The future of the VLE in academies

Craig Ring says a new virtual learning environment has benefited teachers and students

As a modern, innovative academy we are committed to providing students with the latest technology to help them get the best out of their schooling experience and to give us a competitive edge.

That’s why ten years ago we invested in a virtual learning environment (VLE) for students, teachers and parents. At the time the VLE met our needs, but with technology changing at such speed in a matter of a few months, let alone over a decade, we found it no longer met our teaching ‘must-haves’. This legacy technology was clunky to use and became little more than an online storage system.

Over that time, the way our students learn has also changed unimaginably. They are technology natives, and in an ‘always on’ world their attention spans are shorter than ever. Increasingly they also need teaching that’s tailored to their individual needs.

Rooks Heath are Ofsted ‘outstanding’

As such, we decided to implement a new, cloud based VLE system called Canvas. So far, we’ve installed it in three teaching departments, and students are embracing the technology, especially the live updates facility. So many of them are used to having live updates and notifications from their social media platforms so the functions in this VLE match their expectations when it comes to a modern piece of high tech kit.

For teachers, the benefits of using a modern VLE are already clear. The system enables us to meet government requirements for constant no level assessment and feedback, with regular interactions between teacher and pupil. Not only that, it saves time, with a ‘speed-grader’ facility automatically marking students work – giving us powerful data for analysis, as well as cutting down the time it takes to mark work by over half. 

It’s so much easier for teachers to develop engaging lessons and we’re already seeing it lead to better outcomes for teachers and students. We want to ensure our school offers a truly digital experience for students and tech that enables teaching and learning rather than getting in the way of it. 

Craig Ring is a music teacher at Rooks Heath College


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