VUE in Education

In order to understand how VUE can be used in education, you must first know what in the world it is. According to it’s creators, the Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) is an Open Source project based at Tufts University. The VUE project is focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information. Basically, it is a free downloadable program that allows users to create flow charts and maps to organize information along with 2 methods of presenting that information.

The VUE software can help students and teachers make sense of an overwhelming amount of information. A visual representation of a concept is often the best way for a student to understand how it all works together.  Often we think about historical events happening in a linear way but the VUE software can help students see that everything is inter-related and connected in ways that are difficult to see when we focus on dates alone. VUE can take a linear idea, such as a timeline of the events leading up to the Industrial Revolution, and format the events so that students can see other connections and perspectives.

Difficult concepts can be mapped out using the VUE software to help struggling students grasp the big idea or break it down into easier to digest pieces. For some students, a topic that is too broad is overwhelming but looking at a flow chart makes the idea manageable. For instance, a student who is struggling to comprehend how the branches of the US government work together might benefit from a map showing the connections, checks and balances.

The VUE program includes access to digital media and resources as well so students and teachers can limit the amount of time spent searching for dates, facts and other information. As students are researching topics, they often get stuck thinking about where to start the search for information; VUE can provide a starting point that will hopefully lead to more research options. Teachers utilizing VUE to prepare lessons will find the resources guide a helpful shortcut but also might find new connections between topics or events.

VUE software assists students in preparing digital content or media for presentation, a process that can be tricky for users new to technology.  A professional looking presentation helps students feel accomplished and prepares them for future workplace projects. Teachers and homeschool parent/teachers may also find the flexible presentation creation tools helpful when planning how to present information to students.

An annotated trail will help presenters speak knowledgeably about the content they have created without detracting from the visual attractiveness of the slides. The ability to keep a presentation simple yet informative while adding further explanation verbally is an important skill for students to learn and practice. Students who want to take their research to the next level can use the VUE software to export their data and information to other systems or import statistical packages to detect trends or statistical anomalies.

There are many ways VUE can be used in education, by teachers and students; how can you make it work for you?

Mimi Rothschild is a veteran homeschooling mother of 8, writer of a series of books called Cyberspace for Kids, and passionate advocate for children and education that is truly worthy of them. In 2001, Mimi and her late husband founded Learning By Grace, a leading provider of online Christian homeschooling Academies.

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