Friday, 9 November 2012

My time as the BLE Officer - by Clare Downes

Wednesday 25th July 2012 was undoubtedly one of the most important days of my life – graduating as a fully qualified vet and being granted the privilege to put those twelve all-important letters after my name was an incredible feeling. Graduation carries a mix of emotions for most people – relief at passing finals; sadness at leaving behind the familiarity of university, the proximity of so many friends and the wonders of student life and all it entails; and elation at having finally made it, celebrating surrounded by proud family and friends. But I found that underneath it all, there was the fear. The fear of all that graduation really represents: the beginning of “real life” and the transition into becoming a responsible grown-up who has well-thought-out real-life plans. The proud family and friends all have one question on their lips: “What next?”
For most newly qualified vets, the answer is blindingly obvious. But after five years of immersing myself in all things veterinary, I had convinced myself that I deserved a well-earned break. Three unconventional interviews later, I was gladly signing away five months of my life to live and work a winter season in an Austrian ski resort.  The only downside was the gaping hole left between Wednesday 25th July, and some yet-to-be-determined date in late November when a 20 hour coach journey is set to initiate me into the life of a seasonnaire.
So it was without hesitation that I replied to Nick Short’s email looking for new graduates to work with the RVC’s E-Media department for a couple of months over summer. In my initial meeting with Nick, we discussed WikiVet and student podcasts, and I provisionally agreed to take on one of these kinds of projects. However, a few months later I somehow found myself back at the Camden campus accepting a temporary position covering the BLE Officer role. I was delighted to have some purpose in life for that five-month gaping hole, despite the trepidation I felt in accepting a job which I didn’t really understand. I had spent five years using Blackboard at the RVC, completely ignorant of the concept of The Bloomsbury Colleges and without any need to learn to use Moodle, since my time as a student came to an end several months before Blackboard did.
I wasn’t left with much time to worry, since Sarah asked me to start as soon as possible, so I turned up in Camden the following week with absolutely no idea what to expect. After an invaluable, yet brief, crash-course from Yanna in all things Bloomsbury, Moodle and ULCC, the role of BLE Officer was handed over to me. I was soon finding my feet in my first ever office job: raising tickets, responding to emails and trying to find the sometimes delicate balance required to liaise between the colleges and ULCC. I’ve taken minutes at meetings, written reports and given tours to interviewees. And I’ve learned that it’s not essential to understand all the acronyms and technical terms, as long as you comprehend the gravity of any given situation - I may not always understand the emails I’m writing but I’d like to think I’ve mastered the art of giving the impression that I do!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time covering the role of BLE Officer – I’ve managed to extend my time at the RVC for a little longer, worked in some of the colleges that I would otherwise never have set foot in and, best of all, worked with so many lovely people who I’m so grateful to for being wonderfully patient with me and my complete lack of technical knowledge!
Clare Downes BVetMed MRCVS ex-BLE Officer and soon-to-be Austrian Ski Seasonnaire

Friday, 21 September 2012

Moving to Moodle - 2012 Survey Report

During the summer, the BLE conducted a survey to gauge how our staff are reacting to the move to Moodle and how useful they found the BLE Moodle Showcase event.

Clare Downes, Acting BLE Officer, has pulled together this excellent report based on the responses, which might be of interest.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Series 3 of College updates LSHTM

  • Training @ LSHTM starts in June;
         - a basic intro to Moodle video has been produced and a series of further videos are being prepared. The videos will provide the initial taster to Moodle and will be followed by an introductory course with hands-on practice to enable courses to be created.
  • All the technical integration work has been done; the courses will be created internally through the LDAP integration and 13 new roles will be added.
  • Enrolments will be added in an automated fashion as and when they come in via the LDAP integration
  • Migration for DL is scheduled for 17-19th September.
  • Bb migration will be limited to some Bb Organisations.  This is because we do not copy over Bb Courses each year.
  • Testing will be a separate function from migration.  IT Services, DL & TSO will all have test courses, each containing their own roles.  This will allow each Department to fully test Roles and courses over the summer, prior to going live.
  • Only some minor tweaks are expected to be required.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

College Updates

Today the College update comes from the Institute of Education and they have shared with us where they are with:

 Moodle Setup:
    • LDAP now works for staff and students.
    • Creation of courses still pending.
    • Theme design work still pending.
Content Migration:
    • Helper applications received, appointments currently being processed.
    • Three different courses now running regularly (Moodle 101, Basic Course Design, Advanced Course Design).
    • About 150 staff have been trained so far (plus 8 with SysAdmin roles)

Monday, 11 June 2012

College Updates

News from Birkbeck at the end of May.

  • SITS integration
Following the initial feed-files upload into Moodle on 14th April, ULCC manually uploaded our second set of data on 8th May after switching off the course template functionality. The format of courses‟ feed-file in this second upload was changed to include only three fields of courseID, course-name and course-category as we decided to use the courseIDs for the course-short names.  This second set of data included 50 Organisational Psychology modules that did not require course templates. In addition 90 new modules were also created in this upload. The course templates were applied to these new modules manually.  Similarly course templates are applied to new modules manually after each course feed file upload and the creation of new modules. Since the second data upload, the courses and enrolments feed files have been regularly uploaded into our SFTP  server and processed automatically.  Before uploading these files to SFTP area, they are checked for possible errors and data inconsistencies and on several occasions the SQL script had to be modified to correct the detected problems before uploading them into the SFTP server.  

  • Moodle Training:
The daily training sessions have been running for more than a month. While attendance was good in the beginning. We have seen a dip in attendance lately to the extent we have cancelled a few training sessions. Generally, although we reserve the right to cancel if we have fewer than 5 participants, we have run more of these than we have cancelled. Three different sessions have been offered:
·  Introduction to Moodle: This session is designed for staff, who either are new to Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) or do NOT need to migrate materials from Blackboard to Moodle.
·  Migration to Moodle: This session is designed for staff, who need to migrate a significant amount of content from Blackboard to Moodle. This will include a basic introduction to using Moodle.
We also started offering Moodle for Administrators which includes:
·  Batch backup of Blackboard Assignments  
·  Backup of Turnitin Assignments
·  Backup of student records (grade centre)
·  Backup of Blackboard course materials
·  Creating groups and groupings
·  Overview of assignments in Moodle  
We are intending to offer the same extensive training through July and scale back for August – only offering a limited number of sessions as we anticipate demand will be low. However we will provide training at the request of departments if they organise a session and feel enough staff will attend.  Interest in a bespoke introductory session has been expressed by the Library and External Relations. Staff from both are going to attend the standard Introduction to Moodle training and then we will work with them to tailor something suitable for their needs.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Moving to Moodle: Video case studies

Since the Bloomsbury Colleges are amongst the first HE institutions to be migrating from Blackboard to Moodle, we have developed some video case studies (in conjunction with ULCC) to share our experiences so far. Contributing to the videos are some academics and course administrators, who were early adopters in our migration year. Also, some managers and learning technologists from the Colleges describe the process that was undertaken.

Moving to Moodle: Why

Moving to Moodle: Getting Started

Moving to Moodle: The Advantages

Moving to Moodle: The Challenges

Moving to Moodle: Top Tips and Lessons Learned

Moodle is officially Launched in Bloomsbury

VideoTo mark the launch of Moodle in Bloomsbury, staff in the Bloomsbury Colleges were invited to attend an Academic Showcase, which took place on Thursday 7th June.

Click here for recording of the event.

The event was divided three parts.
Access each presentation by clicking on the speaker's name:


1. Moodle for Distance Learning

Ayona Silva-Fletcher, RVC

James Abdey, LSE

Richard Campanaro, LSE

Richard Campanaro
Isobel Bowditch, IOE 

Isobel Bowditch
Peter Leffek, OU

Peter Leffek
Julie Voce, OU

Julie Voce

2. Moodle to support campus-based learning

 Pat Costall, Birkbeck

Pat Costall
Wendy Hein, Birkbeck

Wendy Hein
Karita Razzell, SOAS

Karita Razzell
 Olivia Fox, City University

Olivia Fox

3. Launch Reception

Opened by Keith Harrison, Secretary of Birkbeck and chair of the BLE Migration Programme Board

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Authenticating Moodle

Establishing an institution's LDAP integration with Moodle is one of the most fundamental technical steps that needs to taken at the initial set-up stage. All the Colleges were able to arrange this quite quickly, with the exception of the IOE, which has a much more complicated LDAP arrangement. IOE staff and student user accounts reside on separate LDAP servers with different configurations, which was a big problem since Moodle only accepts multiple LDAP servers with the same configuration.. Luckily, we discovered a work-around, which seems to be successful in our testing (I hate to tempt fate!). ULCC developed a new plugin for our version of Moodle (2.1.3) following Moodle's discussion: and installed plugin on the server as a separate authentication plugin - LDAP2 - supporting different servers and contexts than the original LDAP plugin., which enables multiple LDAP configurations to be used.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Moodle Training in the Colleges

Following the success of the Bloomsbury Month of Moodle, the Colleges are now planing their own internal training activities, with the help of the Bloomsbury Moodle Mini-Guides.

If you are a member of staff at Birkbeck, the IOE, LSHTM, the RVC or SOAS, find out what your College is offering

Moodle Academic Showcase and Launch Event

To mark the launch of Moodle in Bloomsbury, staff in the Bloomsbury Colleges have been invited to attend an Academic Showcase, taking place on Thursday 7th June at SOAS

The day’s event will be in three parts:

0930-1200: Moodle for Distance Learning
1000 Welcome and Introductions
1010 Ayona Silva-Fletcher, RVC
1040 Richard Campanaro and James Abdey, LSE
1120 Comfort break
1130 Isobel Bowditch, IOE
1200 Peter Leffek and Julie Voce, OU
1240 End

1330-1630: Moodle to support campus-based learning
1400 Welcome and introduction
1410 Wendy Hein and Pat Costall, Birkbeck
1450 John Potter, IOE
1520 Comfort break
1530 Karita Razzell, SOAS
1600 Olivia Fox, City University
1630 End

1630 -1800: Launch Reception
Opened by Keith Harrison, Secretary of Birkbeck and chair of the BLE Migration Programme Board

To book your place, please email Sarah Sherman

Monday, 21 May 2012

New Theme for SOAS users

We are very happy to announce that the lovely new  Moodle theme for SOAS was implemented last Friday and it was already welcomed from the Marketing department!

If you would like to admire their lovely theme please visit

Monday, 30 April 2012

The Month of Moodle at the RVC

Over the past fortnight, the RVC ran daily Moodle taster session in each of its campuses. Reactions to Moodle from academic staff have been positive, as VLE Developer, Sachin Taank describes below:

The people who have attended have been pretty senior academics. They could be ambassadors for the less techy academics and could set a great example. One of the academics who had been almost in tears when we did the initial RVC Learn training back in January came into our office today saying it is one of the easiest platforms to use and she is so glad we have decided to move over. Extremely satisfying!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Month of Moodle

The Month of Moodle is now officially closed in Birkbeck and I wanted to say BIG thank you to everyone involved in the Month of Moodle – presenters, helpers and most of all participants. It was an incredible month!

This project has been a great example of collaboration between the Bloomsbury Colleges and it is interesting to know that we have had around 100 attendees all curious to hear about Moodle.  There have been lots of interesting questions, suggestions and discussions that we will take on board for the next 6 months and we will try to implement as much of theses as possible. All comments were very positive and we like that you find Moodle very intuitive, easy to use and that you cannot wait to start using it!

For those of you who like numbers I would mention that 70 % of our participants were Birkbeck staff members, 16% were from SOAS and 7% from both LSHTM and IOE.

Workshops and training sessions have already started for all the colleges so don’t forget to contact the team responsible in your college and to book a place.

Contact  Details
Birkbeck Support  
IOE Support  
LSHTM Support  
RVC Support  
SOAS Support

Friday, 13 April 2012

BLE Moodle mini guides Part 2

We have added another 10 Moodle mini-guides for staff to the migration website, which the Bloomsbury Colleges - and the wider education sector - are very welcome to use. There are now 21 guides in total (each one or two pages long), covering topics such as uploading images, creating quizzes, collecting user feedback.

You can access PDF versions here:

During the summer, we will be working on guides for student users, too!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Moodle and Meerkats

This photo is of Jenny Maud, who graduated as a vet from Cambridge University in 2006 (and a friendly meerkat!). The photo was taken in the middle of the Kalahari desert where she was carrying out a research project on meerkats whilst simultaneously administering the online content of distance learning courses at the RVC. Using a satellite modem link and a laptop, Jenny was able to log in to Moodle and enrol new users whilst watching her meerkats...... now that is a pretty cool use of technology!

(Thanks to Nick Short for the post!)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Month of Moodle

19th March saw the start of Bloomsbury's "Month of Moodle" - lunch-time taster sessions introducing staff to the new learning platform; these sessions precede full training events, to be managed locally by the individual Colleges. So far, attendees have provided useful feedback and seem to be very happy with the look of the new environment.
The last few remaining dates are on:
11th, 12th and 13th April in Birkbeck, Malet St.

11th April - Room 152
12th April - Room B02
13th April - Room 151