To promote active learning, Huddersfield University in the UK wanted to upgrade learning with a new virtual learning environment that could excite and engage faculty to use technology in innovative ways. Hear how this award-winning higher education institution is doing what they do best with our higher education VLE.
Speaking: Dr Daniel Belton, University Teaching Fellow – University of Huddersfield, UK
The decision to move to Brightspace was a really big decision for us. Change management is always a challenge because our natural inclination is to resist change. So we’ve had an awareness campaign that’s really sort of made staff aware of what’s happening and why we’re doing this, and why it’s really important that we don’t just stay the same. You know if we stand still actually we’re going backwards. We really thought long and hard about what we wanted from VLE software, and we came up with over 2,000 criteria.
All too often, the online space can just be a passive content repository and what we really wanted was to get students actively engaged with the content and actively engaged with their learning.
We tested three different products and across the board in every category, Brightspace came out on top. That included you know the students testing it, they really loved it. Staff used it and they found it really intuitive to use. It’s going to be a lot of work to move from the old VLE to the new VLE, and we started off calling it a migration but then early on we decided actually that’s not the right terminology. We really wanted to use it as an opportunity to reinvigorate and re-energise how we teach online. Now it’s much more about how we can really get all the affordances of Brightspace, all of the fantastic opportunities that it gives us for promoting active learning.
We’re really getting people to think about the pedagogy of how they’re teaching and how they can use the online space to support that. Something that we’re really excited about actually is some advanced development retreats that we’ve organised so this is two days away for staff, academics can sign up they have to fill in an application form and we’re funding fully funded places for staff just to get some time away and really focus on building some advanced features into their modules. We won the Graduate Teaching Excellence Award last year and we also got TEF Gold, which was a fantastic achievement for us, but these things don’t make us want to rest on our laurels, really these things motivate us to keep going to keep striving to be the best.
D2L really is our partner in delivering a fantastic education to our students and that’s really clear, that really comes across really clearly.