02 April 2020 - Digital TeachingThe new Moodle platform: Powerful features for digital teaching

A central learning platform for Heidelberg University: The new and powerful Moodle platform can be used to publish recorded teaching content as well as to teach digital live courses.

Studierende mit Laptops und digitalen Geräten, die an Online-Kursen teilnehmen

Primarily, the new learning platform provides lecturers and students with the following key benefits:

  • New technology as a powerful foundation for a stable and secure teaching environment
  • New, integrated video platform heiCAST for easy publishing of asynchronous audio and video content, e.g. lecture recordings, directly on the platform
  • Optional synchronous teaching, e.g. holding seminars or small events via the online conferencing tool heiCONF
  • On-demand access to teaching materials
  • A central platform for the entire university 

How to use the platform: Easy access via Uni-ID

The learning platform can be accessed at: https://moodle.uni.heidelberg.de.
All students as well as university staff involved in teaching can access the platform via their Uni-ID. Temporary lecturers (Lehrbeauftragte) can also receive a Uni-ID for the duration of their teaching appointment.

Asynchronous and synchronous teaching: Available services

To protect the stability of the German data networks, lecturers should primarily focus on asynchronous teaching. Synchronous teaching (live streaming) should be avoided if possible, especially for large-scale lectures. In addition to increasing the overall stability of the digital services, this will give students the opportunity to access teaching materials more flexibly.

The new integrated video platform heiCAST is ideally suited for recording and publishing asynchronous educational content, such as lecture recordings. Lecturers can easily manage asynchronous teaching formats directly in Moodle, integrate them into Moodle course rooms and make them available to students there.
The software Camtasia, for example, is well-suited for creating videos for digital teaching. Lecturers can now purchase it at a significantly reduced price from the URZ. With Opencast Studio (available at https://heicast.uni-heidelberg.de/studio), heiCAST also provides a browser-based solution for video and presentation recording, which is currently available in a beta version.

For synchronous teaching, that is, simultaneous teaching and learning, you can use the online conferencing tool heiCONF. This allows lecturers to host smaller, interactive events such as seminars, tutorials or small-scale lectures in real time. Recording of events in heiCONF is currently not possible due to privacy restrictions.

Secure, stable and scalable: Some technical background information

The new learning platform is significantly more powerful than the existing platforms. Moodle is powered by the university cloud infrastructure heiCLOUD. The underlying cluster of virtual machines allows for easy scaling, even with the expected increase in Moodle usage. The new service heiCAST is based on the open-source software Opencast.
The conferencing tool heiCONF, based on the open-source software Big Blue Button, can also be used for teaching purposes. Like the Moodle platform, heiCONF is operated on our heiCLOUD servers, which means that all data remains on university servers.

Digital teaching in the summer semester 2020: Manuals and further information

For more information on migrating content from previous platforms, please visit the open course “Moodle-Migration” (German) on the new learning platform. Further tips and forums for online teaching can be found in the course on digital teaching, also available directly on the Moodle platform for all lecturers. This course also contains video tutorials for creating Moodle courses and streaming video with heiCAST.
Access to the course is protected by an access key, which lecturers should already have received via an internal e-mail. Otherwise, it can be obtained from its Moodle disseminator.