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Why use Brightspace in Ontario’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)?

  • 5 Min Read

Ontario's VLE is a safe and secure learning platform available freely to Ontario's publicly-funded school boards

Ontario educators have free access to the ministry-licensed Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Ontario’s VLE is a dynamic learning environment powered by D2L’s Brightspace platform. The VLE is provided by the Ministry of Education to Ontario’s publicly funded school boards. Ontario’s VLE includes a portfolio tool, assignments, rubrics, lessons linked to curriculum expectations, quizzes, and much more! Read on to learn why you should be using the VLE in your blended learning classroom.

Why the VLE: Hear from Valerie Howe, D2L VLE Consultant and Educator

Coming from an education background with 3 years of experience teaching secondary English in England and 2 years experience teaching Grade 4 in Northern Alberta, I know how important it is to find tools to support you in delivering an awesome educational experience for your students while supporting their progress and needs. I also know there are many programs out there that claim to be the best, and it can be overwhelming to choose among them. Fortunately, the Ontario Ministry of Education has sourced a learning platform that can truly meet the needs of both you and your students: Ontario’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)! Even better, Ontario’s VLE has been funded by the Ministry of Education so that it is free for educators in publicly funded schools, and it is available for you to access right now. Here are some reasons why you should be using the VLE:

First, the VLE is an all-in-one tool, a robust platform that can support educators and students from kindergarten to grade 12 (and beyond). Use our Portfolio tool to document learning in kindergarten, and use our assessment and communication tools to prepare grade 12 students for seminar discussions and more independent learning in postsecondary education. There is a tool to support every age and stage of learning.

Since the VLE is so robust, it can serve as a great one-stop shop for your students. All their resources can be collated there, including links to resources outside of the VLE. When I was teaching in secondary school, my students were sometimes overwhelmed by all the websites they had to navigate to access resources across all their subjects. The VLE can act as an anchor for your students by serving as their first stop for information and resources.

Another outstanding feature of the VLE is that it is responsive on all devices. This means it is mobile-friendly and displays easily and well on all screens regardless of the device age. If you have ever used an unresponsive device or a non mobile-friendly website, you know how frustrating it can be to scroll horizontally across the screen to read a sentence. Thankfully, your students don’t have to worry about that with the VLE, which lets them focus on their learning.

The VLE’s accessibility features help make sure that all students can access learning. For instance, the Accessibility Checker will let you know if the color and contrast of your font is accessible for visually impaired students or whether your text is organized correctly to allow a screen reader to function. There are also video tools like Video Note™ that are easy for both educators and staff to use—one of many ways you can easily differentiate for your students! Our Portfolio tool for documenting learning even has a mode designed for emerging readers and writers—empowering kindergarteners and other emerging readers and writers to independently document and reflect on their learning!

Looking for resources and content? The VLE has got that too! There are several resources from the Ontario Ministry of Education for both elementary and secondary school students that were designed and built to be used in the VLE! There’s even a module to help prepare students for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. If you’re interested in using these Ministry of Education resources, reach out to your Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching (TELT) Contact.

The final, and perhaps most important, reason why you should use the VLE is that it is safe and secure. D2L has achieved security and privacy certifications based on industry leading standards that are internationally recognized. No program or tool is ever truly free. When we use a free tool, we are often paying with our data. While the VLE is free to you as an educator, it is not a free tool. It is a learning platform that the Ministry of Education has invested in to provide tools and resources to all publicly funded schools in Ontario. This means you get the safety and security that comes with purchasing a tool or resource, and with D2L’s rigorous safety and security standards, you don’t need to worry about your students being vulnerable while using online tools and resources in the VLE. This leaves you to do what you do best—provide a safe, engaging and awesome educational experience for your students.

As a VLE Consultant, it is my responsibility to work with Ministry of Education Officers to support school boards with their use of the VLE. To get started with the VLE, visit www.D2L.com/VLE and use the drop-down below “Find your login page and TELT contact” to select your school board and find the website to login for your board. You will be able to use the same username and password you use to access your board email to log in to the VLE. For tips and tricks, I recommend visiting www.Documentation.Brightspace.com or www.D2L.com/k-12/ontario/vle-training. If you have questions about the VLE, reach out to us at K12Ont@D2L.com.

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