January 2021 Moodle News

Cow bust in the snow with a light blue hat and scarf

The Start of a New Year

We’re starting the new year off with a bang! We’ve been busy developing as many supports for your Winter and Spring 2021 semesters as we can.

This month’s Moodle News includes information about Online Teaching, Support for Instructors, IDEAS Webinars, Requesting your Spring Moodle course, Requesting your Spring Echo360 courses, Moodle tip of the month, Planned Downtimes, and Moodle help and resources.

Upcoming Important Dates

There are a number of important dates for this semester that are a bit different than in a normal semester. Some of the highlights related to instruction are:

  • Last day of Winter classes – January 16, 2021
  • Winter grades due – January 20, 2021
  • First day of Spring classes – February 1, 2021

IDEAS Webinars

We’re moving ahead with our webinars right at the start. Our webinar series begins January 4th, 2021, and will continue throughout the Spring semester. We’ll be covering teaching technologies, as well as building instructor presence, designing effective online assessments, and best practices for lecture capture. To see our full list of webinars, and register, check out the IDEAS Spring 2021 Webinars page.

Can’t decide which workshops to take? Have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact the IDEAS Team for help in deciding which workshops are right for you. Contact us at instruct@umass.edu.

FlexForward to Online Teaching

The IDEAS Team has built out the Spring 2021 Quality Standards Moodle course. This training course is self-paced and meant to help you every step of the way as you transition and build out your course. Each of the 8 modules includes information, resources, and actionable steps you can take to incorporate what has been presented. We encourage you to explore these modules and content to help you as you design your courses.

If you have any questions, please contact us at instruct@umass.edu.

Support for Instructors

Even though we’re not on campus, we’re still here to help you with your courses and teaching technology. We have 3 avenues for support, in addition to webinars we are currently running. Please read carefully since there will be some changes on our available hours of support.

  • Support through email. Send an email to instruct@umass.edu with your course information and a description of how we can help.
  • Schedule an appointment with us. Please send an email to instruct@umass.edu with a brief description of your goals/needs, and suggest a few times you are available between 9am and 4pm, Monday – Friday.
  • Join our Instructor Support Zoom meeting  between 10am and 3pm, Monday – Friday to meet with a staff member. Please note that wait times depend on the volume of requests.
    • Wednesdays from 10am to 12pm, the Instructor Support Zoom will be joined by our campus partners in CTL to provide collaborative support to our instructor community.

Request your Spring Moodle Courses

Winter and Spring Moodle courses are available for request through SPIRE. Don’t forget that each semester you will need to request Moodle for the courses you are teaching.

For detailed instructions, see:

Request your Spring Echo360 Courses

Echo360 allows you to create recordings of your lectures to deliver to students. Students can access recordings to learn new content or review content to reinforce the information. The system also allows you to add interactive content and measure student engagement.

Echo360 Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) uses speech to text algorithms to create an interactive transcript for your recordings. After you do a little editing for accuracy, your students will be able to study for exams, find relevant information in recordings, and even turn on Closed Captioning for your media.

Echo360 course requests for Winter & Spring are available in SPIRE. Just like Moodle, each semester you will need to request Echo360 for the courses you want to use it in.

For step by step instructions, see Request Lecture Capture. Once your Echo360 courses are ready, it’s easy to give students access to Echo360 recordings through Moodle.

Moodle Tips of the Month: Importing and updating your Moodle course

Did you know that you can import and re-use a Moodle course? Importing a course will transfer over content such as files and links you have added, assignments, quizzes, and more. You can use this to start as a base for your Spring 2021 courses. You will be able to import any course which you have taught within the past 18 months at UMass. There is even a built-in tool to help you update dates across multiple activities and resources.

A bonus tip: You can always reach out to the IDEAS Team for help with working on your Moodle course or incorporating supported teaching technologies into your course.

Planned Downtimes

There are no planned downtimes of services in January 2021 outside of Scheduled maintenance.

Scheduled routine maintenance windows are on Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. Our administrators are continuing to made improvements the Moodle system to adapt the demands on online learning. We will notify users if there are any longer planned downtimes outside of this window.

Moodle Help and Resources for Instructors

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