Virtual learning environment

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A virtual learning environment (VLE), or learning platform, is an e-learning education system based on the web that models conventional in-person education by providing equivalent virtual access to classes, class content, tests, homework, grades, assessments, and other external resources such as academic or museum website links. It is also a social space where students and teacher can interact through threaded discussions or chat. It typically uses Web 2.0 tools for 2-way interaction, and includes a content management system.

Virtual learning environments are the basic components of contemporary distance learning, but can also be integrated with a physical learning environment[1] which may be referred to as blended learning.

Virtual learning can take place synchronously or asynchronously. In synchronous systems, participants meet in “real time”, and teachers conduct live classes in virtual classrooms. Students can communicate through a microphone, chat rights, or by writing on the board. In asynchronous learning, which is sometimes called “self-paced” learning, students are expected to complete lessons and assignments independently through the system. Asynchronous courses have deadlines just as synchronous courses do, but each student is learning at his own pace.

A virtual learning environment can also include students and teachers “meeting” online through a synchronous web-based application. The teacher is able to present lessons through video, PowerPoint, or chatting. The students are able to talk with other students and the teacher, as well as collaborate with each other, answer questions, or pose questions. They can use the tools available through the application to virtually raise their hand, send messages, or answer questions on the screen given by the teacher or student presenter.

In other words or in short we can say that a virtual learning environment or VLE is a set or medium of learning and teaching tools that can help students get to gain knowledge through a computer or the internet.

Major Components Of Virtual Learning Environment[edit]

The following are the basic or the main components required for a virtual learning environment or online education curriculum to take place[2]

Similar terms[edit]

Computerized learning systems have been referred to as:

The terms virtual learning environment (VLE) and learning platform are generically used to describe a range of integrated web based applications that provide teachers, learners, parents and others involved in education with information, tools and resources to support and enhance educational delivery and management. These terms are broadly synonymous with 'managed learning environments' (MLEs) and 'managed virtual learning environments' (MVLEs).

The applications that form part of these online services can include web pages, email, message boards and discussion forums, text and video conferencing, shared diaries, online social areas, as well as assessment, management and tracking tools.[3][4]

The term learning platform refers to a range of tools and services often described using terms such as educational extranet, VLE, LMS, ILMS and LCMS providing learning and content management. The term learning platform also includes the personal learning environment (PLE) or personal online learning space (POLS), including tools and systems that allow the development and management of eportfolios.

The specific functionality associated with any implementation of a learning platform will vary depending upon the needs of the users and can be achieved by bringing together a range of features from different software solutions either commercially available, open source, self built or available as free to use web services. These tools are delivered together via a cohesive user environment with a single entry point, through integration achieved by technical standards.

The term LMS can also mean "Library Management System" (which is now more commonly referred to as Integrated Library System, or ILS).


VLE Learning platforms commonly allow:[citation needed]

In principle a learning platform is a safe and secure environment that is reliable, available online and accessible to a wide user base. A user should be able to move between learning platforms throughout their life with no loss of access to their personal data. The concept of a learning platform accommodates a continuously evolving description of functionality changing to meet the needs of the user. Becta publishes Functional Requirements and Technical Specifications that give a more precise description of how a learning platform may be constructed.

VLE Components[edit]

A VLE may include some or all of the following elements:

A VLE is normally not designed for a specific course or subject, but is capable of supporting multiple courses over the full range of the academic program, giving a consistent interface within the institution and—to some degree—with other institutions using the system.


Institutions of higher and further education use VLEs in order to:


Most VLEs support the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) as a standard, but there are no commonly used standards that define how the learner's performance within a course can be transferred from one VLE to another.

There are also standards for sharing content such as those defined by the IMS Global Consortium. Local bodies such as in the schools sector in the UK the DCSF via Becta have additionally defined a learning platform "conformance framework" to encourage interoperability.

Virtual Learning Environments are not limited only to students and learners in university level studies. There are many virtual learning environments for students in grades K-12. These systems are also particularly suited for the needs of independent educational programs, charter schools and home-based education.


Educators need benchmark tools to assess a virtual learning environment as a viable means of education.

Walker developed a survey instrument known as the Distance Education Learning Environment Survey (DELES), which is accessible to students anywhere.[5] DELES examines instructor support, student interaction and collaboration, personal relevance, authentic learning, active learning, and student autonomy.

Harnish and Reeves provide a systematic criteria approach based on training, implementation, system usage, communication, and support.[6]

Systems available[edit]

There are many open source and proprietary VLEs available for use[citation needed]. On-demand elearning services are also a popular choice because they can be deployed in minutes and do not require instructors and institutions to run their own servers.

Many VLEs are placed on a web server. In a typical VLE there are one or more programs or languages that provides the user (Teacher-Student) interface, and which interacts with a database. For example, a VLE might use PHP as its web language/program, with MySQL as a database.

VLE Supports Online Communication Between School and Home[edit]

The virtual learning environment supports an exchange of information between a student or a user at home with the school or learning institute he or she is currently enrolled in through digital mediums like e-mail, chat rooms, web 2.0 sites or a forum thereby helping convey information to any part of the world with just a single click.[7]

According to a recent survey parents having children specially the working professional are very much concerned about their child’s performance within the school always, but sometimes they are so busy in work that they know nothing of what their child is up to. And it is because of progress in online education or virtual learning environment that parents now remain in contact with their children, their academic performance and their faculty members as well with ease. Parents generally see their association as a key variable in tyke's by and large accomplishment and showed solid yearning to be more educated about in general advancement, particularly reviews, so as to absolutely affect their kid's school execution. The study uncovered that center school is basic time for schools to give folks the chance to get more included the effect being better scholastic execution later onion secondary school. Folks see the profits of better correspondence, particularly online correspondence, as managing an understudy prior intercession to tackle issues and as a rousing component for their kid to assume more obligations regarding the conclusion of his or her scholastic execution.[8]


Virtual learning environment (VLE) and managed learning environment (MLE) both the two terminologies are often used and interchanged in the same context and helps promote and spread education plus learning activities on digital mediums on the web. With the advancement in technology the education sector has given a real positive boost to online education and this is the reason that online communication in the form of exchange of information exists between the teacher, student and the faculty with ease and without hassle through virtual learning environment.[9]

In technical terms the most generic of definitions to sum up we can say that a virtual learning environment is a designed information space for education purpose.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dillenbourg, Pierre. "Virtual learning environments" (PDF). EUN Conference 2000: Learning in the new millennium: Building new education strategies for schools. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Briefing Paper 1: MLEs and VLEs Explained". JISC. 2007. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  4. ^ JISC. (2002). "Inform1." Retrieved 28 August 2007, from
  5. ^ Walker, S (2003), Development and Validation of an Instrument for Assessing Distance Education Learning Environments in Higher Education: The Distance Education Learning Environments Survey (DELES) (unpublished doctoral thesis), Western Australia: Curtin University of Technology .
  6. ^ Harnish, D; Reeves, P (2000), "Issues in the evaluation of large-scale two-way interactive distance learning systems", International Journal of Educational Telecommunications 6 (3): 267–81 .
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