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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, Going with Firefly VLE - anyone use it? Onsite or Hosted? in Technical; Our school has decided to go with the Firefly VLE for our new vle (moving away from moodle) Does anyone ...
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    Going with Firefly VLE - anyone use it? Onsite or Hosted?

    Our school has decided to go with the Firefly VLE for our new vle (moving away from moodle)

    Does anyone use Firefly already?

    We are just trying to decide whether to go with Hosted or Onsite and wondering how much of a difference it makes?

    I understand that onsite allows you to use AD integration which is a positive.

    The positive for hosted is the fact that they will do all the VLE maintenance and backups!

    My main thought about hosted versus onsite is if onsite will be faster / more responsive to use when most of our usage will be onsite.

    Thanks

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    zag
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    I'd always go with onsite in these cases, especially if it can do Single Sign on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by siuko View Post
    My main thought about hosted versus onsite is if onsite will be faster / more responsive to use when most of our usage will be onsite.
    We use Firefly, hosted on-site. My thoughts were the same as yours - local usage will be faster. Bear in mind Firefly is Microsoft SQL Server-based, so you'll need to license SQL server appropriatly for your school (including any licensing needed for pupils / parents connecting from outside). I think AD integration can be done with offsite hosting, too, so that shouldn't be a factor.

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    We use it and also host on-site. Very easy to setup and use and (since the latest update to fix a SIMS timetable issue) has been very responsive. Updates are straight forward and AD integration with SSO was easy peasy. We also have it setup for external access.

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    zag
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    Out of interest, how much does it cost?

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    I'd be interested to know what its main draw was over Moodle?

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    This is the pricing I was offered recently

    we are a middle school 9-13 about 600 pupils 70 staff
    £4500 per year, set up cost of £2000.
    Cloud Services package (device apps office365/google services intergration) £2000 per year

    .. my thoughts on it I really liked the demo of it when i saw it at BETT especially the integration with SIMS for example it pulls the timetables through quite easily and student photos however for me the price is a let down so we are looking at mybigcampus which is free for a year if we switch our broadband etc to schoolsbroadband

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    I find it ironic that VLEs are going two ways now... either abolishing them altogether or investing in a different product (costing money) when many schools/LAs recommended Moodle because it's open source. SSO options do exist for Moodle, so this can't be a good enough reason to move/change VLE.

    Integration between SIMS and Moodle is less heard of, but you could argue SIMS and Moodle can integrate with Active Directory.

    Of course the other advantage of Moodle is it does have a good online Wiki, plus it runs on MySQL which costs nothing.

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    zag
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griff View Post
    This is the pricing I was offered recently

    we are a middle school 9-13 about 600 pupils 70 staff
    £4500 per year, set up cost of £2000.
    Cloud Services package (device apps office365/google services intergration) £2000 per year

    .. my thoughts on it I really liked the demo of it when i saw it at BETT especially the integration with SIMS for example it pulls the timetables through quite easily and student photos however for me the price is a let down so we are looking at mybigcampus which is free for a year if we switch our broadband etc to schoolsbroadband
    Ouch! that's an incredibly expensive ongoing cost!

    Regarding Moodle... as a great supported of opensource, I'd love to use Moodle but it was a steaming pile of rubbish last time I tried and got zero buy in from teachers. It was awful to upgrade, ugly and confusing to do the simplest of tasks. Also I doubt it can ever be taken seriously in the UK market without Sims integration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zag View Post
    Also I doubt it can ever be taken seriously in the UK market without Sims integration.
    Is this what you are looking for?: https://schoolsict.net/zilink-for-moodle

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    zag (10th March 2014)

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    zag
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    Quote Originally Posted by foofighterjim View Post
    Is this what you are looking for?: https://schoolsict.net/zilink-for-moodle
    Without going too off topic, thats actually very interesting. Not just because of Moodle, but having the Sims data in a mysql database could be a huge advance to open sourcing it properly.

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    I really liked the look of Firefly, couldn't believe the cost of it though. I was also pretty surprised that the prices were the same regardless of whether it's self hosted or cloud hosted.

    If I was going to go with it, I'd have gone self-hosted for the single sign-on side of things.

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    Thank you everyone for the replies!

    The points about having to license SQL etc are especially helpful.

    I was wondering why the pricing was the same for onsite and hosted - but silly me its obviously because I have to supply the server lol! Which adds a fair bit to the price.

    As to the question of why Firefly instead of moodle - honestly... moodle is a clunky system that needs a fair amount of work, and in the case of sims integration, expensive addons to get it anywhere near that of VLE's like firefly.

    We need a system the is easily fully integrated with our systems and provides the functionality without having to wrestle with addons that might not work 100%.

    The usability and ease of creation of work / homework etc on firefly is much nicer than on moodle - and if we want teacher take up of the VLE we need it to be VERY easy for them!

    With VLE's I think you can choose to either pay for a VLE that is made for ease of use (such as firefly) or pay for the staff that can provide the knowledge to make moodle easy to use. Either way you still have to pay in money or time.

    At the moment I am thinking of going hosted becuase

    1) The VLE is a step towards 1:1 tablets in the future - so AD SSO will not be required for the tablets (probably android) - we already have google apps accounts for students - so they can use these to logon.
    2) The cost of a new server, os license, sql license etc
    3) Firefly will do all the server maintenance, backups and updates - which it would be nice not to worry about.

    Even with all these points do people think hosted onsite would be better?

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    Purely from a topology point of view it makes more sense for it to be local. Intensive bandwidth consumption during the school day not putting load on your internet connection. When people use it at home on an evening there will be nobody onsite utilising your internet connection so it is free to facilitate the demands.

    However if I was in your shoes I would probably go with the hosted solution too, you have no idea to what extent this will take off and exactly how much storage you will require. This has implications on your storage and backup solutions. The hosted solution eliminates these arguments and as SSO is not required I would go for hosted but with intensive monitoring of the internet connection.

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    Quote Originally Posted by siuko View Post
    I was wondering why the pricing was the same for onsite and hosted - but silly me its obviously because I have to supply the server lol! Which adds a fair bit to the price.
    Not that much - at school prices I think it's maybe a couple of hundred pounds for the SQL Server license (plus external connector license for parents connecting), then you need to make sure you have SQL Server CALs for each client on your network. We go for the all-in-one Windows / Office / Remote Access / SQL CAL anyway, so actual additional cost for on-site hosting was fairly minimal. Hardware-wise, we have Firefly running in a virtual machine with something like 100GB of disk space and 4GB of RAM, so nothing excessive needed.

    I think both Active Directory integration and single sign-on work fine with the hosted solution, you just need to install a client of some kind at your end (not sure of the details, we didn't need to set it up). It's worth pointing out that Firefly's technical support are capable of getting technical issues sorted - if you phone them up or email them, you generally get a sensible reply back in a reasonable time.

    Personally, I want any system we use to be as open as possible - sooner or later, we're bound to have to read or write data from or to any system, and the easier it is to do that the better. I would probably go for Moodle, from that point of view, but Firefly seems pretty reasonable as far as commercial systems go for getting data in / out.



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