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Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): Advantages and Disadvantages

by Arthur Zuckerman

The virtual learning environment arose as a result of the development of information and communication technologies. It is a system or software that ensures interactive engagement of all participants of the educational process. This is a great addition to online courses and distance learning. The virtual environment helps teachers and tutors to process teaching materials and additional elements of curricula and courses, as well as to monitor the educational activities of students, create curricula for courses.

The obligatory components of the virtual environment are:

  • learning management system;
  • innovative and traditional learning technologies;
  • information resources: databases, libraries, e-learning materials;
  • modern software tools: software shells, electronic communication tools.

Today VLE has become a daily reality for many schools, universities, as well as for individual classes with a tutor. Examples of e-learning environments include Coursera as a sample of authentic university courses, various Google tools, and adventure learning based on search queries.

What are the Advantages of VLE for Different Participants of the Educational Process?

The key figures of any educational system are а student and а teacher. Consider the benefits that each of them derives from virtual education.

Advantages for Students

  1. The virtual environment involves the use of innovative technologies – various programs and tools. In practice, for students, this means improving their skills in information and communication technologies, continuing development in this direction and increasing their computer literacy in general. In particular, students learn to use various services and programs and improve their skills, which will allow them to further use these technologies for work. For example, the ability to work with the BeLIVE platform will be useful to employees of the media or entertainment industry.
  2. Learning in VLE activates and develops such vital skills as the ability to analyze information, work with various sources of information, search skills, teamwork skills and the ability of working on the overall result. It is also a wide field for creativity, imagination and ingenuity. And these skills will certainly be useful for children in the future.
  3. Increased comfort in learning. Each student is given an assignment based on his or her level of knowledge. Lenners can also preview the curriculum, familiarize themselves with the content of the courses, compare their knowledge with the requirements of the subject, so that during the classes there is free time for the exchange of various points of view. For instance, in the UpskillsTutor educational environment, you can not only find a tutor, but also learn the latest teaching technologies and useful educational materials.
  4. Students’ work in the virtual space significantly improves their discipline and self-organization, awareness and critical approach to various things. These are soft skills, without which it is impossible to succeed in a career. Especially since most popular professions, in one way or another, are related to IT.
  5. Significant time and cost savings, flexible schedule. These benefits are enjoyed by both students and teachers. You do not need to monitor information about traffic jams or worry about possible delays. VLE allows you to learn or teach from anywhere in the world, to choose the time convenient for you and generally effectively manage your time.

Benefits of VLE for Teachers

  1. In fact, the role of a teacher becomes even more important than during traditional face-to-face training. After all, he or she solves organizational and technical problems arising in the process of communication, as well as aesthetic problems, because his/her task includes the maintenance of a favorable climate in the virtual classroom. 
  2. Working in the VLE requires advanced competencies in the appropriate technologies. This means that a teacher must be ready to use innovative technologies to achieve optimal results in pedagogical work. In other words, an educator must constantly improve his or her information technology literacy and thus develop as a professional. 
  3. Working with the virtual educational environment requires the teacher to be very creative and dynamic, including mastering modern teaching methods: internet conferences, forums, discussions, interactive lectures, simulation explanations, etc. VLE allows students to be involved in the most useful and exciting forms of learning – project work, problem learning, modeling of natural laws and phenomena, search and analytical activities, presentation work.
  4. The teacher has a wide range of resources, from electronic textbooks and databases to interactive whiteboards and chemical simulators. Tutors do not have to puzzle over the creation of tasks, tests and illustrative materials. 
  5. Teachers receive significant relief in relation to the management of the educational process and are freed from excess paperwork. A system automatically analyzes each student’s academic performance, lesson attendance, homework completion rate, provides verification of tests, generates ratings, etc. 

What are the Disadvantages of VLE for Teachers and Students?

Now, the disadvantages of this learning environment are much less than the advantages, but they still exist. 

Cons of VLE for Students

  1. Virtual environments are most productive for independent and conscious students. As for young learners, they can be too active and poorly perceive information. Also, children may not adhere to the rules of working at a computer, which is harmful to their health.
  2. Students should also have basic training in working with a particular environment. They need to know how to perform and pass tasks, how to interact with a teacher and cope with possible technical or organizational problems. Learning about resources also takes time and can be stressful for students at the outset. Although, most UpskillsTutor teachers offer a trial lesson to establish contact with a student and familiarize him/her with the future teaching tools.
  3. A huge variety of bright materials and educational sources can lead to rapid fatigue of the nervous system, so psychologists recommend shortening the length of online training or taking frequent breaks.

Negative Points for Teachers 

  1. Psychological unpreparedness of some teachers to adapt to the new educational conditions. This is particularly true of older teachers. As a result, they either do not use VLE at all or use it incorrectly, and their students get bored in class. 
  2. A wide variety of services and tools can confuse any teacher. To choose the most effective training tools, you need to test them all, which takes a lot of time. You will not know that it is better to manage presentations with Samba Live if you do not find out pros and cons of at least 10 similar services. 
  3. At first, it may be difficult for teachers to test some types of tasks in real time. For instance, mathematical, physical problems, graphics, essays and other volumetric written tasks. Therefore, additional resources will have to be used to check the exercises, as well as for effective communication with parents.

VLE has become the main achievement of the educational sphere in our information age. Its great productivity is explained by the presence in it of active constant interaction of all participants in the educational process. And this is its main advantage over the traditional class system. 

Summing up, it is worth highlighting the educational values that are characteristic of VLE:

  • development of students’ communication skills;
  • the possibility of simultaneous organization of both team and individual work of students;
  • the possibility of applying an individual approach and at the same time forming work skills for a common result;
  • wide field for motivation and implementation of the most extraordinary tasks.

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