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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, vle's mis integration in Technical; I keep getting told that in order to progress with a VLE then it has to integrate with a schools ...
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    plexer's Avatar
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    vle's mis integration

    I keep getting told that in order to progress with a VLE then it has to integrate with a schools mis so there isn't duplication of data.

    Seems to me though that we have to do imports and exports for things like exam entries, and the yearl exam results download which is then imported into the mis so why does the vle have to have this integration?

    Ben

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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Realtime assigment data, timetable, real time student behaviour detilas, cover, student timetables, free rooms...

    To name a few things..

    Russell

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Told by who?

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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Yeah, Plexer is right. I had a training day at Smithdon High School in regards to SharePoint 2007 which county is keen to roll out to our schools in Norfolk, and the trainer said the same. Integration with SIMS seemed to be the order of the day, until everyone shouted that we use various MIS, like Bromcom, Phoenix etc.

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    Re: vle's mis integration

    It is pretty handy to have VLE integrated with MIS, our moodle pulls all the course info from SIMS (extra fields were added to sims to make this happen and we contact the database directly using freetds). Ideally authentication should also be handled by the MIS, I was thinking that if the backend of SIMS was used as a db for Samba.........

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Hey Simon,

    Did you stay until the end of the day then? I left after lunch there was no point in staying as far as I could see.

    The sharepoint vle we were being shown allows for document collaboration and not a lot else.

    Strange though as after that I've been in contact with county and they are supposed to be providing Phoenix E1 integration but I'm not filled with confidence.

    All of those realtime things will be covered by E1 and not needed for the VLE as far as I can see the VLE is there to disribute lesson plans, documents, images, audio, video and allow for testing of the understanding of topics.

    That testing info can then presumably be exported and then imported into whatever mis is being used and I see as no different to importing exam results, alan testing results etc...

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Re: vle's mis integration

    This goes back to thing of we are not talking vle that is one small part it is managed learning enviroment and that includes everything from vles to mis systems.

    Most vle pproviders have some system in place or about to have some system in place.

    Russell

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Surely there can't be a one stop single box solution to all these needs though?

    Ben

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    Re: vle's mis integration

    A quick heads up to the possible future directions of VLE / MIS / IDP integration.

    The ideal is that each RBC (or LA if you are not within an RBC) is the Regional IDP (Identity Provider) and you have SSO / federation with 3rd parties (eg the VLEs) for authentication ... you then also have LAN level login to the regional IDP via a few different methods.

    The RBC also host / control the ZIS (Zone Integration Server) which will allows SIF agents to connect for data interchange. Each MIS provider is working on, has, or is rebuilding SIF agents.

    There have been a number of flaws with this ... the standards used, the timelines suggested (or demanded) and the ownership of data.

    The MIS used should, in the end, make no difference at all ... but big players are doing things in their own way ... still ... but this is a massive area of discussion and will be for some time, even after we have some good practice out there.

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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Some interesting points here...

    Norfolk is a member of UK SIFa and the SIF standard for data interoperability is a requirement for the key MIS supplier as well as learning platform / vle suppliers.

    All major MIS suppliers are signed-up to UK SIFa.

    An Identity Provider (IDP) is already in place and will be 'Shibboleth enabled'. Again, Shibboleth Service Provider is a requirement for suppliers. SIF will replace the existing and partially manual data transfer mechanism for the IDP via the Zone Integration Server (ZIS). It is my understanding that Norfolk are ahead in the region on both fronts. Indeed, the Norfolk UK SIFa rep was part of the SIF data working sub-group for Identity Management. It is clear that SIF and Shibboleth sit well together here in this context.

    A few outcomes for both technologies will include:
    - reduced administration (including input of the same piece of data more than once across learning and administrative systems);
    - improved performance tracking eg assessment data captured in multiple VLEs is available via the MIS for reporting in near real-time;
    - improved quality of data / information;
    - improved security in terms of access to systems and data movement;
    - Single sign-on;
    - Schools able to collaborate effectively

    Finally, whilst the UK SIF data model is in its infancy, it is progressing relatively quickly and my current understanding is that Assessment, Attendance and Identity Management will be part of the next release. It is feasible to include additional 'bespoke' datasets so long as it is recognised that these will need to be 'migrated' as the UK standard matures. I believe that this is how the Birmingham pilot overcame some issues.

    Norfolk's technical strategy regarding secondary
    Learning Platforms / MLEs is on the agenda for the Network Managers Workshop early next year.

    Useful links:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBHiA...eature=related
    http://www.eficts.norfolk.gov.uk/transformation
    http://uk.sifinfo.org/

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Hi there,

    Nice first post, maybe you'd like to identify yourself privately to me if you'd rather as I'm intrigued.

    Ben

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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Hi Ben and thanks!

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    Re: vle's mis integration

    I hear a lot of talk about VLE and MIS integration and cannot understand why more Schools do not consider using a Terminal Server for remote access to the School.

    Installed and configured correctly, a terminal server can provide access to the VLE, MIS user documents, shared documents, most programs, IP CCTV and anything else you have running on the School LAN.... even most leading accounts software.

    One NM I did an install for recently said it has transformed the way most staff work.

    He can logon to the TS from home and deploy a package via GPO ready for the next morning, the staff can access the SIM.Net MIS from home and the head can even check the schools IP CCTV cameras from home.

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    Re: vle's mis integration

    Not sure that this is a solution to interoperability... Data interoperability between the school MIS and other learning services such as VLEs is, put crudely, about entering data once and the data being 'shared' across services. An example might be that I enter / update a teacher record in the MIS and the relevant parts of this dataset required by the learning service is updated without manual intervention eg CSV export / import. A Zone Integration Server (ZIS) acts as a kind of sorting office - a hub at the centre of all learning and administrative services. My understanding of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) strategy, is that services should be managed and hosted to better enable such things as anytime, anywhere learning, extended schools and collaborative teaching and learning.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Re: vle's mis integration

    See it's this lets host everything externally thing that really gets on my nerves.

    Why not give the schools the power to be able to host things themselves and provide this anytime anywhere service to their uses, but no we can't be trusted by the lea to be able to look after anything like that.

    Bloody nanny state.

    Ben

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