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The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of Training, Development, and Performance Improvement by Sigmar Malvezzi, Nuno Rebelo dos Santos, Jonathan Passmore, Kurt Kraiger

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11Effective Virtual Learning Environments

Jean-Luc Gurtner

Introduction

Virtual learning environments are nowadays almost ubiquitous in higher education and broadly used in corporate training as well (Mueller & Strohmeier, 2010; Wang, Wang, & Shee, 2007). Virtual learning environments (often abbreviated VLEs) are complex web-based environments designed to afford students interesting opportunities to learn given material without having to be physically present when the material is delivered by the instructor. The complexity of these environments is generally not linked to specific software developments or to any of their interfaces, but rather to the fact that they generally integrate heterogeneous technologies, combine various types of functionalities, and instantiate multiple pedagogical approaches (Dillenbourg, Schneider, & Synteta, 2002). Despite this complexity, VLEs are rather easy to use both for the learner and for the instructor. In North America, the expression “virtual learning environment” is often replaced by “learning management system” (LMS), but both terms relate to a similar category of products. For the sake of simplicity, we will stick to the term VLE, but will include in the discussion many projects and suggestions directly related to such learning management systems.

Each time a new technology is applied to education, the question of its effectiveness is widely discussed and many research projects continue to deal with this issue in various domains and for ...

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