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We asked three of the sector's experts what they thought of VLEs in UK schools and how we can use the evolving technology to enhance learning


Google Classroom


A new, free tool in the Google Apps for Education suite designed to improve student and teacher communications inside and outside of the classroom. It weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed set work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students. Teachers can also make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time.


Firefly


Firefly is a learning platform, intranet and VLE, all in one. That means that teachers, students and parents spend less time remembering where they need to go to find or share a particular piece of information. Firefly is now trusted by over 250 schools in the UK and beyond.


AS EASY AS VLE


Rebecca Paddick asks some of the sector's leading providers how virtual learning environments (VLEs) are opening doors to new teaching and learning models in our schools


Blackboard


Founded in 1997, Blackboard helps both students and institutions to achieve their learning and teaching goals. Schools face particular challenges in engaging and nurturing ‘digital native’ students, and involving parents, while continually improving the learning environment. Blackboard has partnered with schools across the globe to support new pedagogy and curricula, with tools and content that is familiar to millennials.


Q: In a nutshell, what are the benefits of VLEs in schools? A: Liz Sproat, Head of Education, EMEA at Google The benefits are really derived from how teachers use the tools provided to them. Many educators point to them as helping learners develop 21st-century skills by encouraging greater collaboration and communication. Providing just- in-time feedback to students is often cited as a core benefit to students’ learning. Being able to set up and manage assessments through a VLE is also seen as a tremendous asset in beter


personalisation and differentiation in the classroom. Tools such as Google Forms enable teachers to quickly assess students’ progress and make more accurate decisions about that student’s learning journey. These are just some of the many benefits that can be derived. A: Simon Hay, Partner, Firefly We are often told by our schools that implementing Firefly has been transformational. That it has taken learning outside the four walls of the schools and the constraints of the timetable. Students are engaged in actually creating the resources that are


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