Students Staff

Elearning

August 20, 2018

[Service Alert] [Resolved] Problems affecting www.essex.ac.uk

Filed under: Corporate systems, Elearning, Email, FASER, Listen Again, Moodle, ORB, [Resolved], [Service Alert] — Samantha Thornton @ 8:36 am

Update: 20/08/2018 08:42am

The problem has now been fixed and you should have access these websites. The problem was traced to a network load balancer not behaving as expected.

If you are still experiencing problems, please contact the IT Helpdesk.

Original: 20/08/2018 8:36am

The following websites are currently unavailable:

  • Main website: www.essex.ac.uk
  • Moodle: moodle.essex.ac.uk
  • FASER: faser.essex.ac.uk
  • Email: email.essex.ac.uk
  • Listen Again: listenagain.essex.ac.uk

We are currently investigating the cause, and will update you as soon as service is restored.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

July 24, 2018

Making sense of modules in Moodle

Filed under: Elearning, Moodle — admin @ 11:53 am

For 2018-19 we plan to rationalise our approach to Moodle courses. We will be making changes to the creation, naming, and retirement of academic-related courses; and making further changes to how we handle module-based courses with multiple instances (eg. multiple campuses, multiple levels, multiple intakes). It is advised that anyone responsible for an academic-related Moodle course take the time to read this post.

With the planned retirement of the Online Resource Bank (ORB) Moodle will soon be our main platform for publishing learning resources. This will add to the 11,000 courses that are already hosted there.

That’s a lot of Moodle courses.

Whilst Moodle can cope with these large numbers it can get a bit confusing for those using the service, especially when someone is added to a course they don’t need, or when looking for a specific Moodle course and faced with multiple confusing options.

To try and reduce this confusion, we will be making several changes for 2018-19:

  1. We will automatically create a Moodle course for each module
    Historically, we have created Moodle courses on request, only setting them up when a department has asked.
    Going forward we will be automatically creating Moodle courses for all academic modules where one does not already exist. Teaching staff will then be given editing access to the relevant courses.
  2. Academic Moodle courses will use the full module or programme code
    We are seeing an increased number of modules which have multiple intakes within a single academic year. For example, modules which run on two campuses, or those which have both an October and May intake.
    To ensure that Moodle grabs the correct student cohort(s) at the correct time of year, we will be renaming module-based courses so that they include the full code-level-period-campus-year-sequence elements. This also reduces problems that some departments have with external LTI tools.
    Additionally, we will be adding support for programme-based Moodle courses, tied to a specific entry year, eg. CER B940JS16. Some departments run this type of Moodle course, and so this will also help ensure that the correct students have access.
  3. Academic Moodle courses will automatically set their title and visibility based on course records
    MyEssex, Enrol, FASER, and other services rely on student records to show the correct details for a module and, until now, Moodle has largely relied on these details being entered by hand.
    Using the full module code will allow us to automatically set a Moodle courses’ title, start and end dates, visibility to students, and summary based on information held in ESIS. This will help ensure that a Moodle course is visible to students at the start of their studies and that courses are shown in a consistent manner.
  4. We will be discouraging the use of multiple Moodle courses for a single module cohort
    A very small number of modules have multiple Moodle courses associated with them, for example, XX101 – Fishing (Sea fishing) and XX101 – Fishing (River fishing). This approach is often confusing for students, as they are presented with multiple courses and no clear idea which to tackle first.
    We will be discouraging this practice in the future, and instead steer departments towards having a single Moodle course per module. We will be reaching out to module supervisors affected by this, and discussing alternative approaches for the future.
    The exception to this are modules with multiple intakes per academic year; for example, modules running on multiple campuses, or those with an October and May intake. We understand that departments may wish to keep these cohorts completely separate. We will work with departments where this occurs, but our aim is for students to be presented with a single Moodle course per module studied.
  5. We will remove inactive courses
    Previously, we have been asked to create Moodle courses for one-off projects, or for a specific student intake (eg. XX101 – June 2014). These courses often end up forgotten about, with both their owners and audience moving on.
    To reduce the occurrence of these, we will start to remove courses that are inactive for a period of time. Courses will initially be moved to a special ‘graveyard’ category and have their titles changed to reflect their planned removal. In July of each year, the courses will be moved to the Moodle Archive server, where they will be held for a further four years before being deleted.

    • Academic-related courses will be removed one year after the module or programme is active. eg. a Moodle course set up for 2015-16 would be moved to the archive in July 2016-17 and ultimately deleted in July 2019-20.
    • Non-academic courses will be removed one year after the last interaction with the course, again this will be done in July.
    • Individual courses will be removed as soon as the individual leaves the University. eg. a practice course for a member of staff will be removed in the July following the end of their contract.

The ultimate aim of these measures are to ensure that students are presented with the correct Moodle course(s) at the correct point in their studies, to reduce the administrative overhead of maintaining a Moodle course, and to reduce the volume of support enquiries that these generate.

Staff do not need to do anything to enact these changes as they will be implemented automatically over the summer vacation, and through further discussion with those affected. If you’d like to take this as an opportunity to revamp your Moodle course, or learn more about the service; both the Technology Enhanced Learning and Learning Technology Teams are running training courses throughout the year. Simply log in to HR Organiser and search for ‘Moodle’.

Finally, if you’d like further information on these planned changes, please contact the Learning Technology Team.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

July 3, 2018

[Service alert] [Resolved] Moodle currently unavailable

Filed under: Elearning, Moodle, [Resolved], [Service Alert] — Samantha Thornton @ 9:21 am

Moodle is currently unavailable whilst essential maintenance is taking place.

Sites unavailable are:

  • moodle.essex.ac.uk
  • moodlex.essex.ac.uk
  • moodlearchive.essex.ac.uk

We will update this blog as soon as service is resumed.

Update: 10:15am:

Moodle has returned to service now and is available.

If you have any further issues access Moodle – Please contact the IT Helpdesk.

Apologies for the inconvenience caused.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

June 25, 2018

Moodle 3.5 Upgrade

Filed under: Elearning, Moodle, [Resolved], [Scheduled], [Service Alert] — John Maydew @ 1:26 pm

What’s happening?

Moodle will be unavailable from 9am Wednesday 18th July while we upgrade to the latest version (3.5+), make improvements to the hosting systems and create the 2017 archive. These upgrades will affect the following systems which will be inaccessible during the upgrade:

We expect that the upgrade will be completed before 5pm Wednesday 18th July when Moodle and MoodleX will be available again. Due to the nature of some of the changes, Moodle services will be considered at risk until Wednesday 25th July. This post will be updated as work progresses.

Need access to Moodle that day?

The 2017/18 Moodle Archive will be made available early, on Friday 13th July, so that students studying for exams will still have access to their learning resources. The archive will be acessible from https://moodlearchive.essex.ac.uk once it has been created.

What can I expect?

Moodle 3.5+ includes improved question tagging, updated global search and improved privacy management tools, alongside the usual bug fixes and security patches. The 3.5+ upgrade will also include changes from Moodle 3.4; for more information you can read the release notes for both versions here:

Additionally we’re making improvements to how Moodle works behind-the-scenes, which should improve Moodle’s performance overall

Updates

  • 2018-07-13
  • 2018-07-18
    • 09:00 Moodle has been taken offline. The 2017 archive is still available at the above address
    • 09:50 Issues affecting the 2017 Moodle archive have now been resolved
    • 13:38 Normal service to Moodle and MoodleX has been resumed
The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

June 14, 2018

Moodle security update

Filed under: Elearning, Moodle, [Resolved], [Service Alert] — John Maydew @ 11:45 am

Moodle will be temporarily unavailable from 12:00 midday today (June 14th) while we apply a patch for a critical security vulnerability.

The following services will be affected:

  • Moodle (https://moodle.essex.ac.uk)
  • MoodleX (https://moodlex.essex.ac.uk)

The update will take less than a minute to complete, and normal service will resume afterwards.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

 

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