Creating a Collaborative and Safe Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
During one of my English classes, I taught my adult German students how to use dictionary and translation apps. The next week, one of my students excitedly shared how she had used one of the apps to help her communicate with an American client over the phone. She made me proud! She used her learning to help her succeed at her job.
Technology is powerful! For over a decade, I have used technology to motivate my students to extend their learning beyond my classes. For my young learners, I created a Wiki with English games and stories for each topic. For teens, I used web tools like Padlet and Animoto. For adults, I’ve used Google Communities, Google Apps, and Edmodo. All these tools and apps helped them take their learning to go.
The most valuable learning from our classes is what students take to go. The learning that occurs in our short time with them should not be able to be digested quickly. We should leave our students hungry for more and box it up for them so it nourishes them throughout their lifelong learning journey.
How do we motivate students to take their learning to go and use it? We start by setting up a virtual learning environment (VLE), a space on the web where students go to access their course materials, share with their peers, and post work. The VLE should be mobile-friendly and safe for students, which is why I recommend these following platforms- Edmodo, Schoology, Educlipper, Google Classroom, Google Communities, Edublogs, Kidblog, Moodle, PBWorks, and Wikispaces. These platforms have many features, which support creativity, citizenship, community, and collaboration.
Students should realize the VLE is their communal space and as citizens of this digital environment, their behavior impacts the community’s success. To promote citizenship, have students and parents sign an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), a Responsible Use Policy, or a Code of Conduct outlining expected behavior and consequences. Help students get to know their community members (their peers) with digital icebreakers, like creating a Digital Goal Board or an About Me poster. Instructions and resources are provided to help you get started.
Shelly Sachez Terrell