Building a new learning platform for University of Edinburgh

So many short courses
So many short courses

It’s not often you get to start from scratch putting together a new learning platform for a University. Most learning technologists and digital leaders have experienced the procurement of a replacement VLE, or a migration or upgrade.  It is rare that we get to work with partners to design from the start, thinking about the new relationships you can make with your learners if you do it right.

Bringing courses from across the University together on a single platform with a consistent learner experience will require both technical and business changes to processes, training and best practice. The Short Courses Platform will be delivered through a phased rollout where we develop capability, test with early adopters and then scale the platform and service. 

The plan is being finalised and key dates will be published  when they are available. For now we are:

  • Holding workshops throughout March 2024 to co-design the new processes and specifications with the steering groups.
  • Establishing platform based roles/permissions, SSO and configuration to support the initial early adopter courses.
  • Working with a small set of agreed early adopter courses and tutors, from the Centre for Open Learning (COL), to develop support and guidance and trial the initial course templates and learner experience for courses running from Summer ’24. 
  • Developing the University’s new short course platform web catalogue including the course search and course description pages. 
  • Collating the short course inventory to understand when courses may move to the Short Courses Platform.  

The introduction of the platform, and supporting service, is the latest step in the University’s Digital Estate Strategy and aims to provide accessible and appropriate teaching and learning experiences for non-credited short courses. It is the start of a new relationship with Edinburgh learners who are not matriculated ‘students’ and who bring a new set of expectations.

Matriculated learners on campus and online will continue to learn via our Learn Ultra VLE, and staff development courses will be delivered on our corporate L&D platform. MOOC learners will still find us on EdX, Futurelearn and Coursera. But this new platform will provide a new home of CPD, PPD, Exec Ed, microcredentials, Data upskilling, lifelong learning, workplace learning, B2B and adult learning.

The Vision for Change 

The vision for the Short Courses Platform is that it will:  

  • Encourage wider access to, and continued learning with, the University through consistent learner experiences and the ability to promote further study.
  • Increase diversity in our university learning community through increased visibility of courses and the expansion of adult education.
  • Improve management information, strategic overview and reporting on non-matriculated learners and non-credited courses.
  • Streamline the learner journey, directing them to the systems and services which are licenced and resourced specifically for non-matriculated, short-course learners.
  • Enable process and system efficiencies by replacing end of life systems and delivering a platform designed specifically for non-credited learners.

This project aligns with Strategy 2030 (Opens in a new window). Key areas from the strategy that this project supports:

  • Social and Civic Responsibility – widening participation in higher education and supporting inclusion.
  • Teaching and Learning – encourage a culture of lifelong learning, greater focus on focuses on experience, employability. 
  • People – bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds and experience, both close to home and across the globe.
  • Research – as a research institution, many of the University’s short courses extend the impact of research taking place by bringing outputs and findings direct to learners across the world.

In January 2024, we started working with Instructure, and their delivery partners Drieam, to design and configure the system alongside establishing the service processes, migrating courses and drafting guidance and training.

Steering Groups with representatives from across the University will support the Board and guide the implementation. Visit Project Governance for more information and details of the Board and Steering Group members. 

 

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