Virtual Learning Environments

I’ve done a lot of work with Fronter, I manage a number of Moodle VLEs e.g. The Education Interactive courses portal and the ATM/MA London Branch at King’s site LondonMaths . At King’s, I use their ELK (formally BlackBoard) system. So, what is it, that these systems sell themselves on? Really it boils down to one thing: anywhere, anytime access to teaching materials. Sure, you can make cute little multiple choice quizzes that are self marking and record and track progress, but you are clearly noit going to design and build your own set of these for your whole courses. Student protfolios are very neat, but they only work if students can SUBMIT their work electronically. Typing out your maths homework with decent maths symbols is a time consuming affair and not for every day. However, it is handy to be able to tell kids what to do for their homework and for parents to be able to see it too and for it to keep track of what happens. There’s no doubt that the most used part of MyMaths is the homework feature. The trouble is that you are locked into a complete course designed by someone else, whose idea of teaching you may not always entirely agree with! I ended up working on a project with David Kramer who is responsible for the Rubiks brand (YES, the cubes!) and as a head of maths he designed a very neat VLE for maths departments only, which did the core elements that everyone uses on MyMaths, but left it open for the school and department to localise and configure with their own teaching materials. It’s now available as a commercial product called Rubiks Maths and neatly ticks all the VLE boxes in a simple way with very low start up time investment.  So, it has really neat self marking tests at all levels from 11-16 tied to National Curriculum statements. These can be tracked and compared with the usual wealth of stats (even done in real time, with instant updates which the teacher can leave displayed on the class whiteboard … great fun!). If you have a MyMaths licence there are links to all of that material, but the big benefit is that teachers can add links and new materials to each of the teaching topics, gradually putting all of the department’s treasure trove of materials onto an anytime/anywhere space.

Schools can sign up and get started for free and you even get me to help you upload your class lists (a simple Excel file is fine and easy to do).


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