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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, assessing student work


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).

This week’s feature: Grades Setup Wizard

VU Collaborate has an easy set-up process for grading and assessment. The grades set-up wizard is a seven set process that guides you through the tasks of creating a grade book. It helps you choose your grading system and the way that the grades will be calculated and then viewed by students.  To find out more about the grades set-up wizard in VU Collaborate, see the training video on the subject.

A helpful hint: Assessing student work

It is possible to provide feedback on student work using the assessment drop box. The assessment drop box allows students to easily submit work, linked to your grading and assessment criteria. Again, we have created a video demonstration to walk your through the process.

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.


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Introducing VU Collaborate Homepage

By now you should be aware that you now have access to your VU Collaborate Sandpit.  A sandpit is a space within VU Collaborate that will be assigned to you for the purpose of becoming familiar with VU Collaborate.  In the sandpit you will be able to play with the various components of VU Collaborate and learn how the platform works. You can also start preparing/uploading course material that can be copied across into your actual online delivery spaces at a later stage. 

To help you get started we have developed a short video introducing you to the VU Collaborate homepage. You can watch it here.

If you haven’t checked out the system yet you can login by

  1. From your start menu, search for and open Google Chrome

o   Chrome is currently the best supported browser recommended for VU Collaborate

o   We have ensured it is part of the standard computer operating environment here at VU and should now be on your PC

  1. Type the following into your browser’s address bar: https://myvuportal.vu.edu.au
  1. Click on the ‘Login’ button and enter your ID and Password (i.e. e123456) , select ‘VU Collaborate’ from the Application Access section

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eLearning Community in Australia

The eLearning Community in Australia is particularly well serviced by a number of Associations and events that facilitate both professional development, lobbying and research activities.  These include: 


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Demystifying blended learning


The first thing everyone seems to ask when gathered in a room to discuss the possibilities of blended learning is, what does ‘blended learning’ mean exactly? Many teachers approach this question with a degree of trepidation, it seems, as if the idea of blended learning is perceived as a kind of nebulous threat to their teaching practice.

I’d like to take a stab at demystifying and de-threatening the concept of blended learning, because, really, it’s nothing so scary.

Multimodal approaches to learning

Blended learning, as far as I am concerned, involves a multimodal approach to unit or course delivery. Multimodal could mean different kinds of spaces in which learning takes place, for example:

  • Face-to-face (F2F) in a formal learning space such as a classroom, lecture hall, tutorial, seminar
  • Online in a formal virtual learning space such as a learning management system (e.g. VU Collaborate)
  • Workplace settings for professional practice
  • Gaming or simulation environments
  • Informal or incidental learning spaces (e.g. library, café, Facebook)

    Multimodal could also mean a variety of pedagogical approaches to accommodate different learning preferences, for example:

  • Face-to-face content delivery through lectures/tutorials
  • Online content delivery through recorded lectures, webpages, embedded videos and other multimedia content, podcasts, downloadable documents such as Word, pdfs.
  • Authentic learning through discovery-based or project and problem-based engagement with real world situations
  • Social and collaborative learning through small group activities, involvement in learning communities, collaborative document creation
  • Peer learning through discussions (F2F) or discussion forums (online), peer assessment, peer presentations.
  • Reflective practice through self-assessment and reflective writing
  • Professional practice through work placement, simulations, role-play

    What else constitutes blended learning? Add your ideas in a comment and let's begin a conversation around blended learning.

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    eLearning good practices (resources)

    A list of some of the resources available to facilitate good online teaching (in development...thanks to JCU)

    1. Open Educational Resources Tool Kit (JISC UK) https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com
    2. Learning to teach online (COFA, UNSW) http://online.cofa.unsw.edu.au/learning-to-teach-online/ltto-episodes
    3. Academic Earth (Video courses from US Universities) http://academicearth.org/
    4. Education the Net Generation (Gregor Kennedy, University of Melbourne) http://www.netgen.unimelb.edu.au/
    5. Contemporary Online Teaching Cases http://www.deakin.edu.au/itl/teach-learn/cases/
    6. Illinois Online Network http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/
    7. MIT Open Course-ware http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
    8. Open Yale Courses http://oyc.yale.edu/
    9. Open Course-ware consortium http://www.ocwconsortium.org/
    10. OER Commons http://www.oercommons.org/
    11. MERLOT http://www.merlot.org
    12. Ed/ITLib: Digital Library dedicated to Education and Information Technology 
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