Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, VLE and SIMS (MIS) Intergration in Technical; I currently work with and support Moodle in our school, we love it and didnt really look around all that ...
26th March 2008, 07:54 PM #1
VLE and SIMS (MIS) Intergration
I currently work with and support Moodle in our school, we love it and didnt really look around all that much at alternatives because we host it our selves and do a lot of the development in-house.
Speaking to local schools and techies on EduGeek im hearing over and over again the new buzz word "SIMS intergration".
What i would like to know is what other VLE/MLE system out there have SIMS intergration and on what level?
E.g: We do a SIMS extraction of pupils timetables and teacher timetables and tie them together in Moodle. So we boast SIMS intergration (of sorts).
But do the other VLE system offer a live link, or a nightly update process for example?
In short...how do they do it?
IDG Tech News
26th March 2008, 08:09 PM #2
In short, it works like this:
get SIMS working with Active Directory first. Ideally SIMS will autocreate the users in AD. At the very least you need a field that in LDAP (AD) that has the students UPN number and the employeetype as student or teacher that matches your SIMS.
In the SIMS SQL server, create a view that shows the Course, Person and the Roll.
Moodle will automatically talk to an MSSQL server - this way when a user logs on it gets their courses out of SIMS automatically - and assigns the teacher and student to their appropriate roles. Login will still be done with LDAP - so moodle will map the LDAP fields to the appropriate fields in AD.
What it doesn't do (yet) is write data back to SIMS (IMS?/SIF?). Moodle (1.9) has a pretty funky question/answer/targets that ideally should feed back to SIMS. Best we can do is export grades to a spreadsheet and copy and paste into sims. The commercial VLEs will offer this level of integration.
26th March 2008, 08:20 PM #3
Thanks for that CyberN, were not really bothered about live updates were happy with the manual update.
But how do the other commerical VLE's do it?
Listening device on a server and some kind of software on the SIMS box that communicates with the remote serveR?
26th March 2008, 08:26 PM #4
I think most just have a custom script to interrogate the SIMS database. TALMOS for one does this but it has to be done manually - its not live so to speak.
Originally Posted by danIT
27th March 2008, 12:47 AM #5
Not sure how other VLES do it or how it's done with SIMS, but as an example I've written an selection of PHP scripts that automatically sync moodle with CMIS, it has a simple user interface built in that allows you to add CMIS teaching groups to Courses created within moodle, and then using this information it allocates the correct kids to the various courses etc. It also notifys me when students that are in moodle don't exist anymore in CMIS (i.e have left the school) so we can disable their accounts on the network, and does the same for new starters, so we can create their account ahead of them starting (how efficient!)
It runs the main part of the program as a batch (or CRON) job every night, as part of this is checks all the group memberships against cmis and moves students around as necessary, it also e-mails me a detailed report. Its deadly accurate, I can see staright away what students have moved groups from the report, and I can trigger it manually if necessary e.g if there's a new starter that deperately needs to use moodle, and their account has only just been created.
I would imagine a VLE that links to SIMS would read the data in a simelar fashion, and use it in a simelar way and probably as a batch job as well as this is by far the easiest way of syncronising two systems. I know some systems will also feed assesment data back into the MIS, as well as use the MIS data for creation of accounts etc. Moodle uses LDAP here, their CMIS student number is added in AD when the accounts are created to tie it all together.
Last edited by maniac; 27th March 2008 at 12:50 AM.
27th March 2008, 08:01 PM #6
DanIT... I would be interested to know how you extract the staff and pupil timetables from SIMS. Any info would be much apprechiated!!!
27th March 2008, 08:11 PM #7
Same here.. I thought this couldn't be done
Originally Posted by scottyses
27th March 2008, 08:17 PM #8
I'm going to start a wiki of some of the stuff thats working at my place before it all gets replaced with our (pants) LA offering.
SIMS and Moodle Integration - EduGeek.net Wiki
29th March 2008, 08:59 AM #9
The buzz words at the moment as far as intergration goes with MIS's and VLE's (and anything else really) is SIF.
Well, around here it is anyway!
Basically the way it's supposed to work is, each app/system is SIF compliant. Then, there is a SIF agent which is responsible for translating the SIF framework back to (or from) what the application knows.
Our vle is a system called Dokeos (really cool open-source VLE. Made by people from france. But fully translated... code is a little hard to follow at times tho).
So, it would work like this...
Dokeos -> SIF Agent -> SIMS.Net (Or other MIS)
and vice versa
SIMS.Net -< SIF Agent -< Dokeos
Communication is live and as the application itself does the processing then data doesnt get corrupted from editing the database direct (not too much of an issue with things like VLE's... but with SIMS you can really mess up the DB if you edit it directly).
As i'm aware, there are no open-source/free agents out there. And i suspect the SIF agent you would use for SIMS or any other MIS's would come with an extra cost.
But the SIF website is Welcome to the Schools Interoperability Framework Association and i'm slowly making my way through the framework specification and writting an agent to do some things with it. No idea on timescale tho.
30th March 2012, 02:43 PM #10
As a commercial VLE provider we have noticed that "integration" can mean different things.
There's the easy way and the way it should work.
Easy way - "Yes, we integrate with your MIS because we connect and read some data from it onto a screen"
Hard way - "Yes, we integrate and by that we mean that if your MIS admin changes/adds or edits a user or group on the MIS then our VLE will synchronise on request to update
the VLE to try and reflect the exact tree structure of your MIS. Yes, we will take into account that a user you just deleted from the MIS will need removed from the VLE and also
try to work out what to do if that person happened to own 3 courses, 6 learning spaces, sent 15 moderation requests and has uploaded 1200 files that 80% of the school are still using.
We will also do our best to work out what to do with a group on our VLE when you rename it on your MIS even though your MIS doesn't store any type of unique reference for groups similar to the UPN number for users. This means that if you rename a group on your MIS our VLE has no way of knowing what it use to be so as it only has the name of the group to rely on as a reference. It will assume it's deleted and a new group just got added."
Fortunately, we've tackled the hard way (using a wizard) and now, if anyone asks "Do you integrate with MIS" we can explain the difference between "Yes" the easy way and "Yes" the proper way.
At the moment, we've been saying "No" because to us, reading some data from a table onto a screen isn't integration in the sense we want it to mean.
All the best!
Last edited by mylearningltd; 30th March 2012 at 02:45 PM.
2nd April 2012, 07:20 PM #11
I use a Java application I've written running via a cron job. Runs various SIMS reports remotely and gathers student, staff and class details. Staff, student and SIMS classes in Moodle are created/deleted as required via Moodle web services using REST protocols. Currently a separate database holds details of who is attached to which SIMS class/course and this is used for database enrollment. The SIMS classes/courses are then used as sources for meta enrollment for Moodle courses.
Here are links to the Java libraries I've created to do this, however I haven't as yet released the code for the sync routine. Works and it's free!
MoodleRest Java Library | Free software downloads at SourceForge.net
SIMS CommandReporter Java API | Free software downloads at SourceForge.net
Ignore the single not recommended on the second download, they obviously knew not what they were doing or were trying to divert attention, I've been running SIMS reports remotely for some time without problems.
18th April 2012, 04:26 PM #12
Originally Posted by stratisphere
I'm just wonering how far long you got with creating your own SIF agent. We are looking for SIMS.net - SIF - Moodle and am wanting to create my own SIF to access the SIMS.
18th April 2012, 04:56 PM #13
Originally Posted by paulgarratt83
I havnt heard the SIF buzzword in aggesssss. Currently everything is one way from SIMS. I have various apps which sit on servers that run imported reports in sims (via the commandreporter.exe) and then transfered to the site for processing via HTTPS XMLRPC. Basically, read only. But without paying for developer access, I can only dream of writing to SIMS.
Interestingly enough, i'm currently working on an agent to link in to Moodle FROM sims (auto creating groups/enrolments etc). What are you looking to do?
18th April 2012, 05:03 PM #14
Interestingly enough, I've just been looking back over the SIF specifications for the UK and the last it was updated was Nov 2011 so it still seems to be around. I wonder if we can extract any kind of response from Capita to if they are going to support it in SIMS.
18th April 2012, 05:46 PM #15
Capita are involved with the SIF UK Technical Board and Partnership Exchange uses SIF to move data between consortia schools/academies and there are third party application that can SIF enable SIMS.net.
Originally Posted by stratisphere
Is your agent to link Moodle and SIMS going to use SIF or interface with command reporter directly?
Thanks to penfold_99 from:
stratisphere (19th April 2012)
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