A lot of people out there are talking about how dead the VLE is that you would actually think it was dead. However take a step back, there are lots of people using their VLE, learners are using them to learn, practitioners are using them to enhance and enrich the learning experience.
The VLE is not dead, you could say that the VLE is undead. Now not undead as in zombies or vampires, but undead as in not dead, very much alive and kicking.
Now don’t get me wrong, the wealth of Web 2.0 tools or services out there are fantastic and can be utilised by learners to enhance and enrich their experience. But this needn’t be in exclusion to the institutional VLE, the institutional VLE can be the glue which holds this altogether.
When people often talk about how the VLE is dead, should be dead, or is undead and should be sorted; they expect learners to utilise the tools of their choice to create their own personal learning environment (PLE). We need to stop confusing the debate over the VLE by implying it is a PLE versus a VLE debate. It isn’t and hasn’t ever been that.
A PLE in my opinion is allowing a learner to choose their own learning environment by utilising tools that are available to the learner. Now where does it say that this specifically excludes institutional tools and services? Why can’t learners decide to use an institutional VLE, an institutional e-mail address, institutional storage?
The key is choice.
We do need to give learners choice about which tools they want to use. We also need to help them make an informed choice.
If all you let learners use is the institutional VLE then you are restricting choice and stopping learners from creating their own personalised learning environment. Services such as XML and RSS allow learners, practitioners and institutions to feed content and communication into whichever environment they choose.
The problem I have with removing the institutional VLE from the equation is that it removes choice and for some learners adds barriers learning.
We know that the so called Google generation and digital natives don’t exist. Some learners are very familiar with Web 2.0 and technology, but many others are not. How do we provide an enhanced and enriched online learning environment to learners that are not confident about entering that environment. The VLE can be that first step, the first port of call for these learners.
The VLE is not dead, that’s what we mean by undead, the VLE can be a tool to enhance and enrich learning and be a portal to a world of Web 2.0 tools and services.