training sessions on the library website. To book a place, please contact ua-collections@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk.

To add a link to your reading list in Moodle which automatically finds your list:

  1. Add the Module Resources block (if not already in your module)
  2. Check that Reading lists are configured to be visible.

More information: How to add a reading list to your module

Note that this block is only suitable for SATURN-based modules. In any other module simply create a Web link (URL) to your reading list page.


After the upgrade: Preparing your module for 14-15

September 5th, 2014

As staff prepare your modules for the new academic year here are some hints and tips on getting modules ready:

  • check you can see all the modules you expect to see (Here’s what to do if you can’t)
  • update your module content. If you wanted to start with your content from 13-14 and it isn’t in your 14-15 module, then get in touch with us to ask us to move it or import it yourself (info here)
  • check and update your assignments, quizzes and Rogo assessments, create new Assignments or Turnitin assignments;
  • edit the dates of any materials you want to release on a specific date – note that in the new Moodle you can release whole sections on a specific date or according to other release criteria
  • enrol other staff on your module as editing teachers, teachers, observers, etc.
  • increase or decrease the number of topics on your module (much easier in Moodle 2.6  See How to change the number of topics in my module)
  • update your contact details
  • set up your reading list via Aspire and link it into your module – if a SATURN module – automatically via the Module Resources block. (Note: this does not link in parent modules or non-SATURN modules) How to add a reading list automatically to your module.

Moodle 2.6 Taster sessions & Key Moodle Basics

August 26th, 2014

Would you like to get a tour of sneak peak at the new Moodle Design and find out about the new features in Moodle 2.6 that will be available from the end of August?  We are holding Taster Sessions throughout August and September.

The sessions start with a demonstration of the new look and features in Moodle and where possible (in the two-hour sessions) will be followed by an optional opportunity to try it out and ask questions.

If you would like to have a tour of the new Moodle, come to one of the following sessions:

  • 27 August 2014, 1-2pm, University Park,  C15 Pope Building
  • 2 September, 10am-noon, University Park, 101 Hallward
  • 4 September, noon-1pm, University Park, 101 Hallward
  • 8 September, 2-3pm, Jubilee Campus,  Exchange B4

You can just turn up but booking is preferred:

Book online for Moodle Taster Sessions

Key Moodle Basics: An Introduction to Moodle

If you are new to Moodle or need a refresher, the following introductory training courses will be in the new Moodle interface (pre-booking essential):

  • 4 September, 10am-12pm, University Park
  • 9 September, 2-4pm, University Park

Book online for Key Moodle Basics

Newsletter August 2014

August 26th, 2014

The University of Nottingham


The University of Nottingham
Moodle header August

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 Technologies.

In this issue:

Moodle upgrade: what you need to know

The first phase of the Moodle upgrade is well underway and by September Moodle will be more reliable and easier to use. Having listened to your views and fed them into development, the new Moodle has a completely new look, mobile functionality and better performance.

New Look for Moodle

‘Go live’ upgrade dates: 28 and 29 August

Moodle will be unavailable during this time. If you have any queries, please contact us via learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk

Following the upgrade, we will concentrate on resolving any unanticipated issues and getting ready for start of term.

Moodle 2.6 Taster sessions

If you would like to have a preview of the new Moodle, book on one of the following sessions:

  • 26 August 2014, 10.30-11.30am, Sutton Bonington Campus
  • 27 August 2014, 1-2pm, University Park
  • 2 September, 10am-noon, University Park
  • 4 September, noon-1pm, University Park
  • 8 September, 2-3pm, Jubilee Campus

Book online for Moodle Taster Sessions

Editing before/after the upgrade

You can still edit materials in Moodle now or you can wait until after the upgrade

Edit now:

  1. Edit your material and add new items to your module
  2. Add all video and audio resources via ‘Add a Media Resource’
  3. No need to format colours and fonts – the new design makes a simple Moodle page look great

Wait until after the upgrade:

  1. Wait until September to add assignments (Turnitin or Moodle) so you can make the most of the new features. More information about Turnitin assignments
  2. Check if you need to upgrade your browser

We have transferred your content, however if your new 14/15 modules haven’t got the content they should, please email us at learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk

Turnitin assignments

If at all possible, wait until 1 September to create Moodle and Turnitin assignments. The new Turnitin plugin will then be available which:

  • is more reliable
  • has more features
  • will allow you to retain access to assignments for longer (Turnitin will cease support for V1, used in the current Moodle, in 2015)

If you really need to create assignments before then, you will have to set up assignment dropboxes in advance, but we recommend you avoid this if you can.

Contact us at learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk if you have any issues.

Do you need to update your browser?

Moodle 2.6 requires Internet Explorer 9 or higher (IE9 will be automatically installed the next time you reboot your PC or laptop from 20th August). However, if you plan to use ‘Drag and Drop’ to add files from your desktop, you’ll need Internet Explorer 10 or 11 or an equally up-to-date version of Chrome, Safari or Firefox. Get in touch with your local IT support now for help upgrading your computer.

If for any reason you need to keep Internet Explorer 8 to access older University systems, use an alternative browser to access Moodle – Chrome is installed on most University computers.

Moodle system requirements are available on the Moodle Help workspace.

Key Moodle Basics: An Introduction to Moodle

If you are new to Moodle or need a refresher, the following introductory training courses will be in the new Moodle interface:

  • 4 September, 10am-12pm, University Park
  • 9 September, 2-4pm, University Park

Book online for Key Moodle Basics

We want your feedback

Let us know what you think of our newsletter and what features you would like to see in future editions.

Email us!

Moodle Newsletter – July

August 5th, 2014

The University of Nottingham


The University of Nottingham
Moodle header August

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.

In this issue:

Getting ready for the new Moodle

I’m sure you will be aware by now that the Moodle 2 project is underway to deliver a new Moodle infrastructure by the start of the 2014/15 academic year. The project is focused on a number of key areas including: responding to the needs of students; supporting academic staff use and adoption of Moodle; and delivering acceptable system response times at UNNC and UNMC. The vision for Moodle is of a robust, attractive, flexible virtual learning environment (VLE) which supports student learning and is embedded in the student experience.

To deliver these developments, there is a significant amount of software development, hardware upgrade and user interface design happening across both teams of staff and through external suppliers.

In order to get ready for the new Moodle, this newsletter provides information on a number of enhancements and opportunities. They are: new design, taster sessions, rollover of modules, changes and new features, meta and parent modules, and September training sessions.

Not only is Moodle being upgraded, it’s getting a whole new look

Student feedback on Moodle, gathered through focus groups and surveys, tells us that the design is dull and uninspiring. As a result, an external design company was commissioned to help improve the Moodle experience with a fresh new look and feel ready for September 2014. As part of this, we’ve consulted staff and students at workshops and conferences, and with the Students’ Union, the Disability Support Office and Marketing and Communications, agreed early designs for a new Moodle. An online survey in Moodle was then carried out – almost 1300 staff and students responded – and 80% of respondents were so enthusiastic about the new design that the Moodle 2 Project Board unanimously approved the new look.

New Look for Moodle

Background images will be included to add visual interest but not distraction and the My Home page is being overhauled. You’ll see a slideshow for news and events relating to Moodle or teaching and learning related items, and a greatly simplified Moodle Site Navigation block will now appear on the left hand side. My Home, Library search, study support, help and accessibility controls will be available on every screen along the top, alongside your user profile. Further improvements will be rolled out over the coming year with new tabbed content and collapsible displays appearing within the central learning resources block. Importantly the new design will also reflect your faculty and school and be compatible with mobile phones and tablets.

To those of you who took the time to give us detailed and honest feedback – thank you!

More on Moodle’s new look over at the Learning Technology blog

New Moodle Taster sessions

Would you like to get a sneak peak at the new Moodle Design and find out about the new features in Moodle 2.6 that will be available from the end of August? We are holding Taster Sessions throughout August, and there will be Moodle Update sessions throughout September. The session will start with a demonstration of the new look and features in Moodle and will be followed by an opportunity to try it out. (Note that the taster sessions will be using a beta version of Moodle which is not a live system.)

Moodle Taster Sessions

Dates below (booking advised to be sure of a space)

  • Tuesday 5 August, 2 – 3.30pm, University Park, Pope Building, Room A23
  • Wednesday 6 August, 3 – 4.30pm Jubilee Campus, Exchange Building, Computer Room B4
  • Monday 11 August, 10 – 11.30am, Sutton Bonington, Main Building, B09 Computer Room
  • Wednesday 13 August, 2 – 3.30pm, University Park, Trent Building, Room B16
  • Tuesday 19 August 10 – 11.30am, University Park, Pope Building, Room A24
  • Wednesday 20 August, 2 – 3.30pm, Jubilee Campus, Exchange Building, Computer Room B4
  • Tuesday 26 August, 1 – 2pm, Sutton Bonington, Plant Science Building, Room A17
  • Wednesday 27 August, 1 – 2pm, University Park, Pope Building, Room C15

To book, see more dates or find out more visit Central Short Courses.

Rollover of modules from 13-14 to 14-15

SATURN modules for 14-15 have now been created in Moodle and content copied across from 13-14 for staff to begin to edit (unless you have previously requested to start from scratch). Parent modules – where two modules are taught together – are still being created, so if this applies to one of your modules, please wait for the parent to be created (see below for explanation).

As usual new modules for the autumn session will be hidden by default (you will see them “greyed out”) and you can make them visible to students as soon as you are satisfied your edits are complete and the module is ready. There’s no need to wait for the new version of Moodle before preparing your module EXCEPT please do not create new Assignments (Turnitin or Moodle) before the upgrade (unless they’re needed before the end of August).

Please do not amend 13-14 modules as they are retained “as taught” for staff and students to refer to.If your module content doesn’t appear as you expect – and before you start editing – get in touch with learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk, we will most likely be able to quickly sort it out.

What’s happening to Moodle at the end of August?

The main changes will be:

  • Moodle version upgraded from 2.2 to 2.6 (this provides additional features as described below)
  • Attractive new look and feel for Moodle – more intuitive and easier to use
  • Improvements to the technical infrastructure supporting Moodle so that it is faster and more robust

What's happening with Moodle?

Our favourite new features in Moodle!

We have recently welcomed three new learning technology consultants to the Faculty and School Support Team, Alvaro Roberts, who joins us from Sheffield Hallam, Laura Fitch, formerly of Derby University’s online learning arm, and Angelique Bodart, who you may remember was with us when we launched Moodle. Anne Rockcliffe and Helen Whitehead are still in the team, led by Suzanne Wright.

Here are some of our favourite new features in Moodle from September:

Angelique: I like the new accessibility feature. Users will be able to set the look of Moodle to suit their needs, for example font size can be increased and colours set to be easier for those with dyslexia to read.

Laura: Clear navigation at the top of each page should enable users to easily move around and access key services and support

Alvaro: the new version of Turnitin is more versatile, easier to use and more reliable and it’ll be much easier to do online marking (Note: Please don’t create Turnitin assignments until after the upgrade if possible, to take advantage of the new features.)

Helen: There’s a new version of the Moodle Assignment which has lots of features I know staff have asked for, such as submission to Turnitin (while the assignments stay in the University’s system), group and collaborative assignments, anonymous marking, tracking of the workflow of markers, second markers and administrative steps, and online marking by annotating PDFs.

Suzanne: You can drag and drop files to add them to Moodle (if you have a recent browser) and students can drag and drop assignments too.

Time to upgrade your browser!

Some features in Moodle 2.6, such as drag and drop, will only work if you’re using later versions of Internet Explorer (10 or later) or other browsers, and it does not support Internet Explorer 8, so it’s a good time to consider upgrading your browser or adding an alternative such as the most recent version of Chrome or Firefox. Also check your browser is set to allow popups for the moodle.nottingham.ac.uk address.

What is a metamodule or parent module?

Often two or more modules are taught where the resources and activities are identical. Examples include Modules with different credit values but the same content, modules taught in different semesters but with the same content, modules taught at Level 3 and level 4 where both sets of students study the same content, or modules with the same code and content on separate international campuses but taught together.

If the content is used in more than one module it’s possible to share the content using an umbrella parent or “metamodule” in Moodle for the shared content. The separate modules also exist but may only be used to feed students enrolments from SATURN (and are invisible to students, who only see the parent module).

Metamodules can also be set up as umbrella modules for numbers of students, such as all students in Year 1 or all students on a particular MSc programme. They can be linked to core SATURN modules to feed enrolment.

Decide to use a parent module, before you waste time duplicating content: it’s a real time-saving feature. Do get in touch if you feel this might apply to you and you’d like a metamodule set up or, alternatively if you seem to have a parent module that isn’t needed any more (perhaps because one of the original linked modules is now dormant).

Find out more about metamodules at the Moodle Help website.

Training sessions coming up

As well as the Taster Sessions (see above) there will be other training sessions coming up.

  • Key Moodle Basics (a beginner’s introduction) Next date: Thursday 4 September 10am – noon, Tuesday 9 September 2014 2 – 4pm
  • Look out for Special 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.
  • You can also call into B17 in Pope Building for a consultation – please email or call us first if possible.

We want your feedback

Let us know what you think of our newsletter and what features you would like to see in future editions.

Email us!