University of Bedfordshire (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 11654-11662
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.2440
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Is there ever a good time for change, and is there a good time to update the primary learning interface between staff and students? During the 2021-22 academic year (September 2020 – September 2021) the University of Bedfordshire undertook a major change project to move our VLE to the BlackBoard Ultra experience, this included all running units on our main campuses, at partners and at our overseas locations. Normally, such a change is a frequent and routine institutional development. However our perspective is unique as we undertook the change during series of ‘lockdowns’ during the COVID pandemic in the UK. The actions we took to supporting learning online, and experiences of our staff and students have led to a refreshed recognition of digital pedagogy. We offer this paper and presentation in two parts: firstly, explaining how we conceived the need for VLE change, the drivers for institutional change, how we used institutional data to inform our approach, staff development, pedagogical change we wanted staff to undertake, vignettes of practice from academic, support staff and students explaining how they transitioned their practice during the pandemic. Drawing upon all these examples we will demonstrate how we turned the difficulties of the COVID pandemic into a pedagogically positive development; secondly, we use the opportunity to reflect upon a major report from the UK’s University regulator the Office for Students’ recent report (Barber Review) to explain how we will turn our institutional knowledge into a full development programme for the implementation of new digital pedagogical practice for our existing and newly joining students who start and continue studying with us in September 2021.

This paper and presentation is aimed at colleagues who wish to examine and explore the lessons learned from a major VLE transition project and the lessons learned and the reflections we have gathered as part of research with staff and students. The later part of the paper is intended to promote our reflections as a path from COVID, and to provide strategic insights into the development of digital learning within the UK. In the latter case we provide an example of our newly developed framework for promoting excellence in digital learning at the University of Bedfordshire.
VLE change, pedagogy, staff, students, online-learning, Barber Review