Learning Technology

Recommended good practice in naming your files

November 21st, 2014

Filenames are very important in giving information about the content of the file. If they are to be uploaded to the Web, and particularly as an assignment submitted to Moodle (and/or Turnitin), then they need to conform to certain guidelines or they may not be accepted by the web-based systems.

If you name all your files in the same kind of way, using a naming convention, then you will find it much easier to store and retrieve files.  However, it may be that different modules and assignments have different requirements (for example, some require your student number in the title, and some specifically want it avoided).

Recommendations for good practice for naming files include:

  • Keep both filenames and folder names short (and definitely less than 40 characters)
  • Always ensure the filename is unique, to avoid confusing duplicates (“ShortEssayT14111201410” rather than “Essay 1”)
  • Avoid the following characters which often cause problems: & , . ( ) % # ‘ “ / \ – { } [ ] < > : ; @
  • Avoid spaces
  • When using dates, use YYYMMDD as that will order correctly.
  • CamelCase can be helpful- it does not have spaces, but each word is capitalised to make it easier for a human to read (e.g., ShortEssayProteinFolding)

BUFVC E-learning event 28 November: Across space and time: online education

November 18th, 2014

Across Space and Time: Delivering and Accessing Online Education
Venue: The Geological Society, Piccadilly, London
Date: Friday 28 November 2014, 11am-3pm (BUFVC AGM 3pm – 4pm) (Small cost)

Simon Nelson, Chief Executive of FutureLearn, the first UK-led provider of Moocs (massive online open courses), will be speaking about the 650,000 learners his organisation has signed up to online courses ranging from dentistry to Shakespeare.

Jake Berger, Programme Manager for Digital Public Space at the BBC, will be speaking on the Research and Education Space, a joint digital project from Jisc, the BBC and the BUFVC.

Helena Gillespie from the University of East Anglia will be speaking about meeting student needs, and Andrew Yeates, General Counsel of the Educational Recording Agency, will provide an update on copyright legislation.

More information and booking British Universities Film & Video Council

Moodle Bytes Webinars

November 13th, 2014

Join us from your desk to find out more about key Moodle features and activities. Our Moodle Bytes series of online webinars is starting again: the first three webinars are as follows:

Wednesday 19th November 12 noon – 12.40 pm    Introduction to Groups and Groupings in Moodle

  • How to make items in Moodle available only to a particular group of students

Thursday 4th December 1- 1.40 pm      The new Moodle Assignment

  • The new Moodle Assignment has lots of great features and also allows you to submit student work to Turnitin without needing a separate assignment

Friday 9th January 12 noon -12.40 pm       Making more use of Moodle Forums -

  • How can you get students talking to one another?

All you need is a headset or speakers – optionally if you’d like to join in, a headset with microphone.

Details of how to join in (University of Nottingham staff only) can be found on the Moodle Bytes workspace page (login required).

Green Gown award for Sustainability MOOC

November 7th, 2014

This week the University’s MOOCs and NOOCs team, led by Sarah Speight, were in Manchester, delighted to receive a “Highly Commended” at this year’s Green Gown Awards. The award, in the category of Courses and Learning, was for the “Sustainability, Society and You” MOOC which has run twice through Futurelearn.

Sarah Speight explained: “With our course ‘Sustainability, Society and You’, we have supported nearly 9,000 people to learn about, for and through sustainability in an interactive mix of practical activities and challenging debate.

“Our course was about sustainability. It was taught through sustainable means, by repurposing existing open educational resources and using online and mobile delivery formats. It encouraged learning for sustainability by using formative and peer assessment, and a combination of theory and practice. We sought to develop our learners’ holistic understanding of the values and principles associated with sustainability and to equip them to make sustainable decisions in their personal and professional lives.

“The project team comprised academics and postgraduates from  geography, engineering, philosophy, archaeology, sociology, nursing, mental health, politics, chemistry, education, modern languages and  economics, working with learning technologists. The Vice-Chancellor led an online seminar for the pilot and both the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor for Teaching and Learning participated in the MOOC.

“8,727 learners enrolled for the January version of the MOOC, with 4,365 enrolling for the June run. 1,500 students and staff enrolled on the Nottingham pilot.”

The Green Gown Awards, administered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), “recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK”.

Anyone in the University can take the internal – NOOC – version of this course. It is currently running in its 4th week – still time to have a peek or catch up!

Registration now open for “Creative Lecture Capture” event, Nottingham, 20 Jan

November 3rd, 2014

Registration is now open for the Media-Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) open one-day event on “Creative Lecture Capture” at the University of Nottingham on 20th January 2015.

Event title: Creative Lecture Capture, Webinars & Screencasting

Registration is now open:  click here to register

Host: University of Nottingham

Date: 20th January 2015

Hashtag: #MELSIGUoN

Description: The event investigates how live and recorded video are being used creatively in higher education to promote learner engagement. It will demonstrate how the Flipped Classroom, asynchronous access to rich content, and making technology more accessible to diverse producers, for example, is changing the learning landscape.

The varied programme includes examples of innovative practice, hands on workshops, idea generation activities and opportunities for delegate presentations. See the MELSIG event page for details.

The event is FREE, but please note places on these events tend to go quickly.

The Media-Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) is run by and targeted at academics, learning technologists and educational developers in post-compulsory education. It hosts inspiring and leading edge events on how digital and social media and technology are enhancing the academic and student experience.

MELSIG’s previous event, in September was on MELSIG Digital Media Interaction and Inclusivity, at the University of Sussex. More information on that event

Change to Moodle to increase speed

November 3rd, 2014

From the start of this academic year, the Moodle 2 project has implemented a new Moodle infrastructure.  As part of this, the project team have continued to work on making the UNMC and UNNC experience as fast as possible.  We are now ready to implement a behind-the-scenes technical change which will further improve performance.   This change – Varnish caching – stores locally the pages that make up the framework of Moodle, such as the background images, buttons, and icons, making Moodle load faster for users in China and Malaysia both on- and off-campus.

Varnish has been successfully tested from the data centres in UNNC and UNMC. It is now being tested at various locations including off-campus. We are planning to make the switch to Varnish at 8:30am UK time 5th Nov (4:30pm CN and MY time) provided that the remaining testing is completed successfully beforehand.

Moodle should be considered ‘at risk’ during this time. We do not anticipate any downtime when the switch is made, however it is not without risk; therefore if anyone cannot access the service after 4:30pm (CN/MY), please immediately contact:

Malaysia   ITServiceDesk@nottingham.edu.my   +6 (03) 8924 8199


China it-services@nottingham.edu.cn  +86 (0574) 8818 0915

Peer Assessment Seminar, Wed Nov 5th at 12.30

October 31st, 2014

Now the start of term rush is subsiding (a little), it is time to look to the year ahead and the start of a new series of e-learning community events.

The e-Learning Community sessions have been organised for several years on the first Wednesdays of the month from November to June are now being run alongside the wider Teaching and Learning seminar series within the University. As such, we will still be using the first Wednesdays as before, but also other dates, and seminars will continue to feature academic use of learning technologies.

The first in the new series will be held on Wednesday, November 5th in Room A48, Sir Clive Granger Building, University Park. The subject is Peer assessment in large groups.

Peer assessment is a technique to enhance student engagement with assessment and has a broad range of applications. It has been shown to support students’ understanding of the expectations of assessment. In summative contexts, peer assessment can also help to reduce the marker’s assessment load. This seminar will focus on peer assessment in both formative and summative contexts. The two speakers use peer assessment with large student groups and for a variety of assessment types.

Dr Susan Anderson (Graduate Entry Medicine) presents an example of the use of peer assessment with large groups (n=90) in Medical Education. Susan uses peer assessment in the context of formative assessment as a means of providing immediate feedback to students. She will also present some exploratory data on the accuracy of students’ judgements.

Dr Kay Bond (Faculty of Engineering) will present two distinct examples of peer assessment in a summative context and with large groups.  Kay uses peer assessment and guides students through the marking criteria (n=260, Year 1). In Year 3, she organises independent peer assessment of video presentations (n=160).

There will also be a brief introduction to Turnitin’s Peermark which is available through Moodle. We invite colleagues to help us evaluate Peermark’s potential.

Date: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Time: 12.30 p.m. with hot drinks from 12.15 p.m.

Location: A48, Sir Clive Granger Building, University Park

A case study of Socrative: Employing students’ smartphones/tablets to create an interactive lecture

October 30th, 2014

There’s a useful case study on the University of Nottingham  TELiMed blog of the free online student response system Socrative on “Employing students’ smartphones/tablets to create an interactive lecture”. Lisa Szatkowski, an Associate Professor in Medical Statistics (School of Medicine Division of Epidemiology and Public Health), aimed to bring an interactive element to her large group lectures (to approximately 250 first year medical students), that would help keep students engaged and provide instant feedback, enabling her to identify and immediately address any problems in comprehension.

Benefits for students included:

  • Students can check whether they have understood a topic correctly, and receive instant feedback
  • The technology might help increase students’ confidence in their own abilities, particularly where they see that they can in fact correctly answer difficult questions
Read the whole case study

Self enrolment from start of term is expiring

October 22nd, 2014

Students’ self enrolment from the start of term is expiring this week, but this does NOT mean that students will be unenrolled.

At the start of term many modules allowed students to self-enrol while their module choices were being processed.  In most cases this enrolment will have been superceded by the official enrolment from SATURN.  This means that although the self-enrolment will cease, the student will continue to have access to the module without interruption.

The only users affected may be those who self-enrolled on a module and never registered for it officially. In most cases this is because they changed their mind, so it is appropriate that they are now unenrolled from modules they are not taking.

Sometimes students are not enrolled via SATURN but are enrolled via self-enrolment, particularly in non-SATURN modules. In these cases we usually ensure that the self enrolment does not expire, so they won’t be affected either.

In occasional cases you may find that:

Postgraduate observers or others enrolled as “extra” students may lose their access to SATURN modules. Convenors should get in touch with local Moodle support or learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk and give approval for the enrolment to continue for these persons.

Non-SATURN modules have self enrolment expire – in this case simply set self enrolment to never expire.

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.