How can VLEs support the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education?

Where has this post come from?
I was inspired this week after watching Liz Thomas’s keynote presentation ‘Inclusive learning to improve student engagement’ at our University’s Teaching and Learning Community Conference. In it she said that students who felt a sense of ‘belonging’ were more likely to stay on a course and succeed:

Liz Thomas shares her research with the audience

Liz Thomas shares her research with the audience

This got me thinking…we need to stop thinking of myCourse (our moodle virtual learning environment) as just being a virtual noticeboard and somewhere to issue and submit assignments.* Instead we need to think of it more in terms of a physical space that can allow for many interactions, both passive and active, between people from different backgrounds and roles. It’s all good and well having a lecturer pin a notice to a cork board in a corridor, but where is the opportunity for instant dialogue? How can the lecturer ensure that all his students have seen this notice? How about students wanting to share something interesting they’ve discovered whilst watching a TV programme they happened to see on the Discovery Channel, or wanting to organise a group trip to a museum exhibition? As a lecturer, you’d love to see your students actively engaged in your subject area, and that’s the issue; how to foster a healthy and happy community of learners where everyone feels like they’re part of a progressive and supportive group, all sharing a common interest.

After watching Liz Thomas’s Keynote presentation, I reminded myself of Chickering and Gamson’s ‘Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education’. In their paper they identified seven principles that could greatly enhance the student experience, principles that could be adopted by lecturers and utilising the tools and functions in myCourse:

Good practice in undergraduate education:

– Encourages student-faculty contact
– Encourages cooperation among students
– Encourages active learning
– Gives prompt feedback
– Emphasizes time on task
– Communicates high expectations
– Respects diverse talents and ways of learning

These good practices may all seem like common sense, but I’d love to pull together a support guide to help our staff with using myCourse to support each one. I’ve managed to get a few lecturers interested and will be exploring this idea in more depth over the summer.

I’ve found a few resources online developed by other universities and experts that can help us to come up with our own ‘Solent Version’:

I look forward to updating you all when I’ve got a bit further down the line,

Sam 🙂

*This is a very generalised comment – we have a number of amazing lecturers who are doing wonders with myCourse – I’d love that number to keep growing and become ‘the norm’ rather than ‘exemplar’ 😉


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