Project Communication Statement
The Learn Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) currently hosts more than 5,000 courses a year and provides access to course materials, assignments, grades, feedback and much more.
The University is investing in improving the student experience through a project to improve the use of the Learn VLE. This project is part of our institutional response to the Quality Assurance Agency Enhancement Themes work – Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience.
There will be plenty of opportunities for colleagues and students to get involved by coming along to one of our workshops, joining our user group, or providing feedback when we make and pilot changes. We will be reporting progress regularly on our project website and through our project newsletter. If you want to sign up to be kept up to date you can join our mailing list by clicking here.
Feedback from a number of surveys and reviews of our digital systems have all highlighted that inconsistencies and poor web usability cause frustration and dissatisfaction for students. Students too often report that they struggle to find important course-specific resources in the VLE, and are spending a disproportionate amount of time on this rather than on the learning activities that they know are important. Adoption of VLE standards can improve student satisfaction and support innovation in the use of learning technology.
Meeting Institutional Needs
Our shared vision, as agreed by the project board, is that 3 years from now… we hope colleagues will say: “Courses in Learn are accessible and relevant information is easy to find by students. Staff find Learn easy to use, and are well supported to make and deliver rich courses online.”
Based on requirements gathered from users of Learn, as well as surveying similar projects in other Universities (https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/LF/What+other+universities+are+doing), a number of areas for improvement have been identified and agreed.
Consistent course navigation and layout will be supported through the use of agreed standard terminology and templates. Templates and checklists will be developed to make it easy for staff to build courses that meet an agreed standard, whilst leaving enough flexibility to accommodate the breadth of teaching activities and subject areas within the institution. Where possible standard information will be automatically created for each course. A range of training and support resources will be developed to ensure that all colleagues have the digital skills they need when they need them. The use and success of these approaches will be evaluated on a regular cycle to ensure that we continue to support staff and students appropriately.
Support for Learning and Teaching
Senate Learning and Teaching Committee approved a project in 2017 to address areas of student concern with VLE course usability. Additional consultations in 2018 with academic colleagues indicate that a review and redesign of the support and digital skills development for Learn is required to achieve this.
This project is part of our institutional response to the National Student Survey and is closely aligned with the University Learning and Teaching Strategy (https://www.ed.ac.uk/academic-services/committees/learning-teaching), in particular:
“Committing to the creative use of digital technologies in our teaching and assessment where appropriate whether online, blended or on-campus”
“Utilising our world-class libraries and collections in innovative and research-led ways to enrich our curriculum”
“Reviewing and enhancing the way that our physical and digital estates support high quality learning and teaching and interaction between staff and students”
“Pursuing the aspiration that every educator is a digital educator, and that all teaching staff are supported in the appropriate use of the full breadth of learning technologies”
This project also supports the mainstreaming adjustments detailed in the University Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy (https://ed.ac.uk/files/atoms/files/accessible_and_inclusive_learning_policy.pdf) including making it easy to access course outlines, reading lists, lecture notes and recordings of lectures quickly and easily.