The Distributed VLE programme is investigating how institutions can widen the functionality of their VLEs in an interoperable way, to meet identified user needs.

Distributed VLE programme

The Distributed VLE programme is investigating how institutions can widen the functionality of their VLEs in an interoperable way, to meet identified user needs.

Over the last ten years virtual learning environments (VLEs) have become an essential part of almost every higher and further educational institution, and are particularly acknowledged as an important means of enabling students to access course-related resources and presentations online. Recently, however, debate has flourished on the role and function of the VLE within the institution. Many institutions in the UK are in the process of reviewing their current VLE provision in the light of changing pedagogical requirements, more administrative integration and the emergence of new classes of social media on the wider web. The projects under this programme are exploring a number of technical approaches for delivering learning environments which offer, in addition to the core VLE functionality, links with relevant administrative and other (e.g. library) information and functionality, as well as content and functionality from the wider social web.


Strand A

These technical rapid innovation projects are designing and delivering light-weight solutions to one or more priority user needs.

Project  Summary 
 ExamView, Glasgow Metropolitan College  This project aims to extend the functionality of the Moodle VLE by linking it with the Student Records system. In particular it focuses on the development of a ‘window’ onto the Unit-e Student Records system to allow students to view their live exam results (located on Unit-e) when logged into Moodle.
 Rich interactive questions for quizzes, University of Glasgow  This project proposes to create a framework for highly interactive graphics-based features to be used in quiz engines of VLEs like Moodle. The interactive question will consist of a figure, parts of which can be modified by the learner according to a given instruction.   
Widgets for inclusive distributed environments, Teesside University The aim of this project is to develop specialised widgets that extend the functionality and flexibility of VLEs to enable institutions to meet the needs of learners with disabilities who may require their learning resources to be adapted to meet their specific needs.


Strand B

These institutional pilots are reviewing their virtual learning environment and related systems, and are implementing technical work to widen the range of functionality the VLE can provide in an interoperable way.

Project  Summary 
Creating environments for learning using tightly integrated components (ceLTIc), University of Edinburgh This project will draw upon case studies in three HEIs involving four different applications (both open source and commercial) to inform the continuing development of the IMS “Full LTI” specification which will support tighter integrations of elearning systems
 Developing and enhancing VLEs and e-learning options (Develop), University of Reading  This project will extend the functionality of the institutional VLE (Blackboard) to support more student-centred learning, to improve portfolio functionality, and to allow content and resources held outside the VLE to be used seamlessly within it.
 Distributed Open University learning systems (DOULS), Open University  This project will add functionality, features and services to meet the need for a more distributed VLE, enabling users to interact with the VLE from external systems and platforms such as Google Apps for Education, widgets/gadgets and mobile applications.
 Southampton learning environment prototype (SLEP), University of Southampton  This project will build a prototype for the Southampton learning environment which will integrate data from a range of sources, and will provide an intelligently, personalized view to the user (learner/teacher etc.).
 W2C, Manchester Metropolitan University  The W2C project will demonstrate the potential of widgets, institutional web-services and cloud-sourced services for delivering our institutional vision of convenient, integrated and extensible learning systems.


Project blog feeds will be aggregated at

The programme has generated a number of case studies that detail the experiences of the projects in the process of extending their Learing Environments.


Start date
1 July 2010
End date
30 December 2011
Funding Programme
e-Learning programme
Strategic Themes