June 2021 Moodle News

Cow with flower crown with a green field background

The Sunshine and Summer Session are here!

Things are heating up, and getting busy. This month’s Moodle news include Upcoming Important Dates, IDEAS Webinars, Teach Week at UMass, Moodle moves to the Cloud, Instructor Support, Requesting Moodle and Echo360 courses, Moodle Tip of the Month, 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:

Summer 2021:

  • UWW(CPE) – Wednesday, June 9, 2021 – Last day to drop with “W” or “DR” and select ‘P/F’ any Session One class
  • UWW(CPE) – Friday, June 25, 2021 – Last day of classes – Session One

Teach Week: Where do we go from here?

CTL/IDEAS/IT/Libraries announces a week of teaching workshop sessions to launch the summer. Throughout the week of June 7th we will offer a series of workshops sessions that we hope will spark some new ideas, provide you with a chance to reflect on the successes and challenges you experienced in teaching your classes this year, and provide a venue for sharing offer a chance to share the many innovative instructional approaches with you adopted with your colleagues. 
Please join us!  Registrations are open for all of the sessions listed below. We look forward to seeing you at one or more sessions. 

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.

Register for the Self-Paced Essentials for Online Teaching course

This Fall, the IDEAS team will be offering a self-paced online course version of our popular Essentials for Online Teaching course. The course will support instructors interested in: learning how to develop and teach effective online courses, using teaching technologies meaningfully, and receiving a structured framework around the process of designing their online courses. It will focus on five essential components:  

  • Foundations of online teaching  
  • Structure and Design  
  • Assessment 
  • Engagement 
  • Communication 

Through reading and exploring resources and engaging in learning activities participants will develop strategies for using resources and technologies to enhance their online courses. Each module will help instructors put these strategies into practice and build out a different aspect of their course. Participants who fulfill all course requirements will receive a Certificate of Participation 

Participants can expect to spend about 4-6 hours per learning module (approximately 24-30 hours across all learning modules). Additionally, there will be several optional synchronous Zoom sessions to collaborate with colleagues and facilitators as you progress through the course.  

Registration for the course begins now, and the course will open Monday, August 2, 2021.  

Register now to guarantee your spot in the course! 

Moodle in the Cloud is here!

In support of flexible learning at UMass Amherst, an upgraded, cloud-based version of Moodle is being used beginning for Summer 2021 courses.
UMass Amherst Information Technology (IT) has made this change with the goal of improving our teaching and learning experience and expanding the reach of UMass Amherst education. 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 is 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.

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 and Fall 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: Move content to Moodle in the Cloud

Did you know you copy content from Legacy Moodle into Moodle in the Cloud. Once your Moodle course request in SPIRE has been processed, you can back up your existing content and perform a course restore into Moodle in the Cloud. IT is working on an automated version of this process that should be ready during the early summer, but if you want to get started now you can follow the manual steps for the process. 

The IDEAS team is also hosting webinars on Moodle, or you can read about some of the improvements on the Moodle in the Cloud (3.9) Highlights page.

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: