A well-designed VLE or LMS can support any kind of online learning activity, so there is no need to use web tools for learning.

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Christine Lampe
5 April 2011

Recently I participated in two teaching/learning conferences where presentations included a fairly equal mix of LMS/VLE and web 2.0 activities; a fair number included a 'mash up' of both. Stories were told in hallways about institutions requiring the use of the 'official' learning technology, while in some sessions participants were launched straight into the cloud with no visible means of support.

Technology-enhanced learning and practice is in a volatile state, and everyone seems to have an opinion about the relative merits of an institutional LMS or VLE vs the cloud, with 'mash-ups' of both technologies widespread. Is compromise a real solution, or should we commit to one or the other?

It has been suggested that a well-designed VLE or LMS can support any kind of online learning activity, so there is no need to use web tools for learning. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Extra content

Edufountain: Virtual and Personal Learning Environments My Thoughts
John Fontaine, posted March 7, 2010

Anatomy of a PLE 

Stever Wheeler, posted Sunday, 11 July 2010

"Delegates at the conference could not agree whether PLEs should remain the sole domain of the learner, or whether in some way they could be incorporated into institutional infrastructures."

Christine Lampe
18:09 on 5 April 2011 (Edited 18:47 on 5 April 2011)

Embedded Content


Maria Tannant
6:43pm 5 April 2011

Interesting debate, but can we really afford to ignore the web tools VLEs do not have, for example Crocodocs and Diigo?

And what about our students, shouldn't we be preparing them for using the internet properly for emplyment and career prospects? What VLE has it all?

I agree with Maria that no VLE has it all - although it probably can have enough to support any learning activity as the statement asserts.  But what about learner choice?  Should we constrain learners in their choices or is part of becoming an independent learner having choices and being able to discern amongst them.  On the other hand when it comes to assessment we cannot expect assessors to be familiar with everything web 2.0 offers and so the VLE or LMS can link institutional requirements with learner requirements.

Tamsin Griffith
11:38am 9 April 2011 (Edited 11:39am 9 April 2011)

I agree too. We all do such different activities that require different tools. Plus students learn in such different ways. I think it is good to embrace a standard VLE for a group of learners in order to give a good base for access, assessment etc, but never limit learners to it. Plus there is something new all the time, no VLE could keep up.

Sarah Bridgman
2:04pm 9 April 2011

My initial feeling is that we need both: an institutional VLE platform and the means to take learning 'over the fence'. A VLE is a 'safe' and structured area that enables people to assume the identity of 'student' with relative ease; that is, roles are determined and support is in place. It is a space in which students can try stuff out, experiment and make mistakes. The use of web tools, such as blogs, Twitter etc allow people to merge their student identities with their everyday ones, They are bringing their learning into their world, not the institutions. If I tweet something that I have learned through my engagment of the VLE, I'm in effect applying it to my real context, with non-student networks.

paul jonathan smithers
10:30am 10 April 2011

These remarks are personal to my own experience with my institution's VLE.

When the VLE works for your learners great, but without some form of standardisation across the college, you get tremendous variations in provision and relevence. This is leading to a lot of duplication as tutors devise activities specific to the qualification needs of their students. In addition, there is no 'index' or classification within the VLE structure so searching can be somewhat hit and miss. The system is well supported technically, if teachers can devise the learning resources then the IT department can load it onto the VLE; but who is training teachers in the use of the VLE in the first place? and who is moderating the content?

Laurence Cuffe
2:40pm 13 June 2011

My only concern is that the eforts students put into learning how to navigate the VLE is esentialy wasted when they get out into the real world, whereas if they have been using web 2.0 skills these are transferable.

Jemma Buck
6:22am 21 June 2011


A newbie to this space, I'd like to add my current views - VLEs and are used differently to Web 2.0 tools and therefore the choice as to which to use has to be made in full awareness of the limits of each. A VLE is relatively easy to get your head round, whereas for technophobes, and there are a lot still out there, the Web 2.0 aren't so easy. 

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