A glance at VLE platforms in the UK universities

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In 2011, I had a quick look at the use of VLE systems (e.g., Blackboard/WebCT, Moodle and Sakai) in the UK universities. The list of universities in the UK referred to a resource from Wikipedia. The list has been changing since then.

In 2011, among the 140 universities:

  • 25 universities used WebCT as their key VLE platform;
  • 67 universities had Blackboard as their key VLE platform;
  • 25 universities used Moodle;
  • 2 universities used Microsoft SharePoint;
  • 1 university used Sakai;
  • 1 university used Tulip, and
  • 19 universities either didn’t present their VLE systems on their websites or it’s developed by themselves. It’s not searchable.


Using my spare time, I had a quick look at this list again. You can access the file here. Based on it, I searched the use of the key VLE platforms on the university websites. In 2014, among the 149 UK Universities, the changes of VLE platforms between 2011 and 2014 are shown as follows:

  • 12 universities used Blackboard built on previous WebCT system;
  • 10 universities shifted from WebCT to Moodle;
  • 1 university shifted from WebCT to SharePoint;
  • 1 university shifted from WebCT to Canvas;
  • 14 universities shifted from Blackboard to Moodle;
  • 1 university shifted from SharePoint to Moodle;
  • 1 university shifted from Tulip to Moodle.

A general view of VLE platforms used in the 149 universities (2014 September) is below:

  • 70 universities have Blackboard as their key VLE platform;
  • 68 universities use Moodle as their key VLE platform;
  • 2 universities use Sakai,
  • 2 universities use Microsoft SharePoint;
  • 1 university uses Desire2Learn,
  • 1 university uses Canvas; and
  • 5 universities either don’t present their VLE systems on their websites or it’s developed by themselves. It’s not searchable.


Please note, this is not an accurate statistical research results, rather it gives us a roughly idea of what VLE systems have been used and how it has changed over the last three years. The data were collected by simply visiting the university website and search their VLE(e-learning) platform. I didn’t ask the university to confirm it.

After I updated my list, I also found the HE Systems Review created by the Higher Education Library Technology. I’m not sure how new the resource is.


Learning Technology tools

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I come across this source “50 Education Technology Tools You Can Start Using Today“.

Although I have used applications like those to some extent, there are 40% tools I didn’t know.

  • Animoto – an online video maker that turns your photos, video clips and music into video in minutes.
  • Educreations – a global community that people can create and share video lessons online.
  • FlipSnack – allows people to turn PDF files into amazing interactive books.
  • GCFLearnFree.org® – a free online learning resources for anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy and math skills needed to be successful in both work and life.
  • GoAnimate – allows people to create animated videos and share with others.
  • LiveBinders – a bookmarking tool  installed on browser tool bar. It allows users to add web pages directly into one of the binders or a new binder in their account by clicking on the “LiveBinder It” link.
  • Poll Everywhere – is live real time audience response voting with SMS, laptop, or twitter. It is free for audiences of 40 people or less.
  • popplet – a collaborative brainstorming tool. It allows users to visualize ideas.
  • Socrative – a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games.
  • Smore – allows people to design beautiful online flyers and publish instantly.
  • Thinkfinity – is the Verizon Foundation’s free online professional learning community, providing access to over 60,000 educators and experts in curriculum enhancement, along with thousands of award-winning digital resources for K-12 — aligned to state standards and the common core.
  • Weebly – a easy tool to help people create a free website and a free blog.
  • Wix – a free website builder.

Personally I feel many these applications are not for Higher Education specifically.

  • Blabberize – a free web 2.0 tool that allows people to quickly create talking photos. Simply upload a photo, select a part of the photo where  you want it speak, and record your audio. Instantly, Blabberize will compile those elements together and you’ll get a talking characters.
  • ClassDojo – a classroom tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms quickly and easily. It also captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators.
  • Edmodo – a social learning platform for teachers, students, and parents. By looking at the demo, it pretty much likes Blackboard.
  • i-SAFE – is a blended compliance enterprise solution that combines the power of technology, traditional curriculum and the influence of social media to educate and empower students through cutting-edge e-Safety education platforms.

Authoring Tools

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Seven Top Authoring Tools” occurred in my search. The term “Authoring Tool” is somehow misleading as it’s not word processing software but a web content creation application. Also terms such as “web authoring tool”, “web page authoring tool”,”course authoring tool” and “e-learning authoring tool” do not help too.

Well, I prefer using “web content management tools” or “e-learning development tools”.

The definition provided by W3C  is clear,

“Authoring tools are software and services that people use to produce Web pages and Web content. “

An explanation in the article “A Review On Authoring Tools” written by Khademi, M., et al is clear too.

“… a program that helps you write using hypertext or multimedia applications and enable you to create a final application merely by linking together objects, such as a paragraph of text, an illustration, or a song….”

There are some sources listing useful authoring tools below. I won’t call them authoring tools, but put them under the LCMS.

Make learning resources accessible

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More and more requirements grow in higher education: public engagement, open, free, easy, economic…  Product providers need to change…

Two pieces of news are about open educational materials:

IC4E 2012

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The 3rd International Conference on E-Education, e-Business, e-Management and E-Learning (IC4E 2012)

It is one of the leading international conferences for presenting novel and fundamental advances in the fields of e-Education, e-Business, e-Management and E-Learning. It also serves to foster communication among researchers and practitioners working in a wide variety of scientific areas with a common interest in improving e-Education, e-Business, e-Management and E-Learning related techniques.

Location: Hong Kong, China

Date: 5-7 January 2012

IFLA satelite meeting 2012

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IFLA satelite meeting 2012  – The Road to Information Literacy: Librarians as Facilitators of Learning

Date: 8-10 August  2012

Vanue: Tampere, Finland

20 Open Source LCMS/LMS

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ATutor is an Open Source Web-based Learning Management System (LMS) used to develop and deliver online courses.

AnaXagora LMS is an Open Source e-learning platform where participants can follow a training and set up their personalised learning progression, tutors can help and follow-up the participants in their learning and authors can manage their course modules. It is SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model ) compliant, which gives the possibility to use and diffuse training contents themselves compliant on the LMS.

Bodington is a free Open Source Virtual Learning Environment in use at Universities and Colleges worldwide. The Bodington project exists to provide an open source environment to support learning, teaching and research. It delivers controlled access using open standards.

Canvas is an open-source learning management system produced by Instructure, an educational software company. It is freely available under an AGPL license as open source software.

Claroline is an Open Source eLearning and eWorking platform allowing teachers to build effective online courses and to manage learning and collaborative activities on the web. Claroline is based on free technologies like PHP and MySQL and uses the current standards like SCORM and IMS/QTI for the exchange of contents.

DoceboLMS is a SCORM compliant Open Source Cloud E-Learning platform used in corporate, government and education markets. The Platform supports 25 languages and can be used with different didactic models (Blended, Self-Directed, Collaborative and even Social Learning).

Dokeos is an Open Source online learning  suite software. It provides all the features needed for e-learning and blended learning management: from Authoring to Reporting.

Eduslide allows anyone to create educational content and deliver it online, free of charge. It supports different ways of presenting information, using testing modules, wikis, chat, blogs, slideshows, and more.

EPIGNOSIS Ltd, is the vendor of “eFront” e-Learning platform, envisages e-Learning 2.0 as the dominant approach for human capital development, education & training services. eFront, as Open Source software, obtained the SCORM certification, it enables functions such as community learning, supports the principle of collective knowledge and provides functionality towards personalised learning.

The eXe project developed a freely available Open Source authoring application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup.

ILIAS is an Open Source e-Learning Management System that provides testing and assessment tools as well as collaboration tools such as chat and forums, and distribution technologies like RSS and podcasts.

LAMS is a open source tool for designing, managing and delivering online collaborative learning activities.

LON-CAPA is a free Open-Source Distributed Learning Content Management and Assessment System.

Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites. Moodle is certified Open Source and certified SCORM 1.2 compliant.

OLAT offers a flexible online course system along with extensive features to guarantee learning and teaching independent of time and place. OLAT is open source and supports all major standards.

Open elms is a collaborative project designed to create an open-source Learning Management System for use in businesses and training organisations.

RELOAD is a project funded under the JISC Exchange for Learning Programme (X4L). The project focuses on developing a set of open source tools for learning objects packaging and delivery. It is managed by the University of Bolton with staff located at the University of Bolton and the University of Strathclyde.

Sakai is a learning management system and research collaboration system. It provides ePortfolio solution. Sakai is open source and uses open standards, therefore users can integrate tools external to Sakai.

The Xerte Project provides a full suite of open source tools for elearning developers and content authors producing interactive learning materials: Xerte is a suite of tools for the rapid development of interactive learning content; Xerte Online Toolkits is a powerful suite of browser-based tools that allow anyone with a web browser to log on and create interactive learning materials easily;  Xpert is a repository of open educational learning resources made freely available for sharing and reuse from a variety of institutions around the world.

Xyleme Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is a fully integrated environment for authoring, managing, and publishing XML-based online courseware, instructor-led materials, mobile learning products, and performance support tools.

Other sources:

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