17 November 2008

More on the baboon in the machine

For a different view of the VLE from mine of yesterday, also taking Steve Wheeler's "Monkey business" as a starting point, see "A bad workman always blames his tools". My own view remains unchanged, as expressed – but there is a lot of good sense there, and in the comments to both.

To the specific question asked in this second post, I'd like to make answer:

Q: If web tools are so fantastic and so much better than VLEs, why isn’t everyone using them all the time?

A: Partly, at least, because institutions have a vested interest in their VLE. Staff development and resourcing tend to be heavily skewed that way, and in many cases directives are issued that electronic learning materials must be placed on the VLE, not elsewhere.

The point is made that "virtual learning environment" is a misnomer, and some other term (such as "virtual repository environment") be substituted. I would agree with that, although it seems unlikely that a well established term (however misplaced) is going to be overturned. Whatever it is called, it remains the same beast and has the same influence.

Perhaps (as another comment suggests) a better approach is to fight back against the monopoly on that term currently exercised by behemoths like Blackboard. Ad hoc and tailored systems built and tailored to need, using other internet tools (web or otherwise), are also virtual learning environments; perhaps we should hit back and start referring to them as such.

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