Digital Learning Platform: Minimum Standards and Expectations Policy

Policy Overview and Purpose

An effective Digital Learning Platform (DLP) 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. 

As well as the implementation of a new DLP, the recent COVID19 pandemic has shifted Swansea University to an even more flexible approach to curriculum delivery, personalised learning and student experience. Therefore, the enhancement of the Minimum Standards and Expectations for our Digital Learning Platform is timely. 

Students say their priorities for an effective DLP are that navigation is consistent and simple, information and materials are easy to find, 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 recordings after teaching sessions through video capture. 

Swansea University has had a minimum content policy since 2012 (updated 2013, 2015 and 2018). The 2020-21 update is designed to further evolve the use of DLP, in the learning experience and enhance student engagement in-line with the numerous, ambitious projects taking place across the institution.


Why do we have a minimum standards and expectations policy?
  • To provide an easy to use and predictable user experience for students and all other stakeholders.
  • To support colleagues in the delivery of teaching provisions in both ‘business as usual’ and unpredicted circumstances.
  • To enhance the information provided to students and 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 online and blended learning courses to promote, and enhance, student engagement.
  • To assist in providing a parity of experience for those learning in either English or Welsh.

Who are these standards for?
  • Students
  • Academic staff
  • Professional Services staff
  • External users

Core Principles
  1. Each course should have a clearly defined, accessible and consistent structure within the Digital Learning Platform (relevant to the effective delivery of the learning outcomes).
  2. All students should be able to access all relevant information on the Digital Learning Platform equally at any time (inclusive practice).
  3. All students should expect to find the minimum standards and content for all modules within the Digital Learning Platform (see implementation checklist).
  4. Detailed information relating to the specific assessments and feedback should be included in all academic Canvas course (module) sites.
  5. When the option is available to study in either Welsh or English or both languages all students should expect to find the minimum standards and content for their modules provided in their chosen language of study within the Digital Learning Platform.

Implementation Checklist

The following table details information which module coordinators/lecturers are required to include within the standard Canvas course (module) template:

Course Item

Content

Source

Comment

Responsible

Course Navigation Menu

Home (Page)

Modules

Assignments

Reading List

Announcements

These are created and imported into new courses by a Blueprint template within Canvas.

 

Additions to course navigation will be based on course specific requirements and made within the relevant School/College.

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

Home Page

Customisable title/banner

Welcome message

Course Overview

Course Content

Course Discussions

Course Assessment & Feedback

These are created and imported into new courses by a Blueprint template within Canvas when they are automatically created.

 

Include text informing students that if they encounter any accessibility problems with content or resources who (lecturer name and details) they should contact for support.

The academic course blueprint template is based on staff and student User Experience (UX) testing and will be evaluated periodically.

 

Staff should customise the text below content headers.

 

 

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

Course Navigation Menu: Modules

Course Overview

 

Module/course information including synopsis, syllabus, delivery, contact, hours and learning outcomes needs to link to the module catalogue via the course overview page. Provide details of what will be available / delivered in Welsh.

It is recommended that assessment and feedback information is included on this page, including a reminder that work can be submitted in Welsh.

Modules should be updated annually via module maintenance. The DLP module information should be automatically updated when saved.

 

This section, is designed to provide relevant information to students and manage their expectations and increase engagement.

 

A link should be provided for the module timetable.

 

 

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

Modules

About your Instructor- Contact Details

Details of core staff teaching on the module, contact information and office hours.

Staff should personalise their contact details, and office hours. The staff list for team taught modules should highlight which staff member(s) will be delivering in Welsh and supporting students studying in Welsh medium.

It is recommended that information detailing where to get College / Department / Programme help is also included in this section.

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

Modules

Course Question Board

Created as part of the Blueprint template

A pre-created discussion board that can be used to collect and answer student questions.

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

Modules

Library Guides

Created as part of the Blueprint template

This provides a link to the University Library Guides webpages.

 

Created as part of the Blueprint template

Modules

Assignment Survival Kit – ASK

Created as part of the Blueprint template

This provides a link to ASK interactive tool.

 

Created as part of the Blueprint template

Modules

Course Content

**Week 1 (Title/Theme):

Sub-sections:

Weekly Overview

Overview/To-do List

Presentation

Supplementary resources

 

**Weekly activities – Individual assignment

Group discussion

Quiz

 

**Weekly Review

Wrap-up and Looking Ahead

The headings are created and imported into new courses by a Blueprint template within Canvas.

 

 

**The weekly headings and sub headings are a result of student and user testing, 86% preference for weekly layouts, but they can be personalised to the individual course delivery.

 

The module structure should be copied for subsequent weeks to aid consistency and familiarity in the DLP.

 

Aims/objectives/expected outcomes for each teaching session.

 

Learning materials for each session available at least 2 working days in advance in an accessible format.

 

Accessible lecture recorded videos available within 2 working days of the session.

Further reading relating to each session in advance.

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

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

 

It is the staff responsibility to check all the content is accessible and appropriately attributed prior to publishing.

 

Guidance can be found in the links at the end of the document.

Course Navigation:

Assignments

Assignments

A central place where students can view their assessment submission points.

 

Academi Hywel Teifi can provide guidance on Welsh/bilingual assessment best practice, including information on assessment and the Welsh Language Standards.

It is strongly recommended that a summary of assessment and feedback (formative and summative) is provided to students in the Course Overview page.

 

Areas to cover include:

· Calendar of deadlines

· Academic integrity advice & guidance

· Referencing

· Remind students work can be submitted in Welsh regardless of the module’s language of delivery

· Detail of individual assessment:

o   Marking criteria/rubric

o   Assessment Task

o   Submission instructions & submission points

o   Weighting

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

Course Navigation:

Reading List

Reading List

Reading List is a 3rd party tool, and is an automatic feed from iFind Reading service embedded into the navigation menu.

Amendments to the reading list must be made in the iFind Reading service and can be actioned through contact with relevant colleagues in the library. Subject librarians can support Colleges with this.

 

For reading materials, outside of core text, staff should use the ‘supplementary resources’ page within the weekly folders.

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

Course Navigation: Announcements

Announcements

A space for staff to post course announcements to students.

Announcements should be made in the language of delivery for the module, and bilingually for modules taught in Welsh and English.

Module Co-ordinator / Lecturer

 

As with all policy, Subject areas which exceed the minimum criteria or deliver them in a more advanced way are still deemed to meet the criteria and should not be required to reduce the standard of provision.


Support and Guidance

Compliance and Monitoring

Staff must ensure they meet the University’s commitment to the Welsh Language Standards in respect to content they make available on the platform. The University’s Welsh Language Policy Office: welshlanguageoffice@swansea.ac.uk are able to offer advice on this.

Each Subject Area/Board of Studies is responsible, with student representatives, for auditing their implementation of the minimum standards and expectations.

All Module Co-ordinators and Programme Directors will be required to reflect on their DLP provision through Annual Programme Review (notably Annual Module Review). Directors of Learning and Teaching will oversee a consistent approach to auditing and monitoring DLP 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). 

DLP sites will also be sampled and audited on an annual random basis. SALT will devise, undertake and disseminate the results towards the end of each academic year.

All audit reports, including relevant aspects of Annual Programme Review analysis, will be submitted to Faculty/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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