As part of the LearnUCS Review the Elevate Team attended a number of Departmental staff meetings. Staff arranged themselves into small groups (no larger than three people) and answered two broad questions;
1. How are you currently using the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) within your teaching, learning or assessment practice?
2. How would you like to use the VLE to enhance your teaching, learning or assessment practice?
The intention of the LearnUCS Review is to ensure the VLE (in the widest context) is fit for purpose to support UCS’s 2020 Vision.
LearnUCS is the VLE component of UCS learning technologies. The full suite is available from the e-Learning Tool Landscape
The analysis clustered responses into common themes. The broad findings are;
- Staff currently use the VLE within a content plus model. This implies core learning activities and support are face to face. Administrative information (announcements, calendar) readings, material, submission of assignments and some support is provided online (Institute of Education 2007:7)
- Staff requirements for TEL in their teaching, learning and assessment models are covered by LearnUCS, and/or the wider e-Learning Tool Landscape at UCS.
- The barriers to adoption do not indicate there are issues the actual VLE software. The barriers tend to be related to processes, wider UCS hardware and time. With respect to the role of the Elevate Team (and Learning Services) a set of actions are required around revisiting the staff development and support programme, to ensure we maximise the availability of face to face support for individuals and course teams
- The required enhancements include known issues for Blackboard, in particular enhancements around the electronic management of assessments, the Learn Mobile app and discussion board tools, these are on Blackboard’s road map
How are you currently using the VLE?
The analysis adopts the the Mason (1998) framework. It is evident the majority of staff (eight out of eleven groups) used the VLE within a content plus model. This is where they focus on e-administration to support their learning and teaching models. Within this sample there was little evidence of an integrated model. However, one group used it within an integrated (e-learning) model. Therefore, we need to accommodate these requirements.
Content plus support model
Module content, web links, e-submission, tutor support and announcements
Wrap around model
Where there is a mixture of pre-prepared content and online learning activities. The learning activities involve online discussion and collaborative activities.
Where most of the learning takes place via collaborative online activities and content is largely determined by the learners, either individually or as a group. Learning is very much student centred and highly collaborative.
How would you like to use the VLE to enhance your teaching, learning and assessment
Is this currently possible?
Wider e-Learning Tools
Interactive pathways (interactive quizzes)
There are a number of quiz systems available at UCS which allow interactive learning pathways and can be used in online and face to face learning environments.
Use of multimedia in T&L (podcasts)
Assuming this covers the creation and delivery on multimedia (video and audio) learning objects, and the integration of these within learning activities.
Repository for all UCS dissertations
The UCS dissertation repository can be linked to, from LearnUCS. However, this is not single sign-on.
Virtual Group Work
There are a large number of platforms to support online group work. LearnUCS includes a group working area.
Within our license it does not include a web conference facility. However, group tools including Google Drive / Google Hangouts, and Visimeet cover this requirement.
Recording student presentations
The Elevate Team provide an AV service to support the capture, editing and distribution of student presentations.
This is not currently available within the current LearnUCS license. However, UCS does use Google Hangouts or Visimeet
Create talk over powerpoints
This feature is not included within the VLE. However, the Elevate Team support the use of Screencastify with YouTube
Grade centre integration with SITS
This feature is not available within current license. There is a development between Blackboard & Tribal (SITS) to provide this integration.
Online calendar / personal tutorials
Booking personal tutorials is managed in LearnUCS through the Wiki tool. Overall, a technology enhanced calendar / personal tutorial management tool is outside the scope of the e-learning team.
Barriers to adoption
- Time to develop materials, with support from Learning Services
- Some files don’t open properly with the online marking (ODT files)
- Desktop software (windows) creates problems
- Support routes - inline with availability (3pm onwards)
- Don’t know, what I don’t know …
- Ability to submit large (multimedia) files
The barriers to adoption do not indicate there are issues the actual VLE software. The barriers tend to be related to processes, wider UCS hardware and time. With respect to the role of the Elevate Team (and Learning Services) a set of actions are required around revisiting the staff development and support programme, to ensure we maximise the availability of face to face support for individuals and course teams
- Better management / display of discussion tools (all on one page, not in threads)
- Submission to allow multiple attempts, but delete only the latest
- Need to enhance mobile (iPad) app (2)
- More effective management of the grade centre - can we reduce the number of clicks
- More roles, external examiner
- Submission process: Email confirmation to student of submitted work, more granular portals (one person)
The required enhancements include known issues for Blackboard, in particular enhancements around the electronic management of assessments, the Learn Mobile app and discussion board tools, these are on Blackboard’s road map