A set of case studies sharing the experiences and learning from the Distributed Virtual Learning Environment programme.

Distributed virtual learning environment case studies

The following case studies demonstrate the benefits of the use of the widgets, apps and tools to practitioners and learners at the colleges and universities who were part of the Distributed Virtual Learning Environment programme.

The organisations involved share their experiences of using widgets and apps that enhance the functionality of their virtual learning environment (VLE). These case studies provide examples and evidence of the benefits that extending the functionality of your VLE can bring.

In most cases the actual use will be transparent and it will look just like using the VLE, however in comparison to the past it will demonstrate greater efficiency for example; single sign-on, transparent integration or providing easier access to information for learners.

Project case studies

  • Connecting systems using standards: The University of Edinburgh-led ceLTIc project used four case studies (WebPA, Elgg, CampusPack and PebblePad) to investigate the integration of learning applications with VLEs using the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability specification (LTI).   
  • Enhancing employability and personal development with e-portfolios: The University of Reading reviewed its personal development planning for students, the recommended use of e-portfolios led to the development of a VLE-based e-portfolio tool.
  • Extending the VLE through widgets, web and cloud services: Manchester Metropolitan University developed a new VLE, enhanced through a JISC project which sought to prove that a pick and mix approach can extend an VLE by integrating cloud-based and institutional systems.  As part of this project the team developed a new web application that allows students to see an overview of their financial information . The aim was to deliver seamless and personalised access to an integrated and extensible VLE from a range of devices. This process is explored further in a second case study, Personalised access to financial information.
  • Integrating key student systems with the virtual learning environment: City of Glasgow College has a large number of distance learning cohorts and needed to integrate different systems after a merger. Having access to exam results online was especially important and the college decided to experiment with open source to develop a system to fit their users’ needs.
  • Linking Google and Moodle a roadmap to improve online learning: The Open University is constantly improving the online learning environment for students to tailor it to their needs. JISC’s Distributed Open University Learning Systems (DOULS) project aimed to add functionality, features and services to meet the need for a more distributed VLE.
  • The virtual learning environment prototype: Southampton University set out to create an adaptable and innovative VLE fit for the next ten years.
  • Widgets to support disabled learners: Teesside University aimed to produce open source widgets that can be plugged into a range of learning environments to support disabled learners and are freely available for use and adaptation by the wider community. The project used a community based approach by involving disabled learners not just as research subjects but as consultants, designers and partners. The result: a bank of high quality widgets that can be plugged in to a range of VLEs.