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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, VLE Comparisons in Technical; Hi All, Does anyone know of any VLE comparison documents etc. that I could look at? We have the opportunity ...
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    VLE Comparisons

    Hi All,

    Does anyone know of any VLE comparison documents etc. that I could look at?

    We have the opportunity to completely redo ours (Primary school) and I am trying to get an overview of what is out there.

    Our previous system was Moodle, and although I admit to being favoured in that direction at the moment, I think it is important that we check out alternatives as well. I am conscious that I may have missed something whilst on my VLE searches in Google.


    Kind regards

    Rower :-)

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    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    The Primary offering from LP+ is quite good, as is Kite. The company Webanywhere looks like they can take your Moodle and turn it into a well-designed and well-featured platform.

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    Rower (8th April 2013)

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    truebluesteve's Avatar
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    I'm not a big fan of Moodle and there are better alternatives but unfortunately they aren't free. WebAnywhere did our Moodle upgrade and for the money we paid and what we got, we could have had one of those nicer VLE's. Unfortunately I wasn't really involved in the selection process.

    As for the aforementioned company and their performance on the project - that is another story :-/

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    Rower (8th April 2013)

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    True on the free side - but then, as you say, money will be involved eventually. Or if not money, then other costs in terms of time and training.

    The product Dashboard from Dataspire (a big presence in Northants I gather) has a feature that allows for designing lesson plans and then scheduling them against specific lessons on the SIMS timetable. I discovered in Kite that this feature is not unique. Kite's major advantage over Dashboard is that the latter doesn't really incorporate most of the "traditional" features of a learning platform. LP+ is another good contender, but I take major issue with its insistence on being cloud-hosted (as with RealSmart); Kite is also a cloud platform but provides a gateway server to facilitate seamless authentication passthrough from your AD, plus access to local network mapped drives and the like. Both LP+ and Dashboard offer Office 365 integration; Kite uses Google Apps for the same purpose.

    My vision for mobile learning is that we create collaborative and independent learners, while also extending that provision to accommodate the Virtual School and learners who are e.g. ill but not dying; in isolation; excluded; or on a time-out from the classroom. If enough lessons (it will never be all) are planned and scheduled on the timetable, then Mum can say, "You might have a throat infection but there's no reason why you can't log on and follow the lesson with everyone else!" That also means the running around and faffing to produce work/assignments for pupils who are suddenly excluded for the afternoon doesn't exist as the bulk of that job has (theoretically) already been done.

    Google Apps is good for the collaborative side, plus Web 2.0 technologies such as forums, wikis, blogs and the like; allowing learners to comment on e.g. a History forum on the causes of World War II on their phone in their bed at 11:30pm (hahahaha!) if they want. This is the "always-on education" paradigm. Dashboard's problem is that it includes practically none of that and so I wouldn't really class it as a VLE per se. LP+ is a strong contender for us but at the moment it lacks the timetable integration, plus the annoying aspect of separate logins, local file storage access and the like. Kite is currently our strongest contender but it doesn't do the Web 2.0 stuff as well as LP+ does.

    Then there's the ease of management from our point of view and everything else that goes with that. While at BETT I ended up having a conversation with the MD of Frog where I highlighted certain limitations of the legacy Frog platform (i.e. not FrogOS) and the difficulties of keeping e.g. user account home directories in sync with AD as they are not actually synchronised... the need to wait until a pupil/teacher exists in SIMS and then linking the timetables and so forth (our current platform is very old and is more akin to the old FrogTeacher experience)... and his response was along the lines of "It's about teaching and learning, mate, not making your life easier!"... clearly failing to understand that actually they are two sides of the same coin.

    So when we want a learning platform that is BOTH light-touch for us AND a benefit to the pupils, the best way for us to get involved in the selection process is to drive very hard on the benefits in the latter sense as that way you are likely to get SLT on your side far more easily... unless they've played it sly and kept you completely oblivious to the fact that there's even a selection process going on, of course.
    Last edited by Ephelyon; 8th April 2013 at 01:15 AM.

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    educator123 (25th March 2014), mthomas08 (8th April 2013), Rower (8th April 2013), zag (15th January 2014)

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    On a side note, I don't mean to completely debase Moodle... from what I can see (and I've used it as a learner myself on a Uni course delivered at a College), with its course-orientated structure it has a great potential for use in FE or HE institutions. I have less confidence in it for primary/secondary education, but many do seem to turn to it because it's free without perceiving all the different kinds of associated costs (and this is the proprietary/FOSS debate all over again).

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    So what is wrong with Moodle? It has a massive following here (secondary)

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    I'm sure Moodle does have a big following but it just looks clunky and dated, and the feedback from staff is that they don't find it that easy to use and it isn't that intuitive.

    For a free system it's great and explains a lot of its popularity, but I suppose my gripe is that we paid an awful lot of money for a bit of tarting up and a server when we could have had something like Frog.

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    Thank you for your replies.

    I will look into LP+ or Kite as alternatives, as they sound fairly promising.

    Ephelyon: I agree with what you say about Moodle in a Primary environment. I feel that our old system was far too clunky and complicated for the younger children. Also, out LA platform was not 'that easy' to administer as it was fairly tied down and used to frustrate the hell out of me.
    However, I have now been playing with setting up Moodle on an EC2 instance as a 'test' platform, should we decide to host it ourselves, and I am running into problems with even the basic set up, but I will not be beaten by it!

    By the time I return to school, next Monday, I would like to be a position where I can give them a few options, feeling fairly confident that each of them will work and will be better than what we had before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by truebluesteve View Post
    I'm sure Moodle does have a big following but it just looks clunky and dated, and the feedback from staff is that they don't find it that easy to use and it isn't that intuitive.

    For a free system it's great and explains a lot of its popularity, but I suppose my gripe is that we paid an awful lot of money for a bit of tarting up and a server when we could have had something like Frog.
    They did do a massive update and changed all of the graphics to SVG. Perhaps its improved since you last looked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by truebluesteve View Post
    I'm sure Moodle does have a big following but it just looks clunky and dated, and the feedback from staff is that they don't find it that easy to use and it isn't that intuitive.
    For a free system it's great and explains a lot of its popularity, but I suppose my gripe is that we paid an awful lot of money for a bit of tarting up and a server when we could have had something like Frog.
    Have to agree, the big misconception about Frog/Moodle is that its all the same - one costs, one is free. Thats wrong information, I have seen a few features that moodle does better then frog e.g. The Calendar, customisation settings (admin settings), ability to rip apart everything. Frog though has other features, e.g. Lesson Planner, big homework functions, Secure Gateway, Works after 1 hour installation time, no 3rd party fart arounds (like SIMs importing), easy to maintain/setup and create content which staff can do.

    Having seen a lot of portals, VLEs over the years and even having produced a ton of docs over it all (wish I kept them) I can honestly say that there are some poor setups out there just because they refuse to open their eyes and see other products. I have dealt with a few people who seem to have a real personal gripe against either VLEs or Frog, one thing everyone must remember is: If your a school, your VLE needs to be for the students. Some people seem to think I have been Pro Frog from day 1 - I was actually anti VLE and Frog especially due to the cost.

    You either want to give them something that does a few basics or give them a system that is all in one and works. Kinda makes me think of why the iPhone took off - it really gave us everything all on one device. Course this is all school based, some may be happy with the basics and I am not saying all other setups not Frog based are poor - I have seen a few moodle setups that look great and are used widely. Just think you shouldnt count out anything till you have really spent the time on it. As a Pro Frog person I have dealt with some people as I said before that have a real gripe against Frog because its not Free.

    Frankly why should it be free when you do get content/patch updates throughout the year (which you dont install), tech support and a product which works and you dont have to spend hours and hours just to do something like addons, AD Authentication or SIMs data importing. They also don't forget about you, at least they didnt to us.

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    truebluesteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    They did do a massive update and changed all of the graphics to SVG. Perhaps its improved since you last looked.
    You could be right, but as its hosted on our site but maintained by Webanywhere and I'm not sure what version we are running (2.something) or what patches they have applied. It has been skinned by them but I'm still not that impressed.

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    Perhaps that prompts the question of who was in charge of working with the company to establish the school's goals for use of the platform?

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    truebluesteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    Perhaps that prompts the question of who was in charge of working with the company to establish the school's goals for use of the platform?
    You may well be right. However I think one one of the drivers was that we already used Moodle as hosted by our LEA. They didn't want to have to start from scratch with all the courses etc, even though most of the departments in the school hardly used the VLE.

    My gripe is that we paid an awful lot of money for Moodle with a SIMS bolt on (which has had more than its fair share of issues) and a portal for staff, students and parents. As I don't really use the system I suppose I shouldn't really complain, it's just I think I could have spent the money better!

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    Moodle, is great in secondary schools, however it doesn't general gel well with Primary schools. Fronter and Kaliedos are both quite clunky, and LP+ looks great until you start looking into a bit more as a teacher, the back end of LP+ is time consuming for teachers, the best Primary Learning Platforms I have come across recently have to be e4education or Learnanywhere ( from webanywhere).

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    Kite is the learning platform from e4education, isn't it?



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