I assisted the transformational upgrade of the VLE to bring it up to speed with its competitors across the UK.
THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
During my undergraduate degree at Goldsmiths, I had the opportunity to learn about topics outside of my degree, often with the help of the university’s Moodle/Learn.Gold platform. While it was a powerful tool, hosting the breadth of knowledge Goldsmiths had to offer its students, it did lack the intuitiveness and accessibility that an e-learning platform should be expected to have.
Once I completed my undergraduate and began my postgraduate degree, I was offered the position of E-Learning Support Assistant at Goldsmiths, where a large part of my role involved assisting in the monumental upgrade of the Learn.Gold platform.
ADDRESSING THE PROBLEMS
When comparing Goldsmiths’ virtual learning environment (VLE) with other universities across London and the UK, it became clear how overdue a user interface overhaul was. Certain breadcrumbs didn’t work as they should have, the calendar function was difficult to use, and students often didn’t know where to turn for help with navigating the platform outside of university opening times.
I conducted research among university students, surveying and hosting focus groups on what they feel should be added to the new design. Feedback included a burger-style sidebar, the ability to sort courses, and a mobile app, which surprisingly we didn’t have yet.
I then submitted feedback to the wider team in the Teaching and Learning Innovation Centre, and worked with my colleagues on implementing these features.
While upgrading the VLE’s design and functionality alongside studying for my postgraduate degree, I began to read and understand more on web accessibility guidelines, and particularly how straightforward it can be to adhere to those guidelines, and how many institutions across the country were failing to do so.
I saw this as an opportunity to ensure the future of Goldsmiths demonstrated its commitment to its students by ensuring that Web Accessibility Guidelines were implemented on an institutional level.
I spoke with my colleagues about the importance of bringing Goldsmiths up to scratch with accessibility guidelines, and worked in a team to bring those changes to the VLE.
In the meantime, I held meetings with departmental staff to train them on how to improve accessibility on their departmental VLE pages. I reminded them of the importance of adhering to these guidelines and assured them that adhering to them only takes a few extra steps to how they currently used and uploaded content to the platform.