How To Create A Successful Virtual Learning Environment

Since the birth of the internet, which catalysed developments in modern technology, the Education sector has never been the same. Now, 24/7 access to information at your fingertips isn’t just a requirement but an expectation – both in and outside of school.

But how has classroom learning been impacted by this demand and how has EdTech evolved to better support schools with this growing trend?

Enter the age of virtual learning environments (VLEs).

What are the benefits of a VLE?

At the heart of modern teaching, the best VLEs provide schools with the following advantages:

  • Scalable learning, covering large geographical areas with ease
  • A flexible approach to timings and access to learning
  • Tools to account for different skill levels and abilities
  • Resilience against unforeseen circumstances which make face-to-face learning unadvisable, such as the precautions introduced following the recent Coronavirus outbreak

Taking this into consideration, let’s explore what your school needs to be able to set-up a successful virtual learning environment.

Choosing the Right Tech

There is a lot of fantastic software available to help you kick-start your VLE, but you need to make sure that you’re choosing the right one for your school.

Regardless of which supplier you opt for, there are six vital things to look out for:

Make sure it’s easy to use

People rarely like change, especially when it involves having to learn new technology. This makes it very important to find a system that’s easy to pick up and run with. As a school, your VLE is likely to be used by staff and students, spanning multiple ages and abilities, so finding something that’s flexible enough to cater to everyone is a must.

Check it accounts for different qualifications and learning styles

From GCSEs to A-Levels and IB, across numerous subjects with varying exam bodies and learning requirements, you need to make sure that your VLE leaves no man behind when it comes to supporting your students on their path to higher education. Selecting something that corresponds with multiple learning styles and every qualification your school offers is of paramount importance to help keep student learning on track.

Ensure you can track student progress

Keeping on top of the progress of individual and groups of students is fundamental to ensuring every student reaches their full potential. However, this can be challenging to keep on top of, especially when much of their learning takes place online. Whether it’s provided as part of your MIS or incorporated into your VLE, a good system should help facilitate much of this process. Our own Tracking Manager and Mark Books modules are dedicated to doing just that.

Look for flexible content-upload options

You need to make sure that enhancing student engagement is one of your considerations when selecting your VLE platform. By having the option to upload a diverse range of multimedia content, from videos to interactive quizzes and online presentations, you’re broadening your options for the future and catering to a much wider audience by accounting for multiple learning styles.

A dedicated support team

As much as we hope that things won’t go wrong with technology, things never run 100% smoothly all the time. Because of that, having a dedicated Technical Support team who are on hand to assist you whenever you need it, is very important to making sure your VLE continues to run smoothly. It’s also worth ensuring that your supplier will make regular software updates and continuously look to improve their system’s functionality. It’s one of the reasons why we ourselves offer a full SaaS package with live Support available round-the-clock, including on Sundays.

Integration with your MIS will make life easier

Your MIS is a central part of your school’s ecosystem, holding much (if not all) of its vital data. So, sourcing a VLE that will fully ingrate with your MIS system and seamlessly share information across multiple platforms without having to duplicate data, is crucial. That’s why we work with a variety of bespoke partners, including multiple VLE providers, who fully integrate with our iSAMS MIS.

Communication is Key

One of the key advantages we discussed earlier surrounding VLEs is that they enable student learning to take place anywhere and at any time. This is something we ourselves, as the founders of the first web-based Management Information System (MIS), iSAMS, are huge advocates of – but in order for remote learning to be as effective as possible, communication across your school community has to be a high priority.

We support cross-community communications specifically via the following channels:

Mobile Apps

This integrated communications feature supports the sharing of key information with students and colleagues as soon as things happen. Our iTeacher App, available in 10 languages, gives you the ability to send emergency broadcasts instantly to staff, students and parents via email and SMS, directly from your mobile. You also have the option to send helpful system messages and free push notifications to keep other teachers updated with important student information, school news and timetable changes. For students and parents, we offer dedicated iParent and iStudent Apps.

SMS Messaging

Our SMS Gateway enables you to send SMS messages directly to individuals or groups of contacts, as well as seeing detailed analytics surrounding each series of communications. This includes tracking data so you can make sure that important messages are delivered and read, which is particularly useful when sending emergency communications.

Online Portals

When your school is looking towards virtual learning, you need to make sure that you also keep parents engaged with school activities and informed of their children’s progress. To support this, we offer a dedicated Parent Portal: an online forum through which parents can instantly gain insights into their child’s school life. This includes important school updates, permission forms, attendance records, timetables, academic results and more.

A Virtual Learning Environment will never be able to fully replicate the benefits of face to face classroom learning, but what they can do is enhance the learning and teaching experience for your students and staff members. They can also act as fundamental tools to support your school in continuing to educate your students if the school building ever needs to temporarily close due to unforeseen circumstances.

To explore the VLEs that fully integrate with the iSAMS MIS, please visit our Marketplace website.