Virtual Learning Environments

A Virtual Learning Environment, or VLE for short, which is also sometimes referred to as a Learner Management System, or LMS, is a system for delivering learning material via the web. Its purpose is not to replace face to face teaching, but to enhance it, with the use of various activities that they provide. VLEs are also a means to share resources with its users, such as files and web links.

Blackboard LearnBlackboard Learn Logo

Blackboard Learn is a commercially available VLE developed by Blackboard Inc. It was first released in January 1997, under its original name Blackboard Learning Management System. With it being a commercial VLE it is primarily used by larger educational providers, such as universities, along with larger schools and colleges.

Blackboard can either be installed on a education providers own IT infrastructure, or hosted by Blackboard themselves.

How Tos and Useful Stuff


Moodle is an Open Source and therefore free VLE, developed using PHP and utilises a database such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, MSSQL or Oracle. It is used extensively in the education sector to aid teaching and learning, as well as out in industry for staff development and training purposes.

How Tos and Useful Stuff

AulaAula Logo

Aula describes itself as a social learning platform and is developed by Aula Education, which was founded in 2014. It is a platform aimed at universities in the UK and its goal is to connect students, staff and educators to create active and engaging educational experiences.

How Tos and Useful Stuff

Canvas LMSCanvas LMS Logo

Canvas LMS is developed by Instructure Inc., an education technology company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the USA, which was founded in 2008. It is a platform that is used throughout the education sector in schools, colleges and universities around the world.

Canvas was developed using the Ruby on Rails web application framework, along with a PostgreSQL database and utilises the web technologies HTML, CSS and jQuery. It also features Android and iOS apps, enabling mobile access.

How Tos and Useful Stuff

SharePointSharePoint Logo

SharePoint was first released by Microsoft back in 2001 and is a web based collaborative platform, whose primary use is a document management and storage solution. However, due to its high configurability, can be used for many purposes, including as a VLE.

SharePoint offers full integration with Microsoft Office and can be used in one of two ways. SharePoint Server can be installed on an organisations own IT infrastructure and offers the greatest flexibility and configurability. Alternatively, SharePoint Online can be used, which is hosted by Microsoft and is often bundled with Office 365 subscriptions. Although this option has the advantage to an organisation of not having to maintain the server, it is less customisable than the self-hosted option and some of its features are limited.

How Tos and Useful Stuff

Alternative Free Open Source VLEs

Commercial Paid For VLEs

Learning Tools Interoperability