Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Hot debate on Virtual Learning Environments at ALT-C

There was a hot dedate on Virtual Learning Environments (like Moodle) #vle at the ALT-C conference #altc2009 in a session entitled "The VLE is Dead" . With a good degree of inside cheekiness the first speaker summarized that the "e" in elearning stands for evil as a result of VLEs being the normal way education technology is run in schools and colleges. This, he said, is because:

1. One size does not fit all - but VLEs tend to homogenize
2. The student/user does not "own" the VLE - but users want to own the tools they use
3. The VLE is conning academics into creating content (not constructivist approach) which creates an unproductive learning model
4. The VLE is not helful for discoursive teaching, it prevents students from discussing with people outside their institution
5. Teachers can do most stuff with outside, free tools
6. The PLE (personal learning environment) is flexible, while the VLE is cumbersome

Martin Weller tweeted: "if a bomb went off in this room, the UK ed tech scene would be wiped out" - and he is one of the ones to have started the whole debate in his blog.

Yet schools and colleges have to deal with not all teachers having the necessary skills in alternative tools, and not all students using social networks like Facebook and Twitter that would make VLEs obsolete for most student work. (Noone seemed to be debating VLEs as a good place for quizzes and tests.) But the feeling was really quite strong that VLEs are more counterproductive than conducive to learning.

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