Minimum standards for VLE areas

IT Services recommends the underlying content for any study-unit area in the VLE. These are recommendations; these are not meant to be prescriptive or restrictive.

Academic staff may refer to a sample study-unit area (UM VLE / JC VLE) which is populated with the content in the list below.

Study-unit description / Syllabus

The content of the study-unit description should match that available on the UM Course Finder / SIMS.

In case of the Junior College, the syllabus outline with respect to the subject should be included. 

VLE profile

The tutors should populate their VLE profile with a photo, office location, student contact hours etc. Note that your profile will be the same one across all your VLE areas. It is also recommended that tutors encourage students to update their VLE profile to help personalise the online environment and allow online discussions between collaborators to be more easily followed.

Refer to the Editing your profile quick guide.  


By default, all VLE areas contain this forum. The Announcements forum is used by the tutor to communicate important information about the study-unit. All students will also receive a copy of this information in their University mailbox. This is a one-way forum which means that students are not able to respond to posts in this forum.

Refer to the Sending messages and announcements quick guide.  

General Q&A forum

This is a standard discussion forum which students use to post questions about the study-unit. Students should be encouraged to use this forum to communicate queries about the study-unit etc. rather than send these via email to the tutor.

Refer to the Setting up and using forums quick guide.  

Communication statement

This is a statement clarifying how the students and tutor will communicate (e.g. via the VLE forums, when to use email) and expected tutor's response times.


A list of readings for the study-unit. The tutor can organise direct links to readings available through the UM Library E-Journals and other websites. Alternatively, the students can use this list to search for the journal articles themselves.

Other learning resources

The tutor can include electronic copies of course notes/handouts, presentations displayed during class and links to electronic resources available on the Internet (e.g. YouTube videos etc.).

Refer to the Adding study material guide.  


An outline of the assessment for the study-unit. This should include clear instructions, submission dates, marking criteria and weightings for multiple assessments (where applicable).

  • For study-units assessed through an end of semester test, include a past paper or sample test questions.
  • For study-units that are partly or fully assessed through an assignment, include an Assignment or Turnitin Assignment (UM VLE only) activities. Note that students can be asked to submit an electronic copy of the assignment and a printed copy of the assignment.
More information about Turnitin is available.

It is important that your VLE areas have an intuitive logical structure to help students navigate quickly, understand the sequence of activities, access information and easily understand the layout of the VLE areas.

Use section heading

Use section heading for each topic to maintain consistency across sections and help students see where they are. 

Provide section overview

Provide a description in each section to introduce the topic or set of resources/activities. This gives the students some context of what they should find in a particular topic area.

Use labels

Bring together common elements, use labels to provide common sub-headings across sections to help students navigate. Labels can be images as well as text. When providing titles for resources and activities make sure they are clear, unambiguous and consistent. 

Avoid clutter

A cluttered VLE area can be difficult to navigate. Before each iteration of the study-unit, update your VLE area. Ensure that any resources from previous years are still relevant. Regularly check your VLE areas to fix or remove any broken hyperlinks (URLs). Avoid overloading the VLE area's homepage by placing content into folders and hiding unused items. If the VLE area is still long, consider using the Collapsed Topics format to aid navigation.


Provide accessible learning resources by ensuring that:

  • Images have alternative text that is read by screen readers
  • Navigation is consistent
  • Coloured text has high contrast against backgrounds
  • Links are descriptive (avoid 'click here')

Copyright practices

Observe intellectual property and copyright legislation. Refer to the Library guidelines about the copyright and intellectual property rights of content published on the VLE.