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South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) Thread, Merlin in Regional Broadband Consortiums (RBC); Hi all, just wondered if anyine out there has started using Merlin. If so what are your impresions? James...
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    Merlin

    Hi all, just wondered if anyine out there has started using Merlin. If so what are your impresions?

    James

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    witch's Avatar
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    We are rolling it out to our Year 7's. First impressions are OK -the children like it. We will probably run a VLE in conjunction with Merlin (for the single log-on feature) in the future.
    The problem will always be getting the staff on-side as they see it as a lot of extra work.
    Have you been to an engagement meeting or anything?

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    griffin (7th May 2009), lindylou (8th May 2009), speckytecky (21st September 2009)

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    Have been to a readiness meeting. I was wondering about others impresions and if anyone has used it yet.

    James

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    Have just been invited to get involved. I am only support staff and do our website. Couple of things,

    1. Are there any other forums for (SWGFL) Merlin and/or the VLE?
    2. Has anyone got anything running yet I could see?

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    witch's Avatar
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    The person to talk to is lindylou on this forum as she is one of the Merlin gurus for SWGfL
    If you go to swgfl.org you can look on to their Merlin and there is lots of info

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    We've had the preparation meeting too... but as we already host our own Sharepoint environment, it came a bit late for us. There are some bits of it that I like... some I dont. I think South Dartmoor are using it, as are Newton Abbot. There is an SWGFL Techs meeting on Mon tho so will see if I can get some more names (and them match them to eduGeek names!!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    The person to talk to is lindylou on this forum as she is one of the Merlin gurus for SWGfL

    A guru? Moi? Cheers, Witch - that's made my day!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cantthinkofanickname View Post
    Have just been invited to get involved. I am only support staff and do our website. Couple of things,

    1. Are there any other forums for (SWGFL) Merlin and/or the VLE?
    2. Has anyone got anything running yet I could see?
    Hi there

    As witch says, I am the Dorset LA contact for SWGfL Merlin. I'll PM you my email address (whispers - I don't log into this site everyday, but don't tell 'em!)

    There is quite a bit of info on the SWGfL website, try South West Grid for Learning Trust - Learning Without Limits Once you have a Merlin account, there are lots of shared resources and several discussion forums within it.

    I'm training staff from all roles in schools and partnerships, support staff are very important for jobs such as supporting VLEs etc, and if you are already doing the school website, you are likely to be at the sharp end of getting Merlin rolling in your school. Brace yourself

    Feel free to email me or give me a ring if you can catch me in the office.
    Last edited by lindylou; 2nd June 2009 at 03:00 PM.

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    Just been to the SWGfL conference. I guess some of you went? Subjects which were of relevance were what SWGfL had to say, Merlin, Becta (good presentations and package), St Davids Primary implementation presentation. Stuff available on SWGfL website.

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    lindylou's Avatar
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    Glad you enjoyed the conference, the folks put a huge amount of work into the two sessions in Bristol and Torquay.

    If anyone else wants to look at the presentations, you can get them here

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    Bringing this thread back to life, hope that's OK.

    Anyone else here a Merlin Mentor?

    I took on this task and have had day 1 and day 2 training.

    Tried rolling it out to the 32 strong KS2 ICT Club I run last night and in the hour out of the 32 only 4 succeeded in logging on.

    Feedback from those 4 was not enthusiastic, they couldn't really see the point. I't seems it's going to be pretty hard to sell especially when it comes to getting KS1 to log on.

    Any thoughts on this please?

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    I'll be attending the user training in the not too distant future and working on a primary / secondary transition project. (The primaries don't have a VLE while the secondary has Moodle)

    The key issue for the secondary school is that it's doesn't turn in to an "either / or" battle.
    Moodle is the chosen VLE, and Merlin must support intergration or it won't suceed.

    The other major thing that Merlin must deliver is the parental reporting side of things. If they nail that and offer us a reliable parental reporting system that also links to Moodle then they'll be on to a winner. If not, it probably won't be used.... a bit like the SWGfL Portal wasn't!

  14. Thanks to mb2k01 from:

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    Got training on merlin in a few weeks time. Looks interesting.

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    Just a bit of an update on my previous post following the user/admin training I attended last week:

    The training (which was my first hands on look at Merlin) was disappointing to say the least.
    There were a frustrating amount of "silly" technical issues with the system from an admin point of view:
    • SIMS Integration not yet complete, and unable to give a timescale.
    • Two ways of creating users - manually or via CSV from a SIMS report
    • Manually created users will flag up replication issues when you eventually bulk upload (via csv or SIMS link)
    • Bulk upload csv files need to be manually tweaked before upload (e.g Merlin wants DOB in YYYY/MM/DD format!!)
    • No area in bulk upload for automatic creation of usernames! (Usernames must conform to one of the Merlin presets, if not, you will have to manually create or force users to remember yet another unique username!)
    • No area in bulk upload for email address field - yet Merlin will be most useful when email addresses are added! Currently a user would have to type their own in, or the admin would have to manually type in for all users
    • Limits on amount of users able to create - only increased by logging a support call with SWGfL
    • Limits on diskspace only lifted after a support call and long wait for SWGfL
    • Account creation and/or major changes take 24hours to replicate!
    • Unable to manually change usernames (family name changes or staff marriage etc)
    • Apparently issues like the ones above will only ever be fixed if they annoy enough people and are logged to SWGfL. A bit like SIMS issues that are logged to Capita and fixed in about 1-2 years...?


    The Merlin interface itself looks very... chunky (best word I can think of!). The layout looks best suited for Primary Schools, with no real option for customisation beyond changing basic colours.

    One of the main reasons I attended is to explore the suitability for it being used for a Year 6 - Year 7 transition project. Currently our primaries have no VLE as such, yet the secondary has Moodle.
    Moodle authentication / integration was one of the key things promised early on, although stressed that it wasn't yet ready. Following the comments from the person leading the training, I am not sure that Merlin and Moodle will ever integrate!

    Other than the primary/secondary transition project, we were also interested in looking at Merlin to address the Parental Engagement (Online reporting etc) issue, as well as some functionality for 14-19 and potentially offsite registration. Both of these features were previously described to us as "in working progress, and hopefully not too far away". Again, following this training, those features look much further away and even potentially unlikely.

    I could probably type more, but I'll wrap up in a quickish summary....
    Could Merlin be used for our transition project?
    Possibly. Primaries will make limited use out of it, as will we. It will be far from ideal though. If Merlin doesn't have the extended functionalities listed above, it will not be used beyond the transition project by the secondary school - meaning it's another separate resource to have to learn in both schools.
    We are re-evaluating our position and may look to open up access to our Moodle to run this project.

    In its current form, will Merlin be used beyond the transition project by our secondary school?
    Absolutely not. Merlin was "sold" to us as a product that was never going to be a VLE. It was something that would enhance the use of our existing VLE (Moodle) and co-exist/integrate with. It was also "sold" as being a long term solution for Parental Engagement and 14-19 - this it appears, at least in the immediate future, is unlikely.
    From what i've seen there is a lot of like-for-like functionality with Moodle. I don't see how Merlin will ever sit alongside Moodle and compliment it - it will always sit there as an alternative, which isn't appropriate to offer following the amount of time, energy and amount of resources our staff and students have invested in Moodle.

    Are there any positives?
    Yes. I don't want to come across as someone only interested at kicking a product.
    If a primary school has no VLE of their own, and no access to a secondary VLE, Merlin will do a good job for them.
    If a secondary school has no VLE, and wants a resouce which could act as one with limited technical issues, Merlin will do a good job.
    Again though, both primary and secondary schools would need to look at the bigger picture and the additional functionalities that they are expected to offer parents / learners. There are other products out there which offer everything, and there are question marks over that here.

    I have two names (which I better not put here!) at SWGfL who may be able to offer firm answers on the additional functionality listed above, which I will be contacting next week. I will feedback any specific comments here.

    Sorry for the long message! I hope its of use to someone!
    Last edited by mb2k01; 25th October 2009 at 11:12 AM.

  17. 2 Thanks to mb2k01:

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    Quote Originally Posted by mb2k01 View Post
    Just a bit of an update on my previous post following the user/admin training I attended last week:

    The training (which was my first hands on look at Merlin) was disappointing to say the least.
    There were a frustrating amount of "silly" technical issues with the system from an admin point of view:
    • SIMS Integration not yet complete, and unable to give a timescale.
    • Two ways of creating users - manually or via CSV from a SIMS report
    • Manually created users will flag up replication issues when you eventually bulk upload (via csv or SIMS link)
    • Bulk upload csv files need to be manually tweaked before upload (e.g Merlin wants DOB in YYYY/MM/DD format!!)
    • No area in bulk upload for automatic creation of usernames! (Usernames must conform to one of the Merlin presets, if not, you will have to manually create or force users to remember yet another unique username!)
    • No area in bulk upload for email address field - yet Merlin will be most useful when email addresses are added! Currently a user would have to type their own in, or the admin would have to manually type in for all users
    • Limits on amount of users able to create - only increased by logging a support call with SWGfL
    • Limits on diskspace only lifted after a support call and long wait for SWGfL
    • Account creation and/or major changes take 24hours to replicate!
    • Unable to manually change usernames (family name changes or staff marriage etc)
    • Apparently issues like the ones above will only ever be fixed if they annoy enough people and are logged to SWGfL. A bit like SIMS issues that are logged to Capita and fixed in about 1-2 years...?


    The Merlin interface itself looks very... chunky (best word I can think of!). The layout looks best suited for Primary Schools, with no real option for customisation beyond changing basic colours.

    One of the main reasons I attended is to explore the suitability for it being used for a Year 6 - Year 7 transition project. Currently our primaries have no VLE as such, yet the secondary has Moodle.
    Moodle authentication / integration was one of the key things promised early on, although stressed that it wasn't yet ready. Following the comments from the person leading the training, I am not sure that Merlin and Moodle will ever integrate!

    Other than the primary/secondary transition project, we were also interested in looking at Merlin to address the Parental Engagement (Online reporting etc) issue, as well as some functionality for 14-19 and potentially offsite registration. Both of these features were previously described to us as "in working progress, and hopefully not too far away". Again, following this training, those features look much further away and even potentially unlikely.

    I could probably type more, but I'll wrap up in a quickish summary....
    Could Merlin be used for our transition project?
    Possibly. Primaries will make limited use out of it, as will we. It will be far from ideal though. If Merlin doesn't have the extended functionalities listed above, it will not be used beyond the transition project by the secondary school - meaning it's another separate resource to have to learn in both schools.
    We are re-evaluating our position and may look to open up access to our Moodle to run this project.

    In its current form, will Merlin be used beyond the transition project by our secondary school?
    Absolutely not. Merlin was "sold" to us as a product that was never going to be a VLE. It was something that would enhance the use of our existing VLE (Moodle) and co-exist/integrate with. It was also "sold" as being a long term solution for Parental Engagement and 14-19 - this it appears, at least in the immediate future, is unlikely.
    From what i've seen there is a lot of like-for-like functionality with Moodle. I don't see how Merlin will ever sit alongside Moodle and compliment it - it will always sit there as an alternative, which isn't appropriate to offer following the amount of time, energy and amount of resources our staff and students have invested in Moodle.

    Are there any positives?
    Yes. I don't want to come across as someone only interested at kicking a product.
    If a primary school has no VLE of their own, and no access to a secondary VLE, Merlin will do a good job for them.
    If a secondary school has no VLE, and wants a resouce which could act as one with limited technical issues, Merlin will do a good job.
    Again though, both primary and secondary schools would need to look at the bigger picture and the additional functionalities that they are expected to offer parents / learners. There are other products out there which offer everything, and there are question marks over that here.

    I have two names (which I better not put here!) at SWGfL who may be able to offer firm answers on the additional functionality listed above, which I will be contacting next week. I will feedback any specific comments here.

    Sorry for the long message! I hope its of use to someone!
    pretty much what i thought. Thanks for saving my typing

    Ross

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