We have recently completed a refresh of the Myblog theme to declutter and simplify the home page, and to provide a more unified look with our other platforms such as Moodle and Workflow. The screen shots below show you what MyBlogs will look like.
What has Changed?
The tabs to browse blogs by Members, blog, or groups have been moved out of the top navigation bar and placed as buttons on the home screen.
Previously, on logging in users were directed to the ‘MyBlog’ dashboard which was only relevant for users with Super Administrative rights. Now users are directed to their profile page.
All other features and functionality remain the same.
When will the new theme be applied?
We are currently upgrading the MyBlog infrastructure to upgrade the servers and capacity of the platform. This new theme will be released as part of that work which is due for completion in early February. We will put a banner up in Myblog to alert users that the theme will be changing a few days prior to it going live.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com, 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:
Only use firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Try not to include any other colleagues in the email to email@example.com. Try to use the support email as a way to raise a ticket, rather than to communicate with colleagues.
If you need to consult with other colleagues, inform them that you have contacted dlsupport, or want their input please consider removing firstname.lastname@example.org from the distribution list.
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.
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 email@example.com. It keeps all the information about that ticket together in one place prevents multiple tickets being generated about the same issue.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are receiving calls of a number of problems that are impacting on Moodle. Earlier today there was a problem with the data and some people reported not being able to see all their course sites in Moodle. This issue has now been resolved.
We are also being told of some cases where Moodle suddenly appears to go offline. We are constantly monitoring the server availability and have not detected any unexpected downtime. There is also some odd behaviour being reported from other areas such as the UAL website so these issues may be related. IT Systems are looking into the issues to try and diagnose the underlying cause.
We will keep you informed with any new updates on the situation please take our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Digital Learning Support Team
Teaching and Learning Exchange
The challenges of creating course sites in Moodle that presents course information, resources and communications in a way that students can easily navigate through and find what they need are well known. Solutions aren’t easy – not least due to the diversity and complexity of teaching approaches across UAL that need to be represented through Moodle course sites. Understandably, it is natural to consider Moodle course sites as any other web-page and we expect to be able to create a good ‘web-site’ experience for our students. Good web-site design, however, does require a specific knowledge and skill set and, of course – time! Some courses are fortunate in that they have staff with this skill set who are able to develop quite complex site designs and organisational structures for their materials. Relying on the skills of a few members of staff, however, is seldom sustainable in the longer term.
In June, the digital Learning Services team convened a small group of people interested in looking at how we can address this issue of course site design so that all staff can develop and maintain their Moodle site without specialist web-design and coding skills. The discussions were underpinned by the following principles.
Sustainability – i.e. not relying on technologies that would rapidly date, or advanced skills and knowledge;
Scaleability – ideas had to be sympathetic to demands of large courses and student cohorts.
Responsive – course sites must respond to smaller screen sizes of mobile devices
The group consisted of people from a cross section of support, teaching, training and leadership roles. Through the discussion we looked at examples of Moodle course sites, shared experiences of designing and maintaining Moodle sites, discussed the skills and knowledge required, thought about our training provision and explored ideas for new technical solutions.
By the end of the discussion, we agreed that the priority should be to focus on modelling what can be achieved in Moodle just using the tools and resources readily available – i.e. without any specialist knowledge of html / css. We agreed that we would collaboratively design three different scenarios for course site design that would help:
Make resources easy to find / locate
Have visual appeal
Be easy for staff to add and manage their resources and content
Reduce unnecessary clutter and complexity
The more technically minded members agreed to explore the potential of ‘Markdown’ – an html / css editor that could enable greater flexibility within defined limits, but doesn’t require extensive coding knowledge. Another area to look at would be researching any available plugins that have been developed for Moodle.
We are going to experiment with using Slack (https://moodledesignworkgroup.slack.com) to help continue our discussions. Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday September 19th, 2.00 pm. If you are interested, you would be warmly welcome to join in the discussions. Please email Andreea Stan (email@example.com) who will include you in any communications.