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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. 

VU Collaborate, Making your VU Collaborate Space Accessible

 

Dear all,

 Re: VU Collaborate, useful information

This weekly email aims to provide you with tips for using VU’s new Learning Management System (LMS), VU Collaborate.  We will outline some of the new features of the LMS and provide links to the many helpful resources produced by the Blended Learning Team.  We have provided ‘play areas’ within VU Collaborate (sandpits) for you to investigate the new features of the system that will progressively be rolled out during 2014 to replace Blackboard (WebCT). Please note that most staff will continue to utilise Blackboard (WebCT) over Semester 1, and VU Collaborate will be available in Semester 2.   For further information regarding the timelines for VU Collaborate, please refer to the FAQ guide.

 This week’s tip: Road mapping and Navigating in VU Collaborate Space

 The Blended Learning Team have developed an extensive help site with a range of resources on issues such as course design and management and using the assessment tools. In an online learning environment such as VU Collaborate, it is important to provide a roadmap of activities so students can navigate through the space independently. You can facilitate your students’ progression through your VU Collaborate space by giving them explicit instructions and descriptions every step of the way.  For more information designing navigation, see the help guide.

First time logging in? Using your regular login details please access your VU Collaborate sandpit via MYVU Portal.

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

Regards,

Blended Learning Team

Centre for Collaborative Learning and Teaching
Victoria University
Melbourne Australia

 

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Key Recommendations for VU’s formal learning spaces

Aside from an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes (and now front-of-scenes) work in preparation for the launch of VU Collaborate, the Blended Learning Team has also been working with Facilities and ITS on plans to improve VU’s learning spaces.

The first step was carried out at the end of 2012, when we came together to write an “issues paper” to provide recommendations to the University about its formal learning spaces.   This paper was based on information from focus groups with staff and students arranged by Facilities in 2010/2011, as well as the direct and anecdotal experiences of Facilities and ITS.  The idea of this paper was to provide very high level guidance to the University of what needs to be fixed with VU’s formal learning spaces, and obtain support in order to do so.

The internal paper was endorsed by the Blended Learning Steering Committee (Anne Jones, Peter Creamer, Margaret Mazzolini) in February 2013 and by the Senior Leadership Team in May 2013.   We have been working towards improving these high level issues ever since.

The SLT endorsed internal paper is available on Sharepoint (you may have to login with your normal credentials) at:

http://bit.ly/1lt3FQR

In summary, the recommendations are:

Recommendation 1.   Establish a specific set of learning space types for VU and develop appropriate standards for these spaces.  Standards should incorporate what AV equipment and IT infrastructure is available, colour palette and the style of furniture for each type of space. 

Recommendation 2.   Develop a proposal and seek funding for a rollout plan that would have all learning spaces at VU upgraded to a minimum standard of basic audio-visual equipment by the end of 2016. 

Recommendation 3.   All learning spaces (with the exception of those with specialist equipment or that need additional control due to safety/privacy) to be owned and managed/timetabled centrally to ensure they are utilised efficiently and are included in regular maintenance and upgrade cycles. 

Recommendation 4.   Establish regular pro-active AV and Facilities maintenance inspections of all learning spaces such that issues can be resolved before teaching periods begin. 

Recommendation 5.   Review current support arrangements for learning spaces to ensure they meet the needs of learning and teaching and enable appropriate in-class response times and resolution times for reported AV and Facilities issues.  Investigate the compulsory professional development of all teaching staff in the utilisation of the technologies and the spaces themselves to enhance student learning (e.g. through SPDP). 

Recommendation 6.   Introduce a timetable policy that sets standards around core-teaching hours that results in the most efficient use of learning spaces, reduces the overbooking of rooms, and where requests for specific times, days, rooms are submitted, these must be signed off at a high level (e.g. DVC A&S or delegate). 

Recommendation 7.   Establish periodic review and evaluation of VU’s learning spaces – where possible by incorporating into existing evaluation processes, and ensure that specific evaluation resourcing is built into the funding for any future learning spaces initiatives.  

Recommendation 8.   Establish a Learning Spaces section within the Learning and Teaching portal that houses self-help resources on how to use classroom technologies, ideas for how to use the spaces and technologies for enhancing student learning and information on professionaldevelopment opportunities.  

Recommendation 9.   Establish a consistent nomenclature for learning spaces at VU that is practical and focused on learning rather than technology 

If you have any questions about the report, please contact Lisa Germany.


Dr Lisa Germany

Associate Director Blended Learning

Centre for Collaborative Learning and Teaching

Victoria University

EmailLisa.Germany@vu.edu.au

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Where to get help with VU Collaborate

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VU Collaborate progress ­ your engagement will soon be required

 

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I want to share with you the latest news about VU Collaborate – the new eLearning environment that will replace Blackboard (WebCT) and provide a seamless experience for staff and students to engage in learning and teaching activities online. 

The full launch of VU Collaborate for Winter term and Semester 2 this year is on track, and unsolicited feedback from those involved in the “Live Test” of the system has been very positive to date - hinting at a vastly improved experience for both staff and students:

“I’ve got high hopes for D2L and so far they’ve been met”  (College Business)

“I have to say I set it up SO fast, really easy and intuitive, I also tried to do all crazy things to see how it goes and I have to say it passed with flying colours” (College Engineering and Science)

A full evaluation with “Live test” staff and students is planned for after Easter, with feedback to be incorporated into the system (where possible) before Winter Term or taken on board for future development.

Mark O’Rourke is currently introducing staff at Henan University to our new online learning environment and reports that they, too, are excited particularly about the system’s support for a social learning environment.

mark

Read below for a quick update of what is going on in the project and how you will need to engage over the coming months. 

Collaboration with Colleges

The project team has been working with College leadership on new processes for space creation, as well as communication, migration and training plans.   They have also been working with key individuals to ensure a full understanding of various requirements like managing groups (HE and VEFE) and clustering of units (particularly for VEFE).

Where can I find information on the project and VU Collaborate?

There is now a comprehensive website for VU Collaborate at:  https://blendedlearning.vu.edu.au/   

This site includes an extensive suite of online resources and guides (including text and video) as well as Community forums and the Blended Learning blog (I urge you to subscribe to the blog to be kept up to date with all the latest information).     It will also be where you will book into training sessions and request migration of your shell from WebCT once these processes are finalised with your Colleges (please wait for an email to come out in your College).  It also contains more general information about VU Collaborate, the high-level project timelines and quick “how to get started” instructions at:  https://blendedlearning.vu.edu.au/help/about-vu-collaborate.html.

When do I get access to VU Collaborate?

You already have access to your personal sandpit space!    Access to delivery spaces will occur over the coming months as the team collects the data required to create these spaces via your Colleges.

  1. Login to the MYVU Portal using your standard ID and password
  2. On the right hand side you will see “VU Collaborate” listed, click on the link to be taken to VU Collaborate
  3. Within VU Collaborate, you will see “Training Space” and  a “Sandpit space” under “My Spaces”.   The training space will quickly give you an overview of the system and where to find further help.  Your sandpit space is a blank space for you to play in and start building content if you wish (Note: any content built here can be copied across to an actual delivery space later)

I encourage you to jump in and have a look and a play.

When do I get training?

The project team is currently finalising migration and training approaches with each College and further information about both these aspects will be coming out in the next couple of weeks.  I strongly urge all WebCT users to book into training as soon as it is advertised by your College as you will not be able to use WebCT for Winter Term or Semester 2.   

A final comment

It is exciting that we are less than 6 months away from extracting ourselves from WebCT and moving across to a modern and more user-friendly system for online learning and teaching activities.  However, there is still a lot of information that needs to be gathered from individuals in order to set up spaces for Winter term and Semester 2.  So please – respond promptly to all calls for information that come via your College so that we can ensure a smooth transition.

Professor Anne Jones
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Academic and Students
Phone 61 3 9919 5466
Email  annet.jones@vu.edu.au
Victoria University

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VU Collaborate, Road mapping and Navigating in VU Collaborate Space

 

This weekly email aims to provide you with tips for using VU’s new Learning Management System (LMS), VU Collaborate.  We will outline some of the new features of the LMS and provide links to the many helpful resources produced by the Blended Learning Team.  We have provided ‘play areas’ within VU Collaborate (sandpits) for you to investigate the new features of the system that will progressively be rolled out during 2014 to replace Blackboard (WebCT). Please note that most staff will continue to utilise Blackboard (WebCT) over Semester 1, and VU Collaborate will be available in Semester 2.   For further information regarding the timelines for VU Collaborate, please refer to the FAQ guide.

This week’s tip: Road mapping and Navigating in VU Collaborate Space

The Blended Learning Team have developed an extensive help site with a range of resources on issues such as course design and management and using the assessment tools. In an online learning environment such as VU Collaborate, it is important to provide a roadmap of activities so students can navigate through the space independently. You can facilitate your students’ progression through your VU Collaborate space by giving them explicit instructions and descriptions every step of the way.  For more information on designing navigation, see the help guide.

First time logging in? Using your regular login details please access your VU Collaborate sandpit via MYVU Portal.

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

 

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