Folks, just putting a feeler out for my primary schools.
LP+ will be charging a small fortune come September for their Learning Platform.
Other than that, does anyone know of any alternatives that will offer the same features? The only one I'm aware of is RM Kaleidos - and it's just a passing awareness of it.
Most of the schools I deal with will probably stick with LP out of familiarity/the work they've put in but others would like to get an idea of alternatives, which really is sensible when money is put into the equation.
One school is seriously considering having me set up Moodle for them and having a more technically minded member of staff look after it, however that's going to be a little inconvenient for the average school of these sizes. Plus, I can see me dealing with little else on my visits ;)
Have you spoken to Grumbledook about this yet?
I'm out of the loop these days and he will put us straight on it but if the LA aren't funding it via Harnessing Tech. budget anymore maybe some of this will be devolved down to schools to use to as they see fit. (Less the EMBC stuff ofc).
Moodle is a classic alternative but with the Parental Engagement stuff unless the school buy into a solution such as Penfold's Schoolsict or such like I don't think they'll easily meet these directives. (I know they aren't due to affect Primary's for a little longer but still.)
Tony will know best.
Yeah, have been emailing Tony about it - just waiting for him to send me some documentation and clarification regarding LP+ and the directives; I'm no expert on this but have been "thrown into it" so to speak, hence would like to know what the obligations are and what products are out there that can fulfil them. Thought in the meantime if I can get some names of alternative products from people that have hopefully used them I will be able to get a better idea of where things stand :D
We've (as in the school) has gone down the route of Moodle from WebAnywhere. It has the parent part for reporting, it doesn't have the write back for staff to Sims yet, but it's earmarked for something this year.
Is it better than a Sharepoint system? I can't say. Like the LP+ system, I don't technically support the system (even though it's hosted on site) - the actual company supports it. Is it cheaper? Yes, at least for us.
If you want to see it, let us know :)
Cheers Ken, that's something to look at.
The majority of Derbyshire are on Kaleidos as that is what the LA is providing support for.
I've only looked at it briefly though as the usage of it is quite low here, others on the VLE forum have given some quite critical comments of it compared with Moodle.
Going be sorting out stuff to send over today ... should be with you this afternoon.
To be honest the costs in comparison to other option are pretty much the same, some a bit cheaper, some more expensive ... and yep, it depends on take up across the county (the more schools the bigger the discount).
Letters have been going out to schools in Northants about what is happening after the end of August (addressed to the Head) so there is stuff in the school now and I will get the info out to everyone else at the IT Managers' meeting next week.
Like grumbledook I'm based in Northamptonshire's redbrick bunker - hi to anyone who's missed me from the IT mgrs meetings
What's keeping me away is cosying up to the LP+ team as they work to try and give schools a running start with the platform before the bills synthesia's talking about start to roll in, so there you go - interest declared, tin hat on.
For anyone who might find the costs and other implications a bit scary, let me smile winningly and try to offer some consolation. I won't even try to argue the idea of a "small fortune" - the numbers game's not my bag, and as Albert said all things are relative - but for Northants specifically there's definitely a "big fortune" to offset for schools who can get on the bandwagon right now: free training, other input (some possibly from me - who can put a price on that?:D) - a great big, genuine added-value lead-in, which anyone holding off and/or thinking about bootstrapping in splendid independence from one of the Many Other Providers Available come leaf-turning time won't feel the benefit of.
Once the service does become billable, it's also worth keeping in mind that - for the school anyway - this is a full service package that comes with support, training, a Becta-accredited "wish we'd thought of it first" philosophy, and advice from the bona-fide educational experts with whom I'm currently serving.
I'd be a fool to try overplay the technical card here - it's been years since I seriously lifted the lid on any blinkinlight-fronted biscuit tins, and you'll spot the flannel in a minute. That being said, I can at least say with some degree of authority that there are benefits to techie-lite schools taking up the LP+ system. There's nothing to worry about on site - no licensing, no hosting, no maintenance, no worries beyond those odd occasions (call the Americans!) when the Internet goes off. All that extra work that won't need to get done!
I'm going to catch heck for this from grumbledook shortly:(, which is why I've just thrown in his favourite Internet joke. For whatever time it remains readable, "in the interests lof balance" etc., hope it's useful to someone.
With the parent reporting requirment though surely systems such as moodle, sims etc... will communicate with each using sif?
Then whatever you use as the portal for the parents to login this will be able to use sif to collate all the bits of information that's required and present it to the parent?
SIF in its present form will not handle all of the information required for sharing data between systems when it comes to real-time, online reporting. The schema simply does not allow for it at the moment which is why you have folks like Capita who have extended it within their own system (Partnership Xchange), and direct access systems that will hook into other systems, such as read-only Web Parts within Sharepoint (LP+ have read only web parts for hosted sharepoint, Twynham for local sharepoint), or WebAnywhere within Moodle ... and then things like OpenHive are implementing them too ... other platforms have options ... and then you also get things like Insight from TASCSoftware that do it as well .... all via direct access (either the Business Objects or via extracted reports) but not using SIF.
To some extent you have to decide whether the school wants a single platform to do everything, how it is going to be setup and supported, who is going to work with the staff in making it effective in the classroom, work with manglement to help change the bigger things in t the school (communication, online learning strategy, etc), and how much the school is willing to invest year after year.
The cost is not just about licences ...
Thats great information, many thanks folks, especially Grumbledook - yeah, the information was received :)
I don't think too many people will actually stray from LP+ because of the very things you've mentioned - however the cost numbers being thrown around are naturally a shock to them; a cost they were not at all expecting. If the alternatives are going to be a similar price then there's little reason to move elsewhere, and at least if they stick with that system they'll already have a network of other primaries nearby that also use it and probably wouldn't mind sharing ideas or expertise.
Still not entirely happy that LP+ have been far from good salespeople - can't really fault their training guys or technical support staff but the feedback I'm getting is still mostly "what exactly is it this does?"
Now I've got some information to show them it'll be a step in the right direction ;)
Have these letters been sent to Primary Schools as well, because if they have then i haven't received any information. Although looking at who the letters are addressed to, it's not much surprise!!
Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
Is it possible for you to send me any of this info please so that i can keep up to speed. I am completely in the dark with regards to costings and what is going to happen. Unfortunately i can't make the IT Managers Meeting next week,
Sure, PM me the best contact email and I'll get one sent over (or Steve can).
I know that things going to Heads is sometimes not the best way of getting the awareness out to ICT coordinators, in-house support staff or external support providers but we are trying as many avenues as reasonably possible (or rather LP+ are as they are the folks tasked with this).
I'm in a similar boat to Synaesthesia it seems. Most of my schools are sticking with LP+ for now but mainly because they've been told too and other schools around them will be using it eventually. The ones that have started to use LP+ early are all starting to lose patience with them and ask questions as to who else is available.
I've been asked to find alternatives and research the pros and cons of the products available. Most schools only actually want the online reporting and are not bothered about anything else.
I have arranged to meet Moodle and RM to go through their products but I've heard Moodle is trickier to set up and update. Can anyone shed some light on this? As I'm only at some schools for a small amount of time, the product needs to be easy to maintain for the staff.
There is some news on Parental engagement stuff and I'll try and get it out later today ... if you do a search on Moodle and Infant on the web you should find some examples of how people have done it and what it takes.