Changes to Moodle for 2016/17

The Moodle recharge event took place on Tuesday 27 June for those that couldn’t attend a brief summary of what went on can be found below.

This summer lots of changes are taking place so we split attendees up into four rooms and got them to rotate round to each room.  We asked everyone to give us feedback on the changes and the padlet is still open if you would like to comment.



New Features

Adding links to Echo recordings will change with a plugin making it easier for students and teachers to view recordings – see our online guide.

Reading lists will now be added using the External Tool or reading list blocks – see our online guide.

There are lots of new features for Moodle 3.1 – see our website for more details and new guides will be created over the summer.  In addition to our usual Moodle training before the start of term we are also offering bespoke training sessions for departments.  If you would be interested in this please get in contact (

New themes

The look of Moodle is changing to be more modern and in line with the new LSE website.

LTI are working on getting the Moodle mobile app ready for 2017/18.  The app can be downloaded from itunes or Google play and more information will be made available on our website over the summer.


Turnitin have also made changes to their theme and on 1 August will introduce the Turnitin Feedback Studio which featuers a user-friendly interface, with a responsive design that is compatible with a wide range of devices.  More information about the changes can be found on our website.

My Feedback & Moodle archive

My Feedback is a feature that has been developed by UCL to improve access to assessment and feedback for students and staff.  One single view for all Moodle activities with marks and feedback.  The report will be combined with a live archive of Moodle so that users can view marks and feedback from previous years.  There will be a variety of options for staff with different roles gaining an overview of students marks and feedback.

Coursework  has been created by the Royal Veterinary College to enable more online and assessment and feedback options in Moodle.  LTI will be working on making it compatible with LSE Moodle for individual pilot projects in 2017/18.  Features include: double blind marking, sample marking, sampling workflows, personal deadline and no deadline assignments.  If you are interested in piloting this please contact

Moodle labs & Moodle Audit

Moodle labs is a live instance of the most current version of Moodle which is available for LTI Spark or Ignite funded projects.



The Moodle Audit took place in March 2017.  LTI went through the methods and overall findings of the independent review.  Individual results will go out to each department in July for review with recommendations for improving your courses.



Next steps

Each department will be sent the results of the Moodle audit.  We are currently working on new guides and case studies to go on our website ready for the start of term.  We will be running bespoke Moodle training for departments – if you are interested in setting something up then please get in contact (

The Moodle refresh will take place on Tuesday 15 August for the majority of courses and Tuesday 12 September for courses used to collect dissertation submissions.  On these dates Moodle will be unavailable all day and students must ensure that they have downloaded any materials they would like to keep before these dates.  If you would like your course not to be included in the annual refresh then please let us know as soon as possible (email  More information about the Moodle refresh is on our website.


June 28th, 2017|Announcements, Events & Workshops (LTI), Moodle, Projects, Roundup, Show and tell, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Changes to Moodle for 2016/17|

The way you link to reading lists in Moodle is changing

After we upgrade Moodle to version 3.1 this summer, one of the ways you currently link to reading lists won’t work. The integration between Talis Aspire and Moodle was written by the University of Kent and has not been updated to work with the new system.

How can I tell if I need to make changes?

If your reading lists bear this icon:  then they will no longer work after Tuesday 15th August

Instead, you will need to use one of the following methods:

June 20th, 2017|Announcements, Moodle|Comments Off on The way you link to reading lists in Moodle is changing|

Moodle recharge

Following on from our post back in February on our plans for Moodle we will be holding an event for all Moodle editors on Tuesday 27 June from 3-4pm to give everyone a sneak peak of the changes that will taking place this August in time for the new academic year.

Image from @XarxanetTecnMoodle is getting a recharge for 2017/18.  In addition to the usual refresh of all courses we will be upgrading to version 3.1.  On the 27 June we will be going through some of the new features that we think editors will be most interested in and unveil our new theme for the platform.  We will also share the results of our Moodle audit and invite Moodle editors to try out our new features ‘my feedback’ and Moodle labs.


New features
Moodle 3.1 features improvements to the layout, course editing, course administration, grading, and activities.  We will go through some of the more significant changes plus give attendees a chance to try out our new interactive guides.


Moodle theme

LTI will be changing the look of Moodle to be more in line with the LSE website. We will give LSE Moodle editors a sneak preview of the new theme.



Moodle Audit

In March 2017 LTI carried out/commissioned an independent review of a sample of LSE Moodle courses from across all the departments.  Approximately 22% of all courses were reviewed using three different metrics – the 3E framework (Enhance, Extend, Empower), an overall classification and a traffic light Red, Amber, Green system.  We will be sharing the findings of this audit and promoting some of the good practice that was discovered as a result.  Individual reports will also be made available for departments which highlight areas or issues that were cause for concern or need attention.


Moodle labs

A separate instance of Moodle that features the latest release for teachers to test out new approaches to teaching and is available for LTI grant projects.





My feedback

Developed by and rolled out successfully at UCL.  My feedback allows students and staff a single view of all Moodle grades and feedback.




To reserve a place at the Moodle recharge event please book via the LSE Training and Development system.

More information about the Moodle refresh for 2017/18 can be found on the LTI website.

If you have any questions about the Moodle refresh or recharge email

Our plans for Moodle

This summer we’ll be using Moodle 3.1. It includes support for Competency Based Education, improvements to assignment grading, a Recycle Bin to help you retrieve deleted files, and enhancements to the Forum.

Other institutions have been using it for more than a year and we’re confident it’s stable. It’s a Long Term Support release, meaning security problems will be addressed regularly until May 2019.

The next Long Term Support release will be Moodle 3.5, and we plan to upgrade LSE Moodle to that version in summer 2018.

Why so serious?

Why don’t we upgrade at the same rate that new versions are released?

LSE Moodle is a mission-critical system, and we want it to be available 24/7. Upgrades are disruptive; taking Moodle offline for a day in reading week or during the exam period isn’t an option. New features can also be risky because they’re not tested to the standards we require.

But we’re keen to learn how you want to use Moodle to teach and to learn. This is why we’ve launched MoodleLabs, an instance of Moodle that will always run the current major release of the software.

So if you’re in receipt of an LTI grant and want to make use of a feature that isn’t yet available on LSE Moodle, you can use MoodleLabs instead.

February 10th, 2017|Announcements, Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Our plans for Moodle|

Copyright, reading lists and Moodle

Copyright guide coverJust before the start of term there was some exciting news in the world of copyright, when the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA)’s new higher education licence was launched. Also importantly the limit of 5% of a work has been increased to 10% – hurray I hear you say! In case you didn’t know, the CLA licence is what covers you to make photocopies for students for use in teaching, it’s a blanket licence, but there are some important limits and exclusions. The licence also covers scanning, and for many years we have offered a highly efficient Epack service (now called Scanned Readings service) in the library. So why do we do this?

Well partly, because scanning readings under the CLA Licence has certain terms and conditions that must be followed such as the requirement to report every scan we deliver to students annually to the CLA. You also need to check if material is covered by the licence, and make sure you don’t copy more than one chapter from a book, one journal article from an issue or 10% of the work – which ever is greater applies. So it’s really important that staff use the Scanned Readings service so we can stay compliant with our CLA Licence. Did you know we pay a little over £7 per full time student for the licence each year, but that money is in fact returned to the authors and publishers of the work? If you write books and articles you should make sure you have registered with the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) as you’ll see some of that money (which compensates you for possible loss of sales) returned to you.

In addition, the Library have started using a new service delivered by the CLA with the British Library, so host the readings on a Digital Content Store, so you simply need to add links to the files from Moodle. It simplifies things but also helps ensure we can get access to readings that might have been scanned at other universities, and ultimately it will improve the quality of the readings. Please don’t think it saves time and effort by scanning readings or using PDFs you download from e-journals in Moodle. It’s breaking copyright laws but also ultimately not demonstrating to students how to use content ethically, that rewards and gives credit to the original author. And using the Reading List system is also the best way to help direct students to the resources we already pay for. If you would like to find out more about how it works with Moodle, then do get in touch with your Academic Support Librarian.

compositing the creative commons by qthomasbowerIf you are baffled by copyright and would like to find out more, then please do consider coming along to a copyright workshop we run each term, where through playing Copyright the Card Game, you can develop and test out your copyright knowledge. The next session is on Monday 14th November. Additionally if you have any queries you are also welcome to attend the Copyright Community of Practice, which runs every month, and is an informal forum for those interested in discussing copyright matters. Or you can drop a line to LTI’s Copyright and Digital Literacy Advisor, Dr Jane Secker (email, who will be more than happy to test her own knowledge to help you figure out your copyright conundrum. So don’t just copy, copy it right, and don’t be scared of copyright, after all it offers you as an author a lot of protection, and by learning more about the law you can understand what is possible for teaching and research.

November 2nd, 2016|Announcements, copyright, Digital Literacy, Events & Workshops (LTI), Moodle, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on Copyright, reading lists and Moodle|

Maths quizzes in Moodle using Maple TA

maths-by-ajc1-on-flickrLTI have a one year site licence for Maple TA for this academic year.

Maple TA is an online testing and assessment software designed especially for quantitative disciplines that involve the use of maths and statistics.  It has many features including:

  • integration with Moodle;
  • visualisation of mathematical problems;
  • automatically generating questions;
  • free response answers for questions that have more than one correct answer;
  • automatic marking and the provision of instant feedback;
  • adaptive testing with individualised question paths.

If you are interested in using MapleTA for your course or just want to find out more email

October 11th, 2016|Announcements, eAssessment News, Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Maths quizzes in Moodle using Maple TA|

Musings on Moodle part 3 – Embedding Moodle activities into your face to face teaching

light_cmyk by Helen Page for LTI

Light for LTI by Helen Page

Students are expected to do a substantial amount of their learning outside of the classroom and technology such as Moodle can be used to engage with resources and carry out active learning.  All too often staff and students use Moodle to simply access and download material.  However good use of the different activities and features can enable more interaction outside of class in order prepare students for in class activities and support students to develop peer learning.

Embedding Moodle activities into your face to face teaching can be aided by introducing them at the outset and referring to activities in lectures and classes.  Student engagement can be encouraged by ensuring that activities relate to course content, referring to readings, lecture content and seminar discussions.  Participation should be expected (set out as a course requirement) and contributions should be encouraged and supported through teacher engagement.  Some examples of successful activities used at LSE include;

Pre-course discussion activities:

These help start to develop a learning community but also get students used to contributing and participating online.

Ice breaker
Students are asked to introduce themselves and say a bit about their background and why they are interested in studying the topic.

Resource discussion
Students are required to watch a short film clip or other relevant resource and post some thoughts about it onto a group discussion forum before the first lecture.

Preparation for lectures and seminars:

These encourage early engagement with course readings and help students to be more prepared for face to face discussions and activities.  Participation can be encouraged by making contributions count towards assessment.

Blog posts
Students have to write one blog post in response to the allocated week’s readings.  All students should visit the blog before coming to class and make a comment on the entry posted for that week.  The blog entries are then viewed at the start of the seminar each week before moving on to a more general discussion of the week’s topic.

Require students to post or even record presentations before class. Other students must come ready with questions.

Discussion forums
Teachers can post answers to common queries and reach the entire cohort or class rather than having to send multiple individual emails.  Relevant items of interest can be posted by teachers, talks, news items, interviews and students can be encouraged to share their own questions and discussion topics.

Collaborative (students as producers) activities:

These encourage students to apply their learning to create and collaborate.  Asking students to re-contextualise or critically evaluate theory and concepts develops deep learning skills.     

Students work in groups or individually to write wiki entries.

Students are asked to add glossary entries.  These can be definitions of key concepts or relevant images, videos or news stories.

Assessment and feedback:

the majority of activities already mentioned can be used as part of a formative or summative assessment but there are also specific activities that enable e-assessment.

These can be used to diagnostic purposes before courses start or to test understanding of key concepts at various stages throughout a course.  Feedback can be given immediately within Moodle so students can complete at their own pace and reassess understanding as many times as they want. Common areas of misunderstanding can be reviewed in seminars and lectures.

Peer assessment and feedback
Students are required to submit an assignment online and then use marking guidelines and or rubrics to grade and give feedback to a peer. Teachers review the work and feedback.  Final marks take into account the peer feedback and the peer marking activity.  Students gain a greater understanding of the marking process and find marking another’s work allows them to reflect on their own assessment.

Collective feedback
Teachers provide collective feedback for the cohort/class that goes over some common mistakes and provides model answers.  Feedback can be given via video, audio, or text.  Model answers can be annotated to illustrate links to marking guidelines or learning outcomes.

Course evaluation and student feedback:

Allows teachers to find out what students views on what worked and what can be improved.  Activities can be used in conjunction with course restrictions to ensure engagement, for example students cannot upload an assignment until they have completed the activity.

These can be used to gain feedback on your own teaching.  Responses from students can be anonymous.

Quick poll
These can be used to answer one specific question.  Students can only see the overall responses once they have submitted their individual answer.

Hot topic
Students can post questions for lectures and rate each other’s questions.

To see more examples of embedding Moodle activities into face to face teaching see our Moodle portal.  If you have any queries or questions about how you can use Moodle in your teaching see our Moodle guides, book a training session or contact;


October 4th, 2016|Assessment, Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Musings on Moodle part 3 – Embedding Moodle activities into your face to face teaching|

Musings on Moodle part 2 – layout and design

Computer_CMYK design for LTI by Helen PageAs the previous blog post in this series indicated students often experience dissatisfaction with inconsistencies among layouts and types of information provided on Moodle courses.  With over 1,307 standard Moodle courses and an additional 172 Summer School courses on Moodle there is a huge variety in approaches to using Moodle.  The most common complaint that students have is not being able to find material.  Setting up a well structured course design can avoid this problem.



Clear signposting

Your course should have an intuitive logical structure, this can be linked to the course structure (course topics) or face to face teaching (week 1,week 2) but it should be consistent and easy to navigate.  Keep assessment information in one place and use clear titles and labels (see more on labels below).   You may want to include a simple statement on how students are expected to use the course or particular resources and activities.

Avoid the ‘scroll of death’

Moodle courses can all too often develop into extremely long page of resources and activities with users finding they have to scroll down and endlessly search to find anything.  Several of the new themes such as ‘collapsed topics’ or ‘grid’ format help to signpost and divide up your Moodle course in easy to navigate sections.  (A guide to different Moodle formats can be found on our Moodle portal).

Use labels
It is always worth using labels to identify different aspects of your course.  Labels can be images as well as text, remember to use creative commons images and attribute appropriately.  When providing titles for resources and activities make sure they are clear, consistent and work out of context, generic titles like ‘summative assessment’ can cause confusion.

Make it accessible

Any images should contain a description for screen readers.  Different colours and fonts can be useful to make distinctions between information but make sure they can be read clearly and will work on all devices.  Check out the Government Digital Service guide on the ‘Dos and don’ts on designing for accessibility’. When adding files or links make sure that you select ‘automatic’ for the display option under appearance settings to allow for pop up blockers or devices that will not download files.

Remove clutter

A cluttered course can be difficult to navigate.  You may want to use the book or lesson activities to group resources together.  Make sure that you update your course each year, are the resources from 3 years ago still relevant?  Do the links to external resources still work?

Apply restrictions

Access restrictions can hide and then reveal activities so students cannot progress until they have met certain requirements.

Groups and groupings can ensure that students only see material that is relevant to them.  Class groups are created automatically from timetable information so using the groups option in activities allows teachers to view student participation by each of their class group.

Activity completion
One way signpost the suggested or compulsory activities on your course is to use the activity completion feature.  If you can combine this with course completion it provides students with a clear indication of how they are progressing on the course and can give you a quick snapshot of how students are engaging on the course.

Mix it up

Using a variety of resources; images, video, tv, web, audio, can keep students interested and engaged in course content.  Alternative formats can allow for different approaches to study (listening to a podcast on the commute) and help students to apply concepts and theories from classes and lectures to real world case studies and develop critical thinking skills.

Similarly a mixture of activities can develop students understanding and indicate that they are expected to be active learners. See post 3 for more details on how to embed moodle activities into your face to face teaching.

To see some examples of good Moodle design see our Moodle portal.

September 27th, 2016|Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Musings on Moodle part 2 – layout and design|

Musings on Moodle Part 1 – the standardisation or baseline debate

Over the Summer LTI had a lively email discussion on the pros and cons of Moodle baselines and the issues raised prompted this series of blog posts on making more of Moodle.

I've got a clan of gingerbread men by Poppy on Flickr_z Ways to standardise the VLE

Some institutions use a baseline or template to ensure that all courses have a bare minimum of features and some degree of consistency on the layout and content.  For example, UCL introduced a baseline in 2011 after consultation with students indicated that they found inconsistencies with layout, navigation and types of information available on Moodle.  York St John University introduced University wide minimum expectations in 2015.  Research into sector wide opinions and approaches to baselines carried out by Peter Reed at Liverpool University indicated that there are three common approaches to creating standardised VLE’s (simple checklists, detailed checklists, and detailed rubrics).

What to include?

Peter Reed’s (2015) research indicates a growing number of UK HE institutions have opted for some kind of standardisation of the VLE (of the 24 institutions that responded 75% already had some form of minimum standard and 25% were looking to introduce some minimum standards 21 March 2014,  But then the obvious question is what a best practice VLE should look like?  Internal surveys at Liverpool indicated that while staff and students often favoured the introduction of minimum standards there was some inconsistency regarding what should be included in a course.  Students appeared to be most interested in accessing quite practical course information and resources (Lecture Notes (95%); Past Exam Papers (93%); Further Reading (88%); Timetables (86%); Module Leader Contact Details (83%)) rather than learning activities.  However analysis of what students do on the VLE has indicated that when such material are available they are not always accessed.  Which brings us neatly to the main issue that LTI have with introducing a baseline or checklist at LSE;

Simply including certain tools or resources on a Moodle course does not guarantee that they will be used, either by students or staff.  

Every Moodle course could be automatically set up with a discussion forum (just as the course announcements feature is a default in all courses) but simply having a discussion forum available does not mean that it will be used well or at all.  Measuring how well tools are used is fairly difficult to ascertain but analysis of how much tools are used indicates that currently discussion forums are often set up and then remain empty.


Improving the learning experience

Over the years LTI have debated the pros and cons of developing a template or best practice for Moodle courses and have researched the differencing opinions across the sector.  As learning technologists the LTI team are most interested in using technology to enhance teaching and learning.  Devising a long list of requirements for every course can easily turn into a bureaucratic tick box exercise that adds more to teachers workloads than improving students experience of Moodle.  A good learning experience needs to consider the design of the course i.e. navigation, usability, consistency etc. (see post 2) and how activities can be used to contribute to the learning objectives (see post 3).

Although a baseline can be useful, especially for online only courses, LSE Moodle editors currently have the freedom to choose the structure and content of their Moodle courses and LTI encourage best practice and offer training, advice and guides on using Moodle.  The best way to ensure that a Moodle course is well used is for the teacher to be engaged with the editing to ensure that it is relevant and useful for students.

See our guides on how to use Moodle for teaching and book a one to one training session via the training and development system.


Peter Reed Staff & student perspectives on introducing minimum standards VLE, November 12 2013
‘Hygiene factors: Using VLE minimum standards to avoid student dissatisfaction’ Peter Reed and Simon Watmough E-Learning and Digital Media, January 2015 vol. 12 no. 1 68-89.  Published online January 29, 2015, doi: 10.1177/2042753014558379



September 20th, 2016|Moodle, Reports & Papers, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Musings on Moodle Part 1 – the standardisation or baseline debate|

Making more of Moodle

Education Reform by on Flickr_zHere within LTI and in the wider learning technology community there has been a longstanding debate on how to make more of Moodle and ensure that it is used to it’s full potential as a learning tool.  In an ideal world the VLE(1), in our case Moodle, plays an essential part in the learning process, allowing students to go at their own pace through material, test their understanding of key concepts or theories, work with others to develop and produce content, gain feedback on their progress and build a learning community.  Online course features should interweave with face to face teaching, link to the course learning outcomes and follow a clear sequence of activities which build on each other and are referred to in lectures and classes.  That is how it could be used, but how is it currently used at LSE and what can we do to improve things?

In these three blog posts I have explored the issue of how we can make more of Moodle.  These short Musings on Moodle are grouped under the three themes of standardisation, layout and design and embedding Moodle activities into face to face teaching. 

Part 1 – the standardisation or baseline debate

Part 2 – layout and design

Part 3 – embedding Moodle activities into face to face teaching


(1) Virtual learning environments (VLE’s) are online interactive platforms that are designed to support educational courses, by providing a consistent way for staff and students to store and access resources and tools.  These online learning spaces allow teachers and students flexible access to material and provide ways of communicating and assessing collaboratively and individually.  Here at LSE we use Moodle as our VLE with the aim that it will support ‘blended learning’, (a combination of online and face to face learning).

September 20th, 2016|Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Making more of Moodle|