Skip to Main Content

e-Learning kit: Learning environments

Strategies and technologies for transitioning from face-to-face teaching to online environments (#eLkit).

Learning environments

If you are looking for ideas on how and where to host your content you will find them here, from virtual learning environments (VLEs) to broadcasting sites. VLEs have the following set of elements in common, but they can also be gained from a combination of applications (McPherson & Nunes, 2004):

  • Presentation tool: Used to create the look and feel of the course/program.
  • Student tools: A selection of tools for communication, collaboration, evaluation, etc.
  • Administrative tools: Used for delivering materials and tracking usage and progress.

On this page: LMS, CMS, hypermedia, wikis, blogs, hosts, social media, web conferencing, virtual worlds.

Learning management system (LMS)

If you are in an institution with a learning management system (LMS), you can take advantage of all of the features. They are often used to simply load lecture materials into a file folder structure but with much imagination, and a strong grasp of the LMS options, they can be used to support active learning (Littlejohn, 2006). Visit the EduTech Wiki LMS page or Wikipedia for a comprehensive list.

Content management system (CMS)

  • McGill Web Management System is built on Drupal content management software.
  • Joomla: Popular multilingual CMS.
  • Textpattern: Can be used for anything from blogs to more complex sites.
  • UDL Curriculum Toolkit: Open source Java-based web application designed to support the creation of interactive, multimedia curriculum according the principles of Universal Design for Learning.

Hypermedia (web pages)


Wikis are a great way to collaboratively create content with a group. Of course, you have to be willing to give up some control.


Host videos and other learning objects

Social media

Facebook group can be used as an LMS, posting announcements and resources and having discussions, but it requires additional applications to share files in different formats, such as Google Docs, and perhaps a survey tool (Wang et al., 2012). Manca and Ranieri also wrote a literature review on the use of Facebook as a learning environment (2013).

Web conferencing

Virtual worlds

Three-dimensional worlds offer an immersive learning experience but require some dedication and lots of imagination.

Bottom of the page bonus: Free Software Directory (in case you have not yet explored this site)

Poll on the page

Which of these learning environments are you more likely to explore further?
LMS: 11 votes (55%)
CMS: 1 votes (5%)
Web pages: 0 votes (0%)
Wikis: 0 votes (0%)
Blogs: 8 votes (40%)
Video hosts: 0 votes (0%)
Web conferencing: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 20


See the full bibliography for works consulted.

Germek, G. (2012). Empowered library eLearning: Capturing assessment and reporting with ease, efficiency, and effectiveness. Reference Services Review, 40(1), 90-102.​

Littlejohn, A., Cook, J., Campbell, L., Sclater, N., Currier, S., & Davis, H. "Managing educational resources" In Conole, G., & Oliver, M. (2006). Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research: Themes, methods and impact on practice. Hoboken: T&F.

Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2013). Is it a tool suitable for learning? A critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technology‐enhanced learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(6), 487-504.

McPherson, M., & Nunes, M. B. (2004). Developing innovation in online learning: An action research framework. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Wang, Q., Woo, H. L., Quek, C. L., Yang, Y., & Liu, M. (2012). Using the Facebook group as a learning management system: An exploratory study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(3), 428-438.

Webb, K. K., & Hoover, J. (2015). Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the academic library: A methodology for mapping multiple means of representation in library tutorials. College & Research Libraries, 76(4), 537-553.

Yelinek, K., Neyer, L., Bressler, D., Coffta, M., & Magolis, D. (2010). Using LibGuides for an information literacy tutorial: Tutorial 2.0. College & Research Libraries News, 71(7), 352-355.

McGill LibraryQuestions? Ask us!
Privacy notice