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Learning Network Manager Thread, Information on uniservity in Technical; Our headteacher has signed us up for uniservity VLE. What can you tell me about it please? Thanks...
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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Information on uniservity

    Our headteacher has signed us up for uniservity VLE. What can you tell me about it please?

    Thanks

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    PEO
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    thats nice of him. Im sure he would be able to tell you all about it

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    Jake's Avatar
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    We're signed up for that too, it reminds me of those generic website designing tools you used to get years ago, like the old geocities sites etc.

    Would have preferred a moodle route myself, but que sera sera

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    From what I've seen it seems to be a rather poor CMS centered around e-portfolios rather than a VLE. Some of their sites are here: http://www.school-portal.co.uk/
    Our LEA has signed us up with them too. Seems a step backwards from what we can do already.

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    theyre a mob based in reading, they do west-berks lea's website and vle's. It is basically just a geocities esque production. I'd not like to see it used in any school that has dedicated tech support. Much better product for a school with no dedicated support however.

    moodle is a much better route and easier to maintain too

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    god, i wish they would consult us first.

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    From what I saw at BETT, the VLE side of it is very different from the hacked up rubbish you see on the public-facing sites on http://www.school-portal.co.uk

    It seems the tools are pretty much what you see in every other VLE with a handful of other bits and bobs (live video comms via a flash widget, an in-page sound recorder in the WYSIWYG editor). SIMS support is part-way there - they can import and are a few months off being able to export e.g. assessment data to SIMS (apparently they're waiting for Capita to fix/update something).

    I hassled them for a logon at BETT and one was promised, but it hasn't been forthcoming.

    From the people I know in one of the LA's that's taken it, it seems that from an educationalist's PoV it was the best offering in the tender process. The technical side may have a few niggles but nothing earth shattering. At the end of the day it's not moodle, but no VLE is going to be a complete disaster. Unless it's made by N**M****, ho ho.

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    I had a short demonstration (around 1 hour) this morning with a rushed Q & A at the end. It was no better or worse than any of half a dozen offerings with the BECTA sticker. The site design was terrible though, and looking at the stuff on school portal it doesn't surprise me. When I said that it was all well and good having Uniservity up and running, but to begin with it's a heck of a big canvas to fill, and did they have any prepared content to populate the sites with, I got a flat no. Our BSF man within the LEA then went on to add that teachers would already have plenty of stuff to use such as PowerPoint presentations and work they had prepared for lessons which they could upload to the site.
    I feel the LEA is nudging us towards this solution by giving us to the end of next week (8th February) to take advantage of the "special discount pricing".
    The representative from Zak's school (I don't know if it was the head or a senior maths wallah) asked quite a lot of questions relevant to teaching staff, and was ready to sign up to it on the spot. I just wonder how many VLE's he's looked at. I honestly felt as if I was being indulged when I asked questions.
    It's proprietary software, and runs counter to the case the LEA support team were arguing last year, of going with a Sharepoint based solution. The council intranet is all Sharepoint, they have in-house expertise in configuring and maintaining it, and from what I gather, it's all going to be swept aside and replaced by Uniservity.
    Most of the primary schools have signed up to it, and in order to bring some cohesion to the whole enterprise they want all secondary school to do the same. Unfortunately, three school are running Fronter (at the LEA's behest I believe, though I'll stand correction on that) and at least two are using Frog Teacher, one of which only signed on the dotted line last November. Another secondary is going it alone with MOSS, and doing a good job from what I've heard.
    There's a lot of pressure on heads in our LEA to reach decisions as we're in Wave 4 of BSF (2010), and this comes on top of government requirements regarding ICT in schools. Whichever VLE they chose I don't expect to be involved in it when it's up and running, and so in a way I can wash my hands of it, but I don't like to think that our school is being sold a pup. This is all part and parcel of the ethos of working in a school, for the school, and that's another story.

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    @Beeswax i was going to go with him but we had major server problems this morning (one of the problems was that our DC couldn't replicate with yours actually) When i was fixing things the time flew by and forgot all about it.

    The representative from Zak's school (I don't know if it was the head or a senior maths wallah) asked quite a lot of questions relevant to teaching staff, and was ready to sign up to it on the spot. I just wonder how many VLE's he's looked at. I honestly felt as if I was being indulged when I asked questions.
    That was the head, I think it was the only one he has seen, i just wished he would have held back and asked about it. I could have demonstrated Frog, Moodle etc. I am not overly keen on uniservity from what I have seen. Hopefully I will have nothing to do with it. The other two guys I work with are looking forward.

    I have no idea how this is going to work from a technical point of view.

    A few questions are:
    Is the server onsite?
    Does it integrate with AD?
    How does it get access to SIMS & PARS?
    Plus more
    Feedback is appreciated.

    Z

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    The VLE is hosted by UniServity and you will be given a school-portal.co.uk address which you use to access your VLE. At the moment it doesn't integrate with Active Directory but I'm told that they're working on something which will allow single sign on. From what I have seen a program is installed on the same server as SIMS and this program extracts the data from SIMS.

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    beeswax's Avatar
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    @Zak
    A few questions are:
    Is the server onsite? Definitely not
    Does it integrate with AD? Not yet – see Edu-IT’s post above
    How does it get access to SIMS & PARS? Read only from SIMS. Web parts on the way.
    The other two guys I work with are looking forward.
    In theory, they won’t have anything to do with it, and that could be why they’re looking forward to it. It will be managed off site. Teachers will receive training in how to put material online. The problem I foresee here is that this will be an electronic repository for the sort of handouts you get in class now. Some teachers will see the potential, but for the majority it will be an extra burden they will have to fit around teaching. I reported this back to our head of ICTAC (ICT Across the Curriculum) and her response was, “where are we going to find the time” and, “what’s the LEA rep’s email address so that I can put my point of view to him”. As this (email address) is in the public domain, and knowing how busy she was, I gave her the address.
    As your school is due to close in about two year’s time, this off the shelf solution may be the best for you, bearing in mind that a period of 18 months is not unusual for managing the change to a fully fledged VLE. Because of the negotiating power an LEA has, they may also have secured a favourable price for Uniservity. It may be worth talking to your head about it.
    Most of the sites on show at school portal are very samey looking, three columns with the central column being the widest, and left and right for navigation, but pupils do have the ability to “pimp” the central section. We were shown some pupils’ live examples which quite frankly made the rest of the site look amateur. I don’t know if Uniservity has a graphics department, but if they do the budget must be miniscule and perhaps runs to three crayons.
    As Sahmeepee said (above), the backend for teachers is very simple, looking something like FCK Editor, or any number of WYSIWYG editors, but with the ability to add voice and video. It was demonstrated how easy it was to cut and paste material, though his choice of the BBC weather page did raise the question of copyright in my mind (there can’t be many techies here who haven’t been asked to make a copy of a cd or dvd for a member of staff, just for their personal use). Left to teachers, this could be a potential minefield.
    After the demonstration I spoke to our man in the LEA and asked why this particular VLE had been chosen above others which offered just the same range of functionality. His reply was that the company had a good record of dealing with education partners, and, to paraphrase, “understood the market”, and I don’t intend that to be taken as a derogatory statement. There has to be some criteria for choosing a VLE, and if there is nothing to choose between the actual software, I suppose you have to look at what other bonuses the different companies are offering.
    Last edited by beeswax; 2nd February 2008 at 12:42 PM.

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    Thanks for the info very useful.

    The other two guys know as much as me so this information may but them off. The head was told it would work with PARS apparently so he will not be happy.

    Z

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    Info on Uniservity

    Doc's attached
    Attached Files Attached Files

  15. 2 Thanks to thegrassisgreener:

    beeswax (4th February 2008), whatwherewhen (25th February 2009)

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    I only managed to download the first doc, for some reason Parts 2, 3 & 4 don't want to play.

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