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Virtual Learning Environment is a software program equipped with integrated tools that are built to support and enhance teaching as well as learning in an educational context.VLE is an computerized learning environment and it includes e-learning .VLE is normally used over the internet and is a computer program predominately adapted by educational institutions like Universities and Colleges due to the many benefits such a system brings: A VLE brings about benefits that include,
Efficiently utilize the available time of the teaching staff who have certain degree of involvement in research and administration ,the traditional teaching method could be vague and tutors could use VLE to produce a professional result with less consumption of time.
Increase the quality of services provided to students who look into the internet for information and resources. With a VLE system students have the necessary materials and resources at their disposal.
Designating the integration of distance and campus based learning.
Virtual Learning Environment are more interactive where teachers could upload documents and multimedia files and share these with the students, in another instance students could pose question to the teacher by clicking on the emotion expressing icon referring to 'pose a question'. Moreover students could participate in groups and debate on various topics which will result in new ideas and it improves knowledge. Such e-learning experiences have led these systems to be called Learning Management systems (LMS).
In the contemporary world there are several virtual learning management systems, those include webCT
Blackboard, Cyber Extension, Moodle, Elluminate Live. These commercial management systems are either open source or proprietary VLE.
Virtual Learning Environment and Managed Learning Environment are two different concepts, the latter refers to the tools and all processes that provide learners more functions and it emphasizes more on management. For example: In a college, the student records, the college library, are managed.
VLE software runs on web servers and it is available to anyone via the internet or intranet. Moreover
We could restrict access to the VLE system or any other course information in which case there is more privacy and stability.
Our college, Lyceum school of Higher Studies established in 1996 is situated in Norwich. Our college offers around 150 full time and part time courses ranging from diploma level to professional and Post Graduate qualifications. Presently we have a student base of 800 students. The college provides students with various facilities which include a library, Information Technology lab and many more.
The college has several departments to coordinate and manage the operations of this college such as the IT department responsible for the maintenance of the 350 computer at our college. The numbers of academic staffs in our college are around 115 comprising from the library staffs, college governors, IT staffs and Lecturers.
In this project we have several stakeholders who have an interest in the project and each stakeholder understand the importance of the project, the advantage and the functions of the project. Let us analyze the key stakeholders in the VLE project.
Administrators - 1) Database administrator
2) IT Manager
3) College directors
4) Senior Library Assistant
Software and Hardware supplier
Examining the stakeholders, their expectations, the benefits and functions from the VLE project. First of all we will analyze the 'student' stakeholder;
Students are regarded as a major stakeholder when implementing a VLE environment, this is because all other departments and activities revolve around the students. The students always expect a better quality service. In the present world the students are driven by state of the art technology and seem to be showing a lack of concern to traditional teaching methods. Contemporary students are dynamic and look for a lot of interaction with the teachers. The internet had played a pivotal role in transforming the mindset of students over the past decade.
The functions and benefits student would like to see in a VLE system are:
Completely eliminate the barrier of distance by integrating distance and learning, the effect of this function will save travelling time of the students who live far away and could still do their learning as they would have done by studying in a college.
Study time could be planned effectively, VLE system enables study materials, coursework, timetables and activities could be viewed by the students. Students could organize work and allocate a studying time.
Online learning will be easier to students who oppose the traditional methods of teaching and multimedia (audio, graphics, and video) could be used to good effect to make an interesting learning experience. Additional features such as wikis .podcasting, blogs provides students with more information and more information is what a student looks into.
Students could be made aware of college policy guidelines, announcements and any notices, these dimensions constantly keep the student up to date.
Discussion boards and forums enable students to participate in these online discussions and have an online discourse on a relevant topic and ask queries from the teacher through this online discussion. Students missed out on lessons due to sickness could schedule an online discussion with the respective teacher to cover the missed lessons.
Students could be given an account which they could register in and experience the benefits
Of keeping their study materials and being informed of exam dates and other information and also give students the ability to upload documents for assessment that could be accessed by college lecturer.
When the VLE system is implemented, the library could be tuned to provide an efficient service to the student. Books could be made available online, and books could be renewed through the online system.
These are the benefits and functions derived from a VLE system in the students' perspective. However When it comes to VLE environment, the basic step is to provide students with thoughtful induction on VLE, this approach is necessary and has been supported by research done on students about VLE. According to (lynch, 2002), research showed us that student rates are going to plummet until the students are enlightened on VLE and its benefits. In another research by Moore & Aspden (2004), the research results points out that the students will use a VLE system only if they are aware of the functions and benefits of a VLE system.
The teaching staffs involvement with students and responsible for teaching, making assessments, prepare activities and all other teaching activities have made them a key stakeholder in this project.
The teaching staff uses a various teaching techniques and styles to make learning effective. Nowadays with the increasing number of students pursuing a higher education, there has been significant competition which has resulted in the need for q quality education to increase the chances of employability. As a teaching staff in this era of time the expectations are very high, resorting to older teaching methods and less interaction is going to hamper progress. Therefore the implementation of a VLE environment will make a teacher more of a service provider and a architecture of the students learning experience.
The teaching staff would like to ensure that the VLE environment could achieve the following functions and benefits;