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Creating Tomorrow’s CLE
Updated: 1 hour 40 min ago

Course Design Tips

Fri, 2014-11-21 10:05

Managing an online course can range from straightforward to complicated, and can become overwhelming at times. It is also uncommon to receive a manual when you are tasked with developing an online course. Not to worry – help is here! As learning technologies staff, we live and breathe the CLE!

With a little planning and development, we can build the foundation of a great CLE course. Below are just a few CLE course design tips and resources we identify as valuable. We hope these generate conversation and new ideas within your course, school, and department.


Design for mobile

The number one tip for this blog post is… design CLE courses for students using both laptops and mobile devices! Data shows students are accessing CLE courses using mobile devices more and more. This means we need to rethink the way we design courses in the CLE, specifically how we format images and text.

The CLE 2014 Refresh brought responsive design to the CLE. The CLE now responds and displays according to the device being used by the student. This means no more small, unreadable text when accessing the CLE from a mobile device such as an iPhone or Galaxy.

Here is a practical tip for improving the learning experience for students accessing the CLE from either a mobile device or a desktop computer – remove tables from CLE courses that are being used to format text and images. Replace these tables with images and text wraps that are designed to properly respond to students’ devices. Sound complicated? Maybe a little, but not to worry, we are simply replacing tables with images and text to create better designed, more user-friendly CLE courses!

For the purposes of this example, we will add a Label to a course to display an image and a summary of the week’s learning as seen below.

In the past we would have used a table to keep the image and text aligned in the label. This works well when viewed on a laptop or desktop computer, but once the content is accessed from a mobile device, the text does not display correctly on the smaller screen (in other words, the text does not “respond”). When tables are used for formatting text and images, students using mobile devices may experience cumbersome horizontal scroll bars (see images below), text that runs off the screen, and images that do not display correctly.

So how do we fix this? Just remove the tables that are used to format images and text in CLE courses and replace these with image wraps. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the two design workflows, as well as screenshots of how the two will display on a mobile device:

And here is a comparison of how both will display on a mobile device:

Here is how to apply an image wrap in a Label. Add a Label to a CLE course and insert text and an image into the text editor. While adding the image, navigate to the Appearance tab in the Insert/edit image pop-up (shown in the image to the right). From the Alignment drop down menu, choose Left to align the image to the left of the text (there are other alignment options available). From the Horizontal space field (how much space is added between the image and text), I entered 10 (pixels) for this example, which worked well. Click Update to continue.

That is it! You can now replicate this design workflow in other labels in your CLE course – creating a consistent learning experience for students. Questions? Comments? Post a comment below and let us know if students in your course are using mobile devices to access the CLE and if you have design tips of your own!

Block Management

The second course design tip is better Block Management. Blocks are items that can be added to the left or right column of any CLE course. There are a number of different types of Blocks in the CLE and some may already be used in your course.

The first step to good Block management is understanding the different types of Blocks. Take a look at the Standard Blocks via Moodle Docs and explore the different types of Blocks available in the CLE (with editing turned on!).

The next step is to add only the Blocks that add value to the online experience. If a Block is not used, or has little value, consider removing it from the CLE course to conserve space for learning. Spend 10-15 minutes before each semester reviewing your Blocks, as well as considering how different types of Blocks can be used to improve the online learning experience for both students AND faculty.

CLE courses are divided into three columns and Blocks are typically located in the left and/or right columns. The middle column is where the course content is displayed and where students spend the majority of their time learning while in the course. To maximize the amount of real estate in this middle column, consider moving all of your Blocks to the left column. Once all of the Blocks have been moved from the right column to the left, the middle column becomes wider, extending to the end of the right column and providing more space for learning. See the images below for a visual comparison of the impact of better Block management:

Have questions about managing Blocks? Visit the CLE Knowledge Base for more information!


So you are probably thinking, “this is useful information, but I need CLE course design support now!” Not to worry, below is a list of resources that we find helpful when creating CLE courses:

find examples of well-designed online courses

The best to way to be motivated and inspired to improve your CLE course is took look at examples of other well-designed online courses. These courses do not need to be in the CLE, or even Moodle courses necessarily. By getting a better understanding of the successes that other educators have had with online course design, we can create better online learning environments for students. Below are resources with good examples of online course design:

Attend a Tech Clinic

Need one-on-one support? Attend a Tech Clinic held on the second and forth Friday of every month. We also offer a CLE Basics training at the start of each Clinic that we highly recommend new faculty and staff attend. Register today!

Create a CLE Test Course

Not quite ready to test the course design tips in an active CLE course, but want to get a head start on next semester? Request a CLE test course where you can test design workflows and tryout new CLE activities.

LTG consultation using WebEx

Whether you are a rookie or a veteran of the CLE, questions come up! The Learning Technologies Group can setup a WebEx session to help troubleshoot CLE related issues and assist in course design suggestions – all from the comfort of you own office. Contact the Learning Technologies Group to schedule a CLE WebEx consultation.

Have fun designing your CLE course and please share you successes and challenges in the comment section below!

Image Credits:

Blocks” designed by Lukasz M. Pogoda from the Noun Project.
Responsive-Design” designed by Pham Thi Dieu Linh from the Noun Project.
Graphic-Design” designed by Anna Weiss from the Noun Project.

Categories: Convergence

Reporting on the CLE Refresh Survey

Tue, 2014-11-18 08:46

On August 2, 2014, the CLE underwent a major refresh with the installation of a completely new user interface. While this update also included a number of important performance and course-building enhancements, the crucial new feature — one that impacts all CLE users — was the new interface. Finally, we were able to fulfill easily the most requested CLE feature for the past few years — make it so that the CLE works better on smartphones and tablets. The new interface is now mobile-friendly, and incorporates responsive web design principles, which means it seamlessly conforms to the screen size of the device viewing it, be it a 27-inch desktop monitor, iPad Mini, iPhone or Android smartphone. Along with the refresh, we also released a short survey on August 2 to start gathering some feedback about the changes. We received seventy-three submissions through August. In this blog post, we report on some of the survey results and some directions for the future.

The survey asked everyone to grade the CLE refresh. Over 71% gave the refresh a C or better, and half of all respondents gave a grade of B or better. Here is a sampling of some of the comments:

This look is much clearer, cleaner and user friendly!

The graphics/skin of the interface is clean. All functions appear to be intact. No major re-learning required for average user.


It is clean looking and more up to date.

I like the clean look. There are less extras that take your attention away from the content. The colors are softer and cleaner as well.

Looks less cluttered which helps with visual appearance.

Much more mobile friendly.

It looks more updated and seems to be less buggy. Also, it seems to work better with Chrome than the old version.

Given that this refresh brought some major changes, this was a good start. But while most gave the new CLE a passing grade or better, there were also some who felt that the new CLE look and feel didn’t quite past muster:

I do not like the mobile version nor do I like the new homepage, too sparse and it doesn’t highlight my interest like the login button.

There is too much blank space for each menu. That has made it a bit too bulky and can’t fit all the necessary information without scrolling.

I usually use CLE to get to UCSF’s library resources like Pubmed, and it has been difficult for me to figure out how to navigate to this page.

There needs to be a drop down menu for lecture capture. Having all the classes on the same screen with the calendar is too cluttered and overwhelming.

The calendar does not fit, I needed to drag every time I need to move to the next week for see Friday.

The CLE team has already incorporated some of this feedback into a recent update. Some felt that the blocks (e.g., Navigation, Administration) that appear in CLE courses on the left and/or right were taking up too much space. We were able to reduce the block footprint so that there is now more room in the center area where the main course content resides. Other survey comments will be reflected in upcoming updates, including:

  • Reduce the block footprint even more so that the main course content takes precedence.
  • Make sure that on smaller screen sizes, the blocks do not take up valuable space so that important course content, such as the Ilios calendar, doesn’t get squished.
  • Making the Log In link consistently visible at the top for all screen sizes. Currently, the Log In link is no longer visible on small screens — it gets hidden inside the menu icon when the screen size gets small, making it difficult to locate.
  • Add a Maximize this page button on all CLE pages that will allow the main content area to immediately fill the entire screen.

Future updates to the underlying Moodle learning management system that powers the CLE will also bring new features, such as much improved responsive behavior for all screen sizes and a user menu in the header that provides quick access to personal pages. Other survey comments suggested what would essentially be entirely new features, such as a way to provide quicker and less cluttered access to lecture capture recordings.

We invite you to continue providing feedback — the good, bad and ugly. The August 2014 refresh placed the CLE on a solid foundation from which to grow and improve. Your comments, feedback, and feature requests will be absolutely vital in this process. We plan to release new short surveys over the coming months. We also invite you to send any and all feedback to the Learning Technologies Group.

Categories: Convergence

Got Videos? Media Sharing Now Available on the CLE!

Thu, 2014-11-13 08:54

For some time now, UCSF has been in need of a place to store and manage video files to be shared across the University and for the public. Although Vimeo has been a resource on campus, the uploading process has traditionally not been available to all UCSF users, such as students. The time is finally here! The UCSF Library is now pleased to present a fully-functional system available to all staff, students, and faculty, called Media@UCSF.

Media@UCSF is an online video-hosting platform powered by Kaltura and provides the UCSF community with a centralized system for managing and distributing digital video content. Media@UCSF is fully integrated into the CLE, providing instructors and students with the tools to create, edit, and share videos in a course.

Anyone at UCSF can start using Media@UCSF now by logging into This blog post, however, will focus on the CLE integration.

Check out this support document to learn more about the different components that integrate with the UCSF CLE:

The Learning Technologies Group has also created documentation on the following topics:

  • Uploading Media
  • Sharing Media in the CLE
  • Inserting and Grading a Media Assignment

Find these step by step instructions in our new Support Center.

To learn more, join us tomorrow at the Collaboration Roundtable hosted by the Library’s Learning Technologies Group. This month’s Roundtable will focus solely on Media@UCSF and takes place from 12 – 1pm in CL-215 in the Parnassus Library. Register to let us know your coming and feel free to bring your lunch while you learn about this new tool.

Image Credits: dsathiyarajErin Standley

Categories: Convergence

Track Attendance in the CLE!

Fri, 2014-10-03 12:45

Are you interested in tracking attendance in UCSF CLE courses? Beginning Wednesday, October 1, the Attendance activity is being piloted at UCSF.

The Attendance activity is installed on the CLE and can be added to a CLE course the same way you add other activities. Instructors and course staff can mark the attendance status for students as Present, Absent, Late, or Excused. These status descriptions are configurable, and more can be added and reported to the course gradebook.

Follow the instructions below to add the Attendance activity to a CLE course today:

  1. Log in to the CLE at
  2. Go to the CLE course where you would like to track attendance.
  3. From the Administration block or from the top-right of the CLE, select Turn editing on (or use the Turn editing on button located in the top-right corner).
  4. From the list of Activities, select the Attendance activity, then scroll to the bottom of the window and click Add.
  5. This will take you to your new Attendance settings’ page where you can configure Attendance settings.

Instructors can also add the Attendance block that provides instructors and students with a shortcut to attendance information. Once you have added the Attendance activity to a CLE course, you can also optionally add the Attendance block. Follow the instructions below to add the block to a CLE course:

  1. Turn editing on in a course where the Attendance activity has already been added.
  2. From the Add a Block drop-down menu, select Attendance to add the block to the course.

For support using the Attendance activity during the pilot, please see or the UMass Support Center. YouTube also has a great video showcasing the Attendance activity from Oklahoma Baptist University. As we progress through the pilot, the Learning Technologies Group will develop support documentation based on how the activity and block are being used at UCSF.

As always, contact the Learning Technologies Group or attend a CLE Clinic for help!

Have you used the Attendance module and/or block and have feedback about the pilot? Please submit your feedback in the CLE Attendance Pilot Survey.

Image Credit: “Users” designed by Wilson Joseph from the Noun Project

Categories: Convergence

Top 10 Quiz Improvements

Tue, 2014-09-23 10:45

Students, faculty, and staff are returning for fall classes to find a refreshed CLE. Many may not be aware of improvements to the Quiz activity, which is a popular way to assess student learning here at UCSF. Take a look at the handout provided below to learn about the Top 10 Improvements to the Quiz Activity.

Do you have questions about how to set up an upcoming CLE quiz? Or maybe you have questions about setting up and managing your course question bank? If these questions sound familiar, attend an upcoming CLE Clinic or contact the Learning Technologies Group and get your questions answered!

Categories: Convergence

Fall 2014 Tech Clinics Announced

Thu, 2014-09-04 08:38

Have you been working on CLE or multimedia projects this summer in preparation for fall courses? If you have, I am sure you have questions or even better, want to share some of the great work that you have done. Just in time for the Fall 2014 semester, we are excited to announce dates for the upcoming Tech Clinics offered through the Learning Technologies Group and UCSF Library. You can register for a Clinic today at

The Learning Technologies Group will offer one Multimedia Clinic and one CLE Clinic a month throughout the rest of the year. The Clinics are offered at no cost to all UCSF community members. Here are some recent changes to the CLE that you may be interested in learning more about at an upcoming CLE Clinic:

  • The recent CLE Refresh
  • Web conferencing alternatives
  • Tips for managing CLE courses from semester to semester
  • Improvements to the Quiz activity
  • Recommendations for designing courses for students using mobile devices

New additions to Tech Clinics offerings include:

  • Attend a Clinic remotely using WebEx
  • Attend a CLE Roundtable to collaborate with other staff and faculty using the CLE
  • Film a faculty interview in the eLearning Studio during a Multimedia Clinic
  • Discover use cases for using iPads and mobile devices in the classroom at a Multimedia Clinic
  • Learn a new application using in the Tech Commons at a Multimedia Clinic
  • And of course, train new staff!

Each Clinic offers short presentation/demos on popular topics throughout the day as well as one-on-one support opportunities with Learning Technologies staff.

CLE Clinics Fall Schedule (click below for more information and to register)

Multimedia Clinics Fall Schedule (click below for more information and to register)

*Have the Learning Technologies Group helped you recently? During the Multimedia Clinic on Friday, September 12, we will be filming testimonials on working with the UCSF Library and Learning Technologies Group. If you are interested in participating and filming a 30-60 second testimonial during the September 12 Clinic, please register using the link above or contact the Learning Technologies Group.

We hope to see you there!

Image Credit: “Light-Bulb” designed by Phil Goodwin from the Noun Project
Image Credit: “Refresh” designed by Chris Dobbins from the Noun Project
Image Credit: “Check-Mark” designed by DEADTYPE from the Noun Project





Categories: Convergence

Personalizing CLE Courses for Students

Thu, 2014-08-28 12:41

Starting a new online course can sometimes be a daunting task. A student may look at a course page and see a never-ending list of activities and resources for them to view or complete. If a student opens up a course like the one pictured below, they might become paralyzed by the dreaded scroll of death. They might wonder where do I even begin? And over time, they may wonder Which resources or activities have I already viewed or completed? How do I know if I’m even getting anywhere? Luckily, Moodle, the learning management system that powers UCSF’s CLE, provides ways for us to help students go through their online courses in a personalized fashion. This may mean selectively introducing content, branching activities based on performance, or merely keeping activities hidden until they are needed by the learner. Moodle’s conditional activity features provide a helpful way for students to see their progress in a course. This is especially useful for asynchronous learning, because it allows the learner to be in control of their progress over time versus waiting for the next content to be made available by the instructor. Some common uses of Conditional Activities might be:

  • Don’t show course content until learner accepts an agreement
  • Don’t show course content until learner takes a pre-test
  • Show post-test after learner views last module
  • Provide certificate of completion when learner earns certain score on post-test
  • Show remedial or advanced course content or Topics based on a Quiz or Assignment grade

Employing conditional activities in a CLE course can get complicated pretty quickly. It’s best to start simple and stay simple. So, let’s start simple! Using conditional activities has two parts: 1) Activity Completion and 2) Access restrictions. Our faithful readers may remember that we posted about Activity Completion back in November, but let’s take a deeper dive now.

Activity Completion

When employing the conditional activity features, you’ll want to set up Activity completion first, then move on to adding access restrictions. Activity completion is enabled in the Course Settings for a course. It’s best practice to enable this for a course before you start adding Activities and Resources, so the setting is automatically enabled. If you are enabling Activity completion after you’ve added items to the course, you will have to go back and enable each Activity or Resource individually.

For each course Activity or Resource, you can set the completion settings as you choose. There are three main options for each course activity or resource:

  • Do not indicate activity completion
  • Students can manually mark the activity as completed
  • Show activity as complete when conditions are met

For the option where certain conditions must be met, you can indicate the conditions you wish. The simplest is “view”. This means the student merely needs to open up the File or URL once and then, it is deemed complete. Graded items, like the Quiz, Assignment, or a SCORM package (like an Articulate presentation), can require a certain grade to be deemed complete. The Forum has the most complex activity completion criteria with options to require a certain number of posts or replies. When the conditions are met, check marks appear in the boxes for each activity.

Access Restrictions

The second part to employing Conditional Activities is using the Access restrictions. This setting enables Instructors to restrict the availability of any activity, resource, or even a course Topic according to certain conditions such as dates, viewing the activity, a certain grade obtained, or activity completion is fulfilled. The use of access restrictions personalizes the course experience for the learner. The appearance of activities depends on each student’s own completion of prior activities. When these access restrictions are set, each student’s course might look slightly different, because each student may be further along than other students are. In the Restrict access options, an Instructor can indicate a date that you expect the completion criteria to be completed by, however this date is not shown to students. It is only displayed in the Activity completion report that is available to Instructors, such as the one below. A quick, but important note about Activity completion: UCSF’s CLE server gets triggered every 10 minutes to refresh activity completions. This means that although a student may have completed the activity, the criteria won’t necessarily register for another 10 minutes. I hope this blog post has whet your appetite for exploring the course personalization options available to you with the CLE. As you can probably tell, the Restrict access options can get a lot more complicated and we’ll go into that in a later blog post. Until then, please feel free to contact the UCSF Learning Technologies Group for any of your online learning needs! Laptop Image Credit: Kristen McPeak from the Noun Project

Categories: Convergence is here!

Thu, 2014-08-07 11:24

The web’s leading resource for online video tutorials is now available in CL240 of the Tech Commons! offers thousands of professionally produced video tutorials on a wide variety of subjects. This includes many of the tools that the Help Desk and Learning Technologies Group support, like Moodle, Articulate, Camtasia, and iMovie.

You can also sharpen your presentation skills, learn to properly light a video interview, or improve your screencasting techniques. Here are a few of our staff picks!

Screencasting Fundamentals  |  iMovie 10 Essential Training  |  Moodle 2.6 Essential Training  |  Foundations of Video: Interviews  |  Up and Running with Articulate ’13

If you are interested in using this service, follow the guidelines below:

  1. Reserve a block of time for “CL240 #3 (Mac)” here:
    Note: users take precedence on this workstation.
  2. Log in to the workstation and then double-click on the icon on the desktop. A browser will open and load the website, giving you access to the full catalog.
  3. When you are done, it is very important that you log out of the website before logging off the workstation. Click the “Log out” link in the top-right corner of the browser window. If you fail to do so, the account will be locked for other users.

In the future, we would like to expand this service to more than one workstation, so show your support by visiting us in CL240, watching some tutorials, and helping us spread the word to your colleagues!

If you have any questions, please send an email to, or stop by the Help Desk in CL240 and chat with us.

Please note, the workstations in CL240 provide students, faculty and staff with the resources to create dynamic, multimedia content in supplement of the teaching and learning process at UCSF. Use of these workstations and for personal projects is strongly discouraged during normal business hours, and should never interfere with users working on UCSF sanctioned projects.


Categories: Convergence

CLE Refresh Coming Tomorrow

Fri, 2014-08-01 15:25

Tomorrow, August 2, the Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE) will undergo an update as detailed in last month’s blog post, Announcing the CLE Refresh! The CLE will be unavailable on Saturday, August 2, from 6 AM – 2 PM (PDT) to complete the upgrade to Moodle 2.6 (the original upgrade date was scheduled for July 26).

Here are just a few improvements to look forward to with the refresh:

A New Look and Feel: You will immediately notice the new CLE theme when logging in August 2 after 2pm. Take a look around and notice the new CLE Home Page – with quick access to your CLE courses and support resources.

Mobile Friendly: The CLE is now mobile friendly! Try visiting your summer or fall courses using your mobile device. The CLE will now scale to fit the device of your choosing!

10 Notable Features as Explained by Sean Gabriel McClelland: Last month’s blog post included Sean Gabriel McClelland’s Top 10 New Features: Summer 2014. Check it out and contact LTG or post a comment below if you have any of your own additions for this list!

Here are a few items that may cause some initial confusion, as well as explanations of the changes:

  • Course names now automatically display on top of page: You will notice that the name of the course now appears on the top of CLE course page. This is a great way to provide a consistent experience for students throughout CLE courses.
  • All content and enrollment is transferred and no content migration required: Unlike the CLE update last summer, you will not need to migrate any course content. All content and student enrollment will be in your CLE course on Saturday, August 2.
  • No more Collaborate web conference activity: Collaborate will no longer be available at UCSF or via the CLE. Read more in the blog post, Collaborate Retiring on August 2.

Of course we will identify more new features as the UCSF community begins to explore the refreshed CLE. In the meantime, LTG is here to help!

  • Attend a CLE Clinic for workshops focusing on new features and best practices. The Clinics are scheduled to begin again in September 2014.
  • Visit the CLE Support Center as we can continue to develop support materials for the CLE.
  • Provide feedback via the CLE Refresh Survey located on the front page of the CLE starting Saturday, August 2.
  • As always, contact the Learning Technologies Group with any questions!

Image Credit: “Refresh” designed by Andrew Lynne from the Noun Project.
Image Credit: Moodle Trust

Categories: Convergence