What is a virtual learning environment?
A school virtual learning environment in the context of a schools website is an online solution that not only aids in the children classroom learning experience but extends as a tool for teachers to help planning lessons and for the school to keep the parents updated. A central system, where information about the school, events, classes, clubs and topics can be seen and shared amongst the school community. A place where teachers can post lesson plans, reference material and resources that the children can access both in the classroom and at home. The VLE allows parents to see the progress of their child and provides as a means of clear communication between themselves and the school.
What does VLE mean for teachers?
Essentially for teachers, the VLE allows them to publish information regarding students and subjects they teach. A teacher can post lesson plans and share them with their colleagues. They can upload class notes, reference material regarding certain topics that can then be used to aid the learning experience of the children in the class room. This can then double up as additional support for the children as they have access to this information whether they are at school or at home. Teachers can use the virtual learning environment to post pupils grades and reports as well as other private communications. Information like this can be shared privately to specific people: students, parents and teachers for example.
This school solution can also be used to take class registration and since this is a central system, parents and senior members of staff within the school can track punctuality and truancy. School reports can be displayed through the VLE and provide a historical view, allowing everyone involved with the school community to see the progress of both the school and its pupils. Overall this is a learning tool beneficial to all parties.
How Can a VLE keep parents informed?
The VLE has the ability to allow school staff to post information regarding the school and its pupils on a daily basis, this provides a clear line of communication with the parents. Along with this the system provides a place for parents to logon to see information specific to their child. This has two advantages; firstly parents do not have to filter through irrelevant class information which does not relate to their child but more importantly other children’s information is protected. A parent will be able to see their childs grades, whether their child has homework that needs to be handed in or whether the school require them to sign a consent form for an upcoming school trip. Information regarding grades and exam results, school notices will also be available to the parents.
Not only can the parents use the system to acquire information from the school but they can use the VLE to keep the school updated. Parents can inform the school that their child may be off sick, request and submit a holiday form for their child. The virtual learning environment also allows parents to view the school dinner menu and pay for their child’s meals in advance as well as allowing them to pay for other things like school trips. Parents can additionally arrange appointments with the school and book time slots for parents evening etc. This method of communication through one central system ensures that both the parents and schools are constantly and instantly kept up to date.
Doing it for the kids
The above is great, but how does this help with the education of the children and how does it improve the process? As briefly highlighted before, children will have access to information loaded by the teachers both in and out of the classroom. Lesson information, references, tests and homework can be accessed from anywhere. Children can also submit their homework through the virtual learning environment and see any relevant feedback/notes from their teachers. Children will also be able to see any relevant information about their classes/clubs they may attend, whether there are any up-coming competitions for clubs they are involved in or a list of ingredients they may need for their cooking class. Pupils may wish to take part in extra curriculum activities, using the system the school children will be updated with these types of events and can submit an interest. Additionally pupils can report bullying anonymously.