Our new Virtual Learning Environment

Reading time: 4 minutes
Learn Ultra, the most up-to-date version of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is being rolled out for semester one of the 2023/24 academic year.

An Early Adopter Programme has already seen more than 130 courses move over to Learn Ultra. Bulletin spoke to Stuart Nicol, Head of the Educational Design and Engagement (EDE) section in the Information Services Group, for an update on progress.

A man sits at a computer

“Colleagues will already be familiar with the new look and feel of Learn following the first phase of the upgrade, which was completed in June,” he said.

“We are now working closely with Schools and Deaneries to plan the upgrade of courses to Ultra for the next academic year. The move to Learn Ultra will support inclusive and accessible teaching, as well as improve usability for staff and students. We are pleased to have a community of professional learning technologists with local discipline expertise to work alongside central teams.”


Stuart says all courses will be delivered using Learn Ultra from semester one onwards in 2023/24: “Schools will be moving their courses from Learn Original into Learn Ultra, before then. The support of staff in the Schools and teaching offices will be key to delivering this change successfully. This process will begin in May 2023, following the creation of the new course instances, and will need to be completed before the start of teaching in semester one of the 2023/24 academic year.”

A sizable number of courses have already moved to Learn Ultra to take advantage of the latest technology early. Stuart says these early adopters had their content successfully migrated over during the summer: “Students and teachers have been actively engaged in these new online teaching spaces since September.

“Due to popular demand to engage early with the new course interface, we currently have 138, and counting, courses taking part in our Early Adopter Programme. The majority of these courses have already launched, with the rest starting in semester two.

“The Early Adopter Programme has been a fantastic opportunity for the project team to work closely with teaching and support staff from a range of disciplines to get a much better understanding of the process of migrating to Learn Ultra.

“It has also allowed us to get feedback from those who have been through the process of rebuilding their course in Learn Ultra in order to ensure a smooth transition for the rest of the University community. For example, we have been asking early adopters to feed back on how much time their build took, how intuitive the process was, what was easy, and any issues that were encountered. The outcomes will allow us to plan resourcing for the full rollout.”

An Ipad shows the new interface


Stuart says the Learn Ultra project team has worked in mutually beneficial close collaboration with the early adopters: “Our learning technologists and instructional designers have been working closely with the early adopter teams, adapting solutions to particular contexts. We also have a number of local learning technologists as part of the central project team. The early adopter programme has also offered us an opportunity to test out our training resources.”

The training approach has included A Day In The Life webinars, to show what is possible in Learn Ultra; experiential learning opportunities through moderated An Edinburgh Model for Teaching Online courses; and hands-on 10 Things To Try and Good Practice in Learn Ultra sessions.

“We ran 42 of these sessions in total over the summer. Our experience with these courses will allow us to distil the support into focused sessions and resources that we will provide at scale for the full upgrade next year.

“A particularly useful resource is our Good Practice Guidance. These guides have been developed from the combined experience of our team and the early adopters. This is a focused set of advice on good ways to work with Learn Ultra for learning and teaching.

A person uses an iPad to navigate Learn Ultra.

“We will continue to engage widely with all Schools and Deaneries as we prepare for the upgrade, so don’t worry if you have not had the early adopter experience yourself – we are feeding in all of these wider requirements to the project!”

The Learn Ultra project team plans to share more about the project as it progresses and will be communicating widely in the coming months. In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about the project:

Read the Learn Ultra Good Practice Guidance.

Visit the Learn Ultra SharePoint site.

Read the Learn Blog.