What the research says about Virtual Learning Environments in teaching and learning

What the research says about Virtual Learning Environments in teaching and learning

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This report is based on an analysis of current research about the use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) in teaching and learning. It summarises the key findings and suggests resources for further reading.

There is some confusion about the definition, functions and role of VLEs used in the research literature. There are two terms currently being used when referring to ICT environments designed to aid the management of the learning process: VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) and MLEs (Managed Learning Environments).

A VLE is a software tool which brings together in an integrated environment, a range of resources that enable learnings and staff to interact online, and includes content delivery and tracking.

An MLE brings together two distinct strands – a VLE and a management information system (MIS) and has the potential to fully integrate learning materials, pupil data and assessment (MLE = VLE + MIS).

Although there is some confusion about the definition of VLEs, they are generally a combination of some or all of the following features:

● Communication tools such as email, bulletin boards and chat rooms
● Collaboration tools such as online forums, intranets, electronic diaries and calendars ● Tools to create online content and courses
● Online assessment and marking
● Integration with school management information systems
● Controlled access to curriculum resources
● Student access to content and communications beyond the school.

But to judge whether VLEs have the potential to enhance teaching and learning it is necessary to examine the available research evidence.


Publication Date: 2004

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You can download the full pdf HERE.