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Death of the VLE? Professor Mark Stiles Head of Learning Development and Innovation Staffordshire University.

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Presentation on theme: "Death of the VLE? Professor Mark Stiles Head of Learning Development and Innovation Staffordshire University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Death of the VLE? Professor Mark Stiles Head of Learning Development and Innovation Staffordshire University

2 The death of the VLE… VLEs appear to be in robust good health, but: How did we all come to use them? How have they developed? How are we using them? Do we actually need them? What is the state of the market and change? Are there symptoms we should be examining? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

3 What is a VLE? A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a system that creates an environment designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially a system using computer hardware and software, especially involving distance learning.Virtual Learning Environment (Wikipedia) MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

4 What is a VLE? A Virtual learning environment (VLE) is a software system designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially by helping teachers and learners with course administration. The system can often track the learners' progress, which can be monitored by both teachers and learners. While often thought of as primarily tools for distance education, they are most often used to supplement the face-to-face classroom. (Wikipedia) MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

5 What does a VLE provide? Syllabus Admin info – session locations, pre/co requisites, how getting help Notice board Student registration and tracking Complete course content or copies of visual aids/handouts Additional resources, links to resources in libraries and on Internet. Self-assessment quizzes scored automatically Formal assessment procedures Communications - e-mail, threaded discussions, chat room, with/without moderator Differential access rights for instructors and students (Roles) Production of statistics for administration and quality control All capable of being hyperlinked together Easy authoring tools or standard office software used for authoring. Supporting numerous courses to provide a consistent interface. (Wikipedia) MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

6 Early VLE History? History of VLEs in Wikipedia (Created in response to the Blackboard Patent): –Internet based learning systems since late 1970s –First thoughts on using WWW for learning systems 1989 –Earliest use early 1990s –Earliest systems satisfying VLE description elements 1995-7 from: (eg Intralearn, Docent, Lotus Notes, Mallard, WOLF, FirstClass, WEST, MadDuck, WebCT, COSE, Colloquia, LearningSpace, Boddington, Fretwell Downing) MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

7 The market… old edutools site MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

8 The market… new edutools site – list of new reviews Overwhelming market majority is Blackboard + WebCT + Moodle MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

9 Blackboard… 1997 Founded as a consulting firm contracting to IMS Global Learning Consortium 1998 Merged with CourseInfo LLC, a small course management software provider to become Blackboard Inc. First products branded as Blackboard Courseinfo - Courseinfo brand dropped 2000. 2000Acquired MadDuck Technologies - Web-Course-in-a-Box. 2000Acquired AT&T Campuswide Access Solutions and CEI SpecialTeams - software formed basis for Blackboard Commerce Suite 2002Acquired Prometheus, a course management software provider 2003Acquired the SA Cash division of Student Advantage. 2006Acquired rival WebCT Inc., forming the largest e-learning company in US in terms of total users.WebCT MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

10 Moodle… Creation of Martin Dougiamas 18,204 registered sites with 7,270,260 users in 712,531 courses 152 registered Moodle sites that are larger than 5,000 users Moodle market share only below Blackboard Open Source Since 1999 (2001 with the current architecture) OU building site for 200,000 users MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

11 What do they look like now? Leading systems have: Repositories Portfolios Extensive Gradebooks Integration with corporate systems Bolt-ons MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

12 What DID we do with them? Drivers for early adopters were: Student centeredness Large numbers Diversification Pedagogic change Distance learning Plus pressure from Government – eg Dearing MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

13 What DID we do with them? Drivers for early majority in 2002 were: Top 10 reasons for selection: –Ease of use in general31 –Ease of use staff30 –Cost21 –Flexibility/Versatility16 –Integration with MIS15 –Widely used14 –Functionality/Features13 –Pedagogic/Educational 13 –Imposed/A mystery10 –Own system10 MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

14 What DID we do with them? JISC MLE Landscape in 2003 was: Vast majority using a VLE and 73% involved in MLE development Drivers for development: –Enhancing the quality of teaching and learning –Improving access to learning for students off campus –Widening participation/inclusiveness –Student expectations –Improving access for part-time students –Using technology to deliver eLearning Perceived disadvantages: –Cost and time involved –Resistance to culture change –Need for large scale staff development MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

15 What are we doing with them? From 2005 JISC MLE Landscape Study of UK HE and FE consultation document: …the results also show two thirds of modules of study being web supplemented which would seem to indicate that the stuff your notes into your VLE model is prevalent and increasing Reason given by bodies consulted was usually – as a starter to encourage uptake Is this true? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

16 What are we doing with them? Besides the usual content delivery, discussions etc Mostly linked to MIS systems Use for assessment Add on portfolio systems Increasingly, add-on wikis, blogs etc Bolt-on repositories Bolt-on CMS Bolt-on authoring tools MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

17 Are we producing bloated systems? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

18 Do we need all this? Is the VLE the right place for everything? Is incorporation of new features necessary? Integration and interoperation are subtly different? What ARE the essential features of a VLE? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

19 Do we need all this in a VLE? Syllabus – portal to MIS system? Admin info – portal to MIS system? Notice board – at what level? Registration – the job of a SRS? Tracking – does anyone use it? Content - repository Resources, links – at what level? Library systems? Self-assessment – assessment system? Formal assessment – assessment system? SRS? e-mail – in what context? Threaded discussions – who likes threads? Best system? Chat room – best system? Roles Statistics for administration and quality control – in what context? Authoring – best system? Consistent interface – how important? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

20 Do we need all this in a VLE? Core VLE function? –Structuring the learning experience at module/activity level We have now: –ePortfolio systems –Assessment systems –Portals –Repositories –Reading list systems –And of course – MIS, SRS etc etc MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

21 The eFramework MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006


23 Personal Information – Change


25 The new web… Web 2 applications: Level 3: The application could ONLY exist on the net, and draws its essential power from the network and the connections it makes possible between people or applications. Wikipedia,, Skype, Flock Level 2: The application could exist offline, but it is uniquely advantaged by being online. Flickr Level 1: The application can and does exist successfully offline, but it gains additional features by being online. Google Docs and Spreadsheets Level 0: The application has primarily taken hold online, but it would work just as well offline if you had all the data in a local cache. Google Maps (OReilly 2006) MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

26 The new web… Web 2 applications: Sharing Collaboration Learner initiated Informal learning Diverse communities Outside institutional control Unstoppable? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

27 The new web… Questions How do formal and informal learning relate? How do we manage learning in this new world? Which Web 2 tools do WE need to provide? What do we actually NEED to control? CAN we control it? Is bolting Web 2 tools into a VLE the answer? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

28 The new web… Factors Control and ownership: Control Manage Facilitate Enable Recognise Are we control freaks? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

29 The new web… Factors Formal – Informal Osmosis… How will we integrate formal and formal learning? How will we differentiate between them? How will we articulate our intended learning strategies? How will we access the learners outputs? How will cope with learners using THEIR choice of tool? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

30 Conclusion – death of the VLE? Not yet BUT: We dont need monoliths any more Corporately initiated processes will be dealt with by interoperating our choice systems Student initiated processes will be done on the web using their choice of tool Tutor initiated processes will be done HOW? We need to focus on what we NEED that a VLE provides uniquely MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

31 The future VLE? MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

32 Thank you for your time and patience MMIT Liverpool Dec 2006

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