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General Information 

  1. What is the UM Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)?
  2. What software is required to access the UM VLE?
  3. What steps do I need to follow to start using the UM VLE?
  4. How do I access the UM VLE?
  5. Where can I get guidance about copyright?
  6. Does the University support a plagiarism detection tool?
Using the VLE
  1. How can I learn how to use the VLE effectively?
  2. I have uploaded material in my study-unit area but my students cannot access it. What can I do?
  3. How do I grant access to students to my study-unit area?
  4. I would like to prepare material for a study-unit that will be delivered during a future academic year. What can I do?
  5. I had a study-unit area/s of a previous academic year. I will be delivering the same study-unit/s during the next academic year. Do I need to do anything?
  6. What happened to the study-unit area/s of previous academic years?
  7. What steps do I need to follow to copy the study material from an archived study-unit area to that of the current academic year?
  8. When trying to upload a file in the VLE, I receive a warning stating the file I am uploading is too large. What should I do?


1. What is the UM Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)?

The UM VLE is a web-based learning environment which provides tutors with a range of tools to support students with their studies. Tutors use the VLE to post teaching materials and resources such as course notes, reading lists, online articles, audio and video-clips etc. The VLE supports communication and collaboration between tutors and students through the use of discussion boards and chat rooms, and enables students to submit coursework online. The study-unit areas on the VLE are only accessible to students who are registered to the respective study-units on SIMS (Student Information Management System).

Early every September, the study-unit areas for the upcoming academic year are added to the UM VLE (which contains the study-units areas for past academic years).

The UM VLE is based on the Moodle platform.


2. What software is required to access the UM VLE?

You need a web browser and an Internet connection. It is recommended that you use the latest version of any of the following browsers. The minimum versions required are Google Chrome (v. 30), Mozilla Firefox (v. 25), Safari 6, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 10. Previous versions are not recommended.

You may require other software to use certain resources in the UM VLE, such as Adobe Reader to view PDFs and Adobe Flash Player to view Flash content. Adobe Reader and Flash Player are available for download.

Remember that you are able to access the UM VLE from all IT Services open access workstations.


3. What steps do I need to follow to start using the UM VLE?

Academic staff registered on SIMS who wish to use the UM VLE can access it at any time by signing in using their UM IT Account. No requests are required to start using the UM VLE. When you access the VLE, your study-unit/s will be displayed and you can immediately start uploading the study-unit material etc.

Remember that only study-units on offer during the current and past academic years are available in the UM VLE. If you wish to start preparing a study-unit area to be delivered during a future academic year, you can use the sandbox area.

If you cannot find any of your study-units in the VLE, check that you are registered on SIMS as a tutor for the missing study-unit/s:

  1. Access eSIMS.
  2. Click View / Print Study-Unit Reports under Study-Unit Reports and Email Facility.
  3. Select the academic year, e.g. 2014/15.
  4. Click Retrieve Study-Units button.

If the study-unit/s do not appear on eSIMS, contact your faculty or departmental office so that they can register you as a tutor for the missing study-unit/s. Once data is entered in SIMS, the study-unit/s will appear in the VLE within 24 hours. 

If you have used the VLE in the past and you would like to transfer the course material to study-unit areas of the current academic year, you can use the VLE Copy Tool.

You are also encouraged to read through the Start of Semester Checklist

4. How do I access the UM VLE?

You can access the UM VLE by selecting it from the Quicklinks at the top-right corner of any University of Malta webpage. If you are not signed in, enter your username and password. Information is available if you encounter any problems with signing in.


5. Where can I get guidance about copyright?

The Library has produced a set of guidelines related to copyright and intellectual property rights. Some of these guidelines are related to content published on the VLE.


6. Does the University support a plagiarism detection tool?

Tutors can make use of the plagiarism detection software (Turnitin) through the UM VLE. More information about Turnitin is available.

7. How can I learn how to use the VLE effectively?

From time to time, IT Services organises workshop sessions on the use of the VLE. User guides are also available.


8. I have uploaded material in my study-unit area but my students cannot access it. What can I do?

You need to make your study-unit area available to students. Study-unit areas are not immediately available to students, in order to provide you with a private space to develop your study-unit area.

When you access the VLE, a list of your study-unit/s will be displayed. A grey coloured study-unit title indicates that the study-unit is hidden from students. A blue coloured study-unit title indicates that the study-unit is visible to students.

When you are ready to make your study-unit area visible to students, you will need to turn on visibility by following these steps:

  1. Access the UM VLE and click on your study-unit area.
  2. In the Administration block, click Edit Settings under Course Administration (left side of the page).
  3. Change the Visible setting from Hide to Show.
    Change the Visible setting from Hide to Show.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save and Display.

You are also encouraged to read through the Start of Semester Checklist.


9. How do I grant access to students to my study-unit area?

After you make your study-unit area available to your students (read FAQ 8), all students registered to the study-unit on SIMS are automatically granted access to the study-unit area. You only need to inform your students that your study-unit has a presence in the UM VLE. Students can then access the study-unit area just as you do using their UM IT Account. Students who experience issues with accessing the VLE should be directed to IT Services Helpdesk.

Note that First Year and Resit students may not be able to access the VLE immediately, until their student records are settled. They should be able to access the VLE around the third or fourth week of October. 


10. I would like to prepare material for a study-unit that will be delivered during a future academic year. What can I do?

The UM VLE includes those study-units on offer during the current and past academic years. To start preparing material for a study-unit which will be delivered during a future academic year, you can make use of your sandbox area.

The sandbox area is also used to explore and experiment with different features of the VLE. The sandbox area is not accessible by students.


11. I had a study-unit area/s of a previous academic year. I will be delivering the same study-unit/s during the next academic year. Do I need to do anything?

Early every September, the study-unit areas for the upcoming academic year are added to the UM VLE (which contains the study-unit areas for past academic years).

You can use the VLE Copy Tool to copy the course material from study-unit areas of previous academic years to those of the current academic year. Read FAQ 12 for more information. 

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12. What happened to the study-unit area/s of previous academic years?

In line with the VLE archiving policy, study-unit areas of previous academic years will remain accessible to you and your students for revision purposes etc, as follows:

  • Study-unit areas for 2015/16, 2016/17 etc will remain accessible from the UM VLE.
  • Study-unit areas for 2014/15, 2013/14, 2012/13 etc will remain accessible from the Archives & Other VLEs page.

You can copy material across different study-units by using the VLE Copy Tool.


13. What steps do I need to follow to copy the study material from an archived study-unit area to that of the current academic year?

You can use the VLE Copy Tool to copy the study-unit material from archived study-unit areas to the ones on offer during the current academic year. This online tool copies all the files, resources and activities that the tutors have set up for students, except for any submissions made by students, such as assignments, forum posts etc.  

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14. When trying to upload a file in the VLE, I receive a warning stating the file I am uploading is too large. What should I do?

This warning occurs when you are trying to upload a file to the VLE (such as a presentation or a document) that is larger than the size limit, which is typically set to 50MB. IT Services encourages tutors to upload small sized files, as larger files take longer to upload, and can be frustrating for students to view them (particularly on tablets or mobile phones).

Some suggestions to reduce the file size:

  • Convert files to PDF: In general, it is a good practice to upload PDF versions of your documents, presentations, spreadsheets etc. Note that this will convert the file to a format which is not easily editable by students. MS Office 2010/2013/2016 has built-in features to save files to PDF. (Suggested further info: Microsoft)
  • Presentations: If there is a requirement to upload a presentation in its original format, you can reduce its size by compressing pictures in slides. (Suggested further info: Microsoft)
  • Zip files: Use file compression tools to convert your file to a zip format. The VLE has built-in tools to unzip compressed files i.e. convert zipped files to their original format. (Suggested further info: Microsoft, Mac)

If you are unable to reduce the file to an appropriate size for this to be uploaded to the VLE, you may upload the file to your University Google Drive, and create a shareable link which you would then add as a URL resource in your VLE area. To create a shareable link for a file/folder stored on your Google Drive:

  1. Locate and select the file/folder in your Google Drive.
  2. At the top, click Get shareable link  button. A window will pop up.
  3. Make sure the switch is green, indicating that the setting is active. Copy the file link.
  4. Additional settings are available through the Sharing settings link.
  5. In your VLE area, click Turn editing on.
  6. From the Add a resource drop-down menu, select URL.
  7. Type in a Name and Description for your resource in the respective text fields.
  8. Paste the shareable link in the External URL text field.
  9. Click Save and return to course button.
Contact IT Services if you require further assistance.
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Last Updated: 7 September 2017

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