Student Centric Learning: Reference to virtual learning Environment
Source: Author's Teaching Methodology
Virtual learning Environment
A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a Web-based platform for the digital aspects of courses of study, usually within educational institutions. A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a set of teaching and learning tools designed to enhance a student's learning experience by including computers and the Internet in the learning process.VLEs have been adopted by almost all higher education institutions , a range of integrated web based applications that provide teachers, learners, parents and others involved in education with information, tools and resources to support and enhance educational delivery and management. VLE provides two basic advantages to students the personal learning environment (PLE) or personal online learning space (POLS).The main advantage to students is that they can save these learning platforms throughout their life with no loss of access to their personal data.
Institutions of higher and further education use VLEs in order to:
* Economize on the time of teaching staff, and the cost of instruction.
* Provide platform to students to access the contents of the curriculum 24x7 in a flexible manner at varying time and with no location constrains.
* Provides pre-read instructions to students to increase familiarity and enhance interest in topic of study in advance.
* Provide facility of opting on-line test within specified time in 24x7 environments.
* Provide facility of submitting assignments virtually on online portals.
* Teachers can provide lot of miscellaneous study material for reference to students.
* Teachers can provide suggestive readings with books and page numbers as references.
* Facilitate the networking of instruction between different campuses or even colleges.
* Provide for the reuse of common material among different courses.
* Provide automatic integration of the results of student learning into campus information systems.
* Provides platform for content management, Curriculum mapping and planning.
* Provides platform for learner engagement,administration, Communication and collaboration.
(Weller, 2007)A number of different technologies have been used for these purposes: for example, email discussion forums and chat rooms. With the increasing use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), such communication tools are often available within a single environment, which can be used by all the students and staff of an educational institution.
(Teo & Wong, 2000) Problem-based learning is becoming increasingly popular in educational institutions as a tool to address the inadequacies of traditional teaching. Since these traditional approaches do not encourage students to question what they have learnt or to associate with previously acquired knowledge.
Britain, Sandy; Liber, Oleg (1999). They have put forward two models, one from an educational perspective the other from an organizational perspective that might be used to provide a more effective evaluation framework for VLEs. The two models are complementary in many ways, having different scope and orientation. The conversation model focuses on interactions between an individual student and tutor. The VSM model focuses on how the software helps a tutor manage conversations and the construction of individualized activities for a large number of students.
Mason (1998) suggests that there are three basic models of existing on-line courses Content Support Model- Here a relatively static body of content (e.g. a web package) provides the core of the course and is supplemented by tutorial support. The level of on-line interaction is low (typically no more than 20% of the student's time). This is the model that is most akin to traditional teaching and is the most prevalent model currently in use. Wrap-around Model- Here the course materials are wrapped by activities, on-line discussions etc. Mason refers to this as a 50/50 model as on-line interactions and discussions occupy roughly half the students' time. Integrated Model- This is a resource based model where the course is defined by collaborative activities, discussions and joint assignments. The course contents are dynamic and are determined largely by individual needs and group activities. Resources are contributed by participants or tutors as the course develops.
Laurillard (1993) has explored & developed the use of the Conversational Framework as an evaluation methodology for virtual learning environments.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To understand concepts and frameworks of virtual learning environment (VLE)
2. To explore traditional methods of teaching as well as virtual teaching methods
3. To understand students and teachers perspective towards VLE
4. To suggest other useful teaching methods that can be attempted in imparting knowledge to the students.
A Descriptive study was conducted among students and teachers at RDIAS as the respondents. Convenience sampling was used as the sampling method. Face-face interview was conducted with teachers and students. Open ended questions about use of VLE, benefits and problems were asked from around 25 teachers and 25 students.
Benefits of VLEs in Education
There are some clear and immediate benefits of these systems to students and teachers alike the use and recommendation of I&CT
* Flexibility of time and place.
* Coping with increased student numbers.
* Sharing and re-use of resources.
* Collaborative work.
* Student-centered learning.
* Reducing the administration burden.
* Staff Development.
In author's view VLE can be looked upon as:-
Student'sperspective towards virtual learning
The learning process of the student is not just understood as a procedure in a black box, in which only the input of presented knowledge and the output of the known is observed, that for example just has to be reproduced in an exam. In a mainly divided constructivist perspective the student's (collegiate) learning is seen rather as an active, individual and socio-cultural process that is dealing with the construction of cognition and competences. In the context of online pedagogy the teachers aspires to support the students in this process and the feedback activities of the teachers regarding the progress in learning.It is also beneficial for students, who often find it difficult to arrange times to meet face-to-face or have to rush to teachers for notes, references and to know marks for assignments etc.
The interviews highlighted the fact that technical and usability issues cause serious difficulties for users of VLEs. These problems can result in disengagement and lack of participation by students (Weller, 2007, p. 16). Hopefully, technical problems will decrease with time, but usability issues also need to be addressed as a priority.
Teacher'sperspective towards virtual learning
The interviews highlighted nearly similar view by the teachers for the system as of the students with additional privilege of having additional tools that allow them to add materials, case studies, reference books, various video links and help to trackstudents' progress. This shift points to a new evolution in education that affects deeply the ways we are used to hold our lectures.
The innovative powers of the new technologies pave the way for the construction of alternative paths to information sources for teachers and students alike. The faculty staff has to adapt to the new role of the lecturer, that is, to move from the traditional instruction style to a position where they tute and facilitates the more independent, self-directed learning processes of the students. Online pedagogy needs to offer additional models for the realization of this shift in teaching in higher education.
VLE environment leads to improvements in face-to-face classes between teachers and students during lecture time as VLE can be used as preparatory resources it serves as a medium for providing information and notices to students.
With more proficiency in use of these advanced VLE tools, teachers who are early adopters of these systems can explain better the commitment to the benefits, and can themselves overcome many of the problems. However, the interviews did highlight a number of areas where the communication aspects of VLEs are not fulfilling their potential. This section discusses these aspects and draws out ideas on how VLEs might be improved.
One basic requirement is for teachers to know that their students are all correctly registered in the VLE. This requires integration with institute's registration systems. Once students are registered, teachers should be able to check that they are participating. Systems need to keep a record of when each student logs on and what activities they carry out. Tools should be provided which enable teachers to easily monitor each student's participation and progress, and which provide summaries for the class as a whole.
Suggested tools of VLE
It is important that VLEs have straightforward navigation, they use clear terminology, and are based on structures and processes that make sense to students.
The digitalization of information leads to completely new forms of knowledge representation within the organization. The traditional classroom system limited the access to relevant information for the students to printed documents and the lecture and discussion that evolved in the courses. The digital representation of knowledge adds new gateways for the students to the relevant documents they need for their learning. Today need of the hour is that all higher education institutes must develop an online portal and create user ID's for both a teacher and a student.
Current environment need says that we need to compare the different approaches of various institutes and universities that are involved in virtual learning. Today all need to work as partners of the working groupand look for a solution to this heterogeneous puzzle of pedagogical models and innovation strategies of virtual learning. The VLE systems are prevalent in many colleges, institutes and in some universities of India but it should not be misunderstood with system of distance learning. However, VLEs is a way to use technology in order to make teaching more effective on-campus as well.Designing VLE systems which are flexible and which also have good usability is a significant challenge. But it is a challenge which must be met if these systems are to achieve their educational potential.
As Coppola et al. (2002, p. 186) point out, in online learning:
'The managerial role, which deals with class and course management, requires greater attention to detail, more structure and additional student monitoring'.
Weller, Martin (2007). Virtual learning environments: using, choosing and developing your VLE. London: Routledge. pp. 4–5,17.ISBN 9780415414302.
Coppola, N.W., Hiltz, S.R., Rotter, N.G. (2002). Becoming a virtual professor: pedagogical roles and asynchronous learning networks. Journal of Management Information Systems, 18(4), 169–189.
Teo, R. & Wong, A. (2000). Does Problem Based Learning Create A Better Student: A Refelection? Paper presented at the 2nd Asia Pacific Conference on Problem –Based Learning: Education Across Disciplines, December 4-7, 2000, Singapore
Britain, Sandy; Liber, Oleg (1999). "A Framework for Pedagogical Evaluation of Virtual Learning Environments" (PDF). JISC Technology Applications Programme (Report 41). Retrieved May 18, 2015.
Mason, R. (1998) 'Models of Online Courses'. ALN Magazine 2 (2).
Laurillard, D. (1993) Rethinking University Teaching – a framework for the effective use of educational technology, London: Routledge.
Source: E-mail March 2, 2016
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