What future for the VLE?

Back in May I wrote, with Dave Cormier and Mark Stiles an article for Educational Developments entitled “Reflecting on the Virtual Learning Systems – extinction or evolution?”; on Friday, we three, present on a panel session about our views and conclusions at the Altered States (online) conference, along with Blackboard and Moodle representatives. Mostly our musings looked at how we thought VLEs would change, concluding that they may become much lighter and slimmer, act more as aggregators, and be controlled by learners, rather than extinction. Like a good presenter I was preparing for my session and reflecting on how we really hadn’t discussed the scenario where VLEs did become extinct (and like the dinosaurs – what had caused the extinction, perhaps the web 2.o asteroid?).

Anyhow, as I was preparing I was d tweeted by dr_neil  with a note about his latest blog posting which provided a superb and topical diversion, and I am now shamelessly printing it as prep material for the panel. If you would like an entertaining discussion about the pedagogy of VLEs and the role of senior managers in their procurement, and for those of you familar with the Emperor’s New Clothes (a metaphor used before by Neil and I to describe accessbility standards) take a trip over to Neil’s blog posting The Vice Chancellor’s New VLE it is a hoot…


  1. Some problems with VLEs are very basic. For example inserting DOI links for articles in resource references. No two publishers seem to treat DOIs in the same way (Elsevier provide the complete DOI, Emerald call it something completely different, Springer only provide the base DOI). This causes course managers much extra work (there’s more detail I could go into here, believe me). Then there are authentication issues for Distance Learners, who may be logged into the VLE but not loged in to a VPN, and so often get asked for cash when trying to retrieve the full text.

  2. Hi Lawrie. I’ll be interested in what you come up with! I am currently putting together a day school (although it might turn out to be a half day) on personal learning and research environments for research PGs and staff. Stretching things a bit, the focus is on what a non-institutional provided/supported/controlled VLE would look like that is mobile and develops and changes as an individual’s career through profession and life develops and changes. This includes elements of life-long learning, digital presence and identity, and digital citizenship. I have started preparation for this using Google Sites as an experiment – http://sites.google.com/site/personalresearchenvironments. This is slightly at odds with my day job of promoting the use the Leeds Uni VLE but for those on temporary contracts, early in their careers or, like me, close to retirement, it makes good sense to be untying the apron strings and looking for free-floating and flexible environments, applications and networks.

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