At Bedfordshire we are very conscious of the experience of students and
they are very clear that what they want is consistency. To that end, we
have set a standard at a very minimal level which, despite what Peter
says, does allow for a large degree of customisation. We have a short
menu comprising core unit management content areas: Announcements, Unit
Information, Guided Learning, Assessment, Reading & Resources, Staff,
Tools. We require this set to be populated and neither re-ordered nor
re-named, Below this is a dividing line and tutors can add any area they
wish below that. So, a consistent core (Guided Learning is used to align
with the KIS) combined with flexibility. To help students when they are
hopping from one unit to another, we encourage staff to make use of a


Mark Gamble, FHEA
Head of Learning Technology, Centre for Learning, Excellence (Rm D009)
University of Bedfordshire, University Square, Luton, LU1 3JU
Office (+44)1582 489260 ext 9260
Mob (+44)7720 068605 ext 6360
BREO HELPLINE 01582 489205 / ext 9205 Twitterfeed: @Bedsbreo
Facebook: BREO at University of Bedfordshire

From: 	Howe Rob <[log in to unmask]>
To:	<[log in to unmask]>
Date: 	1/9/2013 04:01 PM
Subject: 	Re: Consistency projects

At Northampton, we have been planning a standardised template for the
past year. We have feedback which is indicating that a well-structured
site does help students:
 This was implemented in summer 2012:
*..and is currently being reviewed
Early outcomes are indicating that many staff valued the guidance of
the template. Other moved some content around as more suited to their
course * this was not a problem as long as content was still 
available and followed a logical structure.
We are currently debating what needs to be in the module handbook and
what needs to be on the Blackboard site * we could save tutor time by
not duplicating**.that also leads onto other discussions ;-)

Head of Learning Technology
University of Northampton

Direct Line: 01604 892483
Office: 01604 892696
Switchboard: 01604 753300

Skype: rob.howe4
Team Twitter: @LearnTechUoN

From: Blackboard/Courseinfo userslist
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Andrew
Sent: 09 January 2013 15:07
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Consistency projects

While I agree with Peter to some extent, I think there are benefits to
implementing some degree of standardisation across modules.
Much of the feedback we have received from students revolves around
inconsistencies between the VLE modules and the difficulty they have in
locating information due to the disparate module designs.
To this end, we have implemented a standard menu structure for all
modules which still allows for individual tutors to tailor the structure
of the learning resources to reflect their own pedagogy.
For instance, the module handbook and module specification are in the
same place across all modules and link to the correct version in our
document repository. Likewise, all modules have a Staff Information
button, an Announcements button, a button which links to the module’s
reading list (housed in our in-house software) and an Assignments button
to house information and submission points relating to assessment.
By default all modules are created with a Learning Resources button,
but this is where individual pedagogical preferences can be exercised.
Module leaders can rename this button, or add additional buttons to
closer reflect the taught structure or the course.
While it is not possible to lock down BB to prevent tutors from
deleting or modifying parts of the standard structure, regular reports
are run to identify modules that do not conform. There are then dealt
with by each schools Learning Technology Adviser.
Generally, this standardisation has been well received by academic
staff. Early adopters and those with a leading edge interest in learning
technologies appreciate the benefits that the structure affords while
still allowing them freedom to tailor their module. Followers seem to
appreciate the fact that they have some scaffolding in place to guide
them through their online module development.
As this is the first year we have implemented this, we have as yet only
received hearsay feedback from students. But this seems to indicate a
positive response.
Andy Raistrick
University of Huddersfield

From: Blackboard/Courseinfo userslist
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Peter
Sent: 09 January 2013 14:20
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Consistency projects


Having experienced the imposition of institution wide 'template' it can
be a rather negative experience which can alienate some staff and set
back the process of adopting and enhancing eLearning.

I might questions as to whether there is a need from a pedagogic
perspective, it is far easier from the central point to have identical
sites for ease of access - but the layout of the site in one academic
area might be different from that in another area for some sound
reasons, also the top menu terms might need to be different.

On a practical point from the users perspective if students and staff
are moving between identical units, as we frequently do, it is very easy
to become disoriented - so perhaps you could consider insisting that
units are personalized within the parameters set by a style guide -
perhaps with a logo as a header?

However I would suggest that softly softly approach is best by offering
support for new staff or staff wishing to develop their use of the vle,
develop a style guide and a set of cases illustrating best practice.
What ever you do should be developed jointly with the users.


P. Waterhouse. MA, FHEA
Senior Lecturer; Faculty of Business
University of Bedfordshire
Room B1.07
Polhill Avenue
Bedford, MK41 9EA

Tel:+44  (0) 1234 793198 (Internal 4198)
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>>> On 1/9/2013 at 12:32 PM, in message
<[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>,
Joseph Gliddon
<[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>

Dear All
As part of our Technology Enhanced Learning strategy we are looking at
consistency of our Blackboard courses.  Like most institutions now,
vast majority of our staff use our VLE.
So we are looking at moving from a situation where each individual
has its own individual style to a more standardised look and feel so
as students start new courses they already know where everything is and
hit the ground running.

As well as layout we are considering what is essential in a successful
course (and if the data already exists for a course can we pull it in
* I
am thinking some building blocks).

Ideally we want to do this while at the same time as not restricting
freedom of the individual academic to innovate and not destroying any
existing good practice.  (we are planning a consistent look for each
rather than the whole Uni to allow for differences in approach for
different disciplines)

So I know a number of you have already done things similar to this *
you have any suggestions/lessons learned/feedback from
staff&students/things to avoid like the plague, that you would be
to share.

Joseph Gliddon
e-Learning Implementation Officer
Education Support Unit
University of Bristol
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