Close up shot of a woman using a laptop.

The university’s Virtual Learning Environment Awards were particularly virtual this year, with winners announced via a Twitter event and a Special Edition Newsletter.

Students’ insight throughout the process is key, with student representatives taking time to select a shortlist from the nominations submitted by their peers and viewing these courses to select those presented to the final panel. Moving the final judging online allowed us to increase the number involved in this. Associate Deans for Education for each faculty were included along with representatives from CHEP, iSolutions and students.

Judges were impressed by the quality of support and range of learning experiences offered by the shortlisted courses.

“I was delighted to act as a judge for the Blackboard and VLE Awards again this year, it is wonderful to see all the innovative ways in which staff have enhanced the learning of their students through the use of their VLE pages and of course this is especially important this year. What comes across year after year is how much students appreciate a well organised site,  resources that support/promote independent learning and engagement by students, and staff that regularly communicate with their students to answer their queries, keep them updated and respond to feedback. A huge congratulations to all the courses that were nominated as well as the winners.  It was very difficult to select winners from the shortlist as they were all worth winners in my eyes. “

Prof Shelley Parr, Director of the Centre for Higher Education Practice

Student-nominated VLE awards

The three courses chosen as overall award winners for 2020 are revealed below.

FEEG1003 ThermoFluids

“The content goes above and beyond to be interactive and engaging content and the notes and recorded lectures are detailed, interesting and informative.”

EDUC1059 Digital Education & Society

“Very good and stellar Blackboard site – best Blackboard site ever seen as a student.”

MEDI4022 Psychiatry

“’What to expect’ immediately sets the tone and would calm any anxieties I had about the course. The case studies and videos are an excellent touch as well.”

Staff self-nominated awards

This year’s theme for our self-nominated awards was accessibility. Staff were asked to explain how their course provided for all learners, something that’s particularly important when the VLE becomes the main way students access content and activities. Many examples of good practice were submitted and we will share more from these in the coming months.

The winner chosen in this category was PSYC2021 Language and Memory.

“This course stood out for the friendly way in which learners are coached through the course. There is clear guidance about what students need to do and where they can go if they need help. There are weekly short answer tests and taught sessions are recorded in Panopto. Students can clearly see learning outcomes for each week alongside a summary and key readings.”


Congratulations to all the award winners! When nominations were submitted, most teaching was still taking place on campus, but what’s clear from student nominations is that the best VLE sites don’t just support what happens in synchronous teaching sessions – they work in partnership with them. “The online material was used in lectures and it just made a cohesive flow that made everything seem so purposeful.”

“I would like to congratulate all of the winners and those shortlisted for the Excellence in VLE Awards this year. As always there was an incredibly impressive and noteworthy range of modules nominated and I am thrilled to share and highlight their successes, even more so as they were voted for by the people who really matter – our students.

The Awards are now into their 8th year and I am proud of the efforts our staff and students are going to enhance how we deliver education to everyone at the University –  even more so in these challenging times where new and innovative methods of teaching are more important than ever.”

Prof Alex Neill, Vice-President (Education)

Look back at previous winners

Blackboard & VLE Awards 2020

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