Teaching using a VLE #7 Let the students drive!

After a couple of years of teaching you will probably find that your VLE course space is done, tidy and complete and needs only occasional updating by you…..  I am afraid that this means it is time to let go, give up control and let the students drive the learning – worse this will mean lots of hard work for you.

Tc tacoma 4On the plus side – if you do this right your students will learn more, study harder and probably think you are a fantastic teacher!

So how do we do it?  First lets get the tools out of the way, it doesn’t particularly matter what you use or how it works (although it should work fairly reliably! – see Gliddon’s Heiracy of TEL) but here are some categories

Sharing information – rss feeds, twitter hashtags, social bookmarking etc.  These are ways in which your students can say “Hey I found this” and share it with the group.  This is entry level co-creation.

Sharing thoughts – twitter, social networks, blogs, video blogs.  This is the next level up students can share not just things they have found but their thoughts and reflections on them and the course/topics

Co-creating – wikis, google docs, any online tool that allows multiple editors.  At this point the students are making things together, each persons thoughts and edits,  adding to/changing/refining/building on the thoughts of each other

So there are lots of these tools available, your vle will have some and you should be able to link out to more.  The question is not particularly about the tools, what you need to do is look over your course and think of places where students could contribute, think about what kind of contributions they might be, think about how that enhances their learning.  Then select a tool that is a good fit for what you want to achieve.

Start with just one or two areas – a small project or a small defined goal are good starting points.  If it works well start opening up more of your course to student contributions.

Research – I always try to tie what I say to research, but in this case I am going to open up the blog post to contributions from others – if you can find any research that covers the benefits (or lack of benefits) of letting the students be co-creators of knowledge then please post below.

To get you started here are the results of a search I did on google scholar.


2 thoughts on “Teaching using a VLE #7 Let the students drive!

  1. Jo Conlon

    I was keen to let my students drive but was looking around for a vehicle! Thank you for helping me solve a problem. Not being a lover of our VLE I had (subconsciously) dismissed it as a potential solution for ‘sharing’ ideas I have planned. Doh! Solution is often staring you in the face – certainly worth a try.
    Love to read Erica McWilliam.
    Also liked this:Taylor, P and Wilding, D. (2009) Rethinking the values of higher education -the student as collaborator and producer?Undergraduate research as a case study.QAA [online] Available at:

    1. josephgliddon Post author

      Thanks Jo – I will have a read over the weekend.
      If you find your VLE doesnt have what you want then simply linking out from your VLE course to somewhere that does can be quite effective. I use google docs with “anyone with link can edit” and put the link in my course, it works well and I havent (yet!) had any links leaked out to a wider audience by students.


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