Virtual learning environment review report 2020

Analysing the virtual learning environment (VLE) reviews we completed with our members. What can we learn from these interactions?

Virtual learning environment report cover

About the report

This report highlights the VLE review service’s findings within the sector and helps to highlight common mistakes, misconceptions and good practice.

We conducted 72 face-to-face focus group interviews with over 600 academic staff, professional services staff, learners and students.

In summary, we found it’s important that all staff buy into a clear approach for the VLE. The lack of a clear identity can confuse learners and students at all levels, whereas a defined role can guide staff, learners and students about how they could be accessing, using and benefiting from such a platform. Key findings include:

  • The staff we spoke to in professional services, as well as the teaching staff, were committed to develop their VLEs
  • Finding the time needed to learn and develop content in the VLE was high on the list of teaching staff’s challenges
  • Staff want a space to try things, out of view and in a safe environment
  • Learners and students were unanimous in their frustrations with an inconsistent experience when using their VLE
  • Learners and students found accessing the VLE frustrating on mobile devices
  • Learners and students want to be able to use the VLE to feed back their thoughts, communicate and engage with teaching staff as well as their peers

Download the full report (pdf)


We have been running VLE reviews with our members since January 2018. We’ve based this analysis on data collected before the pandemic started in the UK but this doesn’t mean the report is obsolete. In fact, many of the observations are relevant to FE and HE now more than ever.

About the authors

Zac Gribble headshot
Zac Gribble
Subject specialist: teaching, learning and assessment

As a subject specialist in the advice team, I am constantly engaging with projects and services that impact our customers. From running VLE reviews with customers, facilitating Vision for Change workshops or delivering on the digital leaders programme, I am connecting with people who are at the forefront of HE and FE education.

John Sumpter
John Sumpter
Programme lead, leadership and culture, Jisc
John is responsible for the leadership and culture agenda and the digital leaders program at Jisc, which enables like-minded people and organisations to better adapt to technological change.