This paper presents a best-practice model for the redesign of virtual learning environments (VLEs) within creative arts to augment blended learning.

In considering a blended learning best-practice model, three factors should be considered:

  • the conscious and active human intervention,
  • good learning design and pedagogical input, and
  • the sensitive handling of the process by trained professionals.

This study is based on a comprehensive VLE content analysis conducted across two academic schools within the creative arts at one Post-92 higher education (HE) institution.

It was found that four main barriers affect the use of the VLE within creative arts:

  • lack of flexibility in relation to navigation and interface,
  • time in developing resources,
  • competency level of tutors (confidence in developing online resources balanced against other flexible open resources) and
  • factors affecting the engagement of ‘digital residents’.

The experimental approach adopted in this study involved a partnership between the learning technology advisor and academic staff, which resulted in a VLE best-practice model that focused directly on improving aesthetics and navigation. The approach adopted in this study allowed a purposive sample of academic staff to engage as participants, stepping back cognitively from their routine practices in relation to their use of the VLE and questioning approaches to how they embed the VLE to support teaching and learning.

The model presented in this paper identified a potential solution to overcome the challenges of integrating the VLE within creative arts.

The findings of this study demonstrate positive impact on staff and student experience and provide a sustainable model of good practice for the redesign of the VLE within creative disciplines.

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