A UNIVERSITY WITH COMMITMENT TO THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
The University of Roehampton prides itself on its student experience and engagement, ensuring that its staff and learning environment, both on and off campus, are outstanding. A top priority is also a commitment by the University to all students, that regardless of their background, we can help our students realise their ambitions.
Based in south west London, the University of Roehampton is situated across two major sites. It has over 175 years of history and tradition, but it is still important to the academic institution that its services are modern and easy to use.
In order to maintain this reputation and support these areas, the University has created a strong Digital Learning department to support technology for teaching and learning and which includes dedicated eLearning, specialist IT and media teams. The department strives for innovation within the University and focuses on identifying new technologies to improve the learner’s journey and provide assistance and tools to the teaching community. In most academic institutions, this would fall under the responsibility of the IT Services, but Roehampton has separated the two departments in order to allow the Digital Learning department to specifically focus on bringing in cutting edge educational technologies to support the student experience and teaching.
THE NEED FOR A SOLUTION THAT SUPPORTS DIVERSITY
The Digital Learning department at the university is dedicated to improving two main areas as part of its ongoing mission. These are to continue to support its diverse user base, and to also improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities or learning difficulties on an ongoing basis.
Blended and online learning are priorities for supporting the University’s diverse student population, as it often hosts assistive technology integrations such as JAWS, Zoomtext and Texthelp Read and Write. Course slides can be uploaded for students who need to take more time to review them outside of lectures, and most virtual learning environments (VLEs) now provide a way of navigating around the course without a mouse and ensure the links and additional files can also be navigated by using keystrokes only. Therefore, it is vital that constant improvements and updates can be applied to drive the flexibility of the platform to assist in all of these areas, as well as ensuring online learning tools are up to date and easy to use.
Three years ago, the Digital Learning department decided it was time to enhance one of its key online learning tools, its VLE, as its eLearning team found it to be too static and wanted to engage students and teachers further in the use of online technologies as part of the learning experience. The existing solution provided challenges to the eLearning team for any development work or new integrations. As a result, they were looking for a versatile solution, that would allow the integration of new products and upgrades easily, and for the VLE to be hosted by a vendor which provided comprehensive support with any of these amendments or developments to the platform.
Reliability was also an important factor for the eLearning team, ensuring that downtime was minimal, and that the host was readily available if any issues should arise.
In order to select a new partner, the University of Roehampton went out to tender. Moodle was identified by the Digital Learning department as the most suitable platform for its needs, due to its clear and modern interface, but what was more important to the University was selecting a partner to implement and host the platform flexibly, supporting new integrations, and it was vital for the new vendor to prove it could improve on the static service currently provided. CoSector – University of London was selected due to its reputation within the HE community for its versatility and its proven experience in providing all the services required.
The University of Roehampton has just reviewed and renewed its contract with CoSector – University of London, a process they worked closely on with their account manager, who was on hand to discuss any alterations they wished to make.
Xavier concludes: “we are pleased with the Moodle platform and the ongoing CoSector hosting service. We’ve felt constantly reassured by them. When you change host, you are taking a big risk. Although you’re hoping there will be some improvement going forward with your new vendor you just never know. With CoSector we were thrilled. In terms of account management, and the business side of it, it’s proven to be worth the switch.”