To VLE or not to VLE

May 2, 2003

Despite a "no" vote, many voices were raised in favour of commercial virtual learning environments at a debate in the Oxford Union ("Virtual vendors 'fall short'", THES , April 18).

Off-the-shelf VLEs are attractive to institutions that lack extensive ITsupport. But frustration with the inflexibility of many commercial products, their US or training-centric view of education and the costs involved has led others to seek alternatives, such as developing their own VLEs or opting for the Open Source Software solution. We chose the OSS solution at Oxford, using Leeds University's Bodington system.

This option is attracting more and more support, and it is heartening to see that the Joint Information System Committee is setting up a national OSS advisory centre.

Stuart Lee
Head of the Learning Technologies Group
University of Oxford

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