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General Chat Thread, Talmos VLE??? in General; wondering what peoples view is on TALMOS my boss has found it and likes the look of it. just wondering ...
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    Talmos VLE???

    wondering what peoples view is on TALMOS my boss has found it and likes the look of it. just wondering what you wonderful folks thoughts were on the product.

    i have read the previous posts but some are old

    cheers in advance

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    I have been working with Talmos for nearly 3 years now. Looked great but in important respects was very clunky. I am writing up the experience for a Masters and can just copy over relevant section as below. You should bear in mind that CoreUK don't always upgrade existing customers with new versions (!) and therefore newer version might be better.

    "A major attraction of Talmos was mapping resources to lessons on the timetable as in Figure 1 above. When it is in place this undoubtedly saves valuable lesson time for both teachers and learners. Teachers save time because a sequence of lessons can be prepared in a “Master Scheme” can be allocated to classes and then to lessons with simple clicks. This particularly saves time when a lesson plan will be delivered to a large number of classes – eg Year 9 Religious Studies has 15 classes at QE, and is delivered by a large number of teachers who are grateful to have the bulk of the preparation done by a subject leader. However this system of mapping resources is in practice very inflexible: Resources are allocated to the Master Scheme, then to teaching groups in My Plans and then to the lesson slots.

    This soon proved to be very inflexible as any editing of a resource such as a worksheet are stored in the Master Scheme in a “Read-Only” state so updates had to be done by making a new copy in the teacher’s own space, then replacing the old copy in the Master Scheme and then reallocating from Scheme to Plans to Timetable, a very cumbersome process. I brought this up with the suppliers (see point 4 in Appendix 8) but it has still not been replaced by a dynamic link as I requested. This inflexibility:
    • works against topicality (for example including recent floods in a geography lesson plan);
    • makes minor edits very time-consuming - to improve readability or fix errors after the experience of the first class using a resource.

    Another problem arising from point 4 of Appendix 8 is that when the sequence is varied the Lesson Plans numbers are changed so this works against having a final lesson in a scheme which is a simple cover lesson – this had been one of our aspirations but it is a complex operation beyond most teachers and admin staff to re-sequence lesson plans if a teacher is suddenly absent.

    The problem stems from the system being programmed by developers who look at a whole-school timetable and see many apparently repeated events. From a computing systems point of view the timetable with attendant learning resources can be seen as a relational database where any repeating data should only be stored in one place (in Talmos the “Master Scheme”) and then looked up from all the repeating lessons where it is used. This is known as normalisation and is explained at (Website ref 3).

    As this problem became apparent it was a major disincentive to users being trained although some subject areas and some individuals persevered and benefitted from time savings where the lessons are more programmable – Maths, Drama and ICT for example. I found in teaching A Level Economics the lesson mapping had a time cost with no benefits as each time a topic is revisited many of the resources need to be revised for topicality.

    Thus Talmos satisfied BECTA’s Requirement R1 (see above table extract), but the way in which it achieved this had not been tested to accommodate the needs of teachers who need flexibility as well as any time savings from repetition of lessons to many teaching groups. While our team were impressed by the demonstration of the positives of this system, we should have trialled it ourselves more fully rather than relying on BECTA approval of the product, as this was the feature that was Talmos’ Unique Selling Point.

    VTLEs should enable teachers to work smarter rather than working harder. The Workload Agreement between the Government and teaching unions of 2003 envisaged that ICT would play a role in reducing workload and improving work-life balance:

    “consider .. use of ICT, class structures and school timetables. It will be important also for schools to become sufficiently capable and flexible to respond to future changes. “ DfES(2003) point 71, p 15.

    The inflexible approach to learning resource allocation has worked in the opposite direction.

    Another key attraction of Talmos was synchronisation with the school’s management information system, SIMS. It was claimed that this would happen every night so that changes in teaching groups would be reflected in Talmos within 24 hours. This went beyond Requirement 28 of the Technical Specification for import of learner data and so helped to swing our decision, but this function has never actually worked.



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