Stakeholder engagement and communications

How you engage and communicate with stakeholders is a vital part of managing any project and never more so than when you are reviewing your VLE.

The VLE is your most important student facing system and heavily impacts the working lives of many staff whether academic, administrative or technical.

In planning your review project you need to:
  • identify who are the internal and external stakeholders affected by the VLE;
  • understand their attitudes to the VLE currently and in the event of change;
  • decide how you will involve them in the project and communicate with them.

Getting stakeholder engagement and communications right means that people are informed by the University rather than the rumour mill. Gossip and hearsay can emerge swiftly and virally. Before you know it, you may be having to deny that you're planning to turn off certain systems and issue myth-busting communications that absorb valuable resource.

We had been surveying staff and students every other year so we had all of this information to feed into the consultation process. By and large student feedback about the VLE has been really positive since inception. It wasn't broken although there were different perceptions of how things could be improved.

Richard Walker, Head of E-Learning Development,
University of York

People (including at quite senior levels) can be quite stuck on their perception of a particular product and not really look at the benefits of other systems. You need both a pull and push approach to tackle these kind of preconceptions including showing the benefits of other products and identifying the issues that users of their preferred product actually face.

Rob Howe, Head of Learning Technology,
University of Northampton