Virtual Learning Environments have been around in schools for a while now and provide a number of features including:
- Sharing resources in a secure area – both for students and teachers
- Protected online discussions / blogs
- Hand-in functions for students to submit work to teachers
- Class / faculty areas
These learning platforms cost a fortune (upwards of £40,000 for a large secondary) which in a time of economic crisis is a ridiculous amount of money. This is even more ridiculous when you consider the impact it has on teaching and learning. Recently I asked twitterverse what they used a VLE for and had the following responses:
- “Ashamedly most of my colleagues use it as a storage area of just links”
- “VLE = glorified shared drive which students can access”
This is, additionally, even more crazy when you consider the impact of Web 2.0, as nearly all the functions of a VLE can be got for FREE on the web. Sure, your SLT will need to be brave and embrace new technology (e.g. willing to unblock some websites), you will need a few keen ICT-friendly staff to lead the revolution, but its possible to have all of the functions of a VLE for free! Now is the time to rise against companies willing to exploit schools who are unsure about ICT and hand over money to “experts”.
Below is a guide I am working on, it is by no means complete, so please comment below if you think I have missed out something or if something makes no sense. This way I can make an improved draft to post at a later date. Cheers in advance!
Big time thanks to @herrn96 as he was the man brave enough to make this move in our school. It’s his ideas that I’ve used and built upon here.