Virtual Learning Environments: Personalizing Learning or Managing Learners?

  • Philip Banyard
  • Jean Underwood
  • Lianne Kerlin
  • James Stiller
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan’s Digital Education and Learning book series (DEAL)


Over the past 15 years, the Technology and LearningTeam at Nottingham Trent University has conducted a range of national research projects in schools and colleges across the UK. This first decade of the new century has seen significant changes in both the capacity and functionality of the digital technologies available to managers, teachers, and learners in schools. These technological developments have the potential to support innovative ways of learning and teaching as well as of managing educational information. Where these opportunities have been taken up, new ways of processing and owning information have occurred, leading to changes in the relationships between teachers and learners. This chapter looks at the key messages from this program of research and considers how to increase the benefits accruing from technology-enhanced learning environments and also explores their limitations for learners and teachers.


Digital Technology Twitter User Virtual Learn Environment Educational Data Mining Technology Affordances 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Banyard, P., & Underwood, J. (2008). Understanding the learning space. eLearning Papers, 1(9), 1–12.Google Scholar
  2. Becta (2004). What the research says about Virtual learning Environments in teaching and learning. Retrieved September 22, 2008, from ications&ProductId=15003&Google Scholar
  3. Becta (2007). Harnessing technology schools survey 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from
  4. Becta (2008). Harnessing technology: Next generation learning. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from
  5. Becta (2009). Harnessing technology: The learner and their context increasingly autonomous: Learners using technology in the context of their family lives and beyond. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from
  6. Brophy, J., & Bawden, D. (2005). “Is Google enough? Comparison of an internet search engine with academic library resources.” Aslib Proceedings, 57(6), 498–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, S. Y., & Liu, X. (2008). An integrated approach to modelling learning patterns of students in web-based instruction: A cognitive style perspective. ACM Transactions on Computer Interactions, 15(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chou, H., & Wang, T. (2000). The influence of learning style and training method on self-efficacy and learning performance in WWW homepage design training. International Journal of Information Management, 20(6), 455–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clarke, L., & Abbott, C. (2008). Put posters over the glass bit on the door and disappear: Tutor perspectives on the use of VLEs to support pre-service teachers. Teaching in Higher Education 13(2), 169–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ellis, A. B. (2001) Improving undergraduate education in the mathematical and physical sciences through the use of technology. Report to the National Science Foundation. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from Scholar
  11. European Schoolnet (2003). Virtual learning Environments for European Schools: A survey and commentary. Brussels, EUN.Google Scholar
  12. Gilbert, C, August, K., Brooks, R., Hancock, D., Hargreaves, D., Pearce, N., Roberts, J., Rose, J., & Wise, D. (2006). 2020 Vision: Report of the teaching and learning by 2020 review group. Nottingham: DfES publications.Google Scholar
  13. Green, H., Facer, K., & Rudd, T., with Dillon, P., & Humphreys P (2005). Personalisation and digital technologies. Bristol: Futurelab.Google Scholar
  14. HM Government (2005). Higher standards, better schools for all, more choice for parents and pupils. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from Scholar
  15. Holah, M., & Davies, J. (2009). Delivering personalised learning through technology: The teachers’ perspective. CAL09, Brighton, UKGoogle Scholar
  16. ISIS Software (2010).
  17. Kelly, R. (2005). UK Secretary of State for Education and Skills, BETT 2005 Keynote address, January, 5, 2005. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from
  18. Larkin-Hein, T, & Budney, D. D. (2001). Research on learning style: Application in the Physics and engineering classrooms. IEEE Transactions on Education, 44(3), 276–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Leadbeater, C. (2004). Learning about personalisation. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from Scholar
  20. McLoughlin, C, & Lee, M. J. W. (2007). Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings Ascilite Singapore 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from Scholar
  21. Nagi, K., & Suesawaluk, P. (2008). Research analysis of Moodle reports to gauge the level of interactivity in elearning courses at assumption university. ICCN”08: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Computer and Communication Engineering, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, pp. 772–776.Google Scholar
  22. Ofsted (2009a). The importance of ICT, Information and communication technology in primary and secondary schools, 2005/2008. Reference no: 070035. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from
  23. Ofsted (2009b). Virtual learning environments: An evaluation of their development in a sample of educational settings. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from Scholar
  24. Phipps, L., Cormier, D., & Stiles M. J. (2008). Reflecting on the virtual learning systems — extinction or evolution? Educational Developments, 9(2), 1–4.Google Scholar
  25. Pollard, A., & James, M. (2004). Personalised learning: A commentary by the teaching and learning research programme. London: TLRP.Google Scholar
  26. Prior, G., & Hall, L. (2005). ICT in schools survey 2004: ICT in schools research and evaluation series 22. London: DfES.Google Scholar
  27. Quantcast (2010). Retrieved February 10, 2010, from
  28. Sclater, N. (2010). eLearning in the Cloud. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments. 1(1), 10–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sharpies, M. (2010). Web 2.0 technologies for learning at key stages 3 and 4. Learning Sciences Research Institute. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from
  30. Simon, H. A. (1983). Reason in human affairs. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Smith, P., Rudd, P., & Coghlan, M. (2008). Harnessing technology: Schools survey 2008. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from Scholar
  32. Stiles M. (2007). Death of the VLE? A challenge to a new orthodoxy. Serials, the Journal for the International Serials Community 20(1), 31–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Superby, J., Vandamme, J., & Meskens, N. (2006). Determination of factors influencing the achievement of the first-year university students using data mining methods. In EDM’06: Workshop on Educational Data Mining (pp. 37–44). Hong Kong, China.Google Scholar
  34. Underwood J., Baguley, T., Banyard, P. Dillon, Farrington-Fünt, L., Hayes, M., Le Geyt, G., Murphy, J., & Selwood, I. (2010). Understanding the impact of technology: Learner and school-level factors. Coventry: Becta. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from Scholar
  35. Underwood, J., Baguley, T., Banyard, P. Dillon, G., Farrington-Flint, L. Hayes, M., Le Geyt, G., Murphy, J., & Selwood, I. (2009a). Personalising learning. Coventry, Becta. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from accessed February 2010.Google Scholar
  36. Underwood, J., & Banyard, P. (2006). Learning and technology: A happy conjunction? In K. Steffans, R. Carneiro & J. Underwood (Eds.), Self-regulated learning and technology enhanced learning environments (pp. 64–71). Aachen: Shaker Verlag.Google Scholar
  37. Underwood, J., & Banyard, P. (2008). Managers,’ teachers’ and learners’ perceptions of personalised learning: Evidence from impact 2007. Technology, Pedagogy & Education. 17(3), 233–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Underwood, J., Ault, A., Banyard, P., Durbin, C, Hayes, M., Selwood, I., Derrick Golland, D. Hayes, M., Selwood, I. Somekh, B., Twining, P. & Woodrow, D. (2004). Connecting with broadband: Evidence from the field. Coventry: Final project report for Becta. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from
  39. Underwood, J., Banyard, P., Betts, L., Farrington-Flint, L., Kerlin, L., Stiller, J. & Yeomans, S. (2009b). Narrowing the gap: An exploration of the ways technology can support approaches to narrowing the gap for under and low-achieving learners in secondary schools. Coventry: Becta. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from 17439
  40. Underwood, J., Banyard, P., Bird, K., Dillon, G., Hayes, M., Selwood, I. Somekh, B., Twining, P. & Woodrow, D Ault, A. (2005). The impact of broadband in schools. Coventry: Final report for Becta. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from
  41. Weller, M. (2010) The centralisation dilemma in educational IT. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments. 1(1), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice, learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Thomas 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Banyard
  • Jean Underwood
  • Lianne Kerlin
  • James Stiller

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations