Replacing the University’s existing module focused virtual learning environment with something that was fit for purpose for 2015 and beyond was always going to be a huge undertaking. However, with early buy-in from a large number of students and staff, the process has delivered a more innovative and engaging learning experience for all.
“I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say there was genuine excitement when the Digital Learning Environment (DLE) project launched,” reflects Technical Project Manager Rupert Frankum. “After battling for so long with SharePoint, people really embraced the change and engaged with the process.
“We held ‘show and tells’ with staff and they were so popular, we had to move them into lecture theatres,” said Rupert. “We had a total of 2,000 people attend and that provided a wealth of feedback that we were able to address by adding new functions to the DLE.”
The DLE’s functions include timetable information, coursework submission,e-assessments and module information that guide students towards extensive learning options. Users can also access peer-reviewed learning and book meetings with tutors, all through a single sign-in.
“It opens up a wealth of possibilities for teachers to engage with students outside of the classroom,” said Professor Neil Witt, Head of Academic Support in Technology and Learning. “Of course, that does mean that we might have to work a little harder to provide that additional content that will enrich their studies, but with the DLE automating a number of processes, it frees up time to provide that rich content students respond to.”
With 6,000 Academic Partnership students now also able to access it, and the potential to open it up to prospective students and other external contacts, the DLE has become a portal into the teaching and learning community of the University.