London, United Kingdom
With a history that dates back 130 years, Middlesex University is an educational institution that arose from multiple colleges and training institutions in North London, England coming together. Today, it is a world-class institution with campuses and partnerships that stretch across the globe.
Research with an international perspective is a core pillar for Middlesex University – as their ambition is to drive positive change and to make an impact on business, society and the world. In turn, they work to ensure their students have access to the latest research and cutting-edge thinking; a strategy that has enabled them to become a truly global university with institutions on three continents and students from more than 140 countries[i].
Given the strength and significance of their global student body, Middlesex University must provide students cutting-edge options for education – options like online learning. Their online offering provides students with opportunities for class collaboration and participation regardless of geography or learning modality, in a fully-supported manner. Instructors provide assistance and guidance throughout the curriculum, and the university provides technical support to assist with any difficulties that may arise. Online has enabled Middlesex University to offer high-quality teaching globally thereby strengthening its international recognition for innovative academic programs.
To build this online learning program, Middlesex University partnered with Blackboard Open LMS to create a virtual learning environment optimal for its nearly 40,000 students. The focus of this partnership was on the deployment of the technology, as well as – and equally important – on the strategic and tactical strategies for training their instructors. Their interest was to build awareness and skill around teaching and collaborating online with a global student body.
“We cultivate and encourage the academic community in the use of technologies for collaborative learning.”
Given the focus on making a difference internationally and thereby wanting to constantly improve the quality of teaching and learning offered in each course, Middlesex University actively researches other institutions and organizations for best practices and new ideas. They are constantly exploring success stories shared by others around increasing the level of student engagement.
Learning analytics is one of the best practices they have identified for incorporation into their online learning offering. Middlesex University sees the information learning analytics provides around the progress, achievements, participation and attendance of students as incredibly valuable in helping identify students’ learning and support needs. They intend on using this data to establish new assessment models to identify and assist in three critical ways. First, these models will help determine the most effective ways to teach concepts. Second, they will help identify successful students who may need extra support to reach their full potential. And finally, they will help identify at-risk students in need of intervention, which will reduce dropout rates and improve student success.
Middlesex University’s Blackboard Open LMS deployment has provided them integrated plugins that facilitate their high-quality teaching strategies. For example, ebooks are used across all modules as the core text. The integration of electronic textbook content within the online course allows teachers to highlight certain sections, make recommendations or notations on key concepts and prompt discussion. The electronic textbook plugin encourages and supports collaborative learning as it enables the opportunity for discussion and interaction while students are studying. The incorporation of social networks is also an example of a plugin that drives collaboration within a course.
Middlesex University realizes that quality teaching to a global student body is an evolving process; one that requires ongoing training. In turn, they are focused on offering instructors continuous training, support and time to help them develop and refine the skills required to confidently deliver a high-quality blended course. This will, in turn, ensure that at all levels of the institution stand out as excellent.
* Alex Chapman – Head of Technology Enhanced Learning in Middlesex University.
* David Locke.