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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.

Update: Workflow – Planned maintenance in September 2019

This Summer, IT Services are renewing all the servers and operating software that sits behind Workflow. This is essential work is needed to maintain the performance and integrity of the platform.

The work has been scheduled between 2-4 September

Downtime Schedule

  • Monday, 2 Sep 17:00 – The site will enter maintenance mode and cannot be used.
  • Tuesday, 3 Sep 12:00 The site will exit maintenance most and enter a testing period. Workflow can be used but any changes made to sites are at risk of being lost. Workflow will be available but we strongly advise that no changes are made to any sites. In the event that we encounter a critical issue we may need to roll back to the existing infrastructure and any changes made to Workflow sites will be lost. The chances of this happening are minimal as we carry out all changes on a staging environment first and carry out thorough testing before we make changes to the live environment. We do recommend that use of Workflow is limited to Read only for these two days to minimise the risk of work being lost.
  • Thursday, 4 Sep 10:00 Testing will be complete. If they were unsuccessful, the previous version will be restored resulting in any changes users made being lost.
  • Thursday, 4 Sep 12:00 – Workflow will be ready to use as normal.

If you have any questions about this work, please contact dlsupport@arts.ac.uk

Making your Moodle Site Accessible

Moodle Upgrade Banner image

Following the upgrade, the next step will be for you will be to prepare your Moodle sites for the start of Autumn term. The Digital Learning team is developing a growing list of resources to support you. Many of the resources will focus specifically on helping you make your Moodle sites Accessible to ensure compliance with the new legislation that comes into force in September.

Importing content from your 18/19 course site to your 19/20 course site

We have provided full step by step instructions on how to do this. You will need to login to Moodle to view them.

Making your Moodle Site Accessible

There have recently been several Canvas stories about the the new legislation around Web accessibility (search Canvas for Accessibility). The new law also applies to the resources and content you place within Moodle. This video will get you started with using Title headings and the built in styles to structure your content, making your images accessible and tips for formatting text. Additional guidelines can be found on this Canvas story. We will continue to provide further guidance on how to make your Moodle site and the resources within it accessible.

You can also contact your local TEL co-ordinator who will be able to help you with any specific problems. Their contact details are at the bottom of this page.

Accessibility Checklist

As you prepare your Moodle site, this checklist will help you.

  • Structure your Moodle content by using the built-in styles within Moodle for titles, subtitles, and lists etc. Do not rely on font size, colour, bold or location of text on the page to convey the structure of content.
  • Make sure each section of your Moodle site has a meaningful title. Do not leave this blank. This will also assist users who use screen readers to navigate through different sections on a page. Each section title will automatically appear in the new Navigation Drawer.
  • Complete the Image Description (Alt Text) field when uploading images to give them a description. This will provide a description to users who use screen readers. This is not the same as a caption and will not appear next to the image.
  • Use complementary media when conveying information. Make use of both descriptive text and illustrative images or diagrams.
  • Links should describe the destination and it is best to avoid repetitive use of ‘Click here’. Some users will jump from link to link when using screen readers.
    • (example: ‘more accessibility resources can be found on Canvas’ instead of ‘to find more accessibility resources on Canvas, click here.’
  • Use high-contrast colours (light text on a dark background, or dark text on a light background).

Making Documents Accessible

Uploaded documents should also be accessible. The guidance given above is equally applicable, but you can also find more videos on making accessible documents on LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda) including how to add alternative text to photos in Word.

The later versions of Microsoft Office have built-in tools to check for potential accessibility issues, which give a quick view of where problems lie and clickable links to jump directly to the relevant point. You can find the Accessibility Checker by selecting File- > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility or Tools > Check Accessibility.

Moodle Support

A network of college-based Technology Enhanced Learning Coordinators are available to be contacted for help and advice on creating accessible content and resources for Moodle.

  • CCW: Richard Ward | richard.ward@arts.ac.uk
  • CSM: Jennifer Williams-Baffoe | j.williams-baffoe@csm.arts.ac.uk
  • LCC: Lee Leewis | l.leewis@lcc.arts.ac.uk and Puiyin Wong | p.wong@arts.ac.uk
  • LCF: Caroline Rogers | c.rogers@fashion.arts.ac.uk

Moodle Upgrade – Schedule

banner image

To carry out the upgrade we will need to take Moodle out of service. We understand the inconvenience this causes and will strive to keep the disruption to a minimum. Please take note of the following key dates

  • Monday 15th July – approx 5.00 pm: Moodle taken out of service. 
  • Tuesday 16th July – Upgrade work commences. Moodle out of service 
  • Wednesday 17th July  approx mid-day – Testing by DL team. Moodle will be available but *at risk*. We advise that Moodle is only used as Read Only. 
  • Thursday 18th July – Monitoring and Testing – Moodle will be available but *at risk*. We advise that Moodle is only used as Read Only
  • Friday 19th July – Moodle fully available and back in service 

*At risk* – The DL Team carry out testing and monitor the success of the upgrade on the live environment. If critical issues arise during this time that we are unable to resolve, we reserve the right to revert the upgrade to the current version of Moodle. Any changes made to Moodle sites during the *at risk period* will be lost. For this reason, we strongly advise that users do not make any significant changes to their course sites during this time. 

Moodle Upgrade – The new Dashboard

For aesthetic purpose only: Image with text saying 'Moodle Upgrade' and a stylized picture of a calendar displaying July.

Moodle at UAL will be upgraded this July and will bring with it several new features and a new look and feel. One significant change is the new Dashboard. This replaces the ‘My Courses’ page The Dashboard presents information that is unique to each user and provides improved ways of listing and navigating between Moodle sites. Below is a brief overview summarizing the main features of the Dashboard or you may prefer to watch or listen to this video.

(Please note: You need to be logged into your UAL MS Office 365 to view.)

Recently Accessed Courses 

This block, located at the top of the Dashboard, displays the sites that you have accessed most recently.

Course Overview 

Located beneath Recently Accessed Courses is a list of all your sites, presented in the familiar heirachy. In the new version of Moodle you can change how your sites are displayed and have several options to choose from, including a more visual ‘Card view‘.

Moodle assigns a default patterned image for each ‘Site Card’ on the Dashboard. This image is also used as a banner image on your Moodle site. You can replace this default image with one that is more representative of your course providing students with a nice visual link between the dashboard and their course site.

Some users have a lot of sites listed on their dashboard. To help you find and locate important sites, or ones you frequent often, you can mark them with a star, hide sites, or filter sites by different criteria.

The Navagation (Nav) Drawer 

The Nav Drawer is the menu that occupies the left hand side of the screen. It can be opened and closed by clicking on the ‘burger’ icon at the top-left. The Nav drawer contains navigation links that vary depending on your location in Moodle, and provides a convenient way to hop between and within your Moodle sites.  

Timeline and Recently Accessed Files 

The Timeline block can be really helpful to students as it will show any forthcoming activities or deadlines.

The Recently Accessed files provides a history of resources you have recently opened making it easier for you to find them again. Clicking on any items listed in these block will take you directly to the associated Moodle site.

Editing your Moodle site

To edit the content or settings within your Moodle site, select the Gear menu near the top-right.

These are just some of the key changes to Moodle that will arive after the imminent upgrade. In the future, further features may be added as part of our planned maintenance and upgrade schedule. 

Moodle Upgrade – What you need to know

For aesthetic purpose only: Image with text saying 'Moodle Upgrade' and a stylized picture of a calendar displaying July.

We will soon be starting the work to upgrade Moodle. This work is part of our regular planned maintenance work essential for maintaining the stability and security of the platform.  

This upgrade also brings a host of new features for Moodle users. We have collaborated extensively with key contacts in the colleges to consider how best to implement these to enhance the experience for our students and staff. Over the coming weeks, we will be providing more information about these improvements via Canvas, the Big Picture and updates on the Digital Learning News blog. 

Click on the image below to watch a brief trailer about some of the new features
(You need to be logged into MS Office 365 to view)

The main highlights include: 

  • An enhanced dashboard with options to display your sites as the current hierarchy view, or in a more visual ‘card’ layout 
  • The ability to filter, or star sites to help prioritise the time you spend in Moodle 
  • Simplified navigation within and between sites 
  • Improved aesthetic of a Moodle site via a custom site header image
  • New ways to alert students to important dates and events and tasks.  

Furthermore, we have improved the accessibility of Moodle. Not only will this improve how Moodle works on mobile devices, it also means we are compliant with the new accessibility legislation.  

To carry out the upgrade we will need to take Moodle out of service. We understand the inconvenience this causes and will strive to keep the disruption to a minimum. Please take note of the following key dates

  • Monday 15th July – approx 5.00 pm: Moodle taken out of service. 
  • Tuesday 16th July – Upgrade work commences. Moodle out of service 
  • Wednesday 17th July  approx mid-day – Testing by DL team. Moodle will be available but *at risk*. We advise that Moodle is only used as Read Only. 
  • Thursday 18th July – Monitoring and Testing – Moodle will be available but *at risk*. We advise that Moodle is only used as Read Only
  • Friday 19th July – Moodle fully available and back in service 

*At risk* – The DL Team carry out testing and monitor the success of the upgrade on the live environment. If critical issues arise during this time that we are unable to resolve, we reserve the right to revert the upgrade to the current version of Moodle. Any changes made to Moodle sites during the *at risk period* will be lost. For this reason, we strongly advise that users do not make any significant changes to their course sites during this time. 

OAT – a new look and feel

As part of the work to support the new Assessment Criteria OAT is being given a new look and feel that will make it pleasanter and more intuitive to use. 

Screenshot of proposed new design of Assessment Feedback form in OAT

The new design has been informed by these key concepts:

  • Placing more emphasis on the written feedback rather than the more administrative elements of managing assessments
  • Presenting information in a way that is clearly organised and in a logical order.
  • Providing consistency in design and layout between the form that staff complete and the feedback form that students receive.
  • Maintaining consistency with UAL brand through use of font and colour palette
  • Complying with Accessibility legislation
  • Ensuring responsive design to work across different screen sizes

The design has been well received with colleagues from a broad cross-section of roles across UAL providing valuable feedback, which we will incorporate into the final design.

myblog upgrade complete

The upgrade to myblog is now complete. As well as maintaining the reliability and security of the platform, the upgrade includes a new approach to writing blog posts that makes it easier to construct and edit content. This short video provides an overview of this new feature.

We will be using Canvas and the Big Picture to help inform staff about this change and seeking advice from Internal Communications about how to best inform students.

We will continue to closely monitor the myblog platform for the next 24 hours. Should users encounter any problems as a result of the upgrade they should email dlsupport@arts.ac.uk and we will endeavour to fix the issue as quickly as possible. If a critical problem arises that we can’t resolve we may be forced to roll back the platform to the previous version. In this scenario all changes made to myblog sites will be lost.

Moodle upgrade

Over the past weeks the DL team has been conducting conversations with colleagues across all colleges regarding the annual Moodle upgrade. This summer we will be upgrading to Version 3.6.2. This upgrade is necessary to stay up to date with our release of Moodle, to ensure available support and to provide maximum efficiency for both staff and students.

After consultation with the colleges, it has been decided that the best time to carry out the upgrade is the week beginning 15 July. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to find a time window with no Moodle activity and whilst this date is not the preferred option for some, it does seem to be the option that will have least impact on users.

The date for course roll over will be one week after this – Tuesday 23rd July (no further downtime needed).

To carry out the upgrade we will need to take Moodle out of service. We understand the inconvenience this causes and will aim to keep the disruption to a miniumum. Please take note of the following key dates:

  • Monday 15th July – approx 5.00 pm: Moodle taken out of service.
  • Tuesday 16th July – Upgrade work commences. Moodle out of service
  • Wednesday 17th July  approx mid-day – Testing by DL team. Moodle will be available but *at risk*. We advise that Moodle is only used as Read Only.
  • Thursday 18th July –  Monitoring and Testing – Moodle will be available but *at risk. We e advise that Moodle is only used as Read Only.
  • Friday 19th July – Moodle fully available and back in service

*At risk – The DL Team carry out testing and monitor the success of the upgrade on the live environment. If critical issues arise during this time that we are unable to resolve, we reserve the right to revert the upgrade to the current version of Moodle. any changes made to Moodle sites during the *at risk period* will be lost. For this reason, we strongly advise that users do not make any significant changes to their course sites during this time.

 

 

Myblog DOWNTIME

IT Services are reporting some instability to the MyBlog platform and need to carry out an urgent upgrade. Following consultation with colleagues across the colleges this has been scheduled for 23rd May.

We apologize for the inconvenience, but MyBlog will be out of service from 08.00 am on 23rd May. We hope to have the platform back available for use by the end of the working day on 23rd May.

We will keep you updated on the progress of the upgrade.

Please share this information with your team members and for any questions please contact us at dlsupport@arts.ac.uk.

Share your thoughts on the new design for OAT Feedback Forms

The Digital Learning team have been adapting the Online Assessment Tool (OAT) for the new Assessment Criteria. As part of this work they are taking the opportunity to update the user interface and provide a new look and feel that will make it pleasanter and more intuitive to use and have begun redesigning the two main forms:

    • The form used by Tutors for inputting student feedback. There are two versions of the Tutor form. They are exactly the same except that one has icons against each of the criteria, the other doesn’t;
    • The Assessment Feedback form students receive

They would greatly appreciate your feedback on the layout / organization of these forms and your thoughts as to their usability. Please could you spend a few minutes completing the two short questionnaires (one for each form)?

Please note:

    1. These forms are only mock-ups, they are not the final version and so all the elements are not fully functional (for example the breadcrumb trail is only indicative)
    2. They are not yet fully responsive and are best viewed on full-sized screen rather than a tablet or mobile
    3. Some elements, such as icons are only indicative and not the final design
    4. You can not enter and save any text
    5. Hyperlinks to external sites (e.g. assessment regulations) are not active
    6. ‘Help’ text indicated by ? icon is indicative and still being worked on

Instructions

(You may find this easier to do with two screens – one to view the OAT prototype and one to respond to the questionnaire. The questionnaire can be completed on a mobile / tablet.)

    1. Please access the Mockup forms and select an option from the Prototype drop down menu to preview each form.
    2. Complete the questionnaire. Each form will take you about 10 minutes to complete:

Tutor form questionnaire

Student form questionnaire

Please note, the questionnaires will be open until Friday 10th May.