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The SOL Baseline

Site: Solent Online Learning
Course: Learning Technologies Staff Help and Support
Book: The SOL Baseline
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 5:24 AM

The Solent Online Learning Baseline

The SOL Baseline opens up the capacity for a dynamic and enriched teaching and learning experience for all students at Solent, and raises aspirations for how SOL can be used. 

SOL was designed to be a social learning tool, harnessing the principles of constructivism. This calls for a flexible and collaborative learning environment, where students can interact with each other and with their lecturer.

Added to this is the idea of a narrative where resources are presented in context and links between topics and units are highlighted.

By prioritising activity and interaction, structured through signposting, rationale and consistency, students will be supported in taking an active role in their own learning. However, simply using Moodle will not achieve this, so this is where the unit template comes in. 

SOL baseline

Not found what you're looking for? 

Try the following links: 

bookGetting started
bookManaging users on a unit
bookSOL tools

The SOL unit template

The SOL Baseline is underpinned by a unit template, designed to:

  •  aid consistency for both staff and students
  •  to improve navigation and use of the online areas.

Each unit page has five structured tabs and an unlimited number of additional tabs which you can use with your curriculum. You will see that each tab has some guidance embedded into the page to help and inspire its completion. In the following pages we will look at each tab individually and also the Blocks which appear to the left of the page.

and the following default blocks:

  • Activities
  • Recent Activity
  • Upcoming Events
  • Key Contacts
  • Quickmail
In the following pages we will look at each tab individually and also the Blocks which appear to the left of the page.

For a practical guide to importing, moving and organising your content within the tabbed structure please see the How do I use the new tabbed format? book.

Solent Online Learning Template (2018)

template 2018


The Overview Tab

Content in the Overview tab should clarify what students will be learning on the unit and how they will learn it, all within the context of a rich learning experience.

As well as welcoming students to the unit, it is also an opportunity to ensure that:

  • Learning outcomes for the unit are clearly summarised: students should understand what is expected of them from the beginning.
  • The teaching and learning strategy supports and reflects the desired learning outcomes: student motivation and participation is improved when they understand why they are doing something.


Your welcome section is important as this helps sets the tone of the unit and gives the student additional information. It is worth considering the questions that the students will be asking when they first arrive at the unit. Putting ourselves in the students' shoes, what will they need to know about your unit? 

Here are some questions students will need to know the answers to:

  1. Where do I go to first?
  2. How do I navigate?
  3. What should I do with all this stuff?
  4. Must I do everything?
  5. What choices do I have?
  6. Who will help me?
  7. How do I know if I am making progress?
  8. Are there key activities that must be done and how will I know about them?
  9. Whom am I learning with?

You could create a short video which explains these things directly to the students or write these in the welcome area.

Suggestions for content for your welcome section: 

  • an explanation for students around navigating through the unit 
  • directions to the main tabs and where to get started. 
  • expectations regarding the number of hours of study that the students will need to commit to
  • how to contact you and your unit team. 
Communication tools:

  • the Key Contacts Block shows your profile photo as well as the option for students to Email or message you. 
  • the Frequently Asked Questions forum for questions about the course work and assessments
  • the Forum (in Keep in touch Tab) for student introductions, an initial icebreaker activity, link to their or blogs.

Welcome Video Ideas


Introducing yourself with the video message

Recording with Panopto, mobile phone, ipad, android device

Communicating to the students when you will be online and lead by example

Announcement, discussion/forums, calendar etc

Communicate expectations

Learning outcomes, course documentation, rubrics

Icebreaker activity -  builds community, could link to LO etc

Blog, discussion/forum, quiz

Induction and orientation


Digital literacy task as part of Induction, introduce the tools that will be used in the Unit

Blog, eportfolio, discussion/forum, creating videos

Signpost support for students

Programme support area, student orientation, library help, student moodle help

Learning Outcomes and Activities

These two sections reflect:

  •  what the student will expect to get out of the unit
  •  how they are going to achieve it.

1. Add your Learning Outcomes in accessible language to the 'By the end of this unit you will be able to...' section

2. For the section opening 'You will be able to do this by taking part in the following activities...' you could:

  • insert the teaching and learning scheme
  • indicate some of the types of activities your students might be taking part in, such as group discussions, peer feedback, individual reflection, independent reading, any practice-based activities 

3. The section opening 'There is more support available...' is pre-populated. You could link these to the relevant tabs if you wish.

Example of good practice

This unit leader has explained to the students what the unit involves, taking a conversational tone. There is a sense of partnership in the learning process and it lets the students know exactly what is expected of them.

Example Unit

The Assessment Tab

The Assessment tab displays all Assessment information and submission links.

Students appreciate being able to find all the material relating to their assessments in one, consistent place. This does not have to be restricted to summative assessment; putting formative assessment here too can help support the constructive alignment of the unit.  

Be mindful of the following areas when writing your content:

  • Assessments and assignments are aligned with stated goals and objectives 
  • Rubrics or other forms of marking criteria are provided to make expectations clear 
  • Instructions offer sufficient detail to ensure learner understanding 
  • Submission information offers students clear information. 

Tutors in SSHSS have recorded a video assessment brief and linked to the videos or podcasts here in the assessment area. This has received great student feedback and lead to fewer misunderstandings/misconceptions.

The Reading and Resources Tab

Solent Online Learning (SOL) is so much more than simply a repository for lecture PowerPoints. By bringing in additional materials, SOL becomes more of an interactive learning environment to support face-to-face classes. Further supporting materials which contribute to student achievement of unit learning outcomes or the overall learning experience can be included under this tab . 

Remember to:

  • use descriptive titles for all items
  • display the item's description as this helps students understand the purpose of the activity or resource and how it can support their learning.

You could add a blog or wiki option here and suggest that your students add their own support materials to share.

Reading List

The library will upload the reading list once you have provided it to them.

Email your reading list to and your information librarian will check edition, permissions, copyright, offer digitisation of chapter and so on. 

The library needs the following information:

  • unit title and unit code
  • course title
  •  start date
  •  approx. no. of students taking the unit 

See Reading List help pages for more information about bookreading lists.

The Keep In Touch Tab

The sharing of information between students, as well as between lecturer and student, supports the development of a sense of belonging and of students as independent learners within a supportive community.  

Good practice could include:

  • Discussion boards - used to disseminate unit information and give students the opportunity to ask and answer questions, reflect, problem solve, or engage in other higher-order thinking skills 
  • Student-to-student interaction 
  • Tutor contact details and office hours
  • Clearly managed expectations of frequency and methods used for replying to students
  • A clear tutor 'presence’ throughout SOL 

The Managing Your Learning Tab

Students can often struggle with the demands and expectations of higher education, and what it means to be a student.

Where the Reading and Resources tab is subject specific, the Managing your Learning tab directs the student to relevant and targeted academic skills support found in Succeed@SolentThis will support the student's entire learning journey through their academic career and into the workplace.

Where the unit has a strong focus on employability then including links to relevant sections of CareerBox may also be appropriate, for example.

Tabs for your content and activities

You may add as many tabs as you wish for your learning and teaching materials and activities. These tabs can be labelled to reflect how you organise your unit and scheme of work. Just make sure the student can find what they need easily.

If you want to have a separate tab for each week, make sure the labels are memorable, reflect what was taught at a certain point in time and are clearly signposted for students.

Here are some examples of how you might name and organise your tabs: 

Example 1: Weekly groupings with specified subject titles

tab arrangement

Example 2: Different weeks grouped together under a broad umbrella tab.

tab arrangement 2


To the left hand side of your page, you will find a number of activity blocks including:

  • Activities
  • Upcoming events
  • Recent activity
  • Lecture capture
  • Key contacts
  • Administration

Activities block

The activities block shows you the different activity tools that are being used in the Unit such as Assignments, Forums, Resources, Quizzes etc. 

  • Click on the individual tools to land on a page with just these activities as a quick way to find an activity when out of the unit content pages. 

You do not need to add anything to this area as it is self populated and the list will grow as you add activities to your unit. 

Recent Activities panel

Key Contacts block

This displays a list of users on your unit with various customisable methods for communicating with them. It provides quick links to Email, Message or the Telephone of each user. 

  • Go to Edit Settings to show or hide users by their role.

The circular button near the username will also allow you to see who is currently online (blue button), or offline (grey button)

Key Contacts Panel

Upcoming Events block

Events are generated directly from the calendar and/or activity deadlines such as Turnitin, providing a link to full details or directly to the activity. 

  • Click on a date to go to the day-view calendar for that day. 
  • Click on the title of the event to go to that event (if it is a link)

Recent Activity block

The Recent activity block lists:

  • course activity, such as updated resources and activities
  • forum posts 
  • assignment submissions, since the user last accessed the course. 

Enabling the Recent Activity Block will show participants updates since they last accessed the course. Without it (unless you go out of your way to notify them) students and colleagues are prone to miss the changes you make e.g. modifications or additions, because they don't have an exact memory of that course as they last left it and because they have no way of knowing when to look for a change. 

Just like the party game! 

  • everybody except one leaves a room
  • remaining person changes just one thing
  • everybody comes back and has to spot the thing that changed

The Recent Activity Block can relieve a lot of anxiety in students who are worried about missing something important and displays a tweet button which you can use to alert students of new content. 

Engagement Duration block

This block allows you to select a date range and see the length of time that a user has been active in the Unit.

Engagement Duration

Downloadable PDF Overview

Download a printable PDF overview of the SOL Baseline