I am actually quite excited about the start of the new term. For me as Programme Leader and Lecturer this is a new University, new programme, new VLE - and all the students are new to me too.
I should also mention that I am simultaneously beginning as a student of the University myself as I have just enrolled on a language programme. This has already given me a great insight into the student view of the VLE, how it is used to support learning and simple stuff like how student email works, which as a tutor, I couldn't have known.
As for the VLE, well, from the tutor's perspective, I can say that like all VLEs it has its clunky aspects and its bugs but on the whole I think it has a pleasing element of "customisability" and I quite like the ability to use colour and images - even a Twitter feed and some YouTube videos - to brighten up the Home Page.
It still functions largely as a depository - of announcements, documents, web links, assignments,
module guides - and of course has no option for the student to really interact with it or customise it to their tastes and needs. But there are a couple of useful tools which I hope might encourage some student involvement.
I am going to be promoting the blog tool, for one thing - as reflection will be a large part of all the modules I am teaching. I also plan to use the Discussion Boards, though I have had mixed success with these in the past with distance learning students.
But along side these "institutional" elements, we will also be exploring Twitter, Blogger, Google sites and Facebook as arenas for student collaboration and communication - not just for the sake of it, but because these tools and others like them - are a key part of any organisation's communications strategy these days. Learning to use them is as much about enhancing "employability" as it is about developing general information literacy skills.
With my dual identities as new lecturer and new student at this university, I expect it to be an interesting few months ahead - watch this space.....