There has been a good deal of discussion in various forums on the Web about the downside of technology, for example the overuse of PowerPoint. Some time ago I Googled for “Death by PowerPoint” and got around 375,000 hits, leading me to sites that criticised the excessive use of PowerPoint in presentations both in the business world and in education. This is not to say that PowerPoint presentations are worthless, rather it is a warning not to regard technological innovations as a panacea.
VLE’s are often in the news these days and, like PowerPoint, are often hailed as a technological panacea, so I decided to Google for “Death by VLE”. I got about 87,000 hits. I have always felt that VLEs – like the language lab of the 1960s – were designed to put learners to sleep, and I cannot see that they will ever be in serious competition with the many exciting Web 2.0 developments we have seen in recent years, so the high number of hits for “Death by VLE” did not really surprise me. This reference came at the top of the Google hit list:
Stiles M. (2007) "Death of the VLE? A challenge to a new orthodoxy", Serials, the Journal for the International Serials Community 20, 1: 31-36. Here is the abstract:
“The VLE has become almost ubiquitous in both higher and further education, with the market becoming increasingly 'mature'. E-learning is a major plank in both national and institutional strategies. But, is the VLE delivering what is needed in a world where flexibility of learning is paramount, and the lifelong learner is becoming a reality? There are indications that rather than resulting in innovation, the use of VLEs has become fixed in an orthodoxy based on traditional educational approaches. The emergence of new services and tools on the web, developments in interoperability, and changing demands pose significant issues for institutions' e-learning strategy and policy. Whether the VLE can remain the core of e-learning activity needs to be considered.”