Staff and students from across the University have agreed a set of ‘minimum expectations’ on the use of Learning Central. The idea is to set out clear guidance on what should be included in Learning Central modules as a baseline, and tackle the dissatisfaction sometimes felt by students in regards to the inconsistency and partial use of the VLE.
The purpose of this blog post, however, is to highlight the excellent work that some Schools have already done in regards to their use of Learning Central; how they have established consistency through their modules (through the information and resources available to students), and allowed all their students to receive the same degree of experience when using the VLE.
There are two particular Schools I would like to highlight here, the School of Healthcare Sciences and the School of Modern Languages. I would like to also thank Bex Ferriday (HCARE), Mark Cooper (MLANG) and Joanne Pagett (MLANG) for sharing their resources and the information about what they did within their respective schools.
School of Healthcare Sciences
Healthcare Sciences already had their own ‘minimum expectations’ Learning Central template that they had been using for a few years. This is the standard template used on all of HCARE’s modules on Learning Central. The current version in use is a template that is a combination of their own ‘expectations’ and the new ‘minimum expectations’.
This template has been well received by the staff, and even though training was offered, it was not needed. However, the Learning Technologists at HCARE created online resources and guidelines to help staff with using the template.
The template they use include screencasts on all the sections, and these are relevant to what they need to do; for example, there is a help screencast on using Announcements in the Announcements section. Also, these screencasts are only viewable when Editing Mode is switched on and the user has editing rights for that particular module. This is a very convenient way for staff to gain access to the help guidelines.
Standardisation is very important to HCARE, but this approach also emphasises that convenience and accessibility for the member of staff is also vital for the uptake of meeting the ‘expectations’.
School of Modern Languages
Modern Languages have taken a slightly different approach, but effective all the same. Similarly, they use their own standardise Learning Central template, but also give all their members of staff (or those who manage a LC module) a checklist to go through.
This checklist is given to staff in early September, following Learning Central rollover, and staff are given three weeks to go through the checklist and do any amendments to their modules where appropriate. Staff are also given a hand-out to aid them with this checklist. Finally, another member of staff examines whether the particular module complies with their ‘minimum expectations’, prior to the beginning of the first semester.
Similar to HCARE, the School of Modern Languages values consistency, and their checklist/expectations also includes information on formatting. MLANG organises advice drop-in sessions for their staff throughout the year, but have noticed that not many queries are received in regards to their ‘minimum expectations’.
Their approach has been well received by staff, and the guidelines that come with their expectations has proven invaluable to members of staff. This approach may also seem time consuming, when regarding checking and monitoring every module, but it has proven very effective.