Site wide VLEs (3 Short Papers 0047, 0173, 0064)


12:00 - 13:00 on Wednesday, 8 September 2010 in Room 3bc


47 Up stream, down stream and out of stream: the institutional challenge of redesigning for quality blended learning
Mark Brown


64 Quantity and quality? Using site metrics to measure VLE adoption and inform planning
Carol Shergold, John Davies


173 Making the strategic learning environment a virtual reality: implementing a new approach to educational technology
Susannah Quinsee, Neal Sumner, Annemarie Cancienne, Olivia Fox, Stef Smith, Anise Bullimore


47 Up stream, down stream and out of stream: the institutional challenge of redesigning for quality blended learning
Mark Brown
This paper is set in the backdrop of the carefully phased implementation of a new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in a dual mode university. It describes how the transition from WebCT to Moodle (aka Stream) has been the catalyst for a number of first and second order changes, including the implementation of a new quality enhancement framework. Although the definition of quality in university-level education is highly contestable, the paper reports the development of a formal peer review system for teaching which aims to scaffold quality reflections and pedagogical conversations about learning design. Implicit throughout the paper is the question: What does quality blended learning look like and how do you promote it? The lesson illustrated through several examples is that the goal of quality blended learning is dynamic, continuous, context-specific and must be locally owned –for better and worse. In swimming against major structural barriers, the paper reflects on the challenges of building a scalable and sustainable culture of innovation and excellence in teaching.


64 Quantity and quality? Using site metrics to measure VLE adoption and inform planning
Carol Shergold, John Davies
This paper examines how site metrics from an institution's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) have been used to inform and focus planning at departmental level and with individuals. The context of our work is a UK University in which the VLE (based on Moodle 1.9) has been available for use on an opt-in basis by all teaching staff since autumn 2006. Previous literature demonstrates that VLE site metrics based on site characteristics and student activity can been used to supplement data collected as part of surveys and studies (e.g. Black, Dawson, and Priem 2008). Relatively few studies have, however, explored how this data can be used to inform planning and the allocation of support resources (Beer, Jones, and Clark 2009). At the University of Sussex, a small central team comprising IT and Education Development staff are responsible for ongoing technical and pedagogic enhancements to the VLE. Since this team is not able to review every site individually, could a metric-based approach highlight underlying patterns that would help to focus finite resources on particular areas? What would be the limitations of using automatically gathered quantitative data to build a picture of site quality? Since its launch, adoption of the VLE has spread so that for autumn term 2009, 70% of courses (modules) offered within the University had an associated VLE site. Taken at face value, this suggests that take-up has been favourable. The extent to which adoption varied across departments and the structure and quality of these sites was, however, difficult to determine given that around 650 new sites were created in autumn 2009. This paper reports on the ways that different metrics were developed and tested, the way that metrics were combined together to build site or departmental profiles, and perhaps most importantly on the various initiatives taken forward with departments. Its findings will contribute towards an understanding of how institutions can use ‘data for free’ (Black, Dawson, and Priem 2008) to target the enhancement of e-learning reduce the need for time-expensive surveys of hard-pressed students and busy academics.


173 Making the strategic learning environment a virtual reality: implementing a new approach to educational technology
Susannah Quinsee, Neal Sumner, Annemarie Cancienne, Olivia Fox, Stef Smith, Anise Bullimore
This paper builds on work presented at ALT-C 2009 which outlined City University London’s approach to evaluating our virtual learning environment and the creation of a vision for a Strategic Learning Environment (SLE). We are now one year into our implementation of Moodle, which is acting as the cornerstone of our SLE. Over this year, the SLE vision has started to become a reality. More than just the implementation of Moodle, our vision for how we wish to implement, run and manage educational technologies now encompasses our portal, collaboration tools (blogs, wikis etc), more than five different learning technologies and our web redesign project. It is now driving the way that the University supports our core strategic objective to offer a high quality educational experience. Our approach has been an incremental one, which built on the coalition of Schools and Central Services created during the evaluation of our strategic learning technologies in 2009. By developing a partnership model of working with Schools, which has devolved much of the responsibility for implementation, planning, support and development to Schools, co-ordinated by a strong commitment from Information Services and led by the Learning Development Centre, we have been able to engage staff in the development of a shared vision. Central to this has been a robust governance structure which enables transparency, decision making and clear responsibility. Rather than forcing different projects to engage with the SLE, we have demonstrated the opportunities that this model offers as well as its flexibility and priority of the student experience at its core. In this session we will outline our approach and achievements in the following areas as well as identifying the key challenges we are facing: stakeholder engagement; change management; development and training; planning and implementation. We will also consider the inevitable culture change issues that accompany the move from a proprietary to an opensource system. Participants in this session will gain an understanding of the approach taken to embedding educational technologies in a strategic framework. They will also receive ideas and our lessons learnt on a set of key topics.