Virtual Learning Environment

A VLE, or learning platform, is an online system that allows teachers to share educational materials and communicate with their learners via the web.

With the need to make learning resources engaging and available on-line, there is even more reason to look at ways of making material accessible to learners as they demand it (24/7) through an appropriate learning platform. Add to that the impending requirement for Learning Providers to make a significant percentage of courses available on-line (FELTAG), it has become even more urgent for the independent sector especially to look for suitable options and for colleges, in my opinion, to check that their VLE is being used in the way it has been designed, not as somewhere to ‘store’ scanned paper with access to the internet ‘blocked’ without considering the learner experience.

blackboardThe most commonly used examples of VLE include Moodle and Blackboard.  Moodle is free to download, but has the sometimes forgotten cost of hosting and managing effectively.

In the case of Universities and Colleges, that moodleinvariably involves an IT department and a dedicated spokesperson to ‘get it right’ as most do. How staff use it is another subject.

But in the case of the WBL sector, very few have the spare infrastructure or personnel to take on such a system and designing content takes a different set of skills entirely and that takes time.

its_logo_jpegFinally, as is the way with technology, other options are available, pretty much ‘off the shelf‘ and ‘It’s Learning’ is another example of a well-designed, user friendly VLE (More than just a Learning Platform), which according to some of my learning provider friends that tried all of the others first, met their requirements fully.

With my consultant’s hat on, I will always propose a strategy which identifies the objectives, researches the options, and makes a business case for implementation to deliver in whatever time it takes. But time is the enemy and as another former colleague said “if you are staying as you are, you are actually going backwards, you just haven’t noticed.

Read more:

BBC Active – Why you should use a Virtual Learning Environment

Moodle Explained with Lego

Colin Gallacher
eLearning Adviser


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