The VLE in my life is…

Today marks the start of a new blog/twitter challenge. Devised by Maren Deepwell, the #JuneEdTechChallenge comes from a vinyl album/music Instagram hashtag challenge we’ve both been following and engaging in, but this is going to be all things education and learning technology. For obvious reasons.

So, we start with day one and:

The VLE in my life is…

… complicated! In my fifteen-plus years of EdTech, I’ve used many VLEs; some more than others, some more successful than others too. The list would include Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, FutureLearn, OpenEdX, Coursera, and Aula, to name a few. Mind you, not all of them consider themselves a VLE, but it’s how they’re used or how I’ve supported them, so it’s how I’m classifying them.

Whilst I haven’t used Blackboard for a (very) long time, it is still my favourite and least favourite VLE of choice. If it was a Facebook status update, my relationship update would be “it’s complicated”. Why? I had a love/hate relationship with it. I loved what I could do in the system and I hated how restricted I was at the same time. I used to write a lot about those frustrations, but time and distance have reaffirmed by belief that the frustrations were mainly down to either the way it was set up or installed, the lack of regular and timely updates/patches, or just the way individuals (academics, administrators, other learning technologists (including me!) used it.

Once I know enough about the system/VLE and understand the limitations, I can work within and around them, as can anyone who spends the time and effort to learn about it. Blackboard is a powerful system capable of a lot. I’ve kept up to date with colleagues and news about Bb, and have been pleased to see the development I witnessed when I was using it continue, that the interface and ‘purpose’ continue to evolve and improve access to the materials, tools, features, etc.

The student journey and experience have become so much more important in recent months and years, and I’m buoyed by what I see friends and contacts across my network doing in Bb. I may not be the one doing that kind of stuff anymore but I’m pleased to see others having success with the way I’d be doing this stuff too.

I chose a VLE of my past as I don’t use one in my day-to-day work. Not really – I manage and support a team that use both FutureLearn and Aula, of which neither is really a VLE. Not in the sense of what a VLE is. Aula is a “Learning Experience Platform for higher education”, making it “easy for educators to create learning experiences that truly engage students.”. An ecosystem, integrating other systems to its base model to enhance and enlarge its capabilities.

FutureLearn is clearly nothing like this, nor is it like a VLE either. Originally a MOOC platform, it has matured and grown to provide more than just free online courses, but at its heart is a platform delivering learning materials in a certain way/style.

  • This post is the first in the 30-day JuneEdTechChallenge. Follow the challenge on my JuneEdTechChallenge blog tag and on Twitter using the #JuneEdTechChallenge hashtag. And write your own entries too. The list of challenges is as follows:

Photo credit: clement127