Using Moodle as an Adaptive Learning Management System: Based on Learning Styles

Using Moodle as an Management System: Based on Learning Styles

There are many e-learning platforms on the market and the majority produce a linear format, rigid learning paths, links to resources links to hypertext and provide the same content to all students regardless of individual ability (Surjono, 2014) and as stated “course material is still implicitly oriented for traditional on campus audience…. consisting of homogeneous, well prepared and well-motivated students.”

However, with growing global, international aspects the and learner have “different back ground knowledge levels and learning capabilities.” (Surjono, 2014).

This method of online delivery could not be suitable for all students therefore course material needs to be flexible….and suitable for individual learners and a specific learning path created based on:-

  • Preference
  • Knowledge
  • Interests

According to (Huitt, 2003) the learning process is complex and influenced by many factors and he refers to them as student characteristics, which can be seen to be variable and complex:-

  • Prior knowledge
  • Intelligence
  • Study Habits
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Motivation
  • Learning Styles
  • Cognitive
  • Social
  • Emotional level
  • Moral
  • Character Development

To narrow down the complexity and still have a positive contribution to adaptive learning in the use of Learning Styles.

Studies have shown and commented on by Rasmussen that when individual students learning styles are taken into account in learning, the student achievement is improved…and learning styles influence the effectiveness of training.

There are various models that refer and use Learning Styles, the two most popular being the VAK and Felder models.

Richard M. Felder and Linda K. Silverman, 1988 outlined how each learner has a preference on each of the four dimensions:-

  • Active –Reflective learning by doing –learning by thinking things through learning by discussing & group work –work alone
  • Sensing –Intuitive concrete material –abstract material more practical –more innovative and creative patient and careful/not patient and careful with details standard procedures –challenges
  • Visual –Verbal learning from pictures –learning from words
  • Sequential –Global learn in linear steps –learn in large leaps good in using partial knowledge –need “big picture“ interested in details –interested in the overview.

(Graff, 2007)


The VAK learning style uses the three main sensory receivers: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic (movement) to determine the dominant learning style.

While the research has shown a connection with modalities and learning styles (University of Pennsylvania, 2009), the research has so far been unable to prove the using one’s learning style provides the best means for learning a task or subject. (Clark, 2011)

Learners use all three modalities to receive and learn new information and experiences. However, according to the VAK or modality theory, one or two of these receiving styles is normally dominant. This dominant style defines the best way for a person to learn new information by filtering what is to be learned. This style may not always to be the same for some tasks. The learner may prefer one style of learning for one task, and a combination of others for a different task. (Clark, 2011)

Studies indicate that population break down in terms of preference is indicated in Figure 1

Figure 1 Percentage of Learning Style Preference

According to the VAK theorists, we need to present information using all three styles. This allows all learners the opportunity to become involved, no matter what their preferred style may be. (Clark, 2011)


Learning styles are often measured using questionnaires to identify preferred Learning Styles, it is this that can be used to create a more adaptive/adaptable learning Path.

A typical Moodle LMS doesn’t consider individual differences and all learners are treated equally, so in order to accommodate this the Moodle needs to be customised.

This can be achieved by creating Modules, Blocks and course format and to create adaptivity within the assignments, quizzes, resources, blocks and course format, restricted access and activity completion.

Figure 2 Methodology Overview


Index of Learning Styles (ILS) questionnaire (Felder and Soloman, 1997) is an example of questionnaire use. The ILS questionnaire was added to the registration form, and was designed to classify students into groups based on Learning style preference.

Graff (2007) suggests requirement for generating adaptive courses is to distinguish between the different types of learning objects.

Using a VAK/VARK questionnaire and adapting Despotović-Zrakić, et al., (2012) Cluster Groups method, a typical adaptive scenario can be created.

Adapted from (Despotović-Zrakić, et al., 2012)

Learning Group Paths (Cluster)

Figure 3 Cluster Groups

Results from studies

According to the results, students belonging to the matched group spent significantly less

time in the course (on average 3.78 hours) than students from the mismatched group (on average 5.55 hours) and standard group (on average 5.56 hours). The same tendency can be seen for the number of logins (Graff, 2007)

The evaluation showed that students, who were presented with a course that matches their learning styles, spent significantly less time in the course but yield on average the same grades than students who were presented with a mismatched or standard course. (Graff, 2007)

In their study of Moodle and adaptive learning using a method ILS Fled and Silvermann  (Despotović-Zrakić, et al., 2012) found that  percentage of students who passed the exam is by 11% higher in the case of the adaptive e-learning environment.


Recently, increasing attention is paid to characteristics such as learning styles, their impact on learning, and how these individual characteristics can be supported by learning systems. These investigations are motivated by educational theories, which argue that providing courses which fit the individual characteristics of students makes learning easier for them and thus, increases their learning progress. (Graff, 2007)


Felder method requires six routles to be created and one common route, I believe this would be too much to ask tutors, so even though a more accurate way to represent a leanring style without some automation would be prohibitive to a tutor because of increased work load. This could be reduced by following the VAK/VARK learning style which would require only three routes and one common.

The concept aims at providing adaptivity on a general basis, adapting courses with respect to the sequence and the number of specific types of learning objects in order to support the individual learning styles of students. This kind of adaptivity allows keeping the system simple and easy to use for teachers and course developers.

So this can be summarised as per Graff 2007 in which they concluded that…..

The main concern is to support students as good as possible by presenting them with courses that fit their individual learning styles…..

On the other hand, a main concern is to keep the adaptive LMS simple to use for teachers and course developers and ask them for as little as possible additional effort.


Clark, D., 2011. Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learning Styles (VAK). [Online] Available at:
[Accessed 7 December 2016].

Despotović-Zrakić, M., Marković , A. & Bogdanović, Z., 2012. Providing Adaptivity in Moodle LMS. Educational Technology & Society,, 15 (1), p. 326–338..

Graff, S., 2007. Adaptivity in Focussing on Learning Styles. Vienna: Vienna University of Technology Faculty of Informatics.

Huitt, W., 2003. A transational model of teaching/ learning process. Educational Psychology Interactice.

Surjono, H. D., 2014. The Evaluation of a Moodle Based Adaptive e-leanring System. International Journal of INformation and Education Technology, 4(1), pp. 89-92.





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