Smart, C. (2011) VLEs at the heart of curriculum innovation, JISC e-Learning Focus, February 7

This article looks at four projects using VLEs in the UK:

  • eBioLabs, at University of Bristol
  • Improving assignment handling and other student services at the University of Oxford’s Continuing Studies division
  • a Learner Portal to give students more control of their learning and progress at Lewisham College
  • The Mobilising Remote Student Engagement (MoRSE) project at Kingston and de Montfort Universities.

I wasn’t sure what Christina Smart meant by a virtual learning environment but it turned out that all the projects were adaptations of existing learning management systems (Moodle in the first two cases and Blackboard in the last two).

Main conclusions:

firstly institutions are making use of a wide variety of technologies to meet their curriculum needs (over 60 different technologies across the programme) and secondly VLEs, particularly Moodle, are at the heart of many institutional innovations. One message that has emerged from the 15 projects is: Don’t feel constrained by your institutional VLE, there are novel and interesting ways to use it.

It seems that the increased ubiquity of technology has also led to an increased confidence in universities and colleges to experiment

These are useful case studies (I liked the eBioLab application particularly) which were all successful as judged by the participants. The report is well worth a quick read.


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