16. Conceptual Model for Web-Supported Learning

The effective use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) to support teaching and learning in a face-to-face institution can be difficult to visualise. We see our students several times a week, in lectures and tutorials, they can physically access the library, they are digital ‘natives’ and are comfortable finding their own resource on the web, aren’t they?

Past experience has shown that it helps to develop a conceptual framework to visualise a VLE and the types of things it can do. Any VLE provides the following five main areas of functionality:

  • Information – providing organisational information and tools, such as Announcements, Calendar, Lecturer profile and contact details, sign-up sheets for meetings and tutorials;
  • Content – Resource tool to build a collection of electronic resources, readings, links to existing Web content (web pages, podcasts, videos etc.);
  • Communication – Discussion forums, Email archive, and collaboration tools such as Wikis and Blogs;
  • Assessment – Assignments, Tests, Tutorial tasks, marked discussion contributions;
  • Management – monitoring student activity, administering marks.

Using this conceptual framework, one sees that the virtual learning environment, just as with the physical learning environment, demands thorough course design and planning.

Once such a virtual site has been designed and created, it assists lecturers, tutors and students (as well as researchers and administrators) to collect resources and access them in a structured, convenient and collaborative way.

To discuss structuring your material, email jill.fresen@oucs.ox.ac.uk

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