Number. 5 © CDTL 2001
Maximising Learning on the Integrated Virtual Learning Environment (IVLE)
Mr Glen Keith O’Grady
Former Senior Educational Development Specialist, CDTL
One of the most important tools you are likely to come across in NUS is the Integrated Virtual Learning Environment (IVLE), a courseware that the University has designed so you can interact with your peers and lecturers online. Different lecturers will use this tool in different ways. Below is a list of activities you may find when you access the online part of your course and some suggestions on how you might go about participating in these activities such that you maximise the learning opportunities they afford.

Course Outline

The course outline provides information on the prerequisites for the course, topics, texts, and types of assessment to expect. It is usually made available early in the course and is useful when you plan and prepare for assessment.

Course Calendar

The course calendar includes class schedules and venues, and schedules for topics to be covered, assignments and examinations. Some lecturers will send you electronic class announcements of more current updates, which you will automatically receive when you login to the IVLE student workspace.

Discussion Forums

Discussion forums provide you the opportunity to carry out discussions with your peers and lecturer regardless of your physical location, as long as you have access to a computer. Studies have shown that those who participate in online discussions tend to do better academically than those who do not. Your level of participation will dictate how much you get out of these discussion forums. Some lecturers may try to encourage you to participate by making part of your grade dependent on your contribution to the discussion.

Chat Room

Some lecturers may set up an online chat room where you can communicate in ‘real-time’ with the lecturer and other students in your class. However, to take part in a chat session, you will need to know exactly when one will be held and login at the right time.


Online quizzes are usually automated multiple-choice questions that are marked (usually by the computer) in a few seconds after you have completed the quiz. The purpose of these quizzes is to give you instant feedback about what you think you know. It is always more important to know why you got a quiz question right or wrong. Better online quizzes may give you possible reasons for why you got a question right or wrong, and some suggestions on how you might correct your mistakes. If they do not, then you should seek this advice from your lecturer or tutor.

Electronic Mail

Most lecturers will encourage you to contact them if you have questions or are having problems in the course. For some lecturers, the best way to reach them is via email. The IVLE template allows you to send email to your lecturer from the course web page by simply clicking on your lecturer’s email address in the course outline.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQs are useful starting points if you have questions about a course. FAQs are usually a compilation of answers to questions that a lecturer has already anticipated, or a compilation of questions that past years’ students have asked about the course.

Lesson Plans

The secret to getting the most out of your lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions, etc., is preparation. Some of your lecturers will oblige your willingness to prepare by giving an outline or plan of what you can expect to do in each of your classes. However, these lesson plans are usually skeletons of what will be covered and therefore are not substitutes for attending and participating in the class activities.

Course Notes

Having course notes available online can mean that losing handouts, missing the occasional class, or not having received an important handout is not the end of the world. However, course notes, as readily available as they are, are usually not enough to get you through the course as they do not replace the actual lectures, during which lecturers will enhance these notes with explanations and examples.

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