If a person googles Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) the first definition to emerge is this one from Wikipedia: ¨A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a system designed to support teaching and learning in an educational setting, as distinct from a Managed Learning Environment (MLE), where the focus is on management¨. I other words Virtual learning Environment is an very important scenario for virtual teaching-learning. This process can be done synchronous or asynchronous as updated VLE allows the facilitator to record a class therefore it is available for the learner at any time for the student to learn at his/her own pace and in such a way contribute to autonomous learning. At present, facilitators can use free VLE´s all over the world. Moodle, Elluminate, Dokeos and WizIQ are among the most known and employed due to their performance and versatility.
A couple of years ago, I was a participant on an online version of TKT Essentials at The British Council and the experience was amazing. Although it was overwhelming to some extent, it was also really interesting from the point of view of the learner because I, as a learner, could work at nights, at my own pace, going back and forth if I needed, looking for information and completing the tasks online, chatting with my tutors individually and in group, and also tracking my own progress at any time. The British Council used Moodle as a VLE for that course and I´m not sure, but I think they still use it because it is reliable and steady. I have to confess that when I was first asked about how I would feel about not having face to face (f2f) classes I said: ¨No way, I cannot imagine talking with no one, only sitting in front of a computer without interacting with people¨. I have to tell all of you how my mind has changed. I love f2f classes the same way I love virtual rooms basically because interaction occurs in both environments.
When I became a Masters´ student at UPEL-IPC one of our teachers, Dr Rosynella Cardozo, first introduced us to WiZiQ as a virtual learning environment. We were all astonished, scared, sometimes overwhelmed because even if the environment is easy to work with, our internet connection can make this become a nightmare though. At that moment, and due to those inconveniences, I could not make it possible to have my own teaching experience online which I really regreted. Later in every term, the Masters gave us the possibility of having online sessions, some went better some worse but every time I was online I thought here is where I want to teach in the future.
In ITC´s in the TEFL classroom I have had the worth experience of teaching via WiZiQ and I loved it, it was like I expected and more. I am so eager that I already notify some of my students that we will have online sessions using this platform and they were surprised. Actually, I am preparing some classes and next week I will encourage them to open a student account so they can join the classes. These are all English students who are going to do their communitary service with the language program I work for and they are very young people, from 21 to 24 years old, so they cope with technology very well. I am sure the experience will be outstanding and they will be exposed to a different teaching style.
Thank you VLE´s for being available!