Starting with the results of a pilot study conducted during the summer of 2015 in a University in the United Kingdom (UK), this sesssion will address how a VLE should be designed so as to enhance and not hinder the students’ learning experience. During the study a number of interviews were conducted, and responses were analysed to discover how students and teaching staff perceived their own use of a VLE. The results revealed that while a VLE is an effective learning and teaching tool, Virtual Learning Environments need to be fully localized by paying attention to the strengths of an institution and subject areas during the designs of such VLEs as no one-size fits it all.
This presentation is relevant to VLE developers, lecturers, learning technologists and university administrators. It is also relevant to researchers outside of the UK given the global use and significance of VLEs. During this session, participants will have the opportunity to discuss and question the use of generic VLEs and appreciate why it is necessary to pay attention to the VLE’s design.
This approach holds the promise of mitigating the challenges associated with a generic VLE. Chowdhry, Sieler and Alwis (2014) argue that the challenge with using VLEs becomes more complex owing to the differences between how individual institutions, faculties and teaching staff engage with it. In the same vein, Beckton (2009) posits that the greatest key to successfully implementing VLEs hinges on identifying and paying careful attention to the needs of the users of the system rather than focusing on what the system could do for them. This approach provides room for flexibility in reworking a VLE functionalities as its requirements change over time without having to contend with the limitations imposed by an off-the-shelf system.
Connecting the dots of these analyses and mining such information will improve the synergy among researchers, VLE developers and teaching staff. The paper offers a number of guiding questions that may help other institutions to evaluate the design of their VLEs with a view to creating a supportive platform for the lecturers and a robust learning experience for students.
This presentation which falls under the wildcard theme of “Learning Technology is Everywhere”, will be relevant to all those who are passionate about improving the learning technology of today and the future.
 Beckton, Julian (2009). “Lumping and Splitting. rolling out a new VLE at the University of Lincoln”, In: e-Learning: A Reality Check – Do We Practice What We Preach?, 8th – 9th January 2009, Durham University. Retrieved from http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/1756/1/LumpandSplit_dur09.pdf , Accessed 23rd August 2015.
 Chowdhry, S., Sieler, K., & Alwis, L. (2014). A study of the impact of technology-enhanced learning on student academic performance, Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice. 2(3), pp. 3-15.