My Learning section in Brightspace is where students should find all their learning materials, activities, assessments and related feedback. At a minimum, UCD’s VLE Module Standards Framework should be adhered to.
‘My Learning’ is accessible in the navigation bar. This takes you to the core content area within the module where you can create and share module welcome, introduction, learning materials, activities and assessments with your students. It consists of the following sections: overview, bookmarks, module schedule and my content (which are detailed below).
- Units are broad (level one) categories, which are used to structure module content i.e. weekly, thematically or by module components. You must create a Unit before you can add module content items.
- Content items are learning materials/activities contained within a unit (or sub-unit), these can consist of content files, embedded content, links to (existing) learning activities (i.e. quizzes, assignments, discussions etc).
- Sub-units are used to divide learning materials/activities further within a unit (level two/three etc).
VLE Module Standards Framework - Implementation (UCD’s VLE Standards Policy)
The following outlines how to review and implement the VLE Standards within a Brightspace module and relates specifically to the “My Learning” section of the module.
The VLE Standards require that, at a minimum, the following four Units are included in all academic modules under Learning Materials; 1- Welcome, 2 - Introduction, 3 – Learning, 4 - Assessment.
Details on each unit, including its purpose, is described below, as well as an explanation as to how to ensure the VLE standards are being adhered to.
1 - Welcome Unit
The purpose of the Welcome Unit is to engage the learner with any necessary information prior to undertaking the module. This serves as a point of orientation and socialisation for the student.
The Welcome Unit should include, at a minimum:
- A summary or brief description of the module
- An introduction to faculty and the wider teaching team
- Contact information/hours for the teaching team
Note: This information could be also presented using the Welcome Widget.
2 - Introduction Unit
The purpose of the Introduction Unit is to provide an overview or introduction to the module, setting out expectations as to how the module will be delivered, and what is to be expected of the student.
The Introduction Unit should include, at a minimum:
- The module structure: a note on the format of how the module is to be delivered e.g. lectures, tutorials, seminars, labs, etc
- The module learning outcomes
- An overview of the assessment strategy
- The teaching and learning strategy e.g. individual and group work, reflective learning, case-based learning, critical writing, student presentations, guest speakers etc
3 - Learning Units
All modules should ensure that the Learning Materials area is presented in a cohesive and clear manner, using ‘units’.
The purpose of Learning Units is to present learning content and associated activities to students in a clear and easy to follow manner.
Learning Units should:
- Adhere to a clear, consistent and easy to follow naming convention, which should be implemented throughout. Units should be clearly labeled by topic/theme / week. e.g. Week 1- Introduction to Ethics, Week 2 - Ethics & Business, Week 3 - Ethics in the Workplace, etc.
- Learning activities (e.g. formative assessment opportunities, discussion threads, quizzes, virtual classroom sessions etc) and learning materials/content (e.g. slides, texts, data etc.) are best presented logically and sequentially organised within each learning unit i.e. where possible keep activities and content that relate to the same theme / topic / week together in a learning unit. e.g. Wk1 Lecture Notes, Wk1 Discussion Board, Wk 1 Self Reflection Assignment
- Ensure that there is a minimum amount of ‘sub-units’ in use i.e., avoid multiple layers where students have to click down into sub-units (folders) to access the resource/content.
4 - Assessment Unit
All modules should provide clear direction as to how the students engage with the module assessment strategy, outlining precisely what is required, by when, and how to submit summative assessment materials.
It should also be made clear how and when feedback on assessments will be made available.
The Assessment Unit should include:
- An overview of assessment types in use on the module (referencing the Assessment Strategy as per the Introduction Unit)
- Independent links to all credit-based assessment activities
- Feedback approach e.g., clear expectations as to how, when and where to receive feedback on assessed work, as per academic regulations
General Guidance applicable to all Units
- Ensure that the accessibility score for all materials in the VLE has been reviewed by using the accessibility checker tool, Ally.
- Content can be inputted as “Create a File’, where it is possible to copy and paste from a source file or using an existing template. This helps considerably with accessibility of the module for students.
- Learning materials can be presented in varying forms, such as a video, audio, concise and easy to read text, using an existing template, or links to relevant external materials.
- Use of originality checker for assignments
Regardless of the structural method you choose when creating units (sub-units) it is recommended that you consider the following;
- Add unit (sub-unit) and item descriptions which will appear below the title, they can be used to provide students with a learning pathway (or prompts as to the purpose) or specific instructions on how to complete the activities.
- List your units (sub-units) with learning materials and activities in the order that you would like students to view them (the sequence should be logical).
UCD TEL All Talk; Using Brightspace Templates: optimising module design - Dr Annunziata Esposito Amideo, UCD Quinn School of Business
UCD TEL All Talk: Enhancing Student Engagement with Brightspace - Dr Emma O’Neill, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr Crystal Fulton, UCD School of Information and Communication Studies and UCD Fellows in Teaching and Academic Design