Ravensbourne chooses Aula to enhance community and improve student outcomes

“Aula allows students to engage peer-to-peer and with academics in a more flexible and human way, making it a fit-for-purpose tool for creatives to collaborate and learn in a digital space.”

Dr Rosemary Stott
Associate Dean for Learning Innovation

Sense of community

80% of students felt part of a learning community

Easy to use

94% of surveyed students found Aula easy to use

Redesigned learning

94% of surveyed students found Aula easy to use

Immediate results

Positive feedback from students and educators after just a few months

The goal: deliver a truly engaging digital learning experience

Ravensbourne University London is a creative arts university that built its reputation on producing some of the finest talent in the creative industry. With a focus on promoting collaboration and interdisciplinarity within its community of 2,600+ students, in 2017/18 the University ran a pilot of Aula to answer a key question: would Aula offer a more engaging and interactive experience compared to the existing digital learning infrastructure?

Why Moodle was not enabling Ravensbourne’s vision

Before the Aula pilot, Ravensbourne had been relying on Moodle to deliver content to its students—but dissatisfaction with the existing system was evident, because Moodle:

  • Was used primarily as a content repository and place for online submission, but failed to create any type of educator-student engagement
  • Did not support the development of skills demanded by employers
  • Did not support Ravensbourne’s values and signature pedagogies that emphasise creative, collaborative, and interdisciplinary approaches

In contrast, the Aula Learning Experience Platform (LXP) promised a more interactive approach that would support and promote student engagement with educators and with one another. Three hypotheses underpinned the pilot:

  1. A more visual, familiar interface would improve engagement and save time
  2. Breaking down digital silos would improve collaboration and interdisciplinarity
  3. Communication capability and mobile accessibility would enhance community

The pilot ran for a full academic year, involving 6 programmes with a total of 280 residential undergraduate students (12% of the student population).

Aula creates meaningful interaction between students and educators

Throughout the pilot, Aula was used in day-to-day teaching and learning and served as the primary platform for all module communication.

The platform’s simple and open design allowed students and educators to interact with one another. Students could participate in threaded debates, share their own work, and ask for help on difficult concepts; meanwhile, educators could assist by answering questions, posting interesting materials, and submitting public feedback on all student assignments.

"VLEs provide you all the information, but they don’t have that personal touch—it’s not like you or students feel that ‘This is designed for me’. This is where Aula comes in."

Idrees Rasouli
Course Leader BA (Hons) IDEA

"We’ve seen immediate benefits from moving students to Aula. A survey among students showed that Aula is easy to use and helps them get support and feel part of a digital community of staff and students."

Dr Gary Pritchard
Dean of the School of Media

"I feel like my tutors are a little bit more accessible now, which is quite nice and gives me peace of mind: if I have a question, I'm able to just message them. And anyone can post and respond to anybody else—it’s like commenting on other people’s posts on Facebook. It brings the learning experience back to a normal community of people interacting."

Lovely Javier
3rd year student

All classes in the pilot showed significant engagement

The pilot’s impact was evaluated through both quantitative and qualitative data. In a survey designed and delivered by Ravensbourne,

  • 80% of students declared that Aula made them feel part of a community of staff and students
  • 85% of students reported that Aula helped them contact teachers for advice and guidance when needed
  • 83% of course leaders said that Aula made it easier for them to connect with students and encourage them to engage with course content
  • 94% of students said that Aula was easy to use. No one said it wasn’t.

Qualitative data from student and educator focus groups supported the survey results:

  • Educators felt that Aula helped them engage and communicate with their students, and saved them time in their day-to-day delivery of the module
Students felt that Aula resembled social media platforms (e.g. Facebook) and work-related communication platforms (e.g. Slack) in the immediacy and ease of communications, but was more professional and better tailored to educational purposes

Ravensbourne goes full scale with Aula LXP

The results of the pilot were extremely positive: Aula improved student engagement, strengthened learning communities, and stimulated new types of collaboration and interdisciplinarity. These results guided Ravensbourne leadership’s decision to migrate 80% of modules to Aula by September 2018, and move all students to the platform by September 2019.

In February 2020, Ravensbourne fully decommissioned Moodle and announced the entire institution would be using Aula for learning, teaching, and assessment from September 2020.

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