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The value of Virtual Learning Environments for Business English


Business person using computerPete Sharma explores some of the different Virtual Learning Environments suitable for Business English teachers.

A colleague recently asked me: “Which VLE should I use with my Business English students?” This started me thinking that there are, in fact, many ways to support the work that teachers do in the classroom. In this post, I’ll take a look at some of these exciting options.

At one end of the spectrum is using a full-scale Virtual Learning Environment. This is a password-protected area on the internet which is used to store and deliver digital materials such as texts, interactive activities, audio, video and links to websites. A VLE is often called an LMS (Learning Management System) or CMS (Content Management System), and contains communication tools. For example, a teacher can post a message to a forum for students to answer in their own time (asynchronous communication), or use instant messaging (synchronous communication).

Two well-known VLEs used by universities are Moodle and Blackboard. Such platforms have a large number of features, such as ‘quiz-makers’. Creative teachers can make their own digital materials with authoring software such as Hot Potatoes, and upload these to the platform.

On my last course, I used the website Edmodo, which is free and easy to join. It is easy to use and allows you to communicate with your students between classes, and post links to websites and other teaching materials you wish them to look at. This was perfectly adequate for this particular course and group of students.

It is important to remember that a VLE is empty until you add material. Let’s look at a different option. Many course books have an access code at the back, allowing access to publisher-produced materials on a web-based platform. Students can download audio files, or do online interactive exercises. Tracking tools allow teachers (and training managers!) to see which exercises students have worked on, and how much time they have spent on each one.

There are other options. Some of my colleagues use Dropbox to share materials. Teachers running writing courses sometimes start a class wiki. A wiki is a website containing editable pages, so students can collaborate on a piece of writing.

There is a lot of choice, and it is important to support your course with something which works for you.  Maybe you want to offer your students 24/7 access to their digital materials, or perhaps you want to create material yourself. Whatever you decide, it is impossible for me to imagine a course which is simply ‘done in the classroom’, without being able to provide autonomous learning opportunities outside class, too. And busy Business English students, who often travel, will appreciate this course enrichment more than most.

Author: Oxford University Press ELT

The official global blog for Oxford University Press English Language Teaching. Bringing teachers and other ELT professionals top quality resources, tools, hints and tips, news, ideas, insights and discussions to help further their ELT career. Follow Oxford ELT on Twitter. Find Oxford ELT on Google+.

8 thoughts on “The value of Virtual Learning Environments for Business English

  1. You should also check out this great blog post by Dan Slaughter on using a private Google+ community as an alternative form of LMS.


  2. Pingback: The value of Virtual Learning Environments for ...

  3. what is good about VLE or LMS, is that they often provide social platform integration ( for example, our JoomlaLMS is integrated with jomSocial platfrom) Why does this matter? because social medias are everywhere and can be used in education as well and very productively. our students have their own profiles where they share their scores, communicate with each other, sharing thoughts and ideas! I am pretty sure that above mentioned Moodle and Blackboard do offer such feature as well!

  4. Pingback: The value of Virtual Learning Environments for Business English | Prof. Leonardo's Blog

  5. Pingback: VLEs in Business English

  6. Let me just add your online business English course for Spanish speakers, because I can say it´s a great resource and so a great way of learning business English through the Internet: http://www.myoxfordenglishempresas.es/ congratulations!

  7. Do you know of any way a student can compile their own vocabulary list online (with sound and a definition) based on the activities s/he is working on in Moodle, for example?

  8. Very good information. Lucky me I discovered your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve bookmarked it for later!

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