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Quite interested last week to read the swathes of tweets about what everyone’s been up to on the recent snow days. More curious to see many schools and teachers tweeting about how they’re using VLE’s to set and mark work for absent kids.

Check out this example from the Creative Education Blog.

So what is the deal with VLE’s? Most Local Education Authorities in the UK subsidise the purchase of VLE software for schools in their borough, this enables each department in the school to set up webpages and links where pupils can access lesson resources, forums, and general information associated with each subject.

The software is backed up with a consultation from the producers who go in to schools and give teachers training on webpage design, the uploading of resources etc. There is an Ofsted requirement which states that schools must use ICT effectively and most head teachers see the VLE as ticking that box (as well as being useful for teaching and learning) so essentially every school in the country is expected to move towards having a bespoke VLE in the near future.

But looking at the Naace website it’s clear that they want to see schools taking a far more in-depth approach to VLE’s than simple box ticking. Schools with the most effective online learning platforms have the ability to keep much of the normal school activity going. Teachers can set work online and post resources so that parents can more easily support homework, pupils can email work to their teachers and ask them questions. Those with online forums and chat facilities for a class or the whole school can generate discussions and collaborations. Many schools also use their platforms for extra-curricular activity and fun learning challenges.

Now, as Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (that’s Hunt, BBC) unveils plans for a nationwide rollout of superfast broadband by 2015, it looks like the infrastructure will be in place for a huge shift in the way schools operate when school hours are affected: VLE’s will become a genuine extension of the classroom walls.

I say enjoy it while you can, young’uns…

Click to listen to Jeremy Hunt talking about superfast broadband, home schooling and online tutoring

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