Category Archives: Scheduled maintenance

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

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. 

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.

 

 

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. As a result of this refresh we can expect to see a faster, more stable platform with fewer outages and down time, and improved capacity to manage demand during peak usage periods. MyBlog is now fully incorporated into IT’s Systems Refresh and Patching Programme so that the platform’s infrastructure will be maintained as part of a planned and managed life-cycle.

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.

We have also included real-time Antivirus scanning of file uploads to help protect against malicious viruses and other malware.

A new look and feel

We have refreshed the 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.

 

 

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

New Servers for OAT – 20th March

The current servers for OAT are old and out of date. To maintain the performance and security of OAT, IT Services will be migrating OAT to new servers on 20th March 2018 and will take a full day to do the necessary work.

OAT will be taken out of service for the day whilst the work is carried out.  We have tried to schedule the work for when the least number of people will be needing to use OAT but acknowledge that some people will be affected by this maintenance work. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.