When ideas don’t catch – problems on the VLE

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Image by Kirk Lau on flickr

 

After a successful first year, the popularity and usage of my class space took a dent. What went wrong?

 It’s that time of year to start reviewing what I’ve been doing.It is the second year of me running a space on our school VLE (RM’s Kaleidos) for one of my classes. It has been used for the usual announcements, deadlines, a place to find links to useful web resources, copies of documents and presentations used in class and discussion spaces.

The responses to a survey on usage have been disappointing though – but not unexpected. Traffic has been lighter than last year and there has been a noticeable sense of ‘disaffection’ from students this year. In Year 10 they were excited by the idea, where as now they seem to associate it with ‘problems’. That reputation is hard to shift.

There was a 3 month period in which individual students lost access following an upgrade. Because they tried to get back in but were repeatedly unsuccessful they came to assume it wouldn’t work and simply didn’t come back. In their minds, the whole thing was ‘useless’, ‘maddening’ and worse.

 Reliability is essential, isn’t it? Lose this, lose visitors, lose momentum – that ‘energy’ that drives the whole thing forward. Discussions dwindled and the site looked out of date because it was not attracting new content.

So what are the lessons to be learned?

  • Have an alternative site for when things go wrong (one of those ultra reliable Posterous blogs for example!)
  • Nag the heck out of technical support when it is not working.
  • Constantly check that students can see what you can see.
  •  Create content that makes regular visits to the site a productive habit.
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