Blame the implementation, not your VLE!

June 25, 2014

Prior to working with us, many of our clients have worked with multiple systems, claiming they were unable to find the right VLE or Learning Platform to meet their needs and requirements. What we have discovered is that it is not always the case of a bad system and more often than not their dissatisfaction is a result of poor project planning and VLE implementation. In this post, based on our extensive experience with the open-source Moodle Learning Platform, we will explain the importance of VLE implementation and how you can go about ensuring your platform is rolled out correctly.


Bad timing and lack of a project roadmap can cause poor VLE implementation and lead to dissatisfaction amongst your users. This is a problem many schools face, as the appropriate timing for implementing a Learning Platform is not considered and the time needed to successfully roll out and embed VLE use is underestimated. Before installation can begin, schools need to check that they are ready to accept a new system, that support is in place from Senior Leadership and that they have a proper VLE implementation plan in place.

Prior to implementing a new system, it is essential that you have all of the resources required for an easy transition and have the necessary budget to facilitate it. This is as relevant for open-source software such as Moodle as much as proprietary systems.  Appointing a staff liaison (ideally Project Manager) to consult with your VLE provider and take charge of logistics is also necessary. This will ensure that all aspects of your installation are managed properly. As part of our standard project lifecycle we take care of implementation management and logistics on behalf of our clients, making for an easy and stress-free process.

Lack of training

Other international schools have experienced problems with staff not using their Learning Platforms as they have not implemented an efficient and effective training programme. If teachers, students and parents do not know how to use the virtual learning environment or get the most out of it, they will not benefit to anywhere near the extent they should, and you might be left wondering where it all went wrong.

Training should begin from the moment you decide to implement a new VLE system. Introductory training, perhaps in the form of a non-sales presentation from your provider, will prepare your staff for the implementation of the new system and help them to familiarise themselves with it. Once the technical set-up is complete, full training is essential.

Some schools are tempted to reduce costs by providing the minimal amount of training to their staff as it can be expensive, time consuming and difficult to arrange.  There are costs from the provider, cover teachers to consider and a limited amount of actual staff training time available.  However, any investment made in a VLE will be wasted if the correct training is not provided to staff to enable them to use it effectively, so it is important not to be tempted to cut costs in this area.

We can equip you with custom-designed long-term Moodle training plans that will help your staff to get the most out of their new virtual learning environment. We prefer where possible to provide initial face-to-face training and also supply additional training materials including webinars, training guides and videos.  Flexibility around how and when training is provided is key – be creative with the sessions provided to staff and ensure they are correctly trained and supported in order to increase your usage.

Poor customisation

When it comes to implementing a virtual learning environment, a one size fits all approach will result in dissatisfaction with the product. This is due to the fact that no two schools are exactly the same and therefore what works for one, may not necessarily work for another. If during implementation, your VLE is not customised to meet your needs and requirements, then you will not be able to realise and experience its full potential.

It’s important to consider user expectations.  Most users will want to access the site on multiple devices, so responsive design is vital.  Have you considered the look and feel you want to give to your Learning Platform – does your school branding work well digitally, on your eLearning portal, or do you need new design work carried out?  Will the site be pleasant to look at and navigate as a user?  Each of these aspects must be considered to ensure users aren’t put off before they’ve started using the system.

During the implementation stage, it is important that you choose the Learning Platform customisations you require to suit your application. This is something that the team here can help you with. We specialise in providing bespoke designs and user experience, ensuring that schools’ VLEs meet the needs and requirements of the teaching staff, parents and students. We offer a number of additional features including mobile device capability and multiple language packs, as well as numerous plugins and add-ons that can be hand picked by you to ensure a great user experience is achieved.  An engaging Moodle theme design will drive traffic to your site and ensure users can access and enjoy content with ease.

Click here to read our article about personalised VLEs

Lack of planning

Delays experienced during the set-up process can also lead to schools being unhappy with their virtual learning environments from the outset.  The same applies if the roll out of a VLE is rushed. This is why it is important that a proper VLE implementation plan is developed for your school. This will help you to monitor the progress of your Learning Platform implementation and get an idea of what to expect.

Your VLE implementation plan should be tailored to your school, taking you all the way through from installation to aftercare. It should cover all the important stages including setup, installation, management and support. A timescale for each project milestone should be decided upon and the necessary resources required for each stage should be organised.

Each and every one of our clients are provided with a tailor made implementation plan. This ensures that everyone knows what is happening and when this will be. It also means that other elements that can affect the success of VLE implementation such as training, resource allocation and logistics are accounted for.

Limited support

The process of implementation does not just end when your new Learning Platform has been installed. Of course you are likely to experience issues from time to time or your staff are going to have questions that require answers. This is why it is necessary that you have a dedicated support team in place. Lack of support is one of the main reasons why clients become dissatisfied with their VLE.

Before purchasing a Learning Platform it is essential that you check that the provider offers aftercare and on-going support. Enquire about a helpdesk and ask whether you will have your own dedicated support technician. For example, in addition to an online Helpdesk we offer phone, email, Skype and community support. Our experienced Moodle support team is on-hand to answer your questions and provide you with assistance whenever you require it.

Having a team of expert individuals behind you to provide you with help and support will allow you to get the most out of your investment.

Contact us for information about our services, including our Moodle set up and VLE implementation guidelines

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