Course Leader’s Blog

As we get ready for the academic year 2010-11, I am preparing our Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education.

This involves: updating the Handbook for this instance of the course for the last time. We will be revalidating a new PCTHE for 2011-12; updating the VLE (Brookes Virtual/Blackboard) and Wiki (Confluence).

There are a lot of new features on the VLE, particularly Voice Tools and related Wimba applications. I hope to start using these “for real” this year.

I am also resolving to keep a Course Leader’s blog here in my BrookesBlog site. A. J. Cann at University of Leicester has written a piece on “Why blog” ( on his excellent (for biologists) Microbiologybytes site. What he said …

I have to confess that I have become something of an on-line learning luddite. Fifteen years ago I was something of an Internet pioneer, developing Web-based support sites for professional development modules as part of a postgraduate certificate in in the management of the international energy industry. I did my MA in education by distance learning and wrote my PhD on community information technology centres. I am active in the social networking world (my Google Profile is here:

So, what gives? I feel an almost visceral antipathy to virtual learning environments (VLEs). OK, I know they are only sets of tools. James Clay keeps a wonderful blog on the virtues of using VLEs ( When Blackboard bought WebCT, the predecessor to the current BrookesVirtual, I wrote a few pieces on the political-economic implications as I saw them at the time (e.g. here: But, I don’t just feel an antipathy only to Blackboard. Moodle for all its open-source loveliness doesn’t do it for me any more, either.

I used to love VLEs. But as we all know, when you fall out of love it is really hard to re-ignite the flame. So, maybe me and the VLE need a little relationship counselling. I promise to listen more and sulk less, focus on the strengths and “accentuate the positive”. Maybe that is a lesson for my life in general!


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