May 2021 Moodle News

Cow with flower crown with a green field background

Finals, grades, and the start of the summer

This month’s Moodle News includes information about Upcoming Important Dates, Moodle in the Cloud, Support for Instructors, IDEAS Webinars, Requesting your Summer Moodle course, Requesting your Summer 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:

Spring 2021:

  • Last day of classes – May, 4, 2021
  • Grade rosters open in SPIRE – May 5, 2021
  • Final grades due midnight – May 17, 2021

Summer 2021:

  • First day of classes, Summer 1 – May 17, 2021
  • First day of classes, University Summer – May 17, 2021

Wrapping up your Spring 2021 Semester

Now that the semester is wrapping up, it’s a good time to talk about preserving your content and course. After your grading is complete, there are a few housekeeping steps:

  • Moodle courses are kept for 18 months after the semester in which they are taught. We have detailed instructions for how to preserve your course content and create a backup file, including how to back up student work.
  • Zoom cloud recordings are only kept for 120 days after they were made. To preserve your Zoom cloud recordings, you will need to download them from Zoom and host them in Echo360 to stream back to students, or save them to a cloud storage platform like OneDrive or Google Drive.

Moodle has a new home for Summer and Fall 2021

In support of flexible learning at UMass Amherst, an upgraded, cloud-based version of Moodle will be available for summer and fall university courses.
UMass Amherst Information Technology (IT) is making this change with the goal of improving our teaching and learning experience and expanding the reach of UMass Amherst education.
Moving Moodle to the cloud means that the infrastructure for Moodle will no longer be on campus for courses starting in summer 2021. Cloud-based services are available on-demand online from a cloud computing provider’s servers as opposed to on-premise IT infrastructure.
Hosted in the cloud, Moodle becomes more scalable, resilient, and agile. The platform can accommodate more students, courses, and web traffic, with fewer technical hiccups and service interruptions.
In short, Moodle will have a new and more durable home.

What do these changes mean?

  • The current version of Moodle remains available for Spring 2021 and past semesters as well as current ad-hoc courses. Both versions of Moodle will run concurrently, but no course will be offered in both versions.
  • Upcoming Summer and Fall 2021 courses will be hosted in the upgraded version of Moodle. Students and instructors will use a new URL to access their summer or fall Moodle course(s).
  • Instructors can request their Summer 2021 Moodle courses starting April 5, 2021, and Fall 2021 courses later this spring (date to be announced soon).
  • For Fall 2021 courses, instructors can request to have their course content moved automatically from the old version of Moodle to the new.
  • For Summer 2021 courses, instructors will back up their courses and restore the course backup manually. Step-by-step instructions will be provided.

More information will follow, including what’s new and different in the new Moodle. For questions, please contact the Instructional Design, Engagement, & Support (IDEAS) group at instruct@umass.edu.

IDEAS Webinars

We’re gearing up for a summer full of learning, engaging, and connecting. We’ll be offering a number of webinars around teaching technologies, lecture capture, building courses in an LMS, using technology to facilitate communication and engagement, and more.

Check out our IDEAS Webinars list often for the latest offerings.

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.

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 the 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.

Request your Summer and Fall Moodle Courses

Summer and. Fall 2021 Moodle course requests are available in 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 Summer 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 Summer 2021 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.

Automatically copy your Zoom cloud recordings to Echo360

You can connect your Zoom and Echo360 accounts, and have all cloud recordings copied into Echo360. If you enable this, you can even have a recurring Zoom meeting publish directly to an Echo360 course. Unlike Zoom recordings, which are kept for 120 days, Echo360 does not have a storage limit on your recordings.

Moodle Tip of the Month: Importing grades from Moodle into SPIRE

Did you know you can import your grades directly from Moodle into SPIRE? The grades will come over as they correspond to letter grades, and you can always make changes to grades in SPIRE before you submit them.

Planned Downtimes

Scheduled routine maintenance windows for UMass Amherst Moodle in the Cloud are Thursdays 11pm-12am (ET). Regular maintenance is a necessity for a stable, secure, and improving service. Many of these maintenance windows will not actually have the site unavailable for more than a few minutes, but it is still not advised to plan activities or set due dates during maintenance windows.

You can check the status of Moodle, Zoom, and other supported teaching technologies on the IT Services Status for Remote Teaching and Learning page.

Moodle Help and Resources for Instructors

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