Virtual Learning Environment: Minimum Standards and Expectations

An effective Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is essential for student learning in the 21st Century, and has a wide range of benefits to all students, including promoting accessibility for and engagement with learning in a fully inclusive approach. Swansea University is currently exploring ways to make its curricula more flexible, student focused and to promote personalised learning, along with a review of the VLE itself, therefore enhancing the Minimum Standards and Expectations for our Virtual Learning Environment is timely. Notably, increasing numbers of students who require enhanced flexibility through the Talented Athletes Scholarship Scheme, increasing numbers of international students, and to provide enhanced support for students with specific learning requirements.

Students say their priorities for an effective VLE are that navigation is simple and things are easy to find, there is consistency across modules, and resources are accessible, organised and designed to support their learning. Moreover, internal survey results indicate that students highly value the availability and accessibility of both learning materials in advance of teaching sessions, and recorded sessions after teaching sessions through the use of video capture.

Why do we have a Minimum Standards and Expectations Policy?
  • To provide an easy to use and predictable user experience for students and their supporters.
  • To enhance the information provided to students and to encourage their active participation in their own learning.
  • To ensure that materials provided to students are available in advance and designed to be inclusive from the outset.
  • To provide a solid foundation from which colleagues can go on to develop active and blended learning opportunities.

Who are these Standards for?
  • Students
  • Academic staff
  • Academic mentors
  • Support staff

Core Principles
  1. Each module should normally have a clearly defined, accessible and consistent structure within the Virtual Learning Environment.
  2. All students should be able to access all relevant information on the virtual learning environment equally at any time (Inclusive practice).
  3. All students should expect to find the minimum standards and content for all modules within the Virtual Learning Environment (see implementation checklist).
  4. Increasingly, each Programme should seek to develop a specific page/s to encourage a greater sense of integrity and community at Programme level.

Implementation Checklist
VLE Menu Item Content Source Comment
Module Information

Module synopsis

Module  learning outcomes

Module Key/Employability Skills

Module syllabus

Assessment Components

Fed from the module catalogue information

 

 

 

Currently need to be added by Module Co-ordinator from the Module Maintenance system

 

Modules should be updated annually via module maintenance. The VLE module information should be automatically updated when saved. Further work required for data that doesn’t auto-feed

 

Responsible: Module Co-ordinator

Staff Contacts Details of staff teaching on the module, contact information and office hours Module Co-ordinator/Module Maintenance Responsible: Module Co-ordinator
Module Content

Title, structure and outline for each teaching session.

Module timetable.

Aims/objectives/expected outcomes for each teaching session.

Learning materials for each session normally at least 48 hours in advance in an accessible format*.

Lecture recorded videos normally available within 48 hours of the session**

Further reading relating to each session in advance.

Student expectations – how students are expected to use the VLE for each module/session.

 

 

 

 

 

Module Co-ordinator

 

 

 

* Checklist for Inclusive Learning Materials (to be updated to new SAILS guidance)

 

Responsible: Module Co-ordinator

 

** Where lecture recording is available.

Assessment & Feedback

Summary of Assessments (formative and summative).

Assessment and Feedback calendar & deadlines (formative and Summative).

Advice and guidance on Academic Integrity, plagiarism and contract cheating.

Referencing Guidelines for students.

Detail of individual assessment (formative and summative):

·         Assessment Task

·         Submission instructions & Electronic submission points (e.g. Turnitin)

·         Weighting

·         Marking Criteria/rubric

·         Link to marks and feedback

Sample papers / questions & answers

Assignment Survival kit – ASK

Module Co-Ordinator

Module Co-Ordinator

Link to Academic Guide/Regulations/Assessment Policy within template

 

Link to relevant handbook/website

 

 

 

 

Module Co-Ordinator

 

 

 

 

 

Module Co-Ordinator

 

 

 

Embedded within template

Responsible: Module Co-ordinator
Reading List Reading List Automatic feed from Leganto Reading lists

Amendments to the reading list must be made in the Leganto system

Responsible: Module Co-ordinator

Library Guides University Library Guides Hyperlink to the University Library guides webpage Information Services and Systems
Getting Help Information on where to get help MyUniHub website and contact information Academic Services
Student Voice

EvaSys mid-Module Feedback

EvaSys end of Module feedback

Automatically fed via Academic Services team Academic Services

The Following tables identify areas of enhancement and/or effective practice that staff may wish to include in VLE pages:

Module Level
Additional Information or Material

About this module site

Introducing your module

Teaching Plan

Module Calendar

Online tests/self-assessments

Podcasts, videos etc

  Responsible: Module Co-ordinator
Programme Level
Programme Level Information

Programme Learning Outcomes

Programme Employability Outcomes/Key Skills

Programme Assessment Schedule

Module Options/Pathways

Learning Opportunities (years abroad or in industry, summer placements)

Programme Handbooks

Programme discussion boards

Programme Approval and Management System Responsible: Programme Director
Compliance and Monitoring?

Each Subject Area/Board of Studies is responsible, with student representatives, for auditing their implementation of the minimum standards and expectations. Initial random sample checks should take place before the end of Semester 1 in each academic year, with a follow up random sample check early in Semester 2.

All Module Co-ordinators and Programme Directors will be required to reflect on their VLE provision through Annual Programme Review (notably Annual Module Review). Directors of Learning and Teaching in Colleges/Schools will oversee a consistent approach to auditing and monitoring VLE provision, and ensuring that this is embedded in standard review processes (N.B. we would expect Colleges/Schools to implement a monitoring approach which works within the subject areas, rather than expecting the Director of Learning and Teaching to review each site).

VLE sites will also be sampled and audited on an annual random basis by a range of colleagues including those from SALT, SAILS, Student Representatives and/or the TEL Team, to ensure the load can be spread across the institution.

All audit reports, including relevant aspects of Annual programme Review analysis, will be submitted to College/School Learning and Teaching Committees and the University’s Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee for monitoring after each review point.


 

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