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Moodle Upgrade 2021


 

Moodle development July 23: What’s new?

IT Services and the E-Learning Team upgraded the College Moodle service during July 21-23 2021.  The primary objective of this work was to ensure the continued security and stability of the service.  The upgrade - to version 3.10 of Moodle - also delivered a range of significant enhancements, which can be described in terms of accessibility, usability, engagement and assessment.

In addition to the upgrade, the Moodle service will be improved and extended by new tools, as requested by Schools and academic departments.  These will be rolled out throughout August and September 2021.

The changes are categorised and summarised below (* denotes rollout date TBC).

Accessibility

Ally*

Ally is a content accessibility checking and advisory service.  Ally allows College to improve the accessibility of learning materials in Moodle to benefit a wide range of students and support academic and professional staff in meeting our legal duties.

Find out more about ALLY

Improved Screen Reader performance

As part of a successful project to achieve WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility compliance, developers at Moodle HQ have made a number of relatively small changes to the Atto text editor.  These add up to a significantly improved experience for those who use screen readers to access their learning resources and activities.

Image descriptions

Course Editors remain obliged to provide descriptive alt-text for any images they upload to Moodle.  There is now the option to declare images that do not convey meaning as ‘decorative’, which allows screen readers to move quickly past them.

Alt-text descriptions are now limited to 125 characters, to encourage brevity and again quicken the pace of screen readers.

Learn more about alt-text and how to write effective descriptions for your images.

 

Usability

Prominent course editing button

The course editing button is no longer hidden in the tools menu.  Moodle Course Editors can switch on editing with one mouse-click of the highly visible ‘Turn editing on’ button.  It can be found at the top-right handside of any Moodle course page.

Screenshot of the prominent 'Turn Editing on' button in Moodle

Activity chooser

The activity chooser – accessed via ‘Add an activity or resource’ links – has been redesigned and is presented in a table.  Course Editors can now:

  • Search for activities and resource types
  • Filter their view of items
  • Create a list of ‘starred’ favourites
  • Learn about each activity and resource type

Screenshot of the new Moodle Activity Chooser

 

Participants page loading and filtering

To improve engagement tracking, the participants page for each Moodle course has been improved and now offers quicker loading times (for larger classes) and powerful filtering.

For example, Course Editors and Manager can easily run reports on users by any or all of the following:

  • Role
  • Name
  • Group membership
  • Specific periods of inactivity

Screenshot of Moodle course participantslist with filters on

Dates*

This plug-in provides the means to quickly view and edit the hand-in dates for all course activities on a single page.  It is accessed via each course’s Administration block.

 

Engagement

Talis Elevate*

Talis Elevate is an online annotation tool and aims to:

  • Improve the delivery of resources (including text, images &video) to students
  • Support and encourage collaboration
  • Provide analytics, enabling teachers to adjust their teaching based on student interactions with resources
  • Facilitate personal note taking tool for students

Possible applications

  • Rewriting a piece of writing to reflect the opposite political viewpoint
  • Resource for pre-, in- and post-seminar discussions
  • Gauging and acting upon students' readiness for seminars
  • Platform for decolonising the curriculum

Try out Talis Elevate in the Flexible Education Moodle course

Mentimeter*

This plug-in for PowerPoint and MS Teams can increase engagement through the use of activities such as short quizzes, word clouds, Q&As

Find out more about Mentimeter

ReEngagement*

This plug-in provides a way to remind students to return to a course and complete activities, such as discussion forums or assignments.

A Course Editor can define how long they expect learners to take to complete an activity.  Moodle then sends scheduled & personalised e-mails to nudge those who are yet to complete the activity.

Open Forum*

This plug-in extends the existing forum activity and is designed to increase engagement by providing a modern and responsive interface – similar to that found on social media platforms.  Key features include the following:

  • Reading & replying are executed on the same page
  • Private replies are enabled
  • Anonymous posting can be enabled by Course Editors

 

Assessment

Moodle Assignment integration with Panopto

The Moodle Assignment tool is now linked to Panopto Assignment folders. This creates a single space for the discreet submission and marking of multimedia assignments.  The benefits include the following:

  • Improved user experience for students, markers and administrators
  • Overcomes the file size limitations imposed by Moodle
  • Integrated reporting for multimedia assignments (via Business Objects)
  • College support for diversifying assessment types
  • Reduces the risk of staff reverting to 3rd parties such as Dropbox

Moodle integration with One Drive Repository*

Integrating Moodle with the College’s OneDrive service will support portfolio submission.  The benefits of this include:

  • Students can submit large, multi-part, multimedia files
  • With storage capacity of 1TB per student, this overcomes Moodle’s file upload limitations
  • College support for diversifying assessment types

Improvements to the Quiz activity

Numerous improvements have been made to the quiz activity.  The highlights include the following:

  • Ability to set a maximum file size for files submitted to Essay questions
  • Activity completion for quizzes can now be based upon a specified number of attempts
  • Improved responsiveness of drag-and-drop questions when attempted on mobile devices

Random Assignment*

This plug-in is intended to support large classes and to reduce opportunities for collusion.  It enhances and extends the existing Assignment activity by:

  • Allowing Course Editors to upload any number of files, e.g., problem sheets and solutions
  • Randomly allocating files to students
  • Displaying student responses and solution files to markers

 

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