How does a VLE support learning? SharePoint in Education e-learning series post 2 of 15
Having established what a VLE or Virtual Learning Environment is it makes sense to look at what the core features are which support or enable learning. I have broken these down into 6 areas which are shown in the diagram from the last post.
6 Features of a VLE which support or enable learning
- Controlled Access and Organisation
- Information Dissemination
- Communication Tools
Controlled Access and Organisation
One of the core components of VLEs is the ability to manage and control access to learning within the system. This at its most basic form allows the ability to structure courses and modules of learning so that they can easily and efficiently be delivered and accessed by learners. Going beyond this organisation of learning is the organisation of classes and groups. This allows resources to be directed at specific groups of learners whether it be a whole cohort or individual class. Finally a VLE should allow individual learners a space to organise their own learning materials and ideally this should be customisable.
Once you have a secure environment which allows the organisation of both the learners and learning modules it should then be possible to share learning materials using your VLE. At the most basic level this can take the form of course materials including notes, handouts and background reading. Beyond this good VLEs will allow the integration of rich media such as video and podcasts. As well as this the ability to create and embed fully interactive content such as simulations will exist within some VLEs.
At the core of a VLE should be the ability to communicate and this should be communication which is tutor to student and student-student. This can of course be on a 1-1 level or within whole groups or subsections of groups. One aspect of communication will surround the course materials or learning modules and allows learners to build on existing knowledge and potentially develop new ideas. Most VLEs enable this through the use of discussion forums and chat rooms. Another aspect of communication supports the course delivery and organisation. This is where online calenders and timetables display key milestones and events within the course (e.g. submission deadlines).