Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Educational Design and Engagement

Educational Design and Engagement

Enriching the student learning experience & supporting development of on campus and online courses.

VLE Standards Project

The VLE Standards Project aims to review the current use of the University’s main virtual learning environment, Blackboard Learn and develop strategies to ensure greater consistency in the way it is used. Consultations with staff and students by the Learn Service team and the commissioned Headscape review in 2016 both indicated that inconsistencies across such systems causes frustration and dissatisfaction for students. A recent ISG innovation fund project, looking specifically at students’ perceptions of Learn, indicates that accessing course content and information in a clear and consistent way is a priority for students. 

This issue is not unique to Edinburgh or Learn, many other Universities have already implemented standards or thresholds for VLE usage, including: Surrey, York, Oxford, Edge Hill, Swansea, Aston, Newcastle, Sheffield Hallam, York St John, Surrey, Aberystwyth, South Wales, Cardiff, Leicester, Northampton and Bedfordshire.

The project aims to improve the digital experience for all students and users of Learn, specifically by addressing two key priorities in the 2017 Learning and Teaching Strategy:

  • reviewing and enhancing the experience of students on joint Honours programmes
  • reviewing the way our digital estates support high quality learning and teaching and interaction between staff and students.

It will seek to do this by evaluating current inconsistencies in the way that courses are presented and navigated in Blackboard Learn and then by looking to adopt a common standard for all programmes of study, including Joint Honours programmes.

Key Benefits

  • Greater consistency in course presentations within Learn.
  • Better student experience for those studying on Joint Honours programmes, especially where those programmes are across two schools.
  • Supporting and enhancing the requirements of the Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy.
  • Enable greater scaffolding and support for academic and professional staff to develop courses in a more consistent way, and create a greater understanding of how Learn can be used to support their course context.
  •  Schools can benefit from approaches already being adopted by other schools/ units/ programmes as key elements and exemplary behaviours will become more visible.


January – May 2018: Consultation, working with students and staff to identify requirements and priorities.

May – December 2018: Piloting, a small number of schools will pilot templates

January 2019: Review of pilots and plan rollout

May 2019: Complete rollout of templates

June 2019: Templates available

August 2019: Post rollout support


As part of the project we are holding a number of consultation sessions during March and April. This is an opportunity for staff and students to have their say about standards within the Learn VLE. The events will inform participants about the VLE Standards Project and will also provide a workshop environment to enable discussions in order to help define requirements and priorities for the future use of Learn. The details for these events are:




Event Booking Link



KB – Joseph Black Building, G69



Central – 7 Bristo Square, G16



KB – Joseph Black Building, G69



Central – 7 Bristo Square, G16

 Alongside these sessions we would encourage staff and students to complete our online survey at

In summary the project will seek to consult with users to establish requirements that are consistent across the university and advise schools on how they can implement a University-wide standard approach while still delivering their courses in a way that meets the specific needs of school, programme, and courses.

 If you have any questions about the project please contact Paul Smyth at


Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.