Message to all staff about MMU’s Learning Technologies Review

For colleagues who missed the all-staff bulletin about the review, the content is repeated here:

The department of Learning and Research Technologies is collaborating with the Centre for Learning and Teaching and departmental e-learning champions on a review of the institution’s learning technologies.

The current WebCT Vista Virtual Learning Environment software and hardware is approaching end-of-life. The review will look at the leading commercial (Blackboard) and open source (Moodle) options for replacing it. The review will also develop proposals for improving podcasting, classroom technology, online assessment, electronic portfolio and the information, advice and guidance arrangements required to make best use of this technology.

It is important to emphasise that:

  1. WebCT Vista will remain the institutional VLE for 2010/11
  2. A new VLE (either Blackboard or Moodle) will be established during 2010/11 – it will be available to pioneers from July 2010; programmes with cohorts commencing in January 2011 will use the new system exclusively, with all programmes utilising the new system with effect from September 2011
  3. Options for migrating content currently in WebCT Vista will be considered as part of the review

Focus groups have already been taking place across the institution, but these will be extended to enable wider engagement through faculty road-shows in the week commencing December 7:

Monday : 07/12/09 : 10:00–14:00 : Geoffrey Manton Atrium

Tuesday : 08/12/09 : 10:00–14:00 : Crewe Student Zone

Wednesday : 09/12/09 : 10:00–14:00 : Aytoun Entrance

Thursday : 10/12/09 : 10:00–14:00 : Hollings Entrance

Friday : 11/12/09 : 10:00–14:00 : Gaskell Foyer

Friday : 11/12/09 : 10:00–14:00 : Didsbury Staff Common Room

Project team members look forward to your input, either through the road-shows or via email to

Professor Mark Stubbs
Head of Learning and Research Technologies

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One Response to Message to all staff about MMU’s Learning Technologies Review

  1. Alex Lee says:

    I visited Crewe on Tuesday as part of the roadshow. We had some good discussions with a number of staff which I have summarised below:

    Comments from “Crewe Staff 1″ in Business and Management Studies
    – Can the new VLEs allow the customising home page to display the information he wants?
    – How do both systems handle being enrolled on a vast number of courses? He wants a better way to manage information overload from too many course enrolments.
    – Related to the point above, how can both systems handle different versions of units for each academic year?
    – The new system should be faster!

    Comments from “Crewe Staff 2″ in Excersise and Sports Science
    – Is it possible to push out targeted programme / department / faculty info via the main page? This could depend on students enrolments, if they have English as a second language, if they are fully distance learning students, and so on.
    – There is a built in wiki in Moodle, is there one in BB9?

    Comments from “Crewe Staff 3″ in Business and Management Studies
    – Enrolment system needs to be flexible, specifically with students who start in non-standard months
    – There needs to be better support for staff and students with VLE problems
    – Students accounts are being disabled for non-payment of fees – even when fees aren’t due yet

    Comments from “Crewe Staff 4 & 5″ from Crewe & Alsager library
    – Is it possible to push customized information for distance learning students, perhaps via the VLE homepage, or MyMMU?
    – They currently create a lot of content in Wimba Create but it’s difficult for lecturers to import and re-use it in their own units. A good repository would make a huge difference. The repository should have features to automatically update when changes are made to the content, read-only access so lecturers cannot change the content themselves.
    – Do both Moodle and Blackboard work with Wimba Create?

    Comments from “Crewe Staff 6″ in Contemporary Arts
    – Needs to upload small music files into quizzes in the VLE. Can both VLEs handle this, and can you embed small audio files to play within a page? What are the limits on file size before the podcast server should be used?

    Comments from “Crewe Staff 7″ in Business and Management Studies
    – Is going to be doing lots more podcasting, so how will the VLEs work with the podcast server?
    – How good are the formative assessments tools in the VLEs?
    – What kind of collaboration tools are available in the VLEs?

    Comments from “Crewe Staff 8″ in Crewe Institute of Education
    – Does Respondus work well with both VLEs? If there are improved quiz building functions native in VLE, a good reusable question bank, and a repository, then there is no need for Respondus.
    – Java problems really affected students using WebCT, will these problems occur with the new VLE?
    – It didn’t appear obvious how to import pictures in quiz questions in BB9, so he would like to know how to do this.
    – What are the quiz functionality available in both? Is it possible to set up a quiz that randomly chooses a few questions from a larger bank of questions – e.g. a quiz of 10 questions where the 10 questions are randomly chosen from a bank of 100. Also, is there functionality in a quiz to grade students on understanding of different areas of the subject?
    – Was impressed that the announcements in BB9 appear on the front page when a student immediately logs in, would be good if Moodle could do something similar.

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