Virtual Learning Platforms in Europe: a comparative overview

European Schoolnet has rcently published  compelling report comparing the use and level of developments of VLE in three countries: Great Britain, Spains and Denmark.

For those who don’t want to read the whole report, the main conclusions are:

“Our findings:
As regards the deployment of virtual learning platforms:
• It is gradual, generally slower than expected, and, depending on the case, concerns 40-55% of schools
in the United Kingdom, Andalusia and Catalonia. In Denmark, however, 97% of state schools delivering
compulsory education have a virtual platform.
•I t is usually based on a combination of top-down approaches (those initiated by the responsible authority)
and bottom-up approaches (initiated at the “grass roots” level), with the exception of Andalusia, where the
top-down approach is clearly more pronounced.
• The governance of the process deployed – and of its follow-up after the platforms are operational – is based

in Denmark on very close involvement of stakeholders; elsewhere, it is based on a clear but sometimes
complex division of responsibilities in terms of implementation.
As regards their use:
• Communication between teachers and the management and organisation of school life are the most
advanced uses, as opposed to educational uses, which are considerably less developed, whether in the
United Kingdom, Denmark, Andalusia or Catalonia; active pupil participation remains limited in all countries,
but in Denmark such participation is seen as being supported by the fact that the curriculum encourages
project-based teaching.
•  ommunication with parents has only really been developed in Denmark.
•  dministrative uses are very advanced in the United Kingdom, and are growing in Andalusia; generally this
reflects the need to reduce administrative burdens in areas responsible for a significant number of schools.
Success Factors
In terms of the general approach adopted:
•  onsider the implementation of virtual learning platforms first and foremost as a process (objectives,
strategies, partners, stages, etc.). and not as an essentially technological intervention.
•  rganise active, close participation by the different stakeholders (teachers, local authorities, commercial
publishers of digital educational content, etc.), in ways and with an intensity appropriate to their respective
roles in the virtual learning platform system, from the outset and throughout the process.
•  irect the technology towards educational objectives immediately – from platform design to implementation.
•  ring together the resources and multifaceted expertise required to carry through projects of the scope and
complexity typical of virtual learning platforms.
•  rganise (quasi-) permanent access to ICT equipment at school level, particularly in classrooms rather than
in dedicated laboratories.
In managing the implementation process:
•  e pragmatic and patient at all stages of the process.
•  arry out more or less formalised evaluations, either integrated into the process itself or at regular intervals,
to allow for any necessary adjustments or corrections en route.
•  se virtual platforms to solve recognised problems of organisation or teaching or to simplify unavoidable
In supporting teachers:
•  evelop programmes and actions for training teachers not only in ICT and platform operation, but also in
their pedagogical use, bearing in mind the value of running such courses online.
•  rovide technical support, available during usage time (school hours and even outside these) and capable
of responding quickly and effectively to spare teachers from technical tasks and enable them to concentrate
on pedagogical aspects.