November 2016 Moodle News

Turnitin Scheduled Downtime Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016

On Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Turnitin will be unavailable while Turnitin performs maintenance on internal network hardware to increase capacity and ensure continued dependable service.

No submissions or grading will be possible during the downtime. We advise instructors to set submission deadlines be outside of this maintenance window.


Help with Grading

The last day of classes for Fall 2016 is Wednesday, Dec. 14, and final exams are on the horizon.

Grades must be approved in SPIRE before noon on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.

We are pleased to announce that the Instructional Media Lab will be open when the University is open:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 27 and Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016;
  • Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.

NOTE: As W.E.B. DuBois Library will be closed on December 27 and 28, the Instructional Media Lab will be temporarily located in LGRC room A-210 on December 27-28.

Due to the limited open days between the end of the finals period and the due date for grades, we recommend that you make appointments now if you would like help checking your Moodle gradebook. If you need an appointment with one of our wonderful consultants, please make arrangements via or 413-545-2823.

For online help, useful articles include:

All Gradebook articles are listed on the Overview of the Moodle Gradebook.


Digital Brown Bag: New tools and techniques for grading

December is grading season. What new tools or techniques have you discovered to help you with the grading of student work? Come discuss tools that have made your grading more efficient, and useful techniques for grading new kinds of homework. (How do you tell the difference between ‘A’ work and ‘C’ work when the assignment is a five minute video? How do you grade group work?)

Please visit Innovate @ UMass Amherst for more information and links to register for upcoming events.


Important Final Grade Display Settings

To ensure your students don’t see rounded scores for their final grades in your courses, we recommend setting Course Totals to display five decimal places. (Note: The default in the Final Grade column was set to 5 places in courses created after Spring 2016.)

For step-by-step instructions, please see Preparing your Final Course Grades in Moodle.


Moodle Course Requests for Winter/Spring 2017

Winter term and Spring 2017 Moodle course request is open in SPIRE.

Here are reminders on how to Request a Moodle Course in SPIRE, and how to Import a previous Moodle course into your new empty course.


Removal of Old Moodle Courses

Access to Moodle Courses ends 18 months after the end of the semester taught to make room in Moodle for new courses. In February 2017, access to courses taught up to and including Spring 2015 will be removed from Moodle.

In preparation, please backup any course content you do not wish to lose, including course materials, grades and student submissions. See Back Up a Moodle Course.


November 2016 Moodle Changes

The following changes have been made to Moodle over the past month:

  • Quiz Navigation:
    When students attempt a Quiz activity containing multiple questions on a single page (and must scroll down the page to access all the questions), the Quiz navigation block will “float” and remain in view allowing students to navigate between pages and see the countdown of time remaining. This will occur on larger screens. On small devices such as phones blocks always show at the bottom of the page. Instructors will see this behavior when they Preview a quiz.
  • Layout Improvements:
    We’ve improved the display of the Course evaluation block, docked blocks, and the Enrolled users and Participants pages on all devices.
  • iClicker Icon:
    Grader report columns and the gradebook Setup page now display an icon for iCLicker imports rather than a blank box.
  • Assignment Activity Group Restrictions:
    On the Settings page for Assignment activities, under Common module settings, the “Add group restriction” button no longer appears. This was removed because it was causing confusion. If clicked, the button added a restriction that could only be viewed if you opened the Restrict access area. To add a restriction based on groups (for example, to assign an activity only to one group without the need to put the group in a grouping), simply click the Add restriction header to select the restrictions you wish to add.

Help and Resources for Instructors

To learn more about Moodle or to get help with instructional technologies, you can:

  • Contact the Instructional Media Lab ( | 413-545-2823) with a question, or to set up a time for a one-on-one consultation.