University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

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 calendars.)

Ideas and Good Practice

Minimum Requirements

Please ensure that every module you are responsible for has an entry in ELE, comprising at least a summary block containing:

Quickstart Guide

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.

  1. Go to <> and if not already 'logged in' use your University username and password to authenticate.
  2. 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.
  3. Navigate to PHYXXXXX.
  4. Turn 'Editing On' using the button at the top right hand side (RHS).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.
  10. 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'.
  11. Click the image to select it and apply the 'Justify Center' paragraph style to position it centred below the title. Click 'Save Changes'.
  12. 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':
  13. 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:
  14. Click the 'Edit summary' icon on the top left of the 'topic 1' box and give the section the title 'General Support Material'.
  15. 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 and ask them to reduce the number of topics for you; this is a setting users can't yet change themselves.
  16. 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.

Further Information

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.

University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)