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Managed learning environment
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Managed learning environment

A Managed Learning Environment (MLE), Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Learning Management System (LMS), or Learning Support System (LSS) is a software system designed to facilitate management and student involvement in e-learning. These terms describe a wide range of systems that organize and provide access to online education services for students, teachers, and administrators. These services usually include access control, provision of learning content, communication tools, and administration of user groups.

Table of contents
1 Facilities
2 Packages available
3 Problems
4 Advantages of MLEs
5 Open Source MLEs
6 References

Facilities

An MLE should make it possible for a course designer to present to students, through a single, consistent, and intuitive interface, all the components required for a course of education or training. Although logically it is not a requirement, in practice MLEs always make extensive use of computers and the Internet. An MLE should implement all the following elements: In addition, the MLE should be capable of supporting numerous courses, so that students and instructors in a given insititution (and, indeed, across institutions) experience a consistent interface when moving from one course to another.

Packages available

There are a number of commercial MLE software packages available, including BlackBoard, WebCT and Lotus LearningSpace. There are also open source or other freeware solutions available, such as Moodle. Most of them provide all or nearly all the facilities above, though the user interface is not smooth in all cases for all tasks.

Problems

A major problem with solutions available at the start of 2004 is that there is often no easy way of transferring a course site from one package to another, so that the considerable investment in time required to fit a course to one MLE package is likely to be wasted if an institution changes its MLE supplier, if an instructor moves from one institution to another that uses a different MLE, or if institutions using different MLEs wish to collaborate. Some organisations have addressed this issue by defining standards for learning objects, such as the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) used by the US Department of Defense.

Advantages of MLEs

Despite this well-recognised problem, universities and other institutions of higher education are increasingly turning to MLEs in order to:

Open Source MLEs

List of Open Source MLEs

See Also

References