“A VLE would take too much time”
“We’ve never used one before so we don’t need one”
“My staff aren’t so confident with ICT so it’s not for us”
Do these statements about Virtual Learning Environments sound familiar? I’ve heard each of them countless times over the course of my teacher training, subsequent years as a teacher and especially as I’ve delved into specialising in their usage.
It is very easy to label a VLE in the same way you would some unnecessary paperwork or a new fad dreamt up by a politician.
What if a VLE was labelled the same was as any other resource in the school resource cupboard? It becomes much more valuable and less scary when staff in school start to realise that a VLE is simply a tool that can be brought out when the occasion suits, which doesn’t have to keep chugging along behind everything you do, keeping everyone back at school an extra 30 minutes a day (even as ‘someone who knows’ about VLE’s, I can think of a hundred things I’d be better off doing as a teacher than being sat behind a computer updating a VLE on my own at 5:30).
The weighing scales in the resource cupboard; do you use them every day? Every maths lesson? Even the counting blocks have their time and place. A VLE is no different. In exactly the same way that you decided to use a physical resource, a VLE can be picked up and dropped into the curriculum as and when it fits you as a teacher and your children as learners.
Perhaps you’re onto Report Writing this half term. It would be great to compare the difference in format between newspaper articles and website articles, and then have the pupils write their own on an online Portfolio. They can even then peer assess the articles right next to professionally written articles at the touch of a button. Then, say, next topic, you are studying Shape Poetry. It would be fantastic to LEAVE THE VLE OUT COMPLETELY! Shape Poetry can be so beautifully written on huge pieces of A3 paper and coloured more creatively than a computer can handle.
Therein lies the secret of VLEs. They are brilliant when you use them as any other tool in your cupboard. Learn their advantages and disadvantages. What advantage will a specific function give to your class and your lesson? That Wiki tool will be brilliant for the collaborative writing part of the next topic.
After all, would you really shoehorn the weighing scales and counting blocks into taking your registers? Teaching Shape Poetry? You could, but you’ll hear “That could take too much time”, “We’ve never done that before so we don’t need to”, “My staff aren’t confident in doing that so it’s not for us”.
Here at Webanywhere we developed School Jotter a VLE which is developed by educators, for educators.