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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, Anyone Using Frog? in Technical; In standard Frog a report is scheduled on the SIMS server to extract the information it needs, this is then ...
  1. #16
    duncane's Avatar
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    In standard Frog a report is scheduled on the SIMS server to extract the information it needs, this is then picked up by the Frog server itself.

    The parental gateway will have real-time (read-only) access to the SIMS database - we don't have the parental gateway yet, but we are planning to.

    When it comes to general SIMS access, we use Frog's Secure Gateway to provide access to the staffroom computers, each of which has the SIMS client installed. Our staff seem to love this - they can use the same interface to SIMS they're used to, from home. It gets very popular around report writing time!

    I'm still not happy about the length of time it takes to handle support requests - everyone else says they're very responsive, I can only assume that I'm not pushy enough - or maybe I'm just asking difficult questions... although a "that's difficult, I'll need to get back to you" would be better than silence.

    I agree with Cue - Frog can be quite limiting if you're someone who likes to get under the bonnet and start fiddling. There's meant to be a PHP brick that's being beta tested, but we're not worthy to test it. (Unfortunately there's the good chance that by the time Frog gets round to releasing it, my school will be gone.) It would really come in useful - I'm forever having to tell staff, "erm no, I'm afraid it can't do that" - which is annoying when you can see that they're fired up enough to want to use it. (This usually revolves around the "write-only" database function - you can export the data to CVS, but that's it.)

    The forums are fairly poor, but I do like the ability to embed a thread into a web page - so a teacher can have a web page about a topic, then provide space on the same page for students to discuss it.

  2. #17
    Cue
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    Quote Originally Posted by duncane View Post
    I agree with Cue - Frog can be quite limiting if you're someone who likes to get under the bonnet and start fiddling. There's meant to be a PHP brick that's being beta tested, but we're not worthy to test it. (Unfortunately there's the good chance that by the time Frog gets round to releasing it, my school will be gone.) It would really come in useful - I'm forever having to tell staff, "erm no, I'm afraid it can't do that" - which is annoying when you can see that they're fired up enough to want to use it. (This usually revolves around the "write-only" database function - you can export the data to CVS, but that's it.)

    The forums are fairly poor, but I do like the ability to embed a thread into a web page - so a teacher can have a web page about a topic, then provide space on the same page for students to discuss it.
    Just a thought, actually...

    Inconspicuous iframe, maybe? It's a tempting solution, albeit not the best way to go about things, but when push comes to shove...

    PHP brick though? This intrigues me, do they accept beta testers if one can give enough "I can do this this and this with PHP, can I try it out?".

    Now all we need is a way of accessing MySQL, I guess you could do it remotely though.

    We wanted to try and get phpbb3 up and running, sadly the netadmin wouldn't allow it running due to, unlike Frog and such, the lack of 24/7 professional support from a dedicated, paid team. Of course, running on its own server, and phpbb3 due to the fact that it has some rather nice AD integration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by duncane View Post
    In standard Frog a report is scheduled on the SIMS server to extract the information it needs, this is then picked up by the Frog server itself.

    The parental gateway will have real-time (read-only) access to the SIMS database - we don't have the parental gateway yet, but we are planning to.

    When it comes to general SIMS access, we use Frog's Secure Gateway to provide access to the staffroom computers, each of which has the SIMS client installed. Our staff seem to love this - they can use the same interface to SIMS they're used to, from home. It gets very popular around report writing time!

    I'm still not happy about the length of time it takes to handle support requests - everyone else says they're very responsive, I can only assume that I'm not pushy enough - or maybe I'm just asking difficult questions... although a "that's difficult, I'll need to get back to you" would be better than silence.
    Thanks duncane, really helpful information. Interesting you mention staff are very postive on using SIMS alongside Frog. Probably helped if that is what they are used to using. Our teaching staff haven't had much exposure to SIMS in the classroom.

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    We've just bought Frog, had SIMS and AD linked and done the initial training. I've not noticed anything I don't like yet. It doesn't seem to get mentioned much on here probably because the frog community forums are pretty effective - ask your sales rep to give you access to the community via a demo login. By the way TASC wrote the database link to SIMS on behalf of Frog. Much of the platform seems to be within our powers to develop or gets extended FOC by changes which users vote for or commission. Interestingly there is code sharing and content swapshop but also a facility to flog user created things to one another within the community.

  5. #20
    duncane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robins View Post
    Much of the platform seems to be within our powers to develop.
    You have a lot of flexibility with looks, and creating static content, but that's pretty much it.

    Without the PHP brick, you can set up forms, look at the results as a whole, but that seems to be it (other than export them) - you can't take data from that form and manipulate it within Frog.

    We can't easy restore data for users in Frog if they lose it: The toolbox recycle bin* doesn't tell us which user is associated with which file, and Frog backup is just a dump of Frog's internal directories (so we'd have to get Frog to restore the data from that file dump).

    Really, there's plenty of things that you realise you can't do - unfortunately it's not until you need them that you realise they're missing. I don't want people to think its terrible - it's far from that - but I baulk at the idea of its power for developers are opposed to users.

    * I'd need to double check if users have access to their own recycle bin via the toolbox - as an administrator I see everyone's and it's confusing.
    Last edited by duncane; 18th April 2010 at 01:43 PM.

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    My major issue with frog is that it doesn't seem to be able to cope with user areas spread over more than one server, or user names that don't obey their rules. The majority of our sixth form join in year 12, but frog insists on using year of entry, not year of entry to Y7, meaning that frog usernames don't match ours, and we have to manually rename the majority of our 6th formers. Coupled with that the fact that all students user area path can only point to one server, which means we have to manually remap all userarea paths for 2/3 of our users. Yes, we can run a csv to put in users and user area paths, but it looks like the nightly SIMS import routine overwrites our csv. However, we're stuck with it - the LEA provide it for us.

  7. #22
    Cue
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    That makes me rather tempted to var_dump($_GLOBALS); and see what it gives me, now...

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by clareq View Post
    My major issue with frog is that it doesn't seem to be able to cope with user areas spread over more than one server, ...snip...
    Use a DFS share so it thinks they are in the one area?
    Last edited by p858snake; 19th April 2010 at 01:34 AM. Reason: sniped the rest, don't need bold

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    Hi,

    Yes we are using frog... Came on to have a quick look to see who else is using it. I think it looks great and really easy to use!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by clareq View Post
    The majority of our sixth form join in year 12, but frog insists on using year of entry, not year of entry to Y7, meaning that frog usernames don't match ours, and we have to manually rename the majority of our 6th formers.
    Do you have to use year of entry in usernames? We don't at present. If you do, and it has the limitation you describe, that would cause us an absolute nightmare as our students join at all sorts of stages, right from Nursery to Year 12.

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    duncane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enjay View Post
    Do you have to use year of entry in usernames? We don't at present. If you do, and it has the limitation you describe, that would cause us an absolute nightmare as our students join at all sorts of stages, right from Nursery to Year 12.
    This relates to the automated mapping of students in SIMS to users in Frog. Frog creates a username which can be composed of a number of different elements from SIMS - including the admission year (but, like clareq says, not the year that they would have been in if they'd been admitted in Year 7). If your particular naming scheme can't be constructed using the elements they have available, you'll need to change them manually (or semi-automatically by exporting, changing and re-importing on masse). We have to go this route - but we have relatively small year groups.

  12. #27
    dsm
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    Quote Originally Posted by duncane View Post
    This relates to the automated mapping of students in SIMS to users in Frog. Frog creates a username which can be composed of a number of different elements from SIMS - including the admission year (but, like clareq says, not the year that they would have been in if they'd been admitted in Year 7). If your particular naming scheme can't be constructed using the elements they have available, you'll need to change them manually (or semi-automatically by exporting, changing and re-importing on masse). We have to go this route - but we have relatively small year groups.
    Not to worry, we use year of entry in our usernames too. We've created a simple spreadsheet to export the data from from, change it automatically and then import it straight back in. It only takes around 10 minutes to do the year group at the year of entry i.e. once per year group.

    Regards

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    Quote Originally Posted by duncane View Post
    This relates to the automated mapping of students in SIMS to users in Frog. Frog creates a username which can be composed of a number of different elements from SIMS - including the admission year (but, like clareq says, not the year that they would have been in if they'd been admitted in Year 7).
    Our usernames at present are surname and first two letters, e.g. bloggsfr, with no reference to year group or year of entry. Within the Active Directory, we group them by Year 7 entry, including our Primary pupils based on the year in which they will be in Year 7. Would this format cause us problems within Frog?

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    dsm
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    You can create usernames based on any criteria you want within Frog.

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    We have managed to get staff to use Fronter in the end. A bit of pushing is what is required. We are using it for revision mostly and more as a document storage facility than its primary purpose. I have created pages for all the subjects using templates and then they are just managing a tree of folders like explorer in windows. Not pretty or ideal but it works well for our requirements and considering its free its not too bad.

    There are definiately better solutions in terms of real VLE integration with schools, Moodle provides a much more solid VLE platform and has some really useful features but all of them require significant staff time to implement well. I would always first ask staff what they want from the VLE, ours wanted simple, and simple they got

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