VLE – Vast Learning Experience for tutors

June 1, 2012ESOL, , ,

I’ve recently been re-reading the feedback from my CELTA courses and have been struck by the overwhelmingly positive response to the VLE. Other comments on technology (eg Active Inspire, the blog) had mixed responses, but when commented on the VLE was reported to be a valuable resource – whether this was for the 24/7 access, course materials available in one place or ease of submitting assignments. One comment related to the short learning curve they had in order to use the VLE.

This has been the third year that we’ve now been using Moodle to support our part time CELTA course. I certainly value the VLE for many of the reasons the students do (sharing course resources which are either directly linked to a specific session or direct them to wider resources), having assignments in one place (no lugging paper submissions around), 24/7 access (I can check current resources and replace/add to anytime) but I can’t agree that it’s been a short learning curve in developing this resource.

Having been working with some HE tutors this year in developing their VLE courses I’ve been struck by the fact that it is not just developing the tech skills (ie, how to upload a document, or create a link) but also the broader idea of structuring a VLE course. A three-year course, with 5 or 6 modules for each year takes some organising. A VLE page for each module seems excessive and takes away from the ‘all course info in one page’ aspect. A VLE page for each year seems simpler, but then how to structure all the module information?

With three years experience of developing my own VLE course I am feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.

With this in mind I’ve been thinking of a couple of things. Firstly, that the college should be providing guidelines for tutors in structuring their courses. Even better, instead of offering all tutors a ‘blank course’ different templates could be developed, for which tutors just need to drop their specific information into. Secondly, I’ve been thinking about the added workload that developing a VLE aspect to a face to face course creates.  When discussing coaching models with the T&L Manager recently, one case study was a tutor who spent a lot of time with her students and this was impacting on their work. In this case, spending face to face time with students was considered excessive and something that the tutor needed coaching support to address. However, there is a huge expectation that tutors spend their time creating additional virtual learning opportunities for their students, and staff development sessions are prioritised to stress the importance of this. Virtual support – good. Face to face support – bad.

When does a face to face course become a blended learning course? How does this impact on the all important guided learning hours and teachers base loads?




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