Thursday, February 4, 2010

Week No. 9: Exploring Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

On this week, our facilitator, Professor Evelyn Izquierdo, taught us different aspects related to Virtual Learning Environments (VLTs) and their importance for English Language Teaching (ELT).
A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a virtual environment (VE) that supports learning activities. Furthermore, it inherits general VE features like social space, social presence, awareness tools among others, and that can and should be exploited by pedagogic strategies and according instructional design models.

A virtual learning environment is any sort of environment that supports teaching and/or learning with Computer-mediated communication, e.g. a LMS, a C3MS, a Website + Forum.

A virtual learning environment is characterized by being:
- a designed information space.
- a social space where educational interactions occur turning spaces into places.
- explicitly represented since the representation of this information/social space can vary from text to 3D immersive worlds.
- environments in which students are not only active, but also actors: they co-construct the virtual space.
- non-restricted to distance education since they also enrich classroom activities.
-virtual environment that integrate heterogeneous technologies and multiple pedagogical approaches.
-environments that overlap with physical environments.
Virtual Learning Environment can offer the following benefits:
- they can provide obvious affordances for collaborative learning.
- members of a community tend to make better progress (peer intellectual & emotional help and mutual stimulation)
- some goals can't be reached alone (distributed cognition)
- a group can develop special language and practice adapted to specific problems
- They can promote knowledge through enculturation (collective memory)
- cognition is tied to experience (grounded)
- communities can extend beyond formal groups of learners


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