A Virtual Learning Environment fits in your resource cupboard

Published: May 15, 2015


“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”.

Related Webanywhere Pages

Here at Webanywhere we developed School Jotter a VLE which is developed by educators, for educators.

Head Teacher Of The Week: Azita Zohhadi, Nelson Mandela School

Category: Breaking News

Published: April 14, 2014

This week’s Head Teacher of the Week is Azita Zohhadi, of Nelson Mandela School, Birmingham. As we discovered, becoming a highly-regarded school in your area starts with having a great leader…

Why did you get into teaching?
I loved going to school when I was younger and my favourite game as a child was being a teacher. I used to make my own register and plan lessons for my toys, teddy bears and younger sister! My mum was a teacher and my grandparents were Heads of schools in Iran so I think it must be in my blood too!
What do you think  makes a good leader?
A good leader to me is someone who can empower others and move people forward without needing to be the person at the front. A good leader needs to see things from many perspectives and needs to recognise that you need to work with others as you do not have all of the answers.

How important is technology in improving learning outcomes?
Technology is incredibly important as it can support children in so many ways and it can bring the outside world and the knowledge of the world into the classroom.
What are your tips for preparing for Ofsted?
Make sure your website is welcoming and up to date as this is the first place Ofsted look prior to a visit. Then all of the obvious – know your school and sell it!
What tips would you give to other senior leaders who aspire to becoming a head teacher?
Get involved in all aspects of school life, do as many whole school projects as you can to drive forward school improvement and making sure that you are well read and up to date with local and national educational issues.
How do you motivate and manage your staff?
You’ll need to ask them that! Hopefully by continuing to value them and caring for their well-being. Also by providing a stimulating place to work and giving them the opportunities to develop their roles within the school.
What do you think makes a great teacher?
A great teacher is someone who feels passionately about improving children’s life chances and a person who thinks carefully about all interactions with children so that they get the best from them. A great teacher needs to be caring, approachable and fair.
How do you feel education is changing?
I think schools have to make more links with each other and share things more. We feel far more of a collective responsibility to support children no matter which school they may be attending. This is a good thing.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
My biggest challenge at the moment is the economy and the knock on effects on our budget. Cost are going up and there are far more services that we have to buy into which used to be provided for us.
Think you or your Head Teacher deserve to be our Head Teacher of the Week? Email us – info@webanywhere.co.uk – and tell us why!