In 2011 CLTAD undertook a process of consultation with students and academic staff throughout University of the Arts London (UAL) to determine how the current VLE (Blackboard) was being used and to understand better the preferences and requirements of its users.
Central to this process was a series of focus groups held at each of the colleges. Separate focus groups were conducted with students and academic staff – and all participants gave generously of their time and ideas. In addition to discussing the current VLE and other eLearning Platforms and methodologies to support blended learning, the discussions would also address issues of communication and collaboration across the university and how digital solutions could help to enable and improve these.
Further information about these focus groups and the sunsequent decision to move from Blackboard to Moodle is available @: http://blogs.arts.ac.uk/future-learning-technology/
University of the Arts London is now starting to engage with Moodle and this process is described @ http://vleprojectblog.myblog.arts.ac.uk/
So, why Moodle and why is this of potential importance and interest to DIAL? To answer the first question: Moodle is an open source platform which has been much improved in its current version 2 guise. As such, it allows and encourages a lot of the customisation, individuality and ease of use features highlighted as essential in the consultation phase, as well as communication/convergence with other popular platforms in use at UAL. These other platforms include http://myblog.arts.ac.uk (which hosts this blog), http://workflow.arts.ac.uk (our ‘ePortfolio’ platform), http://process.arts.ac.uk and additional platforms (for example ALTO OER resources) which are currently under development. These platforms – and other external solutions used by academic staff and students – present great opportunities as well as some skills development needs. The consultation process also highlighted some digital literacy and awareness issues which require further exploration.
As part of this ongoing exploration an online ‘Digital World’ questionnaire is being developed for academic staff and students.