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“Our commitment to the institution-wide adoption of Aula’s Learning Experience Platform is a commitment to building learning communities that engage and excite today’s students in their academic experience at university.”
As universities move towards more flexible delivery, deeply engaging students is key to improving retention, achievement, and satisfaction.
Forward-looking institutions like Coventry University, shortlisted for UK University of the Year in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021, are showing their commitment to learning excellence by embracing a community-first approach with Aula, the Learning Experience Platform (LXP) for higher education.
In September 2020, Coventry became the first institution to transition all courses from Moodle to Aula—a process that benefited more than 40,000 students across 6 campuses.
Coventry’s existing VLE, Moodle, acted primarily as a repository for course materials (e.g. slides and video lectures), which resulted in very limited interaction between students, their peers, and educators, and failed to foster any real sense of community.
Provost Ian Dunn was looking to replace Moodle with a community-first learning experience that would truly engage learners, facilitate meaningful connection, and improve students’ likelihood to succeed—so he turned to Aula and kicked off a pilot in the academic year 2018/2019.
Unlike typical content-first learning platforms, Aula’s community-first approach to learning values meaningful connection as much as it does academic challenge.
For the pilot, Coventry migrated 26 modules from Moodle to Aula and compared student satisfaction, sense of community, and engagement across the two learning experiences.
After just one semester, 3 out of 4 students reported that Aula easily connected them to their learning community— a fact that becomes all the more impressive when you compare it to the JISC benchmark of only 41% of students reporting they feel connected through the VLE.
The impressive results and positive feedback from both students and educators gave Coventry’s leadership the confidence to pursue a larger implementation.
“With Moodle, professors just uploaded course documents. Aula offers a more interactive experience that improves our ability to learn: it gave us more engaging ways of learning and connecting with professors.”
“Aula is different from Moodle and email because it’s more like the apps I’m used to using every day. It’s easier to connect with people and if feels less daunting to use… I’d say Aula fits more with what I thought my university experience would be like.”
“With Aula, we’ve been able to transform the learning experience so quickly and smoothly that now we have all students and academics on the platform, delivering the kind of quality learning experience we just couldn’t scale with the VLE.”
Following the initial success, Coventry began to scale up their Aula implementation just as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person learning.
As educators across the globe scrambled to take their modules online, the staff at Coventry were already well-positioned to deliver a truly engaging digital learning experience. While many of the 100 modules Aula transformed for the spring cohort (the first to be delivered post-pandemic) were led by educators who had never taught online, the results were overwhelmingly positive:
Despite it being their first time delivering modules online, many educators also received positive course evaluations and overwhelmingly supportive feedback from their students.
*student names have been changed to preserve their identity.
With pressure to move more modules online faster in order to support students during the pandemic, Aula’s team of expert learning designers worked one-to-one with Coventry’s educators in the transformation of their modules, guiding the shift from a content-first to a community-first approach to digital learning.
The Aula scale-up continued throughout the summer: between June and August, Aula’s learning designers transformed 1200 modules into community-first learning experiences for the Autumn semester.
At the start of the 2020/2021 academic year, the rollout allowed Coventry to extend Aula to its entire student body of 40,000 learners across 6 locations.
As the UK re-entered lockdown in January 2021 and face-to-face delivery was suspended again, Coventry’s decision also ensured that staff and students would not experience additional disruption and could continue the learning journey together.