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Here you will find information to keep you up to date with the work we are doing to develop and maintain the digital learning platforms. Use the Categories and Tags on the right hand side to navigate the information and check out the Platform Enhancements page to see the more minor improvements made.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback – on areas we do well, as well as the things you want us to do better. You can leave comments on each blog post, or click the link at the top of the page to leave feedback.

Contacting DL Support: One problem – One email – One person

When things go wrong the Digital Learning Support team understand how important it is to help resolve issues as quickly as possible so that students and staff can carry on with as little impact and disruption as possible.

Our mailbox, dlsupport@arts.ac.uk is our primary channel for you to raise a request for help, or alert us to any issues or problems you are experiencing with our digital platforms. Every email coming into dlsupport is then taken into our ticketing system to generate the receipt and to record and track the issue.

When a number of colleagues are copied into an email that contains dlsupport@arts.ac.uk, every time  one of those colleagues forwards the original email to someone else, or replies, it means that a new support ticket is generated every single time. At peak periods, the support mail box can quickly become ‘cluttered’ with duplicated emails from numerous responses and replies to group emails where dlsupport have been copied in. Multiple emails generates multiple tickets for multiple people about the same issue. This slows down the team’s ability to locate the key information needed, track issues and respond in a timely manner.

Ideally, the service should provide:

  • one email generating
  • one ticket for
  • any one particular problem with
  • one person as the main point of contact

There are a number of things we’d like to ask you to consider when contacting dlsupport that will help improve this service:

  1. Only use dlsupport@arts.ac.uk to raise a request for support – if you need help with one of the DL platforms, or if something is working as it should. If you don’t need to raise a support ticket, but want to speak to a member of the support team you can contact us directly -our contact details are at the bottom of this post.
  2. Try not to include any other colleagues in the email to dlsupport@arts.ac.uk. Try to use the support email as a way to raise a ticket, rather than to communicate with colleagues.
  3. If you need to consult with other colleagues, inform them that you have contacted dlsupport, or want their input please consider removing dlsupport@art.ac.uk from the distribution list.
  4. Once we have received your email, we will generate a support ticket that has a reference number. This will be sent to you by email. These emails are easily identifiable, being bright pink and have a ticket reference number in the subject line.
  5. You may circulate this support ticket reference email to other colleagues, who may reply to it and contribute further information as needed. Any replies to the ticket reference email come directly into our ticketing software and not to dlsupport@arts.ac.uk. It keeps all the information about that ticket together in one place prevents multiple tickets being generated about the same issue.

 

MyBlogs infrastructure improvements

Over the coming months we are carrying out a complete refresh of the MyBlog infrastructure (i.e. the servers and associated hardware that the platform sits on). This is the first major refresh since the blogging service was introduced over 5 years ago. In that time blogging at UAL has increased rapidly and is now widely used to support student learning across the University.

Why is this work needed?

This refresh is not only needed to maintain the performance and reliability of the MyBlog platform but to meet the needs of new and innovative approaches to teaching large student cohorts.

What changes can I expect to see?

Improved Security

As part of the refresh we will be improving the security of the platform to ensure that user log-ins and other data sent between your browser and the MyBlog platform are encrypted and secure. You will notice that the url changes from http to https – indicating a secure connection. Users should be aware that any media embedded from a non-https third-party website will no longer display on a blog page. Many sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, have already moved to supporting https and will not present any issues.

A new look and feel

We are also working on a new look and feel for the MyBlog platform to unify and simplify the look and feel of our DL platforms and improve the student experience in this area. We will not be adding or changing the functionality of the platform.

Removing obsolete accounts

Myblog contains some content which has  not been updated for a long time  and which belongs to students who are no longer at UAL. To free up much needed storage capacity and to comply with GDPR requirements we are going to remove student blogs and accounts which meet *all* the following criteria:

    • The student left UAL in any year prior to and including 17/18
    • The blog has not been updated since the academic year 15/16

Staff accounts and content will not be affected.

When is this work being carried out?

We have already started the work as there are many stages to this project. During the final phase we will need to take MyBlog out of service for a short period of time. The dates to be aware of are:

  • 05th February 2019 – final sync of user accounts and blog content from the old to the new infrastructure. We will need to take MyBlogs out of service, but will aim to keep this to an absolute minimum. 
  • 06th February 2019 – DNS updated – MyBlog will be available, but may take up to 24 hours before it is fully accessible globally. MyBlog will be available almost immediately to those accessing it from the UAL network however, the service should be considered ‘at risk’.  Users may lose their work if they make changes during this period and we have to roll-back
  • 07th February 2019 – final testing and sign off / roll back decision

I have questions, who can I contact?

If you want to know more about this work, or have any concerns about how it will impact your students please either contact Ruth Powell or dlsupport@arts.ac.uk.

 

 

OAT – Minor changes

As part of the work to integrate OAT with SITS we have made some minor improvements to functionality:

     1 – Submission / hand in date fields on the Settings Page are now auto-populated from data held in SITS. You can no longer manually enter these dates through OAT. Any missing dates will need to be entered via SITS (not all dates have yet been captured in SITS).

     2 – Feedback forms for Referred / Deferred students. These are now auto-created for those students with R or D status. You no longer need to manually create a bespoke feedback form for these students.

     3 – Bespoke feedback forms can still be created for formative assessment purposes. The drop down grade choice will now include Pass and Fail as grade options.

 

The grade that teaching staff need to complete on the OAT form is the indicative grade. The Exam board are responsible for confirming a student’s actual grade and will make the grade adjustments needed for late submissions, non-submissions etc.

 

Moodle Upgrade 2018_19

The DL Team would like to thank all colleagues for their patience and co-operation over the past couple of months as the integration of SITS with Moodle was completed. It was an extremely challenging project for all teams involved.

The next step for Moodle is an upgrade. Normally, we would have upgraded this Summer, but due to the other projects it wasn’t pragmatic to add in a further complexity. It’s important that we stay up to date with our release of Moodle, so ideally we need to upgrade this Autumn term if at all possible (we will resume our normal upgrade process Summer 2019).

Upgrade – Expected down time
IT Services have advised that the upgrade and testing will take two days during which time Moodle will not be available for use. Please can colleagues advise of:

a) preferred dates for us to carry out the upgrade
b) dates that we must avoid (i.e. assignment submission dates)

Agreeing dates
Because finding dates that are appropriate for all colleges is extremely difficult, we have set up a shared Google doc where dates can be entered, so that we can come to some agreement about the upgrade window. There never seems to be dates that suit all courses and any flexibility that can be offered by course teams to help us find a suitable date would be greatly appreciated. If you are aware of any dates when the upgrade can not take place (e.g. assessment submission dates) please do let your college TEL Coordinator know. Their contact details are at the bottom of this post.

Limitations on dates from DL Support
Unfortunately the Christmas vacation is not an option we can offer. An upgrade involves teams from multiple departments and not only is Christmas a time when we are very short staffed, IT Services also implements a code-freeze over this period. In addition, we do not carry out upgrades on a Friday due to the risk of Moodle being unsupported over the weekend.
Early in the New Year, i.e. Jan 2019 is a possibility, but we do not want to leave the upgrade later than this.

Upgrade version
We are currently assessing which version we will upgrade to and it will either be the latest release but one (3.4) or 3.5 if that contains critical bug fixes. Once the version has been decided the DLSupport team will provide details of any important changes or new features to be aware of.


College Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Co-ordinators

Bing Choong (y.choong@chelsea.arts.ac.uk) – Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon
Vija Skangale (v.skangale@arts.ac.uk) – Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon
Jennifer Williams-Baffoe (j.williams-baffoe@csm.arts.ac.uk) – Central Saint Martins
Caroline Rogers (c.rogers@fashion.arts.ac.uk) – London College of Fashion
dlsupport@arts.ac.uk – London College of Communication

Moodle Course Roll over

Date(s): 13th July 2018
Platform: Moodle

The DL team have now made the course sites for the 18/19 Academic Year available in Moodle and have enrolled staff to their courses (based on their 17/18 enrollment status).

We are still working to get the 18/19 courses to display in the correct order on the MyCourses page in Moodle. Staff are advised to navigate to their 18/19 course sites using their staff profile located under the drop-down menu from the user’s name in the top right corner. Whilst this work is in progress we have disabled the 18/19 courses in the Admin Tool. If any urgent changes are required to staff enrollments please contact dlsupport@arts.ac.uk.

Staff are now able to edit their 18/19 course sites and roll-over any required content from this year’s sites.

In addition to working on the Course List display, we are starting to process the student enrolments on the 18/19 course sites and we expect this process to complete today.

Moodle Course Roll Over

Date(s): 11th July 2018
Platform: Moodle

Following the IT problem that arose on Monday 09th July causing course sites to not display in the Moodle Digital Learning Support team have made considerable progress in resolving the issue and preparing the course data and enrolments for the 18/19 course sites.

Yesterday the server problem was resolved and course structures were restored and correctly displaying in Moodle. Today the team have been working specifically on preparing 18/19 course sites, meticulously checking staff enrolments to ensure that course sites and enrolments for the next academic year are correct. This is an extremely complex process and involves detailed cross-checking between the old QL data and the new codes and information we are receiving from SITS. Late this afternoon we started the process of pushing all the 18/19 course data to the staging server and will have to leave this to run overnight.

I apologise for the delay in providing access to the 18/19 course sites for staff. The earlier IT problems and the fact that we are managing new processes with the SITS data mean that we are having to proceed with extra caution so that we catch minor and fix any glitches in the data before making everything available to users.

We are hopeful that we will be able to give users access to their 18/19 course sites by tomorrow at the latest.

Intermittent problems with Moodle Access

Date(s): 11 July 2018

Information:

IT Services are continuing to investigate why Moodle suddenly appears to go ‘offline’. The Moodle server is constantly being monitored and we know that this server is stable and not going down in any way. We are also confident that the problem is not related to any of the recent maintenance work we have been doing on Moodle.

In terms of resolving the problem, IT Services have managed to replicate the issue and can ‘see’ the problem, but are still trying to diagnose the underlying cause.

The problem is only affecting users who are accessing Moodle from within the UAL network. External users aren’t affected. Chrome also seems to be more problematic than other browsers.

Whilst IT Services continue to identify the problem users may find that rebooting their computer or using a different browser helps minimise the problem.

We will update you with progress as I receive further information from IT Services.

Thanks for your patience and apologies for any inconvenience caused.

The Turnitin has been restored

Date: 11th July 2018
Platform: Turnitin

We’re happy to note maintenance is now complete and all services have been restored. The following Turnitin services were unavailable on July 10, 2018:

  • Turnitin and TurnitinUK (including all integrations)
  • Feedback Studio for iOS
  • iThenticate
  • WriteCheck

Thanks for your patience!

Stay up to date with Digital Learning Support news by following @dlsupportUAL on Twitter.

Course sites now available in Moodle

Date(s): 10th July 2018
Platform: Moodle

Information:

An update to the problem of course sites not showing correctly in Moodle. The problem was caused by an issue with the server and databases that hold and process the course and enrolment data. This has now been resolved and successfully tested on our staging environment.

We have just updated Moodle live environment and all courses should now be available again, (please note: some of the 15/16 sites may not appear in quite the right order. We will look into this tomorrow).

Course Roll over:

We are now starting to enrol staff onto the new sites for the 18/19 academic year. We expect this process to complete tomorrow, and I will send a further update to let you know when next year’s course sites are available for colleagues to use.

We apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your continued patience.

IT issues affecting Moodle – update

Date: 10th July 2018

Information:

Further to the yesterday update, we are aware of two IT issues that are currently affecting Moodle. Please be assured that work is being carefully co-ordinated across multiple teams in DL Support and IT services to try and resolve these as quickly as possible.

  1. Moodle appears to go ‘down’ or ‘offline’. This is an intermittent problem that is also affecting other web services. It is not related to the change in Moodle hosting or the SITS integration project. IT Services have been able to replicate the problem, which is the first step in diagnosing the underlying cause.
  2. Courses not showing correctly in SITS. Yesterday, there was a problem with the server that holds and processes the data from SITS. We are in the process of reinstating the data and carrying out testing on the staging server before updating the live environment.

We will update you as soon as we have any further information about either of these issues. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.