Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), also known as Learning Management Systems (LMS) are online platforms developed to support distance learning using the internet and internet connected devices. VLE platforms have been in use for more than two decades to support remote learning. Various VLE platforms are in use today, including Moodle, an open-source system that is widely used in more than 230 countries (https://moodle.net/stats) or commercial products such as Blackboard and Adobe Captivate. These platforms are used to deliver and administer content and educational activities to remote users (Blau & Hameirie, 2010) and were developed to support online learning in environments and settings where the learner is usually not capable of attending regular face to face meetings with the instructor (Kareal & Klema, 2006).
After assessing various different versions of VLE platforms, it was decided to use an open-source solution. The Moodle VLE was selected as the main platform for the reasons below:
• It is a well-established VLE used in various schools, governments and academic institutions in more than 230 countries
• It is an open-source platform, requiring no licensing costs
• It can be easily modified and adapted to serve multiple target groups (teachers, parents, students, researchers)
Virtual Learning Environments are not new to European Commission funded projects, and most academic institutions are selecting to use Moodle or other open-source platforms, for the benefits mentioned above.
Additionally, we acknowledge that users are not restricted to using computers (either desktops or laptops) to access the internet but they rather use a multitude of different devices. As such, the BotSTEM Game, a series of drill and practice activities developed to assess STEM knowledge and experience, was converted from an Adobe Flash-based application to a fully HTML5-compliant one. By transferring all assets to an HTML5 version of the application, we have made it compatible to any HTML5 compliant device, including most smartphones and tablet devices sold in the past 8 years. The Game is also integrated into the VLE but can also run as an independent browser-based application