Managed learning environments, or MLEs, are software systems that are configured to help a facilitator manage the education process. This is in contrast to a virtual learning environment, where the focus is on the tools used in the process of teaching in an online setting. Essentially, a managed learning environment helps to set the perimeters of the learning experience, and makes it possible to standardize the resources used in learning in a manner that results in measured results.
In many ways, it is helpful to see a VLE as a component or subsystem of the broader application of the managed learning environment. The work of the MLE directly relates to the features included in a virtual learning environment, in that the managed learning environment focuses on the proper usage of those features or tools by persons who are participating in the class or seminar. The managed learning environment allows the teacher or facilitator to indicate when chat sessions are available, determine the time periods for actively taking an exam, and how long lessons and materials for a given section of the course are available for viewing.
Managed learning environment software can be utilized in a number of settings. Corporations can make use of the software in developing programs for new employee orientation, or customer education. Managed learning environment software is also helpful in designing and implementing sessions for one and two day seminars. Motivational speakers who make use of web and video conferencing to off hour long seminars to paying guests can make use of both MLE and VLE software to structure and conduct the sessions. Online universities also make extensive use of both managed learning environment software and virtual learning environment software.
While originally envisioned as the framework for bringing the distance learning concept to the Internet, the managed learning environment software of today has become increasingly versatile and suited for use in offline applications as well. At the same time, the software has become more sophisticated and user friendly, making it a viable tool for use in a number of different learning situations.