Using information and instructional design principles to enhance accessibility and inclusivity of course material on Blackboard VLE

Maria dos Santos Lonsdale, School of Design

This study arose from the identification that previous research had shown problems with the way information is presented and structured on Blackboard VLE in terms of accessibility, orientation, consistency and legibility. Such inefficiency leads to frustrated students and a failure to assure teaching and learning quality.  Blackboard is the main tool of communication, management, and assessment used by staff on a daily basis and is a tool with great potential to offer high quality teaching to our generation of students who are always online.

The aim of the project was to use an information and instructional design approach to enhance accessibility and inclusivity of course material on Blackboard VLE at the University of Leeds. To achieve that aim, the objectives of this study were as follows:

  • To conduct a scoping study to identify how tutors organise and display course information; reasons why Blackboard VLE is used by tutors at a minimum level; student usage, views, and expectations of using Blackboard VLE.
  • To develop new design solutions using information and instructional design principles, as well as user-centred research methods.
  • To involve students as co-creators of education: as designers and researchers, as well as participants in any testing conducted.
  • To disseminate the findings and good practice through a Blackboard VLE Design Guidelines booklet, as well as workshops that will be delivered to staff at the University of Leeds.

As a result of the study, a new guidelines booklet was created, which contains clear guidelines on how to best organise information on Blackboard VLE.

Click here to read the project report

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