The advent of the Internet heralded predictions that e-learning would transform and disrupt teaching practices in higher education. E-learning also promised to expand opportunities for lifelong and flexible learning, and offered a panacea for practical issues such as decreased funding and increasing student numbers. The anticipated disruption to teaching and learning has not come to fruition however. Although technology is now common place in most higher education institutions - most institutions have invested in a virtual learning environment (VLE) and employ staff dedicated to supporting e-learning - there is little evidence of significant impact on teaching practices and current implementations are accused of being focused on improving administration and replicating behaviourist, content-driven models. This paper discusses a preliminary analysis, rooted in Activity Theory, of the transformation of teaching practices, which did or did not take place in our university following the institution-wide deployment of a VLE. In particular, factors limiting a full uptake of the VLE more advanced functionalities by the wider university community are explored. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.