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Virtual Learning Environment Essay

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Virtual Learning Environment

Introduction

Virtual Learning Environments refers to virtual spaces used by teachers and students. It allows them to present and share documents as well as activities. It also allows them to interact with each other. Students can access a complete online course; teachers are able to manage the learning experience (Mosquera, 2017). Teachers are focused on giving their students a great learning experience that are beyond classroom and motivate them. Although many people prefer VLEs, there are those that do not support their implementation in the education process. Some argue that they waste time while others maintain that it is not effective in the teaching and learning process. The current paper will focus on the impact of Virtual Learning Environment on students’ learning experience. The research will rely on both primary and secondary data.

Rationale

Barker and Gossman (2013) maintain that virtual learning environments are highly utilized in the education sectors. They have considerable impact on students’ achievement. Some of the effects listed include, they encourage independent learning among students and they motivate students to learn.  Mosquera (2017) carried out a study on the impact of VLE in the EFL classroom. The conclusion of the research supports the hypothesis that the approach has diverse impacts. One of the conclusions of the research is that VLE supports differentiated instruction. In this case, teachers can modify curricula as well as teaching approaches.  According to Mosquera (2017) research VLE has great impact on the students’ learning process. Although the use of VLE is rampant, there is minimal research on its use.

The emergence of VLE has transformed the learning environment. It has increased the use of information technology on learning process. Diverse students utilize the VLE in different ways. For instance, some students use it to read learning materials, while others utilize it to download learning materials. However, only a few students access external web pages. In this case, it shows that a high number of students view the VLE as online forms of lecture notes instead of as a source of more information to enhance their understanding. The current research will aim on highlighting the benefits of Virtual Learning Environment on students. It will help understand the impacts that the technology had on students. The research will also try to add on the few resources that focus on VLE and its influence in education.

Objectives

  1. To understand how VLE is used
  2. To comprehend the effect of VLE on students’ learning process
  3. To understand the hinderances of implementation of VLE
  4. To understand the activities students, carry out when using VLE
  5. To understand the challenges that students encounter when using VLE

Literature review

Currently, there is increased interest in virtual learning environments among students and teachers. The concept is constantly affected by evolution of digital technologies. Many universities and colleges incorporate VLE in their courses (Alves et al., 2017). The system allows them to gather quality data which helps in assessing course contents. Virtual Learning environments that rely on the usage of technology as well as digital resources enhance learning due to the activities they support. The concept enables interaction and interrelation within a constant communication process (Demian and Morrice, 2015). Therefore, it enables students to gain knowledge and its meanings. The idea of virtual learning environment includes diverse factors. The important ones are linked with virtual space, time, strategies and resources. They offer institutions with different quality information. The data gathered from the concept are presented in a simple manner which makes them easy to understand.

The implementation of the VLE offers students a chance to catch up with the school work. Students who miss school may download lecture notes online. Virtual learning includes course work that is delivered through web, message boards as well as email (Portela et al., 2016). The coursework is posted on online platforms which make it easy for students to access. Students are able to communicate and collaborate using their computer. They can complete their course work on their pace. Mainly, virtual learning environment benefits teaching and learning process. For instance, they help in dealing with issues of time management. In this case, the instructors do not have to worry about inadequate class time as students can still access learning materials.

Students can as well fit learning times in their schedules. Additionally, materials are always upgraded and students can access them through links which are available through diverse websites (Portela et al., 2016). It helps students to manage time and money as they do not have to buy learning materials. It is vital to ensure that online learning is productive and informative. Therefore, the student should be given a chance to demonstrate their ability to implement what they have learned in real life.

Over the years, Virtual learning environments have changed, as they are collaborative platforms. They offer students diverse benefits to students (Alves et al. 2017). Teachers utilize the platforms to enhance their subjects and upload new materials. Most teachers consider the platforms important as they help enhance education and promote learning. Research carried out by Bri et al. (2009) shows that teachers maintain that there are minimal hinderances towards using VLE. The research also shows that teachers support the concept as it enhances education system. Teachers have come up with new ideas that will help in improving the concept. For instance, the have come up with the idea of coming up with a similar tool to the messenger which will enable a person to use the webcam.

Another idea is adding online animations which will help enhance the learning experience. The research also shows that it is important to increase the easiness of the platform. VLE has great impact on students’ performance as it supports education in both formal and informal education sector. It motivates them to participate in the learning process (Stasinakis and Kalogiannakis, 2015). The concept supports interactive learning which makes the learning process easy. However, VLE has its disadvantages as some instructors do not understand the concept. Also, some teachers find it difficult to meet the demands that are brought about by the use of VLE. The platforms rely on the internet and due to the rapid growth, it is at times difficult to keep up with the changes.

 Another issue is that some students are unwilling to participate in two-way online activities.  However, despite the challenges, students prefer the platform as they can easily access learning materials. Research by Wells et al. (2005) highlights that there is high satisfaction linked to the use of VLE. Also, virtual learning environment encourages social interactions in various ways. For instance, students can send their questions to the instructors. They are able to use diverse new communication approaches that work well with virtual learning environments (Demian and Morrice, 2015). They can exchange non-verbal communication easily. Most virtual environments include a shared space. It allows users to view the same objects and they can add more objects. Although virtual learning environments have diverse benefits to students, they may affect their learning process. For instance, they do not take time to reflect when answering questions.

Research Methods

The current research will use secondary and primary data collection approach. The approach will help gather understanding of the benefits of online Learning environment to students. The primary data collection approach includes interviewing students to understand their perception about VLE and how it has influenced their learning process. The interview is conducted online whereby the participants were selected randomly.

The participants are from University of Wales Trinity Saint David London Campus. The questionnaires were sent to them through email. However, they were first informed about the research and its significance. They will be required to sign a consent form; it is to ensure that they participate at their own free will. Also, they will not be required to include their names on the questionnaire. We also made sure we informed the participants before emailing them the questionnaire. This guaranteed us that the participants received their questionnaire. We also considered that most of the participants were busy, they may not see the email.

60 participants were selected for the research. They included both men and women and were all students at the university. Also, the participants aged between 19 and 35 years. Some of them started school at the university recently while others were starting their third year. It allowed us to gauge the students’ perception based on their experience with VLE. The questionnaires were distributed to them through email and they were given a time frame to answer them. It ensured that no one delayed with the questionnaires.

Primary data analysis

During the interview the participants were asked various questions. One of the questions was whether the students were familiar with virtual learning. 56 participants out of 60 are acquainted with virtual learning. Based on the question it is evident that most of the students knew how to use VLE. The second question focused on whether the students have prior knowledge of moodle.70% of the participants maintained that they had used Moodle before. Based on the third question, it is evident that most of the students spent less time using Moodle.  75% of the participants maintained that they use Moodle for 5hours only. 5% of the participants maintained that they used it for 15hours while 20% maintained that they use it for 10hours. Based on the research, most of the participants maintained that the easiest way of accessing Moodle is through downloading the software. After downloading the software one can access the Moodle by logging in using a personal password. 58 of the participants maintained that Moodle learning was effective to them.

Therefore, majority of the students were satisfied with virtual learning environments. However, they maintained that there were various challenges they faced with Moodle.  One of the challenges is difficulty accessing the site at times. They argued that the end up wasting a lot of time. Others maintained that Moodle limited their face-to-face interaction with their classmates and instructors. Also, most of the participants argued that the Moodle needed some changes especially with its accessibility. They also maintained that communication needed to be enhanced. However, despite the challenges 90% of the participants maintained that Moodle has been effective in online learning. They rated their learning in Moodle tool 8 out of 10.

Secondary data analysis

Research carried out by Stasinakis and Kalogiannakis (2015) shows that using Moodle for e-learning has different benefits. For instance, it is effective as students can access material and information is communicated to all students using the platform. It also helps in evaluating the students as it permits analytical reports (Tabakova, 2020). Another benefit of Moodle listed is that it is easy to use and one is not required to use additional software. A-Ajlan and Zedan (2008) maintain that Moodle has high potential for generating effective e-learning. It offers students great tools that they can use to improve conventional learning environment. Study carried out by Chourishi et al. (2012) shows that Moodle is effective as it allows instructors to create and save teaching materials. It is also a collaborative platform for both teachers and students. It joins online communities and keeps the students updated. It makes both teaching and learning effective.

Conclusion/ Recommendation

As the use of technology continues to expand, schools are implementing new approaches to learning. Many Universities have embraced the use of internet to teach their students. The current research focused on benefits of Virtual learning environment among students at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David London Campus. The research involved interviewing 60 students and analysing secondary data. Based on the research, Moodle tool has great impact on students’ learning process. Many students maintained that it is effective. The learning tool allows students to interact with one another easily. They can access updated learning materials at all times. However, students did not spend much time using the Moodle software. Most of the students maintained that it was easy to access.

There is minimal study on the impact of VLE on students’ performance. Therefore, further research should be carried out to have a clear understanding of the different tools used and their benefits. Also, researchers should focus on more schools when conducting the study.

References

Alves, P., Morais, C., & L., M. (2017). The Influence of Virtual Learning Environments in Students’ Performance.  Universal Journal of Educational Research, 5(3), 517-527.

Al-Ajlan, A., & Zedan, H. (2008). Why Moodle. 12th IEEE International Workshop on Future Trends of Distributed Computing Systems.

Barker, J., & Gossman, P. (2013). The Learning Impact of a VirtualLearning Environment: Students’views. Teacher EducationNetwork Journal, 5(2), 19-38.

Bri, D., Garcia, M., Coll, H., & Lloret, J. (2009). A Study of Virtual Learning Environment. 6(1), 33-43.

Chourishi, D., Buttan, C. K., Chaurasia, A., and Soni, A. (2012). Effective E-Learning through Moodle. International Journal of Advance Technology & Engineering Research (IJATER), 1(1).

Demian, P., and Morrice, J. (2015). The use of virtual learning environments and their impact on academic performance. A Journal of Higher Education Academy, 7(1), 11-19.

Mosquera, L. H. (2017). Impact of impLementing a virtuaL Learning environment (vLe) in the efL cLassroom. 22(3), 479-498.

Portela, L. L., Alonso, J. D., & Juste, M. P. (2016). Advantages of using virtual learning environments. Eleventh International Conference OnInterdisciplinary Social Sciences.

Stasinakis, P., and Kalogiannakis, M. (2015). Using Moodle in Secondary education: A Case Study of the Course “Research Project” in Greece. 11(3), 50-64.

Tabakova, V. (2020). Moodle as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) System. E-Learning in Medical Physics and Engineering, 21-32. doi:10.1201/9780429437052-2.

Wells, P. K., Lange, P. D., and Fieger, P. (2005). The Virtual Learning Environment: Student Use and Perceptions of its Usefulness. 1-10.

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