Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Week #10: Exploring Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

The potential of technology is so huge that it allows teachers and facilitators to use as many available tools as possible to enlarge and improve education. Virtual learning environments (VLE) are a good example. These are "virtual places" that normally work over the Internet and provide a collection of tools for communication, uploading of content, peer assesment, administration of student groups, collecting and organizing questionnaires, among other things. The virtual space where educational interactions occur is explicitly represented: the representation of this information/social space can vary from text to 3D immersive worlds.

While originally created for distance education, VLEs are now most often used to supplement traditional face to face clasroom activities, commonly known as Blended Learning. In these environments students play an important role since they are not only active but also actors. They co-construct the virtual space.
Many universities and other institutions of higher education are increasingly turning to VLEs in order to:
  • economize on the time of teaching staff.
  • provide a service for students who increansingly look to the internet as the natural medium for finding information and resources.
  • facilitate the integration of distance and campus-based learning or of learning on different campuses.

There are different virtual environments for learning among which the most used are: Moodle, Elluminate, WiZiQ, and the virtual world Second Life. In our ICT in ELT course we have been working with WiZiQ for online lessons in which we listen and interact with our teacher and classmates using a webcam and microphones besides the different tools provided by the platform. I think this has been a very interesting topic for all language teachers that want to begin using and applying technology into their classes.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Cirene,

    As you mention in your post, VLEs have become really popular lately. They were used only for distance learning before; but, during the last years, they have become a great tool to enrich face-to-face classrooms, making some of them completely blended.
    A VLE provides many opportunities for students to learn and share information, but also to discuss, reflect and build knowledge together. I think this is one of the best advantages VLEs have.
    My two cents,