VLEs or OLEs that is the question

This blog entry is about whether Visual Learning Environments (VLEs), Online Learning Environments (OLEs) or both should be used in educational institutions. Firstly, we must define each VLEs can be defined as ‘an education system based on the Web that models conventional real-world education by integrating a set of equivalent virtual concepts for tests, homework, classes, classrooms, and the like, and perhaps even museums and other external academic resources.’ (Wikipedia, 2012) On the other hand, OLEs are a public environment where learning can take place, such as this blog.

Firstly, I am going to detail Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) effect on education. I found that there are certain words associated with VLEs from reading @ethinking’s blog on it. These words include: permission, access, and limited access, rights for guests (or visitors), system, control and identification. What does this mean for education? It seems that VLEs are trying to ‘protect’ children from the outside online world, so their children can’t get into contact with ‘strangers’ online. It could restrict their learning and collaboration and make them feel ‘walled in’ to the school community. This does not prepare them for later life after school because they are being protected not taught about e-safety. If they were taught about e-safety they would be able to collaborate online safely, help younger pupils, increase learning capacity and social skills. On the other hand, VLEs do not have any filtering issues.

The government certify pacific VLE providers, these include, Uniservity, Frog, Kalidos, Moodle, Starz and Frounter. The Management Information systems (MIS), for example the Sims register system interacts with the VLE and will interact with each other, pull all student information out and create logins from it. These designers of VLEs do not design out the need for training. It does not address the Moodle experience.

Secondly, I am going to discuss Online Learning Environments (OLEs) effect on education. OLEs such as blogs and social networking allow professionals and friends communicate online. Surely, once children have been taught about e-safety and understand it fully they can write entries on a class blog about something they have done well, work they have done or something they have learnt. This way they can get constructive feedback from other educators, schools and pupils alike. They can also learn from other schools and other pupils work and learn how to constructively criticise in an informal way. This is a very high level skill for a child to have and would be very beneficial in later life. They will learn how to build a PLN, which they can use before they go into the workplace. Finally, all this collaboration and learning is instant. The children are able to evaluate their learning strategies and think about if it is the outcomes they want. It makes them think about how and want to improve their learning. Finally, it is supporting evidence of their achievements. (Norhtedge, 2005: 18)

A limitation of the OLE is that filtration systems may have to be in place.  

They could be used in conjunction with each other. The children when on the own could use the VLE to be protected online, whilst the children could upload, with supervision, work to the OLE. It is important, however, that the teacher does not take over and upload it themselves, as the children would not learn anything at all due to lack of involvement.

In conclusion, VLEs and OLEs can be used in conjunction with each other. Although, in my opinion, OLEs show more potential benefits as the children can monitor their progress as a learner. The learner is enabled to get feedback, understand what they are learning and how and monitor and reflect on it. On VLEs this is harder, therefore it makes it harder for the children to adapt to improve their learning and learning active.


Northedge, A. (2005) The Good Study Guide, Milton Keynes: The Open University

OLE – http://halfanhour.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/online-learning-environment-1999.html

VLE Image http://yacapaca.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/why-have-vles-not-succeeded/