Archive for the ‘VLEs’ Category

Just a few notes or should I better say observations? regarding the very beginning. Like in offline classrooms, the first actvity Ss are supposed to enage in is the GTKY. Newbies are asked to introduce themselves and encouraged to make some smalltalk. It is a shame there is no possibility to apply any formatting to messages, everything you contribute is just plain text. I somehow need all those bulleted and numbered lists, tables, etc. I still cannot see the main course – I wonder whether Gail has received my last message.  There are not many people on the course, about a dozen or so, but everyone has a story to tell. It is fascinating to discover what sort of people become EFL teachers and how come they tend to enjoy what they do.

It is so much easier to talk in password-protected VLEs – one feels so much more secure and relaxed.  Even the shyest participants eventually speak up and join discussions.  Compared with the course I did last year, this one seems to be a lot more promising in terms of fellow participants’ contributions. Last year it was all so teacher-centered – people hardly ever wanted to talk to each other apart from situations when artificially divided into groups to work on tasks assigned by the course tutor.  It sometimes felt so that nobody was really interested in the subject matter or possibilities of application of the newly acquired knowledge and skills – most people just aimed at getting good or passing grades judging by what I heard during breaks.  I wonder whether any of them are into trying out anything we covered in class last spring.


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I’ve got mixed feelings about that, and yet I am really happy that I am about to start doing this MA course.  They use WebCT at Manchester, so it will be a great opportunity for me to see how it is all organized there and compare it with MOODLE, which I happen to have been using myself for several years now.  It is unbelievable that an MA there costs approximately as much as one in my home country, considering the relevance of the course units on offer to what Iam eager to study, it is absolutely amazing. I have to admit though, that the recommended  and core texts on the reading lists cost more than a fortune:( But I have got them all for course unit 1 at least, and that’s reassuring.

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had a look at LeMill – again the question is the same as the one which I have kept asking myself over the past two years regarding MOODLE:

How is it possible to manage all those materials, users and statistics efficiently in the long run?

I have been using Moodle alone for about 5 years and have generated more than a 100 subcategories of materials, about 20 courses, and ca 10,000 test questions, which I already have difficulty navigating through. It is a full-time job.

About 200 people use the website actively each year and about half a thousand try to regsiter out of curiosity (luckily, they do not have enrolment keys and do not generate much traffic). Over the past month alone the website has got hits from 96 countries. I dread to imagine what would have happened if all those people had enrolled on available courses and started doing whatever activities generating internal statistics and traffic.

On the one hand, it is great when everything is seemingly free and readily available; on the other hand, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and someone has to bear the costs and responsibility at the end of the day. Likewise, it is necessary to have someone to deal with technicalities, and that might take ages. You can’t hold anyone responsible for free nowadays, and pure enthusiasm does not last forever, either.

A VLE is like a library. When it is small and private, it can be managed by the owner. When it goes public, it generates jobs. The questions is who should want to be the sponsor? National libraries are funded by governments.  There are hardly any international libraries (hope it is self-explanatory why). If a public library were made freely accessible by anyone, went self-service and no one were responsible for its maintenance or management, it would very soon cease to exist. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

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