15-Minute Manual: The Big Three

Site: Moodle
Course: Moodle
Book: 15-Minute Manual: The Big Three
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Date: Thursday, 6 August 2020, 12:02 AM


This short manual covers "The Big Four" learning technologies used at the University and serves as a quick guide for new students who are not yet familiar with MoodleListen again, FASER and Talis Aspire.

1. Introduction

The three most important learning technologies used at the University are MoodleFASER and Listen Again, the so-called "big three" learning technologies at Essex. It is likely that you will need to use these tools at some point during your studies, so it is very important that you make yourself familiar with them.

The following video will give you a good overview of what these three tools do:

A short video about the big three learning technologies used at Essex. Video Credit: University of Essex.

The following pages will give you a brief overview of each system:

Google Chrome LogoWhat web browser should I use with these services?

All three of these platforms are web-based, meaning you need to use a web browser to access and use them. The University of Essex recommends you use Google Chrome, but we also support Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE9 or above), Mozilla Firefox and Safari.

2. Moodle

Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

Moodle is the University's VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Typically, it is used to enhance the face-to-face teaching that takes place at the University, but it can also be used to deliver distance learning courses.


Web address: moodle.essex.ac.uk.

Purpose: The University's online learning space. It hosts most learning materials for modules taught at the University, as well as extra-curricula learning resources for both students and members of staff.

How should I use Moodle?: As a bare minimum, you should be using Moodle on a weekly, if not daily, basis to access learning materials for your modules.

The majority of learning materials at Essex are stored in Moodle, but the platform can do much more than just host digital content. Moodle is guided by social constructionist pedagogy and includes more than 15 native tools that encourage collaborative learning. (Learn more about Moodle's feature set.)

In fact, some studies suggest that students who engage with learning materials in Moodle on a regular basis, e.g. every week, are more successful than their counterparts who only use the site when revising for exams (one or two times a term).

Moodle is a mature software platform supported by a dedicated global team of professional and volunteer developers. The core developers of the service are based in Perth, Australia. 

Moodle is open source software. This means that the University doesn't pay a licence to use it. However, we've spent years customising and improving our own installation of Moodle—which is hosted in one of our data centres on our Colchester campus—to work with all of the other IT systems at the University.

More information about Moodle can be found on the official documentation website for the project, which is called Moodle Docs (think Wikipedia, but for Moodle). This interview with Moodle founder and lead developer Martin Dougiamas is also worth watching if you want to learn more about the thinking behind Moodle:

Finally, for those wondering why Moodle is called Moodle, the word is actually an acronym which stands for Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.


Use the search feature in Moodle to find things more easily. Click on "My courses" > "Search" in the main menu bar to search for modules and other Moodle homepages.

Alternatively, you can use the search box in the main menu bar to conduct a "deep search": Moodle will not only search for your keyword(s) in all Modules and Moodle homepages, but will also search for hits inside the content that has been uploaded to Moodle, or created natively with the tools available within Moodle itself. Note: If you're just looking for a specific module page, you're better off using the search link in the "My courses" menu, as this does not search through content.


FASER (Feedback Assessment Submission Electronic Repository)

FASER is the University's bespoke coursework submission, assessment and feedback platform. The system allows students to upload digital copies of their work to the web. Departments can then use FASER to mark the submitted files and provide electronic feedback to each submitting student.

Like Moodle, FASER can be accessed via any computer with a connection to the Internet. This means that you can access the site from home, wherever in the world that may be, from one of the open access labs on campus, or even while sipping an espresso in a coffee shop in Milan!

Using FASER, students can check coursework deadlines, upload work and see feedback returned to them by their department. Staff can use FASER to check submissions for plagiarism, mark work online and provide rich feedback to students.

For more help and support using FASER, go to the FASER Help Centre.

4. Listen Again

Listen Again (Powered by Panopto)

Listen Again is the University's lecture capture system. It records the audio and video of many of the timetabled teaching sessions that take place every day during term time.

Listen Again recordings help students:

  • Improve their understanding;
  • Consolidate their knowledge;
  • Revise for exams.

The Listen Again service is only available in teaching rooms or lecture theatres where the recording equipment is installed. Information, usually in the form of a poster, will be displayed in these rooms to signal that the service is in operation.

Listen Again is our lecture capture and playback service. It records the audio in a teaching space as well as the video output of the teaching computer, and lets students listen back to their lecture recordings at a later date.

The service is available in nearly all centrally timetabled teaching rooms and lecture theatres, or wherever you see the Listen Again logo.

Recordings are stored for two years, after which they are deleted. Staff can set a recording preference, which determines which audiences can access the recordings.

If you're a student, you can use Listen Again to go over something you didn’t understand, revise for exams, overcome language barriers, or catch up on that lecture you accidentally slept through!