There are a confusing number of VLE products available for use in schools. In choosing the right one for the school, the teacher needs to think carefully how it can be used to good effect in the school and make sure that it supports the features that will be most useful. It also needs to be simple to use for both teachers and pupils. Any barrier to use will soon make it useless.
The first thing to consider is how easy it is the set up. Some systems are very flexible but mean that someone in the school must work very hard to understand and tailor it for the school. in a small school the best solution is where the system provider will work with the school to set it up ready to get started immediately.
It is also important to consider how pupils will use the VLE. Children really enjoy sending messages to each other. Care must be taken so cyber bullying can not occur. A good way to achieve this is to have class blogs so all communications are public and any misuse can soon be dealt with. Pupils also like to have their own home page where they can express themselves and do something individual to themselves.
The teachers also need to be able to use it for their teaching. A feature to look for is the ability to create project pages so teachers can share information on a project and links to suitable sites for the pupils to visit. Interaction is also important, so an easy way to set up a quiz that the pupils can complete and receive feedback on their answers is a great feature. If the quiz feature can include a means to practice spelling that would be very good. Many pupils find learning spellings difficult but a fun way to practice them may encourage some more reluctant pupils to get involved.
Good content needs images as well as text. A good VLE will make it easy to add pictures to pages. Pupils find copy and paste the easiest way to use images so it needs to be possible to transfer images from other websites – with suitable warnings about copyright. It is also necessary to be able to upload images from cameras. teachers can do this by uploading a set of images, perhaps relating to a school event, and allowing pupils to use these to create their own pages or news items.
If all of these features are easy to use then you will soon discover new ways to use the VLE and it will become a vital part of teaching and learning in the school. Pupils will gain confidence in expressing themselves and learning will not just take place in the classroom but at home as well.