From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Moodle Learning Management System
navigation system and online community building
A Virtual learning environment (VLE) is a
software system designed to facilitate teachers in the
management of educational courses for their students, especially
teachers and learners with course administration. The system
can often track the learners' progress, which can be monitored
by both teachers and learners. While often thought of as
primarily tools for distance education, they are most often used
to supplement the face-to-face classroom.
These systems usually run on
servers, to serve the course to students as internet pages.
Components of these systems usually include templates for
content pages, discussion forums, chat, quizzes and exercises
such as multiple-choice, true/false and one-word-answer.
Teachers fill in these templates and then release them for
learners to use. New features in these systems include
RSS. Services generally provided include
access control, provision of
e-learning content, communication tools, and administration
of the user groups.
organisation that support and enable electronic learning on a
wider scale. In fact a rather pedantic reading of the term MLE
could be extended to encompass the physical environment in which
learning takes place (i.e a school). Also the use of VLE avoids
confusion with the use of LMS to mean "Library Management
System" (which is more commonly referred to as Integrated
Library System, or ILS, in the United States).
Becta, in the UK, have coined the term learning platform
to cover both MLE and VLE as used in the schools sector. 'The
term learning platform describes a broad range of ICT systems
used to deliver and support learning. Through a learning
platform, hardware, software and supporting services are brought
together to enable more effective ways of working within and
outside the classroom. At the heart of any learning platform is
the concept of a personalised online learning space for the
pupil. This space should offer teachers and pupils access to
stored work, e-learning resources, communication and
collaboration with peers, and the facility to track progress.'
- DfES Making IT Personal leaflet, March 2006.
The renowned Woodhouse College is one notable user of the VLE
system, where it is used extensively by both students and
members of staff
It is a
computer program that facilitates computerised learning or
e-learning. Such e-learning systems are sometimes also
called Learning Management System (LMS), Course Management
System (CMS), Learning Content Management System (LCMS), Managed
Learning Environment (MLE), Learning Support System (LSS) or
Learning Platform (LP); it is education via
computer-mediated communication (CMC) or
A more correct term may be a virtual environment for
learning, rather than virtual learning environment. This removes
any ambiguities and identifies that it is the environment which
is virtual and not the learning.
United States, CMS and LMS are the more common terms,
however LMS is more frequently associated with software for
managing corporate training programs rather than courses in
traditional education institutions.
United Kingdom and many
European countries the terms VLE and MLE are favoured,
however it is important to realise that these are two very
different things. A VLE can be considered a sub system of a MLE,
whereas MLE refers to the wider infrastructure of information
systems in an [...]
A VLE should make it possible for a course designer to
present to students, through a single, consistent, and intuitive
interface, all the components required for a course of education
or training. Although logically it is not a requirement, in
practice VLEs always make extensive use of computers and the
Internet. A VLE should implement all the following elements:
- The syllabus for the course
- Administrative information including the location of
sessions, details of pre-requisites and co-requisites,
credit information, and how to get help
- A noticeboard for up-to-date course information
- Student registration and tracking facilities, if
necessary with payment options
- Basic teaching materials. These may be the complete
content of the course, if the VLE is being used in a
distance learning context, or copies of visual aids used
in lectures or other classes where it is being used to
support a campus-based course.
- Additional resources, including reading materials, and
links to outside resources in libraries and on the Internet.
WebCT Learning Management System
navigation menu and icons giving access to automated
tools and content pages.
- Self-assessment quizzes which can be scored
- Formal assessment procedures
- Electronic communication support including
threaded discussions and a
chat room, with or without a
access rights for instructors and students
Edumate Student Learning and Management System
showing the main learning interface.
- Production of documentation and statistics on the course
in the format required for institutional administration and
- All these facilities should be capable of being
- Easy authoring tools for creating the necessary
documents including the insertion of hyperlinks - though it
is acceptable (arguably, preferable) for the VLE to be
designed so that standard
word processors or other office software can be used for
In addition, the VLE should be capable of supporting numerous
courses, so that students and instructors in a given institution
(and, indeed, across institutions) experience a consistent
interface when moving from one course to another.
Open University Support System
Universities and other institutions of
higher education are increasingly turning to VLEs in order
- Economise on the time of teaching staff, especially when
they are also involved in research and administration. The
extent of the economy over traditional "talk-and-chalk"
teaching is not yet clear, but using a VLE almost certainly
absorbs less instructor time (and requires less expertise,
while producing a more professional result) than creating a
home-grown website for a course. (Many users of VLE's would
dispute the above statement.)
- Provide a service for students who increasingly look to
the internet as the natural medium for finding information
- Ensure that quality control requirements are met by
providing a standard vehicle for collecting the required
- Facilitate the integration of distance and campus-based
learning. or of learning on different campuses.
In the UK 11-16 schools are being encouraged to make use of
Learning Platforms. The
in the UK government has published an
eStrategy outlining priorities that include every learner in
schools having access to an online learning space and
Transferring course content
Most VLEs support
Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) as a
standard way to upload, launch and track courses. There are no
commonly used standards that define how the learner's
performance within a course should be transferred from one VLE
Some institutions have attempted to combat this problem by
agreeing in collaboratives to share common platforms. Use of
open source VLEs such as
Moodle (moodle is also referred to as a CMS or Course
Management System) have more recently enabled institutions to
share content more easily. For the schools sector in the UK the
via Becta has defined a
"conformance framework" to encourage interoperability.
For those wishing to deliver e-learning there are many free
open source and proprietary VLEs available for use.
On-demand e-learning services are also a popular choice
because they can be deployed in minutes and don't require
instructors & institutions to run their own servers.
Many VLEs are placed on a web server. In a typical VLE there
are one or more programs or languages that provides the user
(Teacher-Student) interface, and which interacts with a
database. For example, a VLE might use PHP as its web
language/program, with MySQL as a database.
VLEs are increasingly found in new niches. These include new
emerging technologies, as well as specialized markets. A VLE can
be deployed on a USB drive as a child, which synchronizes from
time to time with its web based parent. VLEs can be used for
training or in something as specialized as to meet
ISO 9000 certification requirements.
List of some Virtual Learning
Apex Learning K-12
- Kaleidos (Research
History of virtual learning environments
Content management framework
Computer-assisted language learning
Advanced Distributed Learning
- Morgan, G. (2003). Faculty Use of Course Management
Systems. 2, Retrieved November 27, 2005, from
- Paulsen, M. F. 2003. Online Education and Learning
Management Systems - Global Elearning in a Scandinavian
Perspective. Oslo: NKI Forlaget.
LMS Options and Comparisons Wiki based comparison of
EduTools: COURSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS: Compare Products
LMSNews Reviews of Open Source LMS
Bournemouth University's VLE A sample VLE
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Educational software |
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