How to plan a VLE review and upgrade
Reviewing your VLE is an important practice to ensure you are providing your students with the best learning experience possible, says Dave Kenworthy, director of digital services at CoSector – University of London
A review can help learning organisations make the most of their platforms and help them identify areas of improvement, add exciting new functionalities, or highlight whether another platform better suits their requirements.
According to the heads of digital learning teams at a number of UK universities, reviews have become more popular in recent years. In fact, a survey into technology-enhanced learning in UK higher education in 2016, conducted by Ucisa, found that around half of respondents had carried out VLE reviews over the last two years, and a further 44% were planning reviews within the next two years.
But what are the steps to a successful review? Here at CoSector – University of London, we regularly help our customers run reviews to ensure their VLE not only meets the needs of students and staff, but also exceeds expectations. Here are a few tips to guaranteeing yours goes ahead as seamlessly as possible:
Planning for progress
The first step, before any review activity begins, is to plan. This is where you’ll agree exactly what integrations or amendments will be made to the platform, and it will also provide a guidance of timescales for project completion. Before you sit down with your team, it’s important to note down what has worked well with your platform – as well as what hasn’t – since your last review.
At CoSector, we always provide support to our customers at the planning stage, and strive to make recommendations based on our knowledge of the sector and our expertise. We can also help you identify any issues that could arise during this process and potentially cause roadblocks. For example, last year we helped the University of Roehampton review their platform, during which the recent GDPR law came into effect. Following this, there were discussions between both teams about GDPR and the steps CoSector has taken to ensure the online learning services comply with it.
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Xavier Briche, head of digital learning services at Roehampton, said of the review:
There has been great communication and reassurance. When we were looking for deep expertise, it was useful to be able to turn to the team at CoSector – University of London. They clearly have the knowledge to answer quite complex queries relevant to our context.
Working closely with your supplier for a smooth implementation
The trick to a smooth implementation is a good working relationship with your supplier. By bringing them into the review at the earliest possible opportunity, not only can they help with the initial planning stages, they can also handle the implementation process for you; installing the new functionality to the platform, or transferring student records as needed.
The main benefit to this is undoubtedly the time it frees up for your digital learning team to concentrate on growing other areas of your department, and not having to spend their time implementing the new platform.
This is a sentiment echoed by our customer the University of Plymouth, Paul Westmore, director of IT at the university, says:
One of the key things that working with CoSector – University of London has enabled us to do, is provide what we think is an excellent learning environment with very little in the way of dedicated resources from the University itself.