What gets kids on a VLE and what difference does age make?

Download – What gets kids on a VLE and what difference does age make? (pdf 321kb)

A year on from completing my MA in ICT and Education and I’ve got round to sharing my research study. I had grand ideas about trying to get it published but never got round to it. So here it is to share with the world on my own blog. Despite being a year old I think the research is just as valid today as it was when I started. Please feel free to read, use and distribute. If you do use it for anything interesting I would love to know.

I chose the topic of virtual learning environments to investigate and I wanted to know what gets students to use a VLE and how the use varies between ages. You can read the abstract below – please do let me know what you think – either via comments, via e-mail or via twitter.


Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) become compulsory in UK schools from 2008. A great deal of public money has been and will be spent on them. Research on VLEs in schools is sparse and research on what makes students use VLEs even more so. This study builds on a practitioner’s observation that students of different ages use VLEs in different ways. Through focus groups, a survey and the analysis of VLE access logs, this survey investigates why students use or don’t use VLEs and looks for differences and patterns in the uses of students in three different year groups.

Analysis of results shows that there were significant differences between year groups in perception and usage, and that the youngest students were more eager users of the VLE. Communication and homework were found to be two key factors for student use. The study advises that schools take the opinions of pupils into account when designing or procuring VLEs and suggests that more research on what makes a successful school VLE would be invaluable to school decision makers who often have few experiences in this field.

Published by D Needlestone


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  1. At last 🙂 Thanks Dan for sharing – it is a very interesting read. I have mentioned your research to teachers I’ve met over the last year; it is good to have it online now.

  2. Hi Dan – thanks for sharing this. I haven’t, as yet, read it, but it is strangely serendipitous as I was just looking for something that covered just this subject 🙂

  3. Very late reply, since I only just saw a link to this post. I’m about half way through the document now.

    The fact I am a former pupil of Ricky school somehow makes it all the more enjoyable.

    However, I have caught you out. You cite Hunt 2003 several times, but that paper does not seem to be in the references. Pretty sure it is not me 😉 But there are a number of papers matching that, and some of the claims from there you cite sound interesting, so can you remember what it is? Even my most specific Google scholar search returns many hits: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=author%3Ahunt+education&btnG=Search&as_sdt=1%2C5&as_ylo=2003&as_yhi=2003&as_vis=0. Thanks.

  4. Hi Tim,
    Thanks for your comment. It refers to

    BECTA (2003). A Review of the Research Literature on the use of Managed Learning Environments and Virtual Learning Environments in Education and a consideration of the implications for schools in the UK. Schools Research and Evaluation Series. M. Hunt, D. Parsons and A. Fleming, BECTA. DfES

    Many thanks for spotting this, I shall get the bibliography updated.

  5. Hello, Merely wanted to show you that your web site isn’t loading correctly on my i phone. Are you aware if there’s some setting I have to use to make it display correctly? Everything is out of line.

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