Virtual Learning Environments: Learning in the ‘new normal’ by Dorset Creative
Education is constantly evolving. That could not be truer than during the throes of a pandemic. With this new way of life beginning to settle in for the foreseeable future, businesses are looking for ways to help employees adapt not only to working from home, but also to stay connected, productive and most importantly – to enable maintenance of a positive wellbeing following the chaos of the disruptions. With learning opportunities now easily accessible beyond the 9 to 5 through virtual and immersive learning, an opportunity for employee support through this uncertain time, both personally and professionally, is found through blended online learning programs. Virtual Learning Environments, accompanying courses & immersive e-learning content is extending the space of learning possibilities – and with over 10 years of experience in creation of VLEs and immersive technology using Unity3D, Moodle and Articulate, Dorset Creative is a specialist in this field.
VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS (VLEs)
Virtual learning environments (VLEs) are established educational online tools that are ways to structure, manage and deliver learning activities and content at a distance. With capabilities to track learners and manage online assessments, VLEs are centrally managed systems that support everyone involved – learners, managers and administrators.
VLEs include communications mechanisms to support dialogue between learners and those managing courses, through email, bulletin boards, forums or instant messaging (chat) – offering shared workspaces to support collaboration.
Even before COVID-19, the high growth and adoption of education technology reached over £15bn in 2019, projected to reach £300bn+ by 2025. The springboard effect of the pandemic has only highlighted the significance and requirement of distance learning, with surges in enrolments and virtual learning ranging between 110% to 400%, research shows, across hundreds of companies.
SELF-MANAGED & ACTIONABLE
Easily accessible to deliver ready-made online courses, VLE and e-learning solutions have become the go-to resource for employees to access immediately from anytime, anywhere.
Designed to meet technological ecosystems today’s learners demand, VLEs allow learners to acquire skills, training and further information to take their expertise to the next level, whenever. With the blurring of times and days brought on by the pandemic’s crossover of the weekend and the days of the week, VLEs and custom interactive learning modules allow learners to manage their own learning pace – empowering learners with the ability to share content, participate in discussions using any device, practice collaboration and pace their consumption all in an easy-to-use platform.
Administrators or educators on the other side, across all geographies and industries, are not only busy serving up relevant learning content to hungry employees – they are also tracking learning progress and development of multiple learner groups, with built-in insights and reporting tools, allowing the easy identification of areas that need improvement and helping learners build their talent and potential. VLEs create flexible ways for learners to engage with educational content and to receive feedback on assessments for each course or module.
COLLABORATIVE & SOCIAL
VLEs fulfil a powerful social role. Seen as no longer just an independent means to upskill, the social network development within VLEs allows learners to feel immersed inside the learning environment – contributing to others’ motivation, involvement and contentment. Learners seek a like-minded community to learn and navigate their journeys together, which they can find, at the safety of a distance with virtual learning.
When limitations of time are removed, distance learning creates a strong internal affiliation to the subject studied, and true commitment paths are strengthened through learning alongside peers. Critically, the technology behind distance learning is the key factor in attracting learners to the VLE, to build the essential community for this collaboration. During this time of pandemic, online learning opens up new routes to education and training which would be otherwise unavailable in traditional classrooms where social distancing is impossible. The dynamics of interactive modules, collaboration and simply the trend of technology is advancing learning in today’s social climate, comprising best practice learning methodologies in this time of global crisis.
PRACTICE & FEEDBACK
Effective educating & training requires carefully designed virtual classrooms that secure engagement from learners to course managers, creates peer groups and delivers the course content in an attractive, immersive format. The monitoring of student progress and follow up issues or barriers are also critical for educators, to evolve learning paths and to minimise the likelihood of disengagement or regress.
Virtual learning employs a plethora of tools, with the ability to employ custom features specific to organisations and its learners. Through automatic grading and progress tracking, to certification and awarding – VLEs are equipped with the answers to learners’ satisfaction.
There are particular pressures evident in any online course, and the ability for learners to proceed and continue in a fail-safe or fail-forward environment is fundamental to delivering an increased proficiency in any subject. Monitoring progress can help to quickly identify and address potential concerns, this means that the provision of comprehensive services and support is pivotal in enhancing the virtual learning experience through peer-to-peer and learner-to-instructor dialogue.
Digital training and online learning are key in allowing businesses to support their teams through this time of global change. New learning habits will be forged during this time and users will come to expect more accessibility to distance learning options. Acutely, many employees have a lot more time on their hands, and are craving investment in their personal development path, whilst others see how beneficial virtual learning is and want to engage outside of work.
Dorset Creative have been securely developing, supporting and configuring Moodle for over 10 years, across a broad range of sectors including financial, hospitality, health and medical solutions, for both the public and private sector. Combined with our extensive expertise in Unity3D and capabilities in Articulate, and with our very close ties to Universities, we are well-placed to create or upgrade any VLE and immersive educational content. We remain open as usual for consultation to find out more about your challenge, and to create your own virtual learning environment and immersive educational content which will satisfy the new needs of learners in 2020 and beyond.
Visit www.dorsetcreative.co.uk to find out more or call us on 01202 237899.