Category Archives: Moodle

Moodle Communications Delays

Update, 14/10/10, 11:30am:

The Digital Learning team is pleased to report there was improvement in Moodle email services over the weekend and there are no longer any reported delays in sending email alerts using Announcements or Forums. If you do experience a delay, please email dlsupport@arts.ac.uk. If you previously submitted a ticket on this issue, please quote your original ticket number.

Update, 11/10/19, 2pm:

On Thursday, IT Services identified a configuration issue that they believe was causing a bottleneck with emails generated from Announcements and Forums which delayed the delivery of emails. We are fairly certain that Quickmail emails were not impacted.

A fix was applied and Digital Learning Support carried out a number of tests on Thursday afternoon. Testing indicated that the fix had rectified the problem and emails from Announcements and Forums were being sent and delivered within a few minutes.

The testing done on Thursday was with sites that had fewer users (less than 100). While Digital Learning Support can’t rehearse what will happen on sites with large cohorts. we will continue to monitor the situation over the next few days. We fully expect that users should expect delivery times to improve over the weekend.

While we continue with monitoring over the next few days, we would still advise students to log into Moodle regularly to check announcements and forum information. We sent an alert through the MyUAL app to students with this advice.

A further update will be issued early next week.

If you continue to experience any problems that you think might be related to this issue please contact dlsupport@arts.ac.uk .If you previously submitted a ticket regarding this issue, please be sure to quote your ticket number. 

Update, 10/10/19, 11am:

We are aware some users have been experiencing delays with email communications through Moodle. We believe emails are now being sent but there is a significant delay in users receiving them. Digital Learning Support and Web Services are continuing to investigate the root cause of this issue. We will continue to update staff through Canvas and the Digital Learning News blog when we have further information.

Original post:

We are aware some users have been experiencing delays with email communications through Moodle.  We believe emails are now being sent but there is a significant delay in users receiving them.

Digital Learning Support and Web Services are continuing to investigate the root cause of this issue.

We will update this post again when we have more information.

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. 

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.

 

 

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 comes home!

A final update on this project.

On Tuesday 3rd July we carried out the final synchronization of data between our and ULCC’s Moodle and pointed moodle.arts.ac.uk to UAL servers, making Moodle live on our own systems.
A number of issues were identified, which we were not able to test during the development or User Acceptance Testing stage. A summary of these issues is below, but they are all now resolved.  (As part of the work, we have increased the security of Moodle and this will prevent embedded content from displaying in certain circumstances. Details of this, and how to manage the problem is at the bottom of this blog post.)
The other good news is that the Web Services team have successfully recruited to the post of VLE Application Support Analyst and Fardin Amiri is due to start with the Web Services team, 7 August. Fardin will be a great boost to the team, providing vital resource to support the in-house provision of our Moodle platform.
That’s not the end for Moodle: we still have the SITS integration and the 2018/19 rollover scheduled next week. We are, however, in a strong, and exciting position in terms of what we can now consider to do to continue improving the experience and service for all staff and students that rely so much on Moodle for teaching and learning.

Summary of issues:

  • Loss of connection to Blackboard Collaborate: Resolved
  • Unable to send external emails: Resolved
  • Course list not displaying correct hierarchy. Resolved
  • SSO for Workflow and MyBlog not working Resolved
  • Un-enrolling users – In Progress this is not a bug or an issue with Moodle but related to the SITS project. This will be resolved when we switch on the data feeds from SITS next week.
  • New student applicants not showing as enrolled in Moodle: – In Progress – this is not a bug or an issue with Moodle but related to the SITS project. The Registry team are still working on enrolling new applicants in SITS and this work is expected to be complete by the end of July ready for pre-sessional activities in Moodle starting in August.

Embedded Content

As part of moving Moodle in house we have also increased Moodle’s security and implemented https.  Content that has been embedded in Moodle sites using iframes may not display if the content comes from a third party webiste which doesn’t allow or support https.

It’s important to note that this is not Moodle or the UAL environment which is preventing this from working – it’s actually the browser.  The reason for this behaviour is that it’s seen as a security risk to mix http and https content in one page.

As many browsers are now moving to support https many websites will be converting their sites accordingly, so this problem will gradually be less and less of a problem. If embedded content isn’t working because https isn’t supported, then the only option is to use a regular link to point to the content, rather then embed it into a Moodle site.

Moodle is now fully back in service and colleagues are able to edit their course sites. If there are any issues or problems in using Moodle that you feel have arisen from this recent work, please do report these to dlsupport@arts.ac.uk for the team to investigate.

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 dlsupport@arts.ac.uk 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.

DO NOT IMPORT THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES: 

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

UPDATE AND CHECK THE FOLLOWING:

  • 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 dlsupport@arts.ac.uk .

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.

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.