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Blog » The Revolutionary VLE

The Revolutionary VLE

Wednesday 21st January 2015

I'd like to tell you about a revolutionary VLE. The trouble is, it doesn't exist...yet.

Whilst some VLEs have added value to education, many remain under-utilised. There are evidently problems, and they can be fixed.

Teachers, quite rightly, state that they don't have time to create and upload content to VLEs. Some teachers do have time. However, it still baffles me why teachers up and down the country are repeating the same job! A central VLE would solve this problem as many educators are then able to contribute content - similar to Wikipedia. The added feature of electronic assessment tasks tied into the material would set it apart from just being another Wikipedia style web site.

Possible requirements for the next generation of VLEs:
  • Hosted and managed securely by a organisation or government department
  • The organisation has staff* to:
    • Maintain the site
    • Remove 'broken' links/content
    • Verify accuracy and legal legitimacy of material
    • Create specialist interactive resources - especially linked to assessment.
  • Open to learners across the country (like MOOCs)
  • Learners can request to be part of a learning group
  • Learning groups created by teachers
  • Any teacher can create and share courses and/or contribute to pages, though they'd have to abide by a suitable creative commons licence. Teachers get rewarded for their work.*
  • Mobile/tablet friendly
  • Lightweight (quick to download, fully optimised code, no needless nonsense)
  • A user interface that makes it extremely easy to add content from across the web e.g. videos
  • Easy to create assessment elements, e.g. quizzes or electronic worksheets that can be marked online.
  • Courses that can be linked to a learner's timetable - so as soon as they launch the VLE it goes straight to the relevant course depending on the time of day.
  • Students can see areas they have not performed well in, and revisit the relevant topics.
  • Teachers can see the performance of all students in their teaching group based on online assessments, and can drill down into how the students answered the assessment tasks.
  • Teachers/students can compare their performance with students across the country - adding an element of competition.

*funded by either government or a subscription from schools. The money can come from stopping existing VLE subscriptions or from the money saved on photocopying/books/time spent on existing VLE.

I don't reject the idea of using books. However, many are extremely expensive and the photocopying of alternative materials is also time-consuming and of expense. Collating a pool of interactive resources is going to be far more engaging.

Presently, the two best VLEs are Moodle (open source software - so you're not tied to one provider), full of features, lightweight and has good tools for managing groups. 'Blender Space' is also a great site, allowing educators to piece together relevant web material for learners. However, I have not yet seen a VLE that everyone can't wait to use.

This kind of VLE is one that local employers can help to shape by contributing material about real workplaces.

Overall, the kind of VLE described above will allow for engaging and personalised learning, and be extremely cost-efficient in the long-run. Now surely that's worth investing in?