Tag Archives: virtual campus

Day 1: The VLE in my life…

Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

This post is part of the #JuneEdTechChallenge series.

ALT set a challenge.

Today we are asked about the VLE in my life…

Well it’s dead isn’t it…

At ALT-C 2009 we did a debate called The VLE is Dead.

It was Tuesday 8th September 2009 at 13:40 at Manchester University that The VLE is Dead symposium was kicked off by Josie Frasier.

2009 was also the year that delegates at ALT-C discovered the Twitter! In 2008 there were roughly 300 tweets and about forty people tweeting, in 2009 the amount of tweeting went through the roof!

Most people though remember that year as the year I allegedly said the VLE was dead! We had certainly over the months leading up to the conference trailed the debate with blog posts, tweets and even a trailer.

The debate was huge, with hundreds of people in the room, sitting on the floor, standing by the walls and we also live streamed the debate over the internet (which was quite revolutionary at the time). Overall an amazing experience and an interesting debate that still goes on today.

If you watch the video of the debate and discussion you will see that my view was that the VLE was more of a concept a place where a learner starts their journey and other technologies could be plugged into the institutional VLE to enhance and enrich it.

I still hold that viewpoint that the VLE is a construction of different tools and services. Back in 2009 I thought the VLE would evolve into something at the heart of a student online experience. 

Reality was everyone thought I said the VLE was dead…

My first experience of a VLE, well more of a Learning Management System was First Class back in the late 1990s. I remember the number of red flags that said you had unread messages in the text based discussion forums. I did think it had huge potential.

In 2001 I got a job as Director of the Western Colleges Consortium and part of the role was leading and supporting the use of a shared VLE, TekniCAL’s Virtual Campus. This was an interesting platform, though the best thing that TekniCAL did was create a SCORM authoring tool based on Word. A simple tool which used styles and then you could create interactive and engaging learning content. The challenge with the platform was that the focus of technical development was on the administrator experience and not the student experience, so there was a lot of dissatisfaction from the end users on their user experience.

I then moved jobs and moved VLEs.

In later jobs I had to use Moodle and Moodle was like a breath of fresh air in the VLE space when it was first around. I did get annoyed when people confused free (open source) software with free (as in no cost). Certain skills were required to manage and administer Moodle from a technical perspective. If you didn’t have those then there was potential for things going wrong. 

Over time though Moodle became somewhat clunky and needed a redesign. I did once take an in-depth look at Canvas.

I have never used Blackboard!

In my current role I don’t use a VLE.

So for me the VLE is now dead!

Though I didn’t post these posts each day in June (and to be honest I didn’t post it each day on the Twitter either) except the final day, I have decided to retrospectively post blog posts about each of the challenges and back date them accordingly. There is sometimes more I want to say on the challenge then you can fit into 140 characters (well 280 these days).

Who are you? What do you want? – ocTEL

Having avoided taking part in a MOOC since they became the latest fad, I have now taken the plunge and enrolled on the ALT ocTEL MOOC.

So who am I?

What do I want?

I have been working with using technology in learning since the early 1990s.

Prior to that I used technology as a learner. I remember sending e-mail in 1987 at the University of York and getting “flamed” by a technical administrator at Brunel University for sending the “wrong” kind of e-mail.


I also recall a friend of mine at University creating (what today we would call) a social network on the VAX system, it was very similar to Facebook! That VAX system was also my first introduction to WordPerfect.

After a few different things I settled down as a Business Studies and Economics teacher at colleges in the South West. It was in this role that I started to make use of various technologies to enhance my learners experiences. This started with using DTP programmes such as PagePlus to create engaging handouts, Freelance Graphics (and an early version of Powerpoint) to print off acetates for use with an OHP (no projectors back then). I made my own VLE (okay a website) back in 1998 to enable my learners to access links and resources and have discussions. Due to the sort of things I was doing I started doing a lot of staff development, helping staff at City of Bristol College where I was working to gain new skills in using technology to enhance learning.

City of Bristol College

From there, apart from working in a museum for a while, I worked for a consortium of FE Colleges all using a common VLE, TekniCAL’s Virtual Campus. Following five years there I got a job at Gloucestershire College as ILT & Learning Resources Manager.

Gloucester Campus of Gloucestershire College

In this role I am responsible for the strategic direction in the use of technology to support learning, the VLE, mobile learning, libraries, use of ebooks, digital and online resources and a fair few other things too.

Over the last few years I have been researching and looking at the use of ebooks and also mobile learning.

Have always had an holistic approach to embedding the use of technology, lets get everyone moving forward and where possible try and avoid shiny things unless they help and support learning. Okay yes I do have an iPad.