No buildings from September: virtual conference report

In May WonkHE and the online learning experience platform Aula hosted a virtual conference ‘No buildings from September: What on earth do we do about the learning experience?’ Stephen Bowman, our Medical School Librarian and Technology-Enhanced-Learning Lead, reports back.


Dr. Andrew Turner, from Coventry University, outlined how the university had moved from using a VLE to a fully-fledged ‘Learning Experience Platform’ called Aula ( This offers full integration of all elements of the student experience from enrolment to graduation. In September, learning will be entirely delivered through Aula for all courses.

When looking at world-wide students, asynchronous works better as it can deal with the broadband issue by offering on mobiles rather than through PCs.

STEM: The learning experience in September


Michal Bodekaer (Labster): A ‘flight simulator’ for science students, so access to multi-million-pound equipment in a virtual environment.

Online lab training can be more effective than the physical lab experience.



Panel Discussion

We have moved to ’emergency online learning’, now need to move to a digital transformation of the physical environment. If in the ‘real’ world we are moving towards virtual consultations, how do we move towards including that in our teaching? The regulatory bodies have had to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ re. delivering online learning.

Scaling TEL

‘Emergency Remote Teaching’ is now the norm, but how do we move on through ‘Grand designs’ rather than ‘DIY SOS’?

Online interactions are fatiguing for all participants. Use will depend on the level of the course, and the underpinning of the teaching. Do we have the support in place to allow colleagues and our users to make use of the technology? All of these must be factored in for the future development.

“September: A bandaid – or a 10-year strategy with 3 months to execute?”

Stephanie Lindquist – Arizona State University (ASU) – ‘Mother of Invention’ Covid as a catalyst for TEL. It’s the new normal, we must engage with it. In 2008 ASU combined 6 schools into one, combined departments, and created new ones. Also created Ed+ a centrally funded instructional design service for all schools of the university. Around 200 courses available online and had a graduation ceremony with the roving cameras as at the Hastings Art Gallery.

ASU synchronous has set up multiple Zoom courses in the last couple of months. Now looking to how these can be developed in future as the norm.




Final Keynote

Anders Krohne:

What is clear is that HEIs can work across disciplines, and across institutions to enable developments. Whilst sharing syllabi and using gradebook are the norm for the ‘average’ academic, they are not comfortable with moving to teaching online. “The Learning Management System (LMS) has been very successful in administering education, but not so good at delivering it”.

What we need to do is simplify the process of creating and delivering online experiences.