Stands for "Virtual Learning Environment." A VLE is a virtual classroom that allows teachers and students to communicate with each other online in real-time using video or Web conferencing (techterms.com, 2014). All which is related to the class such as information, materials, assignments and instructions are provided via the Web. VLEs are also known as Course Management Systems (CMS) and Learning Management Systems (LMS), among other names. These are being used more and more to feed the rising demand of English courses online. They have proven to be effective but also a very dangerous weapon when their developers only care about profits and not about education of quality.
Students can log in to the class website to view this information and may also download assignments and required reading materials to their computers. Some VLEs even allow assignments and tests to be completed online. These sites offer many ways in which the teacher can communicate and interact with the students such as forums, bulletins, chats, etc.
By using these platforms teachers can assess, evaluate, follow the track of the students and collaborate with other teachers. One positive aspect of these is that they can be accessed off-campus, meaning that the learning process does not stop just because students are outside of the classroom.These are becoming a more and more popular method of e-learning while for some a VLE cannot fully replace the traditional classroom; it can be a useful way of teaching students who reside in many different locations.
There are different types of platforms available for e-learning, such as:
• Off-the-shelf, such as Blackboard or WebCT
• Open source that are often free to use and adapt but support is charged for, one example is “Moodle”
• Bespoke: those developed by institutions for their own individual needs.
The most common ones are: Blackboard, WebCT (acquired by Blackboard in 2006), Moodle, and Universities’ own bespoke systems.
You can also check the next article for further reading:
Oxford University Press, 2013. Available at: http://global.oup.com/uk/orc/learnvle/