The virtual learning environment is at the heart of the student learning experience, and making sure that you have the right VLE platform for your institution is of critical importance. There is now an incredible level of VLE review activity taking place in the sector - and much collective wisdom and experience has been gained by those who have been involved.
Over the years pedagogies change, technologies change, and student learning preferences change. But for many the VLE has remained static and choices made years ago may no longer be felt to be the right ones. Many institutions embark on VLE reviews in the hope that a new platform will be a magic bullet, and may learn the hard way that they should have done things differently.
Thankfully, we are able to draw on the experience of those who have been involved in reviews and avoid repeating mistakes.
The aim of this Toolkit is to distil the experience, insight and hard lessons learned into a digestible and practical form. It has been developed with input from heads of technology enhanced learning (TEL), project managers, change managers, procurement professionals and commercial VLE providers. Anyone considering running a VLE review should find much of interest - it is full of invaluable insights into the challenges, potential pitfalls, and the ways to achieve a successful outcome. As someone who is about to embark upon a review, I for one will be drawing on it heavily!
When ucisa conducted its biennial survey into technology enhanced learning in UK higher education in 2016 it found that around half of the respondents had conducted VLE reviews over the last two years and a further 44% were planning reviews within the next two years.
Discussions on mailing lists, such as that for the Heads of e-Learning Forum (HeLF) also reveal that significant numbers of institutions undertaking VLE reviews are looking to learn from the experiences of others.
We have produced this Toolkit so you no longer need to reinvent the wheel.
The Toolkit is based on a series of interviews with people who have played a key role in conducting VLE reviews recently or who have been through this process a number of times, often in different institutions.
We look at topics such as the rationale for undertaking a review, how to run a review project, the technicalities of conducting procurement and making sure that you actually achieve benefit from all of this.
You can learn from the real-life experiences of institutions like your own and there are plenty of crib sheets and templates to take away and reuse.