A VLE should not need a Very Long Explanation

You know how some INSET days feel like a total waste of time? You spend ages listening to managers droning statistics or have consultants tell you that you’ve been doing it wrong all this time. Well, last week there was a really good hour which made up for the rest of the day.

The session was about using the Virtual Learning Environment we’re trying out. I’ve heard a bit about it but despite being reasonably technically literate never felt I had the chance to try it out. It’s so hard to put aside time for new ideas when you’re trying to keep up with marking, planning and everything else. The realisation which helped me was that running the VLE was pretty much like using this blog – which meant I could focus on what I was making, not a complicated process to make it.

A VLE is basically an interactive website which provides downloadable resources, information and weblinks for students. So far, so boring. What makes them more powerful is that not only can you put things there for the students to access, but they can return the favour. They can contribute to wiki-style glossaries and articles, complete homework, quizzes and activites online which can then be marked automatically. I haven’t had a chance to play with this last idea but I really like the concept of self-marking homework.

I’m enjoying working on this blog, at least partly because it helps me get the ideas clear in my own head – having an imaginary audience (if anyone’s reading this they don’t seem to like commenting) means I have to up my game, which means I think through the loopholes and problems of an activity before I’m in front of the class. The VLE will offer the same opportunity for me to share ideas with students and see what they do with them. I’ll keep you all posted about the results.

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