University of Malta

Minimum Standards for Study-Units in the VLE
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Lecture Capture Pilot

Every now and then, academics approach IT Services to seek advice on the typical content of a VLE area dedicated to a study-unit that is delivered face-to-face.

IT Services recommends the underlying content for any study-unit area in the VLE, which is meant to guide academics in their use of the VLE to supplement their face-to-face teaching. The list is advisory rather than prescriptive or restrictive.

Academic staff may refer to a sample study-unit area which is populated with the content in the list below. 

Minimum Content
  • Study-Unit Description
    The content of the study-unit description should match that available on the UM Course Finder / SIMS.
  • VLE Profile
    The tutor should populate his / her VLE profile with a photo, office location, student contact hours etc. 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.
  • Announcements
    By default, all VLE areas will have 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.
  • General Q&A Forum
    This is a standard 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.
  • 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.
  • Readings
    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.)
  • Assessment
    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 draft and final Turnitin Assignment activities. Note that students can be asked to submit an electronic copy of the assignment and a printed copy of the assignment.
Study-Unit Area Structure & Layout

It is important that your study-unit 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 study-unit 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.
VLE Area Layout
  • Avoid clutter
    A cluttered study-unit area can be difficult to navigate. Make sure that you update your study-unit VLE area each year, and 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 study-unit area's homepage by placing content into folders and hiding unused items. If the study-unit area is still long, consider using the Collapsed Topics format to aid navigation.
  • Accessibility
    Provide accessible learning resources by ensuring:
    • 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.

Contact IT Services if you require assistance with the use of the VLE.

Last Updated: 3 September 2018

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