Building VLEs

I used to hate the idea of VLEs because all they were becoming was online pigeon-holes for storing paper documents (paper-under-glass). I knew that there had to be a better way of delivering learning online, but then my work took me in other directions and I maintained only a cursory eye on VLE development. Over the years I’ve seen some fabulous examples, but remained wary.

I got the idea that there could be a carefully thought out process approach to building an effective VLE from James Clay’s e-Learning Stuff blog – – and all credit for that idea should go to James.

However James’ five stage model didn’t sit well with the way I was thinking and needing to work. So with his permission, I have made my own attempt at developing a four-stage model. You might say that I have cut out the middle man. Although I’ve reduced the stages to four, my attempt extends the work originally proposed by James. What do readers think? Is it a worthy model? What am I missing? Is there something dramatically wrong with it? Might it work in H.E., F.E., Schools, ACL, WBL. What do you think?

16 Responses to “Building VLEs”

  1. The VLE model and the wrong level of abstraction « The Weblog of (a) David Jones Says:

    […] (aka LMS e.g. Moodle, Blackboard etc). Essentially, it appears that a group of folk (James Clay, David Sugden, and Louise Jakobsen) have proposed some models about how to get academics using the VLE, […]

  2. LearningTechie Says:

    Sorry all but I totally disagree with the first stage/step of this (and James’s and Louise’s) VLE model:

    Uploading documents should never be the beginning because in my experience it leads frustration both for teachers because it causes them more workload and also for those eLearning staff who are desperately trying to get educators to see beyond their physical filing cabinets and see the ‘e’ in eLearning not as an abbreviation for ‘extra’ but for ‘engaging’.

    I’ve rambled about my experience, practice and views in more detail at

  3. file storage and e-Portfolios « EduVel Says:

    […] on IPD – 2‘Virtual… on IPDs‘Virtual… on Building VLEse-Learning Stuff Pod… on Building VLEsloujak78 on Building VLEsdsugden on […]

  4. ‘Virtual’ – an environment for learning? « EduVel Says:

    […] e-Learning Stuff Pod… on Building VLEsloujak78 on Building VLEsdsugden on Building VLEsSteve on Building VLEsdsugden on […]

  5. Steve Says:

    I have been developing my VLE’s; Level 2 & 3 Professional Cookery for WBL. I can see the value and use. I use mine with IWB all the time and my learners access it from home regularly. I have been left agog & inspired by the various RLO’s that can be produced.
    The only drawback is IPD’ ( see February archive in this blog). But I will not be beaten!!!
    My own tips for producing a VLE are:

    • Plan it on a blank piece of paper – What do you want it to do and how do you want it to look is appropriate for the subject matter?
    • Use Icons or pictures for links – Most of my links lead to web pages which I have made in Publisher and include embedded objects; make sure you set the links to open in a new page – even my PDF’s have pictures as the Icon.
    • Try not to use it a filing system – Some of the VLE’s I have seen are sooooo boring, just lists of files! PowerPoint doesn’t fit too well in Moodle. Also, there are compatibility issues with Ms Office, and Open Office. Web pages, PDF’s and Flash are a lot easier for access anywhere.
    • Embed RLO’s – Hot potatoes that kind of thing.
    • Get your colleagues to test it – check for typos, broken links etc.
    • Never assume – not all learners are confident ILT users.

    Through these pages I have amassed a wealth of knowledge from David and his colleagues. I have been directed to some excellent e-learning software through sites such as Centre for learning and performance technologies,
    Currently I am getting to grips with Articulate Take a look at the communities; and
    Hope fully the IPD will let me purchase it!
    Thanks for the blog David.



    • dsugden Says:

      Thanks for this useful comment Steve and for your kind comments.

      Is catering your speciality?

      Re: IPDs – I know, I know 😦


      • Steve Says:

        Yes David,
        Chef Lecturer just down the road!

      • dsugden Says:

        Cheers Steve. Just checking. Your college I.D. isn’t clear about your catering role (wife uses same Moodle). I’m sure you know that I used to teach catering at Dewsbury. I’m not sure there are many at HTC (whoops Kirklees College, Huddersfield campus) catering dept who know me – maybe Trevor and David Crossland. I’ll be going to the ex-staff thing at Dewsbury on 1st July, commiserating on the closure. Thanks again.

  6. Tweets that mention Building VLEs « EduVel -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by James Clay and Web Services, Web Services. Web Services said: RT: @jamesclay Reading Warning, our web filter this is pornographic. Dirty VLEs? […]

  7. loujak78 Says:

    This is an interesting post, with big similarities to my 5-step model developed & published in 2008 (blog post here: which aims to help individuals and staff developers increase the value (through interactivity) of a VLE course, small steps at a time. It would be good to know what you think, maybe the models could compliment each other?

    • dsugden Says:

      Thanks for this Louise.

      No I hadn’t seen it – my only research was talking with a variety of people and asking how they had done it. Being self-employed prevents me from getting right to the heart of various technologies (e.g. I’m ok with IWB software, but never get the chance to play with the boards themselves) such as VLEs. I ‘get them’ but also ‘don’t get them’ because I see so many of differing quality. I started to think about how I might tackle implementation if I had to. Bearing in mind the poor examples I’ve seen – I thought a stepped programme would work.

      Having talked with James and having read his model – I just took it from there. I intend to follow up this post in a couple of weeks (when comments have started/finished) and with your permission will refer to your blog in that upcoming post.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


      • loujak78 Says:

        David, I don’t have a problem with you including a link to my blog in your post. I look forward to reading your follow up post.

  8. ellen Says:

    Some colleges (Weston for example) are using something similar and giving it Bronze, Silver and Gold status for use of the VLE.

    I think the basic level should be mandatory for all staff to populate simply because students need to have access to course material and calendars when they need them.

    • dsugden Says:

      Thanks for this Ellen. I think the Gold, Silver and Bronze model is a fair way of encouraging progression and anything that does that is worthy of comment.

      However, I was previously a little disparaging of ‘scoring’ but mainly I think, because the levels are not always clear or fairly distributed. I would hope that no matter what levels of encouragement is given and/or rewarded, the progression can be clearly seen.

      Thanks for taking the time once again to comment on one of my posts – it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.


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