Author Archives: Andreea-Diana Stan

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.




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

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


(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.



Myblog theme update

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.



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.


Tackling Course Site Design in Moodle

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.

  1. Sustainability – i.e. not relying on technologies that would rapidly date, or advanced skills and knowledge;
  2. Scaleability – ideas had to be sympathetic to demands of large courses and student cohorts.
  3. Responsive – course sites must respond to smaller screen sizes of mobile devices
  4. Reducing complexity


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:

  • Reduce scrolling
  • 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 (  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 ( who will include you in any communications.

Preparing Courses for the next Academic Year

The 18/19 course sites are expected to be available in Moodle from July 12th ready for you to prepare for the next academic year.  Below you can find useful information that will help you copy content across from your existing course area to your 18/19 site. Please do take note of the activities (listed at the end of this post) which must not be copied between course sites.

  • New Courses Created
    New ‘EMPTY’ 18/19 courses will be automatically created in Moodle.
  • Students Enrolment
    Students will be automatically enrolled onto their 18/19 Programme, Course, Year Course and units based on the information held in SITS.
    Students will see their 18/19 courses in Moodle as soon as they enrol in August/ September
  • Staff Enrolment/Removal
    We will enrol staff onto the 18/19 courses in Moodle based on current staff enrolments on 17/18 courses.
    If you would like to be unenrolled please email with a list of courses.
  • Previous Course Access
    16/17 and 17/18 courses in Moodle will remain active and available to all staff and students enrolled on them
    15/16 courses will be switched off.

To copy content from your 17/18 site to your 18/19 site…

  • Copy 17/18 Course ID
  • Import 17/18 course content into 18/19 course.


  • Turnitin
  • Bb Collaborate
  • News Forum
  • Moodle Assignments
  • Database
  • Glossary


  • Hide/Show Topic Sections
  • Check hyperlinks
  • Add/Remove Staff
  • Check course structure is correct

For a more in depth information please visit: Preparing Courses for the New Academic Year site on Moodle. If you do not have access to this site and you are responsible for adding content to your course site please email .

Please note that there is a scheduled downtime in July for Moodle, necessary to complete the transition to the UAL hosting.  Moodle will be available, but users should note that if any critical issues arise during UAT and the decision is made to roll back and not change our hosting arrangements  all changes made in Moodle during these dates will be lost and not recoverable. More information on our previous blog post Moving Moodle Hosting to UAL.

Moodle Hosting

The work on moving Moodle hosting to UAL has progressed very smoothly and we are now in the final stages of the project.  This week colleagues across the colleges are testing the new Moodle environment to check the integrity of their course sites, course content and enrollments. The next step will be to take Moodle out of service so that we can switch the hosting environment. Important information about how this will impact you is detailed below:

  • Tuesday 3rd July: Moodle out of service all day. If you try to log into Moodle you will see an ‘Under Maintenance’ screen.
  • Wednesday 4th July: Moodle out of service until approximately 3.00 pm. When we turn the service back on access will be almost instant within the UAL network, but can take about 24 hours to be globally available.
  • Friday 6th July: final decision to either continue with UAL hosting or roll back to former hosting arrangement.
  • Monday 9th July: Moodle back in service

IMPORTANT: Wednesday 4th July – Friday 6th July: Whilst we are confident the switching to the new  hosting environment will be seamless,  we strongly advise that users refrain from making any major changes or edits to their course content during these few days. During this period the DLSupport team will be checking and monitoring the new environment to ensure  performance and reliability is as expected. Should anything critical  arise that means we need to roll back to our former hosting arrangements and any changes made to Moodle course sites will be lost.

Workflow Upgrade

Following consultation with colleges, work to upgrade Workflow is scheduled for 11th and12th September 2018. During the upgrade Workflow will be taken down and will not be available to colleagues or students. We apologize for the inconvenience, but the upgrade is essential to keep the platform in line with the most stable release of the software and to maintain platform performance and security.

View and test out the new version

If you would like to test the new version of Workflow and feedback to us before the sign off, please visit and email any feedback to

Time Scales

  • Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 September 2018 – Workflow upgrade*
  • Thursday 13 September 2018 – Workflow will be back online for User Acceptance Testing**
  • Friday 14 September 2018 – Workflow upgrade sign off**

The Digital Learning Support team are currently upgrading the dev environment so that we can analyze any new features or changes to functionality. Digital Learning support will issue guidance about any key differences prior to the end of the Summer term.

*During this time Workflow will be taken down and will not be available to colleagues or students.

**Although Workflow will be available to use on these days, it is still ‘at risk’. We advise that colleagues and students do not make any critical edits to Workflow sites during this ‘at risk’ period as any changes are likely to be lost should problems arise requiring us to roll back to the current version of the software. We will put up a message in Workflow during the ‘at risk’ period to warn users of this.


NO Moodle UPGRADES scheduled for this summer

As you might have already read in one of our previous posts, Moodle hosting is planned to move in-house this July. There will be a necessary downtime in order for the full transition to be completed, but please note that there is no Moodle upgrade scheduled for this summer. Once the hosting transition is complete Moodle will continue to look and work the same way as before.

For more details regarding the move of Moodle hosting and the downtime dates, please read our previous post – Moving Moodle Hosting to UAL.