Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) have helped many educational institutions transform learning through engaging, interactive courses that are simple and easy for learners to access and navigate. Consistency in approach, design and layout across course modules as well as simple, intuitive navigation is important for both students and tutors.
So too is the engagement level of the content, which can be optimised through interactivity and course design techniques such as gamification.
Tutors and other course creators don’t need design skills to curate compelling content and if help is needed, it is at hand. This will ensure that all courses and modules are designed to support the achievement of learning goals.
Usually, the parameters of learning, e.g. course length and required outcomes are fairly well defined. The objective then becomes to make the learning experience truly engaging in order to optimise outcomes for all students. Flexibility and adaptability are key, as diverse student populations can span a range of ages, backgrounds, learning styles and knowledge levels.
Engaging course content for successful outcomes
Engagement levels are a significant factor in students progressing in their studies, but a range of factors can contribute to student disengagement. This makes it almost impossible to design a ‘one size fits all’ course that will work for every student. By recognizing every student is different, chances of success can be maximized by building flexibility and adaptability into course design.
The University of Suffolk embarked on developing three new degree apprenticeship courses, including a nursing apprenticeship which would comprise a mix of face-to-face and independent online learning. The aim was to respond to the individuality of each student and enable learning from a range of locations. Course module templates needed to be reusable whilst also having the ability to maintain a consistent ‘look and feel’ for students, with equal length modules and high-quality, well-presented content to positively shape the learning experience.
“Brightspace is fantastic as it supports a blended learning approach, which gives our students the flexibility to learn wherever and whenever they need to. Whilst other learning platforms we tested were restrictive, Brightspace enables us to teach how we want to teach, and our students to learn how they want to learn” – Said Ellen Buck, Director of Learning and Teaching at University of Suffolk. Read full the story here
The VLE provides a range of tools that can be used to improve the quality of courses. If additional support is needed to get up-and-running, creative services can ensure course designers get the most out of what the platform has to offer, consulting on the best learning pathways for engagement and skills retention. With the right guidance, tutors and other course creators can take course design further, for example, building in more interactivity through gamification and expanding the range of formats used to include multimedia. This can be useful for:
- New VLE users who want to get to grips with engaging course design
- Existing users who want to do more
- Institutions launching new courses and looking to attract students with an engaging learning experience
- Course creators who are looking to enhance course content and/or delivery.
Transforming static courses that rely heavily on text and other non responsive content can result in a more inspiring learning experience. It can also help ensure that content meets accessibility requirements and is suited to viewing on handheld devices, in support of students interacting with the platform on and off-campus to suit the way they study.
Templates, personalised to the institution and the knowledge on how to use them can set course creators on the right path to creating both modules that meet an immediate need, as well as new modules needed in the future. It’s surprising how much can be achieved without prior design skills. With the right tools, used in the right way, course leaders can design effective and engaging digital learning courses that help students and institutions get the results they’re looking for.