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30th March 2020

To the uninitiated, the learning technology market can feel confusing.

There are many different platforms, technologies and brands to consider, not to mention a wealth of jargon to deal with and a constant evolution of learning trends and features.

For any organisation trying to choose the right platform to house their learning and engage learners, the choices can feel overwhelming. Trying to separate facts from hype, and staying focused on the factors that matter, can be a challenge.

The team at ucisa (the professional body for digital practitioners in education) recognised that many of its members were reviewing VLEs and encountering many of the same questions, challenges and issues. In response, they created a toolkit that covers the entire process of evaluating the VLE market. It is designed to help teams navigate the process efficiently and effectively, without stumbling over any of the common hazards that usually make these processes muddy and protracted.

The Toolkit also helps you go beyond the review stage, with thorough guidance on procurement, implementation and optimisation of your chosen virtual learning environment (VLE).

VLE Review Toolkit

How did ucisa create this toolkit?

The VLE Review Toolkit emerged from a series of interviews with people who played a key role in conducting VLE reviews, or who have been through the process more than once. Stakeholders include leaders from dozens of universities around the UK, as well as independent consultants and representatives from technology firms.


What does the VLE review toolkit include?

The VLE Review Toolkit provides a complete overview of an effective technology review process – as well as handy tips scattered throughout the website.

The sections include:

Envisioning. This section focuses on the big picture. What are your ambitions for teaching and learning in your institution? The VLE Review Toolkit also explores the history of VLEs and what the future may hold for these technologies, so you can anticipate and plan for major changes.

Specifying. How should you define what you want your VLE to do? The toolkit explores how to define your requirements and encourages you to focus on the outcomes you want to achieve, rather than how these are achieved.

Procuring. If the outcome of your VLE review is that you decide to switch to a new platform, then the toolkit provides guidance on how to begin the procurement process and how to manage relationships with suppliers.

Implementing. Whether you are upgrading a current system or switching to a new provider, the Toolkit has guidance on completing the process effectively. It also touches on hosting options, how to manage the project and whether to import legacy data or start fresh.

Delivering the benefits. Now that you’ve implemented your new VLE, you are ready to make the most of it. The toolkit explores how to achieve a VLE that is a genuine hub of student activity and discussions – not simply a repository for documents.

One factor explored in the toolkit is the use of VLE standards. This means creating guidelines so that staff understand the standards expected of content, coursework and messages that are posted or hosted on the VLE.

UCL has published their own e-learning standards on their public wiki: UCL E-Learning Baseline

Resources. The toolkit also includes a comprehensive table of links to resources and guides used to inform their research.


The VLE Review Toolkit

If your organisation is planning to evaluate your own digital learning environment, then we recommend you visit the VLE Review Toolkit. It is a fantastic resource and the quality of its own research shines through.

The toolkit can help you avoid many of the common pitfalls that affect this kind of technology review and procurement process.

VLE Review Toolkit


The LearnUpon LMS

Our own preferred learning platform is LearnUpon. While this technology is chiefly described as a learning management system (LMS) it does offer the same community and discussion-fostering features that educators look for in a VLE.

Want to know more about Marshall E-Learning – or the LearnUpon LMS? Contact our friendly team to find out more.

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