We recently ran two small-scale pilot online courses for participants outside our institution: one was a course for teachers in learning technologies and another was an academic writing course for international students. We were particularly interested in adding a social layer to both of these to allow participants to engage with and learn from each other. Underpinning the teacher course was an experiential learning cycle model (Kolb, 2014) that encouraged teachers to reflect on their classroom practice. This model, along with Wenger and Lave’s (1991) conception of learning as contextually co-constructed knowledge and Vygotsky’s social development theory (1980) made the addition of a strong social layer vital in encouraging participants to reflect and discuss with their peers.
Such a strong social layer was not easily available through our current VLE (Blackboard) so we ran them using WordPress as our primary tool for content delivery and student-teacher interaction.
This presentation will give an overview of the process of choosing WordPress as our VLE as well as technical information about installation and choice of plug-ins to create a fully functioning course. The main focus will be comparing WordPress as a LMS/VLE with traditional VLEs such as Blackboard and Moodle, particularly in its ability to create an internal social layer that encourages peer to peer interaction and reflection. The presentation will also include feedback from both tutors and participants on the efficacy of the courses and the suitability of WordPress as a learning platform.
Kolb, D.A., 2014. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. FT press.
Wenger, E. & Lave, J., 1991. Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) by, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Vygotsky, L.S., 1980. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes, Harvard university press.