Learning Technology

Moodle content over last weekend

January 30th, 2015

Some users of Moodle.Nottingham may have noticed some unexpected unavailability of content during last weekend and earlier this week.  Thank you for your understanding and patience.  All affected staff have now been contacted and we have taken steps to prevent a re-occurrence.

What happened?

The Moodle service normally uses a primary database; in the event of this failing, it switches over to using a secondary backup database. This failover is designed as part of a resilient and redundant infrastructure.

On Saturday 24th January at 11:16 Moodle switched to using the secondary database, but the primary database had not failed. At 13:21 on Sunday 25th January Moodle then automatically switched back to using the primary database, although this reset is normally done manually to ensure all the data is properly synchronised. The reason for the database switching is currently being investigated.

Unfortunately the same issue repeated later on Sunday afternoon, leaving another three hours of data orphaned on the secondary database. Learning Technologies are currently restoring this orphaned data onto a parallel Moodle environment and are arranging assistance for affected users in merging this data back to Moodle. Much of the data has already been restored or re-added. Student assignments and tutorial bookings have already been checked and fixed if necessary.

To prevent further issues, the failover mechanism has been disabled, and Learning Technologies are working with Information Services and external vendors to investigate why the failover occurred. A new secondary database is currently being prepared to restore resilience and redundancy and will be implemented once it is understood what caused the failover, and the issue has been rectified and tested.

We apologise for any inconvenience suffered by users. If you think you may have been affected, and have questions or need help in finding out what you lost or with restoration, please contact learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk

Moodle – Weekend content unavailable

January 26th, 2015

Please be advised that there was an instance over the weekend where the Moodle database failed over to an alternative configuration which has caused unforeseen complications. This happened between 11:16 on Saturday 24 January and 13:21 on Sunday 25 January 2015 and then again on Sunday between 13:55 and 17:15.

As a result any content/activity created between these times are unavailable. This includes uploaded files, assignment submissions, tutorial booking signups etc.

Engineers are currently looking into extracting data from the alternative configuration.

Moodle is now working correctly and users are able to work on the system as normal and undertake their activities again, including assignment submission.

The Learning Technologies team will be contacting affected users to discuss the options available for data restoration. We apologise for any inconvenience.

If you have any questions or would like further information about the upgrade at this stage, please contact: Learning-Technologies@nottingham.ac.uk

T & L Seminar: Electronic management of coursework assessment: tools, process and transformation: Wed 4th Feb

January 20th, 2015

At our regular monthly Teaching and Learning Seminar (formerly E-learning Community) we will have in February two speakers – one from Social Sciences and once from Science – who will talk about their experience of whole-School transformation of the management of coursework assessment and about the technologies and tools available at the University for managing various assessment types.

Dr Helen Williams (Politics and International Relations) will describe the gradual approach to transformation of electronic coursework – the steps planned, barriers expected and protocols set to harmonise practice. She will also explain the benefits and drawbacks of using Turnitin (when compared to paper) in managing text-based coursework.

Dr Rossana Wright (Chemistry) will describe her school’s “big bang” move from paper to electronic management of coursework two years ago. She will explain the management of the change process and report on staff adoption of the new approach. She will go on to focus on how various tools – Turnitin and Grademark (in Moodle) – support the submission and marking of a vast number of laboratory reports. Dr Wright will also show how academic staff use Turnitin and Moodle to deliver feedback to students in a timely fashion.

Date: Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

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

Location: A3 (LT3), Medical School, QMC

To be sure we have enough tea and coffee, please e-mail molly.fleischer@nottingham.ac.uk if you intend to be present.

Using Moodle forums #2: Two simple ways

January 19th, 2015

This video discusses two simple ways to use Moodle Forums – to send out Announcements to all participants in a module, and to answer student questions.  Both are illustrated by case studies from within the University of Nottingham.  The video is taken from a webinar on 9th January 2015.


Recordings available from T&L Seminar: HELM’s Deep… into e-learning

January 16th, 2015

Recordings are now available of Wednesday’s session (7-1-15) featuring the work of the Health E-Learning and Media (HELM) team who work across all areas of the School of Health Sciences to deliver high quality e-learning to underpin learning and teaching and improve the student experience.

The School has recently introduced blended learning with 50% online for its Nursing programme, School-wide e-portfolio provision, student-facing Curriculum Mapping and some major curriculum re-developments. HELM has led these projects as well as maintaining and developing a repository of over 200 RLOs [Reusable Learning Objects] to support the curriculum and wider audiences.

This recording showcases HELM’s work, details the underpinning pedagogy and explores how the team’s structure of “Curriculum, Research, Open and Community” has enabled the School to deliver its ambitious e-learning projects.

Part 1: Introduction (Heather Wharrad)

Part 2: HELM Curriculum (Richard Windle)

Part 3: HELM Research (Heather Wharrad)

Part 4: HELM OPEN (Mike Taylor) and (from 8:39 minutes) HELM Community (James Henderson)


Part 5: Summary (Kirstie Coolin) and questions

Tracking student activity in your Moodle module

January 15th, 2015

Moodle reports on activity in your module  – including logs and reports on student activity – are available in a new place in Moodle 2.6.

In the Administration block, you’ll find Reports (see right).

There are five report types available in Moodle:  Logs, Live Logs, Activity Report, Module Participation and Statistics.  Tracking information via these reports can be useful because it allows you to check, e.g.,

  • Which students have accessed a particular resource or activity (perhaps to send a reminder to those who haven’t)
  • Which particular activities an individual student has accessed (to monitor progress)
  • Which students visited any part of the module page on a particular day or range of days

In the Administration block on the left (formerly called Settings  block), under Module Administration click on Reports and select the report you require.


Log reports are best used to refer to raw logs showing who has been accessing the module and what they were doing on a particular day.  You can sort them by

  • all participants or  a particular user;
  • all groups or a particular group of users;
  • all days or a particular day;
  • a particular activity or resource
  • action (e.g., View or Post)

You can download the Log as an Excel document, or text, or view it on the page.  Live logs are the most recent logs

Example: Check whether a particular student visited your module on a particular day

Activity report

The activity report is best used to check overall views of resources and activities.

Example: if you notice a particular resource or activity has had minimum activity and was last accessed two weeks ago you may want to send out a message via Module Announcements to all students notifying them to take part/view it.

Module Participation report

The Module Participation report is best used to refer to individual activity for a particular resource or activity in terms of views and participation.  From this report you can Send a message to e.g. students that have not participated to remind them.  You can look back over a period of your choice, from a few days to three months.

Example: Students are expected to participate in a discussion forum during a particular week. Towards the end of the week, view a report of which students have  seen it and which have looked and not posted or not looked at all. The missing students can then be reminded that they haven’t completed the task.

Activity completion 

If you have completion tracking set in your module, you’ll also have an option here to view activity completion. You can set it up on the key activities in your module.

Example: Students are expected to complete a number of activities to complete the course. The key activities are set up with completion criteria and the report on Activity Completion can be downloaded as a spreadsheet to easily see which students have completed the activities. They can then be reminded about the ones they have missed.

Using Moodle forums #1: subscription options

January 14th, 2015

This is the first in a series of posts about using Moodle Forums. Every Moodle.Nottingham module has a News & Announcements “forum” in it, usually towards the top. The name will vary but this is the one-way communication channel for staff to send messages to students. This forum is automatically set to send emails to participants when one is written, as well as showing it in the Latest News block.

Other forums can be added to your module, and for those you have the choice of subscription mode

The default setting for a standard forum is optional subscription meaning that students have to actively subscribe to the forum in order to see the messages in their inbox. We recommend changing this setting to auto subscription which automatically subscribes students to the forum while also allowing them to opt out. this means that they can see the first message or messages – so they are reminded that the forum has been set up – while able to choose to turn off these alerts in their email in-box if they instead choose to keep in touch with the forum by visiting it directly.

The other settings are forced subscription (equivalent to the News and Announcements forum – students are auto-subscribed and cannot turn the alerts off) and no subscription (subscription to alerts is not possible).

Further information



Moving Forward with Learning Technology: Recordings from T&L Seminar on 3 Dec 2014

January 12th, 2015

Recordings are now available of the December E-learning Community / Teaching and Learning Seminar on Wednesday, December 3rd held in the School of Chemistry, University Park. Our theme was Moving Forward with Learning Technology.

Xerte Online Toolkits has been accepted for incubation into Apereo, a foundation for open-source projects. Julian Tenney explained more about this very exciting opportunity for the Xerte Project.  The talk was not in an appropriate format for video recording.

The new Moodle Assignment has been available since we upgraded to Moodle 2.6 at the end of August.  It has an increased range of options and is a sophisticated tool for assessment, with the abilities to send files through Turnitin and to annotate PDFs being just two of the new features.  Helen Whitehead talked about how Schools are implementing the new Moodle Assignment, optimum settings choices,  and how to avoid common pitfalls.

The NOOC Sustainable and Responsible Business has just finished its first run.  With about 300 of the 550 starters completing the module, it’s been extremely effective.  Paul Caulfield talked particularly about the interesting tools he’s used to create learning materials, and the design of the NOOC inside and outside Moodle.

Marking online when a student has not submitted a physical assignment (Turnitin and Moodle)

January 9th, 2015

In Moodle assignments and within Turnitin you can add a mark and feedback even if students haven’t actually submitted anything.

Why might you want to do this?

There are many types of assessment that don’t include the generation of a text that can be submitted online. They might include:

  • Presentation
  • Performance
  • Creation of a physical object such as an artwork
  • Participation in a discussion
  • Fieldwork
  • Lab tasks
  • Practical skills assessment
  • Oral / interview

Creating an assignment within the online learning environment has the advantages that

  • information about the assignment can be given to students
  • the deadline is automatically included in the Calendar as a reminder
  • marks can be given
  • feedback can be given

Setting up the Moodle assignment is exactly the same as for a submitted assignment but students can be clearly told that no submission is necessary. Marking can go ahead as normal with all feedback options (except PDF annotation) being available to the marker.


It is also possible to add (overall) comments and a grade to an assignment in Turnitin even though the student has not submitted a text.  Clicking on the grey pencil against a student who has not submitted will insert a “Grading template” and a Turnitin paper ID – even though there is no paper. Given that Turnitin is best used in cases where text needs to be checked for originality we would recommend that Moodle Assignments without Turnitin are used for this purpose.

In most circumstances it’s a good idea to avoid clicking on grey pencil icons. They turn blue when an assignment has been submitted and is available for marking.

Webinar: Improving online feedback and communication within the VLE

January 8th, 2015

webinarThe University of Birmingham is offering a Webinar on Improving online feedback and communication within the VLE

13 January 2015 at 3 pm

Feedback on assignments and communication with tutors are massive parts of a student’s experience in higher education, and are often raised in student satisfaction surveys as areas of concern. This seminar draws on experience from across the University of Birmingham in delivering online feedback and communicating with students using the Canvas VLE. 
Joe Berry will discuss effective use of assignment feedback, including the use of standard rubrics and video feedback, based on experiences of a large scale rollout of online marking in the College of Social Sciences.
Matt Bridge will then delve further into the effectiveness of communicating with students online to improve the student tutoring experience.

To sign up, point your browser of choice at the Registration page