Minerva team honoured for community engagement

Learning Technologies at Leeds has fought off international competition to win a coveted Blackboard Catalyst Award.

Stuart Robinson (centre) eLearning Officer, receiving the award from Blackboard representatives

Stuart Robinson (centre), eLearning Officer, receiving the Blackboard Catalyst Award, on behalf of the Learning Technologies Team, from Blackboard representatives June 2018

The Library-based team won the Community Engagement accolade for its work developing Minerva, the University's new combined virtual learning environment (VLE) and portal, launched in July 2017.

Founded in 2005 by education technology provider Blackboard Inc., the Blackboard Catalyst Awards recognise and honour innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice. This centres on educators and administrators who are passionate about using technology in education and collaborating on best practice.

Paul Cave, an e-Learning Officer involved in the Minerva project, describes the community engagement work with users to make a system that meets their needs.

He said: "We reached out to students and staff during the project to find out what they wanted from an online portal.

"One of the main things we found was people wanted to avoid information overload and not be bombarded with lots of different choices and messages. This led us to create just three tabs, bringing together the core things students wanted from the previous portal, to streamline the interface so it works better for users. We also put a lot of work into making Minerva mobile-friendly.

"This is a unique approach and community engagement was crucial to the successful design and implementation of Minerva. It's a very innovative use of Blackboard to develop a portal and bring it together with the VLE to provide a single place for students to receive communications, undertake their studies and look for help and information.

“We’re one of only a handful of institutions to do something like this and the feedback we’ve had from our users has been overwhelmingly positive. That said, we’re not complacent – we’re continuing to talk to staff and students so we can make the Minerva experience even better in the future."

The Library’s Learning Technologies Team is responsible for the support and development of a number of institutional Learning Technology services, including Minerva. It supports the University’s Blended Learning and Digital Student Experience strategies across campus and within the Library.

Posted in: