Despite many people talking about the death of the VLE over the years, the institutional VLE is still an important component of most colleges and universities offer in the online space, whether this be supporting existing programmes of study, those offering a blended approach, or even fully online programmes.
For the purposes of this blog post I see the VLE as a concept, more of a combination of tools, that includes the institutional LMS/VLE alongside other tools such as Padlet, WordPress, Twitter, Adobe Connect, etc..
The challenge for many academics and staff is the assumption often made by managers and learning technologists that they are able to create curriculum models that incorporate the VLE in a way which flows and is integrated for the learner. This is exacerbated if the VLE is more than just a Learning Management System (LMS) and incorporates other web tools and services.
Why would they?
Unless they have a core understanding of the potential of the different functions and tools within the VLE, how are they able to ensure they are fully integrated into the curriculum flow.
The result is more often the VLE is bolted onto or duct taped onto an existing curriculum model. This process creates extra work for academics, who they find the whole process of adding (not embedding) the VLE a chore, an extra, so no wonder we occasionally see resistance.
Now I am not saying that academics are not capable of building curriculum models where the use of the VLE is embedded and integrated. What I am trying to say is that when it comes to embedding the VLE, it’s more than just training and development in the use of the functions and tools. This will certainly enable academics to start along the process of developing curriculum models. However by creating some exemplar and example curriculum models where the VLE is embedded will enable academics to reflect and think about how to embed the VLE at a faster pace. Once academics are creating their own models or adapting those provided these can then be shared back.
I’ve always thought when it comes to change, how can you make it easier. If something you’re doing isn’t working, then do something differently.
Finally always reflect on why you are doing this, as I posted recently though we talk about embedding digital technologies into practice, the reality is what we want to do is to undertake practices differently, and one way of doing this is through the use of digital. This isn’t about trying to increase the use of the VLE, it’s about using the VLE to solve a range of other issues such as how to ensure learners can have access to a range of materials, resources, activities and conversations at a pace, time and place that suits them on a device of their choosing.