VLEs v Web 2.0: is consensus breaking out?

Tony Hirst v Niall Sclater CETIS Conference 2007I suspect Brian Kelly took great pleasure in attempting to pitch Tony Hirst against me in a session at the JISC CETIS Conference yesterday (photo: Mark Power). Brian had spotted that I had been promoting the benefits of institutional VLEs while Tony is pushing the boundaries in the use of Web 2.0 software for learning…

After the session I caught up with Tony over a pint and we looked at whether there is any common ground in our thinking and, not surprisingly, there’s plenty (though Tony may now deny it!) Here are some of the issues we agreed on:

Calendars: these provide pacing and form the structure for our courses. There’s a value to having them presented in the VLE, but the data needs to be exportable as iCal feeds so that learners can view them in their own calendars.

Forums: it can be helpful to provide these in-house and moderated so that action can be taken on offensive postings, tutors can check that learners aren’t giving each other bad advice etc. But students should also be able to create their own forums, as we’re proposing to enable with Moodle. Students will use external systems to communicate with each other anyway of course, and that’s no bad thing.

MyStuff (eportfolio): Tony pointed out the limitation that you can’t edit content (eg Word files or images) in MyStuff without having the relevant application on your machine. He suggested that documents are fired up automatically for editing using sites such as zoho if required by the student. Makes sense to me!

Quiz: (Tony, a tad grudgingly:) “well I suppose you could use the Moodle one”

In summary our fundamental agreement at this stage is that it is necessary to have a VLE but we need to have highly flexible systems which allow the export of VLE data to other environments and also enable students to import data from other systems to the VLE.

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