Usage and Uptake of Virtual Learning Environments in Ireland: Findings from a Multi Institutional Study

Robert Cosgrave, Angélica Rísquez, Theresa Logan-Phelan, Thomas Farrelly, Eamon Costello, Marion Palmer, Claire McAvinia, Nuala Harding, Noreen Vaughan


In early 2008 five Irish tertiary institutions conducted an online survey of their students’ usage of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) in their respective institutions. In 2009, the survey was run again with an expanded set of institutions and supplemented by a staff survey and detailed institutional case histories. The survey instruments used a common set of questions, and on condition of anonymity, the institutions pooled their results to allow us to compare and contrast the results. While many institutions routinely conduct in-house surveys or studies from time to time, this study is relatively unique in that it draws on data from multiple institutions, across multiple years, and diverse VLE platforms. The institutions who participated represented a diversity of organizational histories and VLE systems. The study identifies some of the key drivers and barriers to uptake and usage of an institutional VLE and identified that it is organizational factors, such as system maturity, rather than technical ones around system choice, that are the most significant factors in the uptake, usage and utility of the VLE systems. The paper also notes issues around the conduct of the survey, confidentiality and data sharing, and lessons from the experience.


Virtual Learning Environment, learning management system, technology assisted learning, technology enhanced learning, e-learning

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