Migrating content

The decision to move to a new VLE will inevitably involve a considerable amount of work for academics, many of whom will have already invested heavily in the content they have produced for the existing VLE.

In order to maintain the goodwill of staff, the usual inclination therefore is to undertake automatic migration of as much of the existing content as possible to the new product.

By doing this, you may however be missing out on opportunities to capitalise on the affordances of the new system.

Many universities are taking a 'hybrid' approach whereby they undertake automatic data migration whilst simultaneously providing encouragement and staff development for academics to rethink some of their learning designs to make effective use of the new VLE.

Doing straight data migration is trying to ram a square peg in a round hole as what fits well in one VLE doesn't fit another so the majority of schools have decided to rebuild their modules from scratch.

This allows you to redesign the structure more logically and gets rid of legacy issues. Migration and tidy up doesn't give you these affordances.

Andrew Raistrick, Business Analyst and Project Manager,
University of Huddersfield

Glasgow School of Art was working to a very tight timescale so took a 'hybrid' approach to migrating content. All of the content from the previous VLE was zipped up and migrated to hidden folders named 'old'. They also provided a blank outline for each module in the new VLE.

The things that had been expected to pose migration problems, such as complex quizzes, really weren't a problem at all.

The biggest problem was that the previous VLE had been in use for ten years and few courses had ever cleansed their data. The number of zipped folders within zipped folders meant that much of the data transfer had to be done manually.

The institution felt it was worth undertaking this work in order to keep staff on side because they felt academics would not be happy having to populate everything from scratch. However, in practice, many academics who asked for their data to be transferred later wished they had started from a clean slate.

The University of Sussex took a Big Bang approach to rolling out a new VLE to all staff and students In September 2018.

A decision has been taken to migrate one year's worth of content from the old system and academics have the option either to build their modules afresh or to use the migrated content.

The Technology Enhanced Learning team is however strongly encouraging people to think about the new capabilities and what these possibilities might mean in terms of learning design.

David Walker, Head of Technology Enhanced Learning, told us about their two-pronged implementation campaign:

  • The first phase is implementation and transition. The University needs to get the new system up and running and supporting things such as their sophisticated workflows for e-submission. They also need to train over one thousand staff on the fundamentals of the new platform.
  • The second phase is enhancement. The Technology Enhanced Learning team will offer a programme of training and development and work with each school on consistency through blueprinting and templating. Once academics have undergone the basic training and have access to their content and modules, the central team will be facilitating development of pedagogically driven, experiential learning.
Top tip

Try to build in the possibility that you can accelerate your implementation if it is proving successful. London Business School planned a phased implementation to give people time to adapt. As soon as they started implementing the new system, the previous one began to look very dated and staff enthusiasm for the change increased.