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“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.”
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?
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:
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:
The pilot ran for a full academic year, involving 6 programmes with a total of 280 residential undergraduate students (12% of the student population).
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."
"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."
"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."
The pilot’s impact was evaluated through both quantitative and qualitative data. In a survey designed and delivered by Ravensbourne,
Qualitative data from student and educator focus groups supported the survey results:
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.