Virtual Learning Environment – Tips for getting started

Following discussions at several RSC London VLE events I have collated the following tips on getting your VLE project going. Due to the predominance of Moodle this is Moodle centric but I hope the principles apply equally to any VLE system implementation.

  • Use VLE to deliver staff development e.g. Health & Safety, Equal Opportunities, Staff Induction, College Quality systems induction
  • Get SMT to direct all staff to attend VLE training – be prepared to repeat training for tutors as many times as needed
  • As well as providing staff with training also offer them ad hoc support through the year
  • Offer training in other applications that support Moodle e.g. Hot Potatoes, Turnitin, Ellumiate, Mahara
  • Put essential documents onto the VLE so that staff have to log in to access them, e.g. salary claim form, annual leave form, etc.
  • Get SMT to direct all staff to digitise their teaching materials
  • Get SMT to direct staff to put all schemes of work onto the VLE
  • Get a professional looking graphic design for the site with a well designed main page. e.g. Do not use a Moodle template.
  • Network with other learning providers to get good ideas and content, there are now around 60,000 registered Moodle sites in the world
  • Encourage staff to share – this is the idea behind open source software like Moodle
  • Provide test courses and test equipment for tutors to practice with
  • Provide technical assistance for tutors in their first few weeks of using e-learning and VLE based activities in class
  • Communicate a vision of what a VLE can do and what your organisation wants to get from your VLE project to all staff
  • Show how using a VLE can impact upon quality and curriculum development
  • Put effective use of learning technologies into lesson observation framework
  • Require level 2 ICT skills for all new staff appointments
  • Plan to bring existing staff ICT skills up to level 2 through staff appraisal system
  • 14 Course categories in Moodle aligned to the Ofsted inspection areas of learning
  • Arrange for MIS/VLE integration to reduce workload of user maintenance. Ideally with LDAP type single sign on
  • Require that staff make Moodle the only place to manage ILP’s
  • Some providers have decided that assignments will only be accepted through Moodle
  • Show staff what can be done once your VLE goes beyond the first phase and moves toward transforming learning by using e-assessment, e-portfolios, ILP’s, interactive exercises, rich media, etc.
  • Show VLE success
  • Use VLE to showcase student work
  • Show systems integration pathway for development of VLE and more advanced reporting and student tracking systems e.g. integrating attendance, punctuality, assignment submission, Additional Learner support, awarding body integration etc.

Further help and advice

Good luck with your VLE projects. If you are an SFA or HEFCE funded post 16 learning provider you are entitled to advice from your JISC Regional Support Centre – see here to find your local RSC Office.

If you are interested in Moodle 2 see my earlier post – Should your organisation move to Moodle 2.0 see  http://rsclondonnews.blog.ulcc.ac.uk/2011/02/18/should-your-organisation-move-to-moodle-2-0/

Forthcoming RSC London Events can be accessed via http://www.rsc-london.ac.uk/events/

A good way to share ideas and good practice among your peers in the post 16 education sector can be via various Jiscmail forums. Contact your local RSC for details of how to join in the debate.

For an overview of Jiscmail visit http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/about/whatisjiscmail.html

Martin Sepion is a Senior Adviser at the JISC Regional Support Centre London which is based at ULCC, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU e-mail m.sepion@rsc-london.ac.uk

Twitter @Martin_Sepion

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