The VITAL Baseline

A standard for modules in VITAL

First introduced for the academic year 2014-15, the VITAL Baseline specifies some simple, key information and content that students most want to see in all VITAL modules and is aimed at improving the consistency of provision across modules when using VITAL.

It was developed in consultation with the Faculties, CSD, Library, the Guild and the eLearning Unit. It is based on the findings of the LGoS student survey and report ‘Making the most of IT’ and is a core element of the University’s Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) Strategy which has been developed by the University’s TEL Working Group (TELWG).

Many modules already exceed these requirements and the VITAL Baseline is not intended to replace or limit existing good practice and creative, innovative use of VITAL and this should be considered when applying the Baseline. It is anticipated that the Baseline will evolve over time to respond to feedback from staff and students, and also to include institutional strategic initiatives.

In summary the VITAL Baseline is currently:

  1. Module staff details: All staff teaching on the module should be listed in the Module Staff section to include name, contact email office location, office hours (where appropriate) and an image is recommended.
  2. Module Overview page: Every module includes by default a link to the new, automated Module Overview page. Module specifications need to be accurate as information is taken from here for this page.
  3. Reading Lists @ Liverpool link: Every module should include a reading list. Reading Lists @ Liverpool is a tool for creating online reading lists. A link can be made from each module menu to its Reading Lists @ Liverpool list.
  4. Learning Resources: Modules should include resources for lectures and teaching where appropriate and which exist in an electronic format, such as lecture PowerPoints, in a suitable, easily-navigable structure.
  5. Exam Resources: Modules should contain appropriate resources, preparation and advice for students on any exam element of the module. Every module has by default a section called ‘Exam Resources’ which can be used for this purpose and can include but is not restricted to: past exam papers, samples of MCQs, types of question that can be expected, sample answers, marking criteria. (It should NOT contain any exam timetabling information or other exam information that is held by Orbit).
  6. General coursework and exam feedback: An overall perspective of the cohort’s performance in exams and in coursework should be offered through the relevant VITAL module.

Your school or department may have already developed a standard module template that meets this Baseline and you should check this first.

Full, centrally-provided guidance on meeting the VITAL Baseline is available and includes:

  • This short ‘How To’ guide describes the Baseline and the simplest ways to meet it: How to’ pdf guide to meeting the Baseline
  • A self-directed module ‘VITAL Baseline and guidance’ on which all staff are enrolled in VITAL and you will find in your list of modules. This is a more detailed, step-by-step guide to implementing the VITAL Baseline.

If you have any questions about the VITAL Baseline please contact:

CSD Helpdesk: for any VITAL technical problems – error messages etc.

eLearning Unit: for advice on implementing the Baseline in your modules and training opportunities.

There are also some key contacts in the faculties who can signpost the best places to get relevant support and answers to your queries. These are:

S&E – Nick Greeves

HSS – contact being organised

HLS – Peter Reed

Digital Champions HEA pilot: supporting Year 1 students with academic transition

A pilot project entitled “Supporting transition with peer-assisted learning and digital stories” funded by the HEA, has been running this year at the University of Liverpool’s Management School. Two digital stories from the third-year Digital Champions are now available on writing assignments, which can be used as useful resources for first-year students.

Story 1. Digital Champions: From one book to fifty citations:  Tips on effective assignment writing
Story 2. Digital Champions: Breaking the 2:1 (or 2:2) barrier for writing assignments (Parts 1-5):

A bit more about the Digital Champions project and its progress

The project, based on a peer-assisted learning model, aims to support the transition of first-year students in their academic study and employ them with skills that would benefit them beyond graduation. So far we have engaged 4 third-year students, Emily, Laura, Adam and Bradley,  to run  drop-ins for first-year students on making their academic study easier. The above digital stories were created by the students that summarise their tips for first years in academic writing.

What next: we will evaluate the pilot for wider adoption and also investigate students’ perspectives on micro-certification, such as OpenBadges, as a way of recognising their skill development. We aim to present this project with a poster at the HEA Social Sciences Conference 2014, which this year is on the theme of ‘Teaching Forward: The future of social sciences’. We have also been discussing links with other institutional peer-assisted learning initiatives, and naturally, certification of Digital Champions may link to developments around HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Report). Similar peer-assisted learning projects with a digital angle have run successfully at other universities, e.g. see the ePioneers programme at Oxford Brookes.

For more information: contact Tünde Varga-Atkins at University of Liverpool.


Digital Champions: Laura Cash, Emily Evans, Adam Byrne, Bradley Griffin
Project team:

  • eLearning Unit: Tunde Varga-Atkins (co-lead)
  • Academic lead: Simon Snowden, ULMS (academic lead)
  • Library: Emma Thompson (co-lead), Beryl Stanley
  • Multimedia: Dave Hocker