Exeter Learning Environment
Introduction to ELE
These notes concern the use of University's supported
virtual learning environment
known as the Exeter Learning Environment (ELE), within physics. The ELE
is a learner-focused environment based on a social constructivist pedagogy and is
intended to encourage students to learn from each other.
Access and Copyright
At the time of writing (September 2010) access is restricted by
password so only members of the University can access the content.
However, University policy is to make its online teaching materials
readable by anybody anywhere at some point in the future. ELE does have facilities to restrict
access to material with copyright restriction, but this is likely to
be an opt-in protection; read:
before uploading any material to which you don't own the copyright.
Handouts, Problems Sets, etc.
For many years, Physics has encouraged its staff to publish their
teaching-support material in the e-Learning
Resources section of its webserver. Many other institutions and
individuals find these documents useful and have linked to them and
we wish to continue this practice. Such documents can be referred to
from within an ELE module by using a hyperlink.
However, teaching support material that is currently protected by
being located in the 'exeter-only' and 'restricted' sections of the
physics webserver should be transferred into ELE and its facilities
used to control and limit access.
Module Descriptors, Regulations, etc.
Within ELE, documents that are 'controlled', such are University Regulations, programme
specifications, module descriptors, etc., must be referred to by using a hyperlink
to the authoritative version. Please do not create your own copies of such documents because
you are not likely to want to check daily that your copy is still correct!
Dates, Timetables, Calendars
Where possible, use the standard Academic Week Numbers
to specify dates and days within the module. By doing this you avoid the need to manually adjust
dates every year.
It is possible to create a 'calendar of events' for the module. You are not expected to use this
to duplicate events on the University timetable. However, if you do so, please ensure that
it is always kept in step with the University Timetable.
(We hope that in due course, the University's Scientia Timetable software will export directly to the ELE
Ideas and Good Practice
Please ensure that every module you are responsible for has an entry in ELE, comprising at least a summary block containing:
- The module code and Title
- An interesting image, recommended 400-600 pixels wide by 250-350 pixels high, relevant to the module preferably of
work done at Exeter. (Check copyright status.)
- A link to the current module descriptor at <http://newton.ex.ac.uk/modules/>.
- For modules that are not new and that are assessed by an examination:
These instructions should take about ten minutes to follow. They
assume you are starting from the empty standard template created
when your module PHYXXXXX 'Physics Ancient and Modern' was added by
the ELE administrators. The system works okay with any browser, but
if you are not familiar with html there is a wysiwg editor that only
seems to work with Firefox, so use that.
Go to <http://vle.exeter.ac.uk/> and if not
already 'logged in' use your University username and password to authenticate.
Click 'All courses ...'in the box on the left hand side (LHS) of the page. Have a
look at a random sample of modules for other disciplines to see what people are
doing. At the moment the system is very new and few people are using 'interesting' features
like online tests, but this is likely to change fairly rapidly.
Navigate to PHYXXXXX.
Turn 'Editing On' using the button at the top right hand side (RHS).
Start with the 'title area', which is the white box at the top of the centre column.
On the LHS of this box here is a small 'Edit Summary'
icon, which resembles a pencil writing on a blue clipboard. Click this to open and edit the Summary area.
Type the text 'PHYXXXX - Physics Ancient and Modern' followed by a carriage-return. Select the
text, excluding the carriage-return, and apply 'Heading 1' and 'Justify Center' styles to it.
Click the '<>' button on the wysiwg editor to inspect the html it has generated:
<h1 style="text-align: center;">PHYXXXX - Physics Ancient and Modern</h1><br />
then, curiosity satisfied, save the changes.
Find a nice image to pretty up the page (see size guidelines above). Check carefully that it is free from copyright
limitations. Images produced from NASA are good because they have no copyright restrictions.
If you find the image on the web, create a local copy of it, file-1.jpg, on your desktop. (This is to avoid stealing bandwidth from
non-university sites by creating a hotlink from ELE.)
From the Administration box, select 'Files'. Then opt for 'Upload a file', then 'Browse...', to find it.
This process has uploaded the image and stored it inside ELE, you should end up with file-1.jpeg as the
first file in the list of entries. Use the breadcrumb trail (top left)
to get back to the main page for PHYXXXXX.
Back to editing the 'title/summary' area (see step 5). Position the cursor on the line below
the title, this will be the insertion point.
Click the 'insert image' button,
click the filename (i.e. the underlined text, not the tick-box) file-1.jpeg, type a
brief caption describing the image' into the 'alternate text' box,
and click 'okay'.
Click the image to select it and apply the 'Justify Center' paragraph style to position it centred below the title.
Click 'Save Changes'.
Start working on the first 'topic box' (of twenty!). Select 'Link to a file or website' from the 'add a resource' drop-down
menu. Give this the name 'Module Descriptor', the next box (for a descriptive summary) can be left blank in this
in this case. In the next box down, 'Link to a file or website', insert the location of the
current module descriptor. In this case:
Leave the 'Window' setting to 'Same Window' because the other behaviours are annoying.
'Save and return to course'. Add another link to 'Past Examination Papers':
The 'News Forum' link looks untidy in the title/summary area so use the green crossed
arrows to drag it downwards into the first 'topic box' and reorder them in the process:
- Module descriptor
- News forum
- Past examination paper
Click the 'Edit summary' icon on the top left of the 'topic 1' box and give the section the title 'General Support Material'.
If you are not intending to populate topics 2-20, you can hide them by selecting
'Show All Sections' from the bottom of the course menu (LHS) and then go down topic by topic
clicking the 'eye' icon to hide them. Alternativey, email email@example.com
and ask them to reduce the number of topics for you; this is a setting users can't
yet change themselves.
Finally, 'Switch role to...' student mode to see how the finished article looks, and test
all the links you have made to check they work as you expect.
ELE is based on open-source software known as Moodle.
Exeter-specific information about how to use it is provided in the
ELE Staff support area.
The service is hosted by the
University of London Computer Centre (ULCC)
and includes several supported enhancements
to the basic Moodle installation.