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Event Report: Advanced VLEs and ILPs

Martin Sepion, RSC London

28th April 2010
Brettenham House, London

The majority of learning providers in London now have a VLE but how do you realise the full potential of VLEs and ILPs to transform learning? This event sought to explore this question through the experience of five learning providers and the different approaches they have taken.

30 delegates from learning providers across London attended the Advanced VLEs and ILPs event run by RSC London at Brettenham House in central London

To set the scene, Martin Sepion (RSC London) presented an overview of the adoption of VLEs in the London region. He then presented a possible framework for a step by step approach to the adoption of VLEs before considering what the future development of the VLE might look like. 

This was followed by a presentation form Nancy Turner of the University of the Arts which outlining the strategic approach to VLE development. 


University of the Arts: Strategic Journey

Nancy Turner, University of the Arts
Nancy Turner
Associate Dean Professional Development
The University of the Arts

Nancy described the University's journey from 2007 when it was recognised strategically that:

  • the VLE was a key component of what the University wanted to do
  • integration of the VLE and the student records system was an imperative for future developments
  • significant investments were needed – financial and staffing 

This journey continued in 2008 and 2009 leading to a top down policy approach in response to feedback from students in a National Student Survey.   There has been a transformation at the University with involvement of Course Directors in the implementation of the policy.

“The VLE is central to the pedagogical approach at the University”

Key messages from Nancy’s presentation:

·         institutional investment and support
·         pedagogical needs not just technological
·         strategic drivers at all points along the way

Presentation: SITS Integration with BlackBoard

Mahara and Moodle at Lewisham College

Patricia Forrest
Head of e-Learning and Innovation (Lewisham College)

Patricia demonstrated Lewisham’s e-ME Learner Portal and linked live to:

  • interesting content in the VLE using different features and tools of Moodle
  • the e-PDPs (ILPs) used with students
  • e-portfolios (Mahara)

The approach taken at Lewisham is “bottom-up" with the involvement of both staff and students in the development of the portal. The tools are provided -  “Here is the tool, go ahead and use it”.  This has achieved remarkable results with Mahara seen as the student social network area. The strategy is simple – students find out about and use it!

Presentation:eME - Learner Portal - awaiting presentation

Over lunch delegates took the opportunity to network and swap ideas.

The afternoon session was dedicated to a “show and tell” with live demonstrations of VLEs and ILPs from 3 learning providers:

Patricia Forrest, Lewisham College

Show and Tell

David Goldenberg
Westminster Adult Education Service

David demonstrated the Westminster Adult Education Service e-ILP; a bespoke system funded by the LSC and developed with ease of use for adult learners in mind.

Key features of the system:

  • Tutors have to input the objectives for each lesson into the course as part of the on-line lesson plan
  • These objectives become the outcomes for each lesson plan and are stated in the ILP
  • Tutors negotiate 'SMART' targets with their students and these are tracked
  • Tutors can monitor the progress of each of their students and record reviews

Presentation: Westminster Adult Education Service - eILP

Ian McDonald
Westminster Kingsway College

Westminster Kingsway College use Blackboard as their VLE and at the moment there is no ILP option.  They have also developed a bespoke “Student Profile” system based on the paperwork they use for tracking and reviewing progress of their students.
The attendance charts provide a snapshot of learner performance which can drill down to the individual sessions.

The text messaging system allows staff to SMS learners instantly – this has been found to be really useful and popular.

Steve Bond
London School of Economics

The “open source” nature of Moodle has enabled Steve to make some local modifications to Moodle.  Steve demonstrated these enhanced features which are available to the Moodle community:


Have developed an multiple choice question (MCQ) analysis report for the Moodle quiz module, to meet the requirements of the Economics department. The report produces cross-tabulations of students, questions and question options, as well as various summary stats not available elsewhere in Moodle.

Reading list system integration

LSE Library has developed an in-house reading list management system. We were able to produce an integration module for Moodle that would draw data from this system and generate formatted reading lists within Moodle for students to see.


Added facility for teacher to move students between categories.
Show replies in chronological order (instead of the rather arbitrary default ordering).


Added new, automatically-populated fields such as username, email address and  user photo that users can add to database records.
Introduced 'lockable' fields that teachers can edit, but students cannot. This was needed to enable use the database as an appointments-booking system.


The 'percent' and 'feedback' columns in the gradebook are sometimes unhelpful (e.g. showing a percentage even when the assignment is graded on a letter scale). Added show/hide options for these columns.


Copied the controls to the top of the window, so users don't have to scroll when there are a lot of files.
Added a sort-by-column feature.

Steve Bond, LSE

Final Thoughts

Summary and Final thoughts

The aim of the event was to share with the community the excellent work being done with VLEs and what is achievable.  The mixture of presentations and the delegate led on-line demonstrations provided the opportunity for peeking into live VLEs and ILPs and exploring areas of interest.

Key messages:

  1. The use of the VLE across an organization can vary – however, strategic direction and intervention is necessary for full adoption.
  2. Getting “buy in” from potential users can kick start the introduction of new systems
  3. Giving the systems to students and staff, letting them know and letting them play, works!
Delegates network at Advanced VLE Event

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