In 2009 a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Review project was established to take stock of everything to do with Edge Hill’s virtual learning environment (Blackboard CE8). All our staff and students were invited to feed back to the project team their experience and expectations of the product, related applications and tools, pedagogy, accessibility, ease of use for all users regardless of location.

The Review undertook a wide range of activities in order to engage with as many staff and students as possible. To this end we ran surveys, workshops, demonstration events, interviews and focus groups and what emerged was a vivid snapshot of how technology was being used to support and enhance teaching and learning at Edge Hill and more importantly, constructive feedback on how it could be developed and improved.

The outcome of the VLE Review was made public in July 2010. After detailed consideration of a range of options, the decision of the University’s Information Strategy group, informed by the feedback from the stakeholder engagement, was to go with the Blackboard Learn 9.1 system.

With the review over, a Blackboard 9.1 implementation project began to investigate and introduce the new environment in 2010-11. At the same time, we acknowledged that the role of the VLE was changing and becoming more than a single technology ‘product’ – Blackboard 9.1 had evolved into a ‘hub’ or core learning system capable of being extended by other systems and learning technologies integrating with it.

In recognition of this expansion of the Edge Hill virtual learning environment, it was renamed, and Learning Edge was born – symbolically, putting learning first.

Since 2009 this blog has charted our progress, from the initial VLE review through to its full deployment and ongoing development. We invite you all to keep in touch, as we continue to enhance the environment and develop innovative, technology rich, teaching, learning and assessment practices across the university.