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Learning Environments Blog

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This blog will keep you updated with news and information from the Learning Environments Team (LET) regarding VU Collaborate or blended learning in general. Please feel free to log in and comment on any of the posts or ideas. 

The Guest Instructor role in VU Collaborate

The Guest Instructor role in VU Collaborate

There may be times where you would like invite a non-VU staff member into your VU Collaborate Space as a guest lecturer, advisor or, in the case of VE delivery, perhaps a workplace assessor or employer. The ‘Guest Instructor’ role within VU Collaborate allows approved external people to interact with groups of students and view content in a space. 

Click here for more detail on the ‘Guest Instructor‘ and other roles in VU Collaborate, including what they can and can’t do in a space.

To enable access, you first need to obtain for them an e7xxxxx ID number.   This requirement is not specific to VU Collaborate, it is mandatory for any non-payroll person requiring access to any VU system. The process is simple and the turnaround time is about ~48 hours.

How to apply for an e7xxxxx ID number

(Note that this is an ‘onshore’ process. Please contact your VUI representative for offshore requests)

Email Professional Services - Professional.services@vu.edu.au with the subject title: ‘Non Payroll ID Request’.

Paste the following details into the body of the email and fill in the required data. The cost centre information is only used to allocate where any costs should be directed if the contractor is given a phone etc.

Information Required for a non-payroll ID number:


Family Name: 


Given Name: 


VU Site Location (Campus):


Expiry Date (1 year maximum):


Non VU Email Address:


Responsible Manager/ Supervisor:


Manager/ Supervisor's Staff ID number (e………):


Work Area (e.g. College of Arts):


Cost Centre:


Contractor’s extension number (if known):


Is this person a returning Contractor:



Once your request has been processed by Professional Services, you will be informed by email, as will ITS and the responsible manager identified in the application.  

The Space Convenor or Teaching Convenor of the VU Collaborate space can then add them to the space using their new e7xxxxxx number. 

If you have any issues with your application for an e7xxxxx number, please contact Professional.Services@vu.edu.au.

Please note that for IT security and reporting compliance purposes, all staff are required to login to VU Collaborate using a VU ID number (exxxxxxx). As Professional Services are the only team authorised to create e7xxxxxx numbers, the blended learning team are unfortunately unable to assist you with this specific query.


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Informal Learning Spaces Evaluation – What Was Said!


Informal Learning Spaces Evaluation – What Was Said!

Last year, the Blended Learning Team (CCLT) started a conversation with students about the study and social spaces (also known as informal learning spaces) at their campus. This occurred via online surveys, emails and interviews. These conversations have provided a better sense of what is working well and what needs attention across VU’s campuses. We are pleased to present an infographic to show you at a glance the key issues identified and the way this information has already been used:


Also, here is a link to the full report which gives the full background, results and discussion of the evaluation.


We are keen to follow this up with discussions around a few of the key issues identified through this survey.

Students are welcome to join us to share more in-depth thoughts on informal and social spaces (duration 60 minutes).

By taking part they will go into the running to win a $100 gift voucher (2 available)

Students can get involved by sending an email to simon.lush@vu.edu.au

Simon Lush

Project Officer (Learning Spaces) – Blended Learning Team

Centre for Collaborative Learning and Teaching

Victoria University

Location: Footscray Nicholson Campus; Building D114

Phone: (03) 9919 7044

Email: simon.lush@vu.edu.au




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Important information: are you ready for VU Collaborate to go live?


Dear Staff,

VU Collaborate is ready for Semester 2 launch and most students will gain access this week or next.

  • VE Student access to VU Collaborate spaces starts 7th July
  • HE Student access to VU Collaborate spaces starts  14th July

We urge you to check your VU Collaborate spaces ASAP to ensure that all is as expected.   If it is not, please refer in the first instance to the following FAQs, and then contact blendedlearning@vu.edu.au or the ITS Service Desk on 9919 2777 if you need further assistance.

FAQs/Common queries

I requested a Space but I can’t see it.

Requesting a Space doesn’t automatically mean that you get enrolled in it. Did you enter your name and request a specific role at the end of the space request form (you can check your Space Request confirmation email)? If not, contact the Space Convenor/Teaching Convenor for the space to check that the space has been created and if so, ask them to enrol you (see below) with the appropriate role.


How do I enrol extra staff in my Space?

Additional enrolments of staff are done through the ‘Classlist’ in your VU Collaborate Space. Click here to see a guide on this process. Note: You will only be able to enrol other teaching staff if you are a Teaching Convenor or Space Convenor.  If you do not have this role in VU Collaborate, you must liaise with your Teaching Convenor or Space Convenor to do this for you.  For more information on which role to give another staff member when enrolling them, see VU Collaborate Roles.


My space is listed as ‘inactive’ and my students can’t see it.

An ‘inactive’ space is usually a sign that the space is actually a Migrated Space, not a Delivery space.

  • A Migrated Space is a copy of your Blackboard/WebCT material and will never be made available to students.  It only exists to provide a way for you to copy Blackboard/WebCT content into your VU Collaborate Delivery Space.
  • Your relevant Space Creator is required to submit a separate Space Creation request to generate your new Delivery Space for this semester. 

Please note that as per previous communications, the process of setting up a space can take up to a week at minimum. It is recommended that any outstanding requests for Semester 2 are completed immediately to ensure your students receive access ASAP.


Where are my students? How do I tell if they have access?

Students won’t get access until the ‘start date’ listed for the space (the date appears in the ‘My Spaces’ list on the Homepage).

If the start date has passed, we encourage you to check that your students have been enrolled in your space.  To do this, go to the ‘Classlist’ under the ‘Communication’ tab in your VU Collaborate space - any enrolled students will be listed there.

If you have any concerns about students that appear or don’t appear in your classlist:

  • Check your Space details (under ‘Space Admin’ – ‘Space information’ in your VU Collaborate space) to ensure that the correct Unit code, name, version, campus/location, semester and academic year have been used to create the space.  
    • If you are not sure of the correct details, please either look this up on Staff Connect or contact the SAVU helpdesk to confirm enrolment details. 
    • If you are certain of the details and confirm that incorrect details have been used to create the space, contact blendedlearning@vu.edu.au.
  • If the space has been set up correctly but you don’t see all your students, this is likely the result of enrolment issues/delays so please contact the SAVU helpdesk.   Please note, the Blended Learning team are unable to assist with enrolment issues or enable “back-door” access to VU Collaborate.   Enrolment issues can only be resolved via the enrolments team.


My new Delivery Space is blank. How do I copy content from another Space?

You can copy content from one Space to another (for example a Migrated Space or Sandpit space to new Delivery Space). Click here to see a guide on this process.


We welcome you to view the Learning & Teaching website or contact the Blended Learning Team for more information about VU Collaborate, blendedlearning@vu.edu.au


Blended Learning Team

Centre for Collaborative Learning and Teaching
Victoria University
Melbourne Australia



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Collaborative authoring of academic articles using cloud services

There are now many different products available for collaborative authoring of documents. The choice of which software to use depends on the particular type of authoring task being undertaken and the nature of the group undertaking the tasks. In academic work, the collaborative authoring of papers has become much more common, supported by products such as Microsoft Office, Google Docs or lesser known services such as Wiggio. However, the writing academic articles is a highly formal and specialised process, thus in there is a need for high-calibre editing, review, citation and versioning mechanisms, especially when more than one author is involved.

Whilst Google Docs was quick-off-the-mark in terms of providing a cloud-based service for the writing and editing of documents by multiple-authors, the service lacked the tools required for the more formal aspects of academic writing (such as structuring long articles, embedded tables and images, and collaborative editing, particularly through tracking-changes to the documents). Many academics settled on the power of Microsoft Word, with its sophisticated editing and track changes functionality, and then simply swapped version of the documents through email or via cloud-based services such as DropBox. This type of collaboration may be effective for thesis writing or small collaborations between say two people, but when more authors are involved in becomes highly inefficient as versioning (manual) becomes problematic as does the ability to locate who is working on what documents at a particular time.

In terms of collaborative authoring, Google Docs and Microsoft have come a long way in the past couple of years; especially in terms of the integration of their services with their respective cloud drives (Google Drive and One Drive). These cloud drives allows for the sharing and storage of documents in one central location (as with DropBox) but with the advantage of having the authoring, editing and review tools built in (ie. Word and Google Docs). Authors can work on the same document at the same time, with the contributions of each author recorded for review by the other authors.

Microsoft Office 365 is the cloud-based version of the familiar Office and offers the Office suite of tools with a large amount of storage (in OneDrive). The cloud version of Word that comes with Office 365 is not as sophisticated as the off-line version of Word, but it is integrated with it and Word documents may be down-loaded if needed. Documents may be worked on collaboratively in real-time, and then down-loaded and refined for submission as a journal article or book chapter. One of the authors, the lead author or the submitting author, could download the Word document from OneDrive, refine it in the offline version of Word, then submit it to a publisher. This is a very effective way of collaboratively authoring papers.


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What are Open Educational Resources?

 As the name suggests, Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available resources for learning and teaching; such as documents, videos, syllabi, software, and images. The advantage for educators is that these resources may be deposited, shared and re-used thus saving time in creating new courses or updating existing courses (also the promotion of the particular institution or field and peer support for others in the same subject area is an advantage of sharing teaching materials). OER’s may be available as individual objects or bundled together as a package. They are most likely ‘open licensed’ through licenses such as Creative Commons or GNU and are made available either on the open web or within institutions. Also, the term ‘Open CourseWare is often used.



What types of materials?

The types of materials that are distributed as Open Educational Resources are usually those that have been previously used in a class-room setting, or designed for a purely online or in a blended learning context. They may be materials for activities or labs, full courses, games, lecture notes, lesson plans, teaching and learning strategies, video recorded lectures, or images and illustrations. The audience for these materials may be lecturers (which is primarily the case) or may be students or even parents or administrators.

What type of licences?

Open Educational Resources are usually licenced so that they may be easily re-used within a non-commercial educational content (ie not re-sold). Many licences allow for ‘re-mixing’ which means that they may be adapted and enhanced to suit differing institutional contexts and student cohorts. Some licences only allow for sharing and re-use and no major revision (ie. ‘read the fine print’) and many are available within the certain educational copyright regime of the particular country (ie. ‘educational use of copyrighted material’ provisions). Attribution is always an important consideration, meaning that the materials taken from OER repositories must be acknowledged so that the original creators of the work are credited.

Where are OER found?

Many OER repositories are available on the open web, such as the OER Commons project or Connexions. The repositories may be run by volunteers or through paid employees on project funding provided by a university or funding agency. Although projects such as OER Commons and Connexions were designed specifically for OER, broader definitions of the term may include projects such as the Internet Archive or even Wikipedia. OER repositories may also exist at a university level to be maintained either by the university library or through the team responsible for the university Leaning Management System (LMS). Leaner Management Systems such as Desire2Learn have inbuilt repositories so that course content may be deposited and shared at a school, faculty, or institutional level (or open to the broader community).

What are the archival (technical) standards?

When OER materials are places into a repository, metadata and archival standards need to be associated with them so that they may be easily located, archived and shared in a meaningful way. SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a common way in which objects may be described, zipped-up into a package and re-used by different Learner Management Systems (LMS). Succinctly, SCORM is a ‘package of lessons’ that are bundled together so as to be understood by the LMS. What this means for educators, is that when placing OER materials into a repository, the correct ‘meta-data’ (data about data) is required about the material; usually inputted through a form to demarcate the type of materials and subjects addressed.

What are the archival (teaching) standards?

Many OER resources are likewise aligned with the teaching standards that may exist in different institutions or jurisdictions. The resources available are often aligned through a peer-assessment of the OER’s utility, quality of explanation, or quality of technical interactivity. The value of this for educators is the certainty that OER resources are of high quality and currency and purposefully meet teaching challenges.


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