Learning Technology

Moodle maintenance 1st September

August 26th, 2016

Moodle will be undergoing essential maintenance on Thursday 1st September 2016 and will be unavailable between 2 and 6 pm UK time (9 pm to 1 am China and Malaysia). Please ensure you have completed any urgent tasks before this time.

This is for updates and software improvements and is unlikely to affect functionality for users.

Are you tired of being shackled by cables while teaching? Demo

August 23rd, 2016

The User Experience (UX) team in IS are currently evaluating two apps that untether you from the lectern/teacher PC and let you share your screen with your students.

The team are inviting any staff interested in trialling this technology to see it demonstrated on Thursday 25th August at 10am in C15 Pope Building.

If you’re asking how you might use this, http://education.splashtop.com/ is a great source of inspiration.

Splashtop Mirroring360

Splashtop Mirroring360 http://www.mirroring360.com lets you show your phone or tablet to students in the teaching room without the need for any extra hardware or cables.

You can try it free on your own computer by downloading the free 7 day trial of Mirroring360 from http://www.mirroring360.com. It’s available for both Mac and PC.

There are tutorials to get you started here: http://www.mirroring360.com/video-tutorials

Splashtop Classroom

Splashtop Classroom http://www.splashtop.com/classroom allows teachers to share their desktop and applications. Once connected, you can allow students to view, control and annotate over lesson content directly from their own devices.

Sally Hanford

Google+ Hangouts on Air move to YouTube Live

August 18th, 2016

Google has announced a big change to Hangouts on Air: Hangouts On Air moving from Google+ to YouTube Live

Many online courses such as MOOCs, as well as meetings and collaborations use this tool, so it’s worth looking at the changes. Hangouts On Air will move from Google+ to YouTube Live on September 12 and events can only be held or scheduled on YouTube Live after that date.

YouTube Live has built-in events scheduling which is similar to the Google+ and Calendar integration users know from Hangouts On Air.  Most other features seem to have an equivalent – however, the one thing that isn’t going to be available any more is the Q & A feature. So with YouTube Live we’ll all need to use other mechanisms to comment and interact during a session, such as Twitter, Moodle forums/chat or the forums feature on your MOOC platform of choice.

Assessing students with video #3: Examples from HE

July 5th, 2016

In the third in our series about assessing students by asking them to create videos, we look at three examples from other HE institutions in the past few years.

Professor Marcos Martinon-Torres, UCL Archaeology, used video to boost student engagement in an undergraduate archeaometallurgy module. In the blog post Would a student travel 270 miles to write an essay? How video assignments can boost student engagement the results of his experiment are explored. Students were asked to create a five-minute documentary on a topic relevant to the module, and the video was aimed at the general public.  The technical side of creating videos was far less of an issue than expected, and while video took much longer than the average essay to produce, the students enjoyed it and many gained much higher marks than they ever had for an essay.

The Prof’s advice? “I would encourage anyone to consider doing this. As well as the advantages to the students, it is also much more fun to oversee and mark than yet another essay. And in terms of challenge and difficulties, I’ve been surprised by how easy it has been.”

Dr Vikki Burns from the University of Birmingham asked her third year undergraduates in an Exercise and Behavioural Immunology class at the University of Birmingham to make three-minute videos that summarized a recent relevant scientific article. They were judged against the FameLab criteria of Content, Creativity and Charism.

One used Darth Vader to explain how exercise affects asthma, one created fruit juice cocktails to show how aging and exercise influence thymic function, and another used hand drawings to illustrate the effects of bereavement on immunity. In her blog post Why more students should dress up as Darth Vader in class, Vikki says: “It really unleashed their creativity, forced them to think deeply about what they understood and how they could explain it, and also gave me the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings that were revealed by these short videos.”

At the University of Derby, the Business School have tried to extend the use of online assessment and feedback through the use of video submissions, employing both screen capture and ‘live action’ technologies. Based on projects from local SMEs, students are asked to produce a video for the company directors which explains how the students would address the issue concerned. Vic Curtis and Rob Moon conclude that “the most important consequence of this video approach to assessment is the depth of the learning achieved” See more at: The use of video in assessment of business and enterprise modules, 

At the University of Nottingham, 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

Part 1 of this series: Assessing students with video 1: video presentation on a topic

Part 2 of this series: Assessing students with video #2: two-minute video pitch

eLearning Forum Asia

June 30th, 2016

Michelle Zheng, Roger Zhang and Chao Meng, learning technology colleagues from the Ningbo campus of the University of Nottingham report: From 13th to 15th June 2016, we attended the eLearning Forum Asia 2016 in Shanghai. The theme of this forum was Linking learning technologies with learning science. The conference topics included several recent developments in ICT-enabled learning innovations; analytics and adaptive learning; computer-supported collaborative learning; ubiquitous, mobile and hybrid learning; learning technologies in education; and social media and social learning. Around 400 education-relevant staff and technologists attended this forum. In the 3-day forum, through attending the keynote sessions, parallel sessions, and workshops, we had excellent opportunities to connect and learn about experiences and approaches in open education.

In the forum, we learned about diversified e-learning tools to motivate both in-class and out-of-class learning activities. For example, we learned Kahoot! is a quite good and simple Students’ Response System. In class, the teacher can create fun learning games In Kahoot!, students answer on their own devices, and the results are displayed immediately, which increases the fun of the class and encourages students to engage more with the teacher. In addition, we learned about Powtoon, an easily-used tool to make animated videos to enhance students’ understanding and interest in the topics. Moreover, we learned Echo 360 has the functions of letting students ask questions, take notes, flag issues and respond to in-class questions. All of these tools and functions we have brought back to UNNC to consider showing our colleagues.

In the meantime, since the usage of multiple learning technology tools, the traditional lecture-oriented pedagogical model has been changed. Instead, flipped classroom has been put forward. In the forum, many researchers and practitioners shared their implementations and experiences of flipped classrooms. We would also like to encourage our teachers to try flipped classroom model more in the future.

Assessing students with video #2: two-minute video pitch

June 28th, 2016

In the second in our series on assessing students using video, Jackie Andrews reports on using a two-minute video presentation exercise as part of the assessment for a Nottingham Advantage Award module, Enactus Nottingham.  As part of this, students work on social enterprises, building and running projects and businesses. They put a lot of work and effort into the projects and most will do well over the 100 hours required for an NAA module. As this  is all voluntary we did not want to make assessment too onerous. The students have to do a reflective journal about their participation in the programme and a two-minute video.

The brief for the video is as follows:

The video should be a brief description of your project outlining the connection it has to the Enactus criteria as well as how this helps to optimise the impact of the social business. We also want you to outline the sustainability and scalability of the project and whether there can be any improvements that you would make, and if not, if you could outline the importance of the project being sustainable and scalable and the impact it allows the project to have. We would also like you to include the impact that your project has/or will be achieving in the areas of society, the economy as well as the environment.

Is it useful?

I think it is good to have a different method of assessment than the regular ones, it give the students an opportunity to do something in a different way. With the regular use now of videos interviews for recruitment  it is good practice for them and helps to develop a key skill. They usually put a reasonable amount of effort into doing it as they can see themselves and that can be harder than written responses.

Do you use the Moodle Media Assignment activity? Would you use video assessment if this were not available?

Moodle makes it easier to have this type of assessment: it may be difficult to work out another method of submission so I probably would not do it.

Are there any issues with the assignment?

Some students do not want to video themselves, but that is fine: they can use pictures or Powerpoint etc.,  and just have a voice-over, as shown in one of the examples. The students were asked for two minutes, but there was a great variety in the times submitted. Getting a clear video can be an issue, quality is not always great. You need to be clear what you are looking for from the piece of work. It is not as easy as a written piece to flick back to see if they covered something, but if it is short that is not a big issue. It is something different for the module convenor to mark and gives a good insight into your students. Obviously it can’t be marked anonymously!

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

Part 1 of this series: Assessing students with video 1: video presentation on a topic

Giving credit to the author [Moodle images #2]

June 24th, 2016

Angelique Bodart writes: 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? Or ensure your own copyright is protected?

In Moodle there’s an attribution tool as part of the image upload process – where you own the image – that allows you to enter your details as the copyright holder, the date it was put out there, and the type of copyright associated with it.  It’s a quick and easy way to ensure you get credit. You can also give acknowledgement to the author of any uploaded image and avoid the copyright police. For Flickr we have developed a Flickr public plugin which allows users to search Flickr and automatically applies the attribution data to the image. Even simpler!

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.