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A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a software system designed to help teachers by facilitating the management of educational courses for their students, especially by helping teachers and learners with course administration. The system can often track the learners' progress, which can be monitored by both teachers and learners. While frequently thought of as primarily tools for distance education, they are most often used to supplement the face-to-face classroom.
CyberExtension Virtual Managed Learning Environment with chat, messaging, course creation and management tools
CyberExtension Virtual Managed Learning Environment with chat, messaging, course creation and management tools

These systems usually run on servers, to serve the course to students as internet pages.

In 'Virtually There' a book and DVD pack distributed freely to schools by the Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning Foundation (YHGfL) Professor Stephen Heppell writes in the foreword: "Learning is breaking out of the narrow boxes that it was trapped in during the 20th century; teachers' professionalism, reflection and ingenuity are leading learning to places that genuinely excite this new generation of connected young school students - and their teachers too. VLEs are helping to make sure that their learning is not confined to a particular building, or restricted to any single location or moment."

Components of these systems usually include templates for content pages, discussion forums, chat, quizzes and exercises such as multiple-choice, true/false and one-word-answer. Teachers fill in these templates and then release them for learners to use. New features in these systems include blogs and RSS. Services generally provided include access control, provision of e-learning content, communication tools, and administration of the user groups.

[From Wikipedia]