Preliminary study provided a basis for cooperation between higher education institutions on learning platforms – Next goal is making them even easier for learners

What kind of cooperation could higher education institutions carry out in the Digivision 2030 project? The preliminary study conducted in spring 2023 aimed to find answers to this question. The topic is important because the role of learning platforms has increased and many different needs must be taken into account in their use in teaching. In the future, learners will also be able to choose more flexibly from the offerings of different higher education institutions, so it must be possible for them to navigate easily between the platforms.

The preliminary study charted how cooperation on learning platforms could improve the learner’s experience and support the work of teachers and administration. The idea was to produce proposals for solutions and also identify issues that should be examined in more detail.

Learning platforms are software that higher education institutions use in teaching. These include Moodle, Itslearning, Canvas and Open LMS. The aim of the preliminary study was to find solutions that would benefit the users of any learning platform.

Dozens of experts studied the current state of the platforms

Preparation for the study included four workshops in May-June 2023 to collect information on the current state and future objectives of learning platforms. A total of 85 people from different higher education institutions registered for the workshops.

Participants considered how learning platforms could be used to build content together, how learners log in to the services and what kind of support they need. Based on the discussions, four development areas were outlined. Cooperation on them could produce added value for higher education institutions and improve the learner’s experience.

The development areas concerned the tools for cooperation on learning platforms, the learner’s service path between different systems, improving a uniform user experience and solving contractual challenges related to cooperation.

Preliminary study team summarised two development recommendations

The development proposals were presented to the Digivision steering group in August. In particular, the steering group considered it important to promote the learner’s uniform experience, and based on the comments, the preliminary examiners summarised two development recommendations for further work.

The first development recommendation is producing models and instructions to support learners’ uniform experience. It is easier for learners to focus on studying when the experience of navigating between learning platforms of different higher education institutions is consistent. This can be supported by identifying issues related to good and poor user experiences and by designing “wireframe models” that harmonise the elements of online courses, such as performance guidelines, assessment descriptions and contact methods.

The second development recommendation concerns the learner’s easy navigation from the service to learning platforms managed by different higher education institutions and between platforms. The transition should be simple, clear and effective. This would reduce the need for guidance for higher education institutions, and the learners would be more satisfied. This goal could be achieved by examining the problems, such as identification, in current processes, making the necessary definitions and, finally, formulating a service path that improves the learner’s experience.

The steering group selected the development area for 2024

Experts from the higher education institutions commented on the development recommendations in September on the Howspace platform, after which the Digivision steering group discussed them at its meeting. The steering group decided to start developing recommendation 1, i.e. promoting the learner’s uniform experience. By designing certain elements in a similar way on all learning platforms, the learner’s experience improves and at the same time, online learning quality criteria can be put into practice. Higher education institutions can benefit from common models quickly.

The steering group also considered recommendation 2 important, but considered it better to return to it later. Therefore, the next step is to work together with higher education institutions on the elements of the learner’s uniform user experience. This partial implementation work will take place in 2024.

In addition to the final development recommendations, the preliminary study on learning platform cooperation produced a lot of valuable views from higher education institutions’ experts. Read the full report here [link]!

The preliminary study was carried out by partial implementers Anni Rytkönen from Aalto University and Matti Strengell from Southeast Finland University of Applied Sciences. Project Manager Kalle Huhtala and Project Manager Tuula Heide participated in the work from the Digivision project office.

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The report is available to all higher education institutions. Eduuni-wiki requires login.