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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, Becta Learning Platforms in Technical; This got released just before xmas http://news.becta.org.uk/display.cfm...658&catID=1633 Russ.... Becta has today launched its Learning Platform Services Framework. The framework provides ...
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    russdev's Avatar
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    Becta Learning Platforms

    This got released just before xmas http://news.becta.org.uk/display.cfm...658&catID=1633

    Russ....



    Becta has today launched its Learning Platform Services Framework. The framework provides UK schools, colleges and local authorities with an EU approved supplier network to deliver high quality, value for money learning platform services.

    The framework of ten suppliers is EU compliant, which means local authorities, schools and colleges are free to conduct a mini competition among the approved suppliers, reducing the cost and time of a full procurement.

    The suppliers are approved to provide managed service solutions drawing on proprietary and open source components to offer a learning platform for schools and colleges.

    A learning platform gives teachers an opportunity to improve learning. It gives children and young people an opportunity to learn in the ways which best suit them – by providing a personal online work space; by allowing access to learning materials at anytime and anywhere; and it gives an opportunity for materials to be tailored to meet the needs of individuals. Parents can follow their children's progress more easily and resources can be shared with the wider community. The framework will help schools and colleges meet the Government target of providing all learners with an online personalised learning space by 2008.

    Dr Stephen Lucey, Becta's Executive Director for Strategic Technologies explains: "This framework has two advantages. Firstly it makes the whole procurement process much easier and so much cheaper. Secondly, purchasers can be confident they are buying robust and sustainable technology and services which give value for money."

    The ten suppliers were selected following a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation process. Their performance will be closely monitored by Becta for the three year duration of the framework.

    "One of the real advantages of learning platforms is they can help schools communicate better with parents so they can play a bigger role in their children's education. Every learner has the right to benefit from the advantages that technology brings to education. This framework will make it easier for schools and colleges to get the most from what technology has to offer teaching and learning," said Dr Lucey.

    Schools, colleges and local authorities can get more information on Becta's Schools website [http://www.becta.org.uk/schools/learningplatforms].

    Ends
    Notes to editors

    The ten framework suppliers are:

    * Azzurri Communications Ltd
    * Etech Group
    * Fronter
    * Netmedia Education
    * Pearson Education Limited
    * Ramesys
    * Research Machines plc
    * Serco Ltd
    * UniServity
    * Viglen Limited

    These companies had to clearly demonstrate their capability of providing Learning Platform Services to educational institutions through an intensive evaluation programme covering technical, commercial, value-for-money and quality assurance elements.

    There has been full collaboration between Becta and Partnerships for Schools when considering how the Becta Learning Platform Services Framework will operate alongside the established Building Schools of the Future approach.


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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Still Moodle have been excluded... a shame since they do fulfill the functional spec in every aspect (not just the 'must haves' but the 'nice to haves' too).

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Without wanting to put the cat amongst the pigeons, Moodle has not been excluded ... Moodle.org may not have been an accepted supplier (and I wasn't aware that Martin & co had put forward a formal proposal after being told about the financial stipulations of the suppliers bidding to be accredited against the framework), but any of the successful suppliers can use Moodle as a basis for the Learning Platform they provide.

    The fact that there are now Moodle Web Parts means that those suppliers looking at using WSS 3.0 or Sharepoint Portal 2007 can also include Moodle.

    No single product meets the requirements, but the above suppliers can provide and support a mixture of software that fits the requirements.

    Considering Moodle is free then you would be a stupid supplier to ignore it ... and since Moodle allows for SCORM compliant resources there is nothing stopping a school starting to create resources hosted internally on a Moodle box and them moving them when the LA has coughed up the cash for a Learning Platform from one of the above groups ...

    Also note that the above suppliers are not the only people you can use ... they are the only ones that are presently accredited. You can choose to take the framework yourself and choose to implement it, support it and develop it in house or in a smaller consortia of schools and colleges.

    I am looking at those that haven't made the grade yet ... for example ...Teksys (suppliers to Shirelands).

    I am also interested to see the technical specifications that each supplier will publish to show how they intend to make it all work ... and the inevitable case studies too ...

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    <sound of gears crashing>happy new year to all</sound of gears crashing>
    Had a quick google this morning and came up with this, and this. I have to hold my hand up here and say that most of the conversation relating to implementing SIMS and Moodle on the moodle site is above my head. Ideally, I'd like to see an out of the box solution which can be implemented (between SIMS and Moodle) quickly and easily, but suspect that in these early days it's going to be a bit more Heath Robinson.

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Being honest ... implementation of SIMS or CMIS and any VLE (other than the companies own) will be a bit Heath Robinson for the next 12 months whilst people get to grips with things. I have seen web parts for SIMS now and have had a talk through some of the implementation of integration into a WSS based site ... and I think that this might be the approach we take whilst we look at what will be offered via the LA (which I should be working on this for the Northants area at least).

    And yes ... I agree that most people (for 'people' read SMT / LA / Beancounters) will want an out of the box solution and do not want to mangle things together ... This is one of the reasons why companies have been accredited rather than products.

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Being honest ... implementation of SIMS or CMIS and any VLE (other than the companies own) will be a bit Heath Robinson for the next 12 months whilst people get to grips with things.
    If you check the functional spec, this part has mysteriously disappeared... the only thing that is mentioned now is the ability to import and export student information.

    There is no mention of import/export formats or linking to MIS (although this would be an obvious advantage).

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    I have seen web parts for SIMS now and have had a talk through some of the implementation of integration into a WSS based site ...
    Are these the web parts produced by CES? If so, is it possible to use them with WSS? The impression I've got is that it's not, presumably because it relies upon SSO in MOSS (or SPS as it stands atm). Or is it possible to use an alternate service in lieu of the MS SSO service?

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    There are a couple of questions I would like to throw in here:

    First - Other than to import student class information why would you need to intergrate you MIS in to any VLE?? TBH you could do a csv export and import or if it is SIF/SCORM compliant do it that way.

    Second - We have been using WSS 2.0 and ClassServer 3.0 for a long time and recently upgraded to WSS 3.0 Class Server 4.0 and the new Sharepoint Learning Kit (SLK) http://www.learninggateway.net/default.aspx and fullfills all our requirements why would we change it?

    Third - It is a shame to see the above in point two not on the list though...

    Are these the web parts produced by CES? If so, is it possible to use them with WSS? The impression I've got is that it's not, presumably because it relies upon SSO in MOSS (or SPS as it stands atm). Or is it possible to use an alternate service in lieu of the MS SSO service?
    Both SIMS and Serco both have sharepoint/wss web parts available, although Serco has a whole product based around sharepoint, you could ask your SIMS provider if you could have the web parts. I did and got them, had to blag it though otherwise there would have been a small cost involved "I Think".......

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Quote Originally Posted by ICTNUT
    Both SIMS and Serco both have sharepoint/wss web parts available, although Serco has a whole product based around sharepoint, you could ask your SIMS provider if you could have the web parts. I did and got them, had to blag it though otherwise there would have been a small cost involved "I Think".......
    Yeah, Capita have a sharepoint based product too: Learning Gateway, and another hosted service I think.

    And you're definitely using the free sharepoint (not portal)? If so, is your supplier your authority, or Capita, or other? How do you handle the account mapping (ie AD accounts (presumably) to SIMS.net accounts)?

    Whenever I've spoken to Capita, the impression I've been given is that they only come as part of the Learning Gateway package.

    cheers

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Just to clarify I am using the follwoing:

    WSS 3.0
    SLK 1.0
    Class Server 4.0 (untill there is an authoring tool provided by SLK)

    All of the above ARE AD aware out of the box, just requires a little security group tweaking at AD leve but that was may choice.

    The SIMS web parts ARE for Sharepoint 2003 (and I belive will also work with 2007) however they have required tweaking to get them to work with WSS 3.0 - Now I did this purely to see what benefit it would bring to the school as a whole and TBH not much really which is why I have NOT rolled it out.

    Alot of the web parts are merely read only stuff you can't do many changes and inmy school that is it's downfall.

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Hi ICTNUT,

    We are looking to move our VLE to sharepoint and have recently installed sharepoint services 3.0 and so far its looking good. Still waiting for some of the templates to be released by MS which should make it easier but it seems that WSS does offer a real great interface and lots of flexibility.

    We currently get the SIMS support through our LEA, do we need to contact them to get the webparts or can we get these directly from Capita?.

    We don't mind the read-only aspect of webparts as teachers don't really (at the moment) need write access to, if they do they can fire up sims.net from their laptops and away they go.

    Do you mind me asking you how you obtained the sims web parts?. Also does the sims server need to be on the same domain as the WSS server for it work or does it only require the SQL connection?

    TIA,

    Ash.

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    @Ash

    NCC and other EMBC LAs are looking seperately at Learning Platforms this time round but I would defintely speak with county first ... there may be changes to your SLA that include access to the SIMS web parts ... but they may only allow you access to them if you jump through certain hoops.

    @Ozan

    Are you coming to BETT at all? Any chance of a chat and a few notes about how you made the transition?

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    I am playing with Sharepoint Portal 2007 and the learning kit, seems a good product, just need the books to come out to support it

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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    @Tony,

    Thanks for the info - i'll give our LA a call to see what they are doing.

    @John,

    The SharePoint portal server is a tad bit expensive especially when you consider the CALs for sharepoint server. I don't know if its needed for our place as WSS with SQL server should do the trick but i need to find out on WSS and see what the limitations are i guess.

    Thanks.

    Ash.

  15. #15
    richard
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    Re: Becta Learning Platforms

    Found this on The Register

    Ten education suppliers have been given permission by BECTA, the procurement quango for education, to sell learning portals to schools and colleges.

    Like other framework agreements under EU rules, the Learning Platform Services Framework, allows buyers to spend large amounts of money at a whim with vetted suppliers without going through the whole, lengthy, EU-directed procurement process every time.

    BECTA had intended to get as many suppliers as it could on the list of those recommended as suppliers of learning platforms, which are web-based areas in which teachers can tailor the curriculum to the needs of individual children.

    Of 119 suppliers that expressed an interest last May, only 10 where deemed capable of doing the work and only 14 made the final shortlist. A BECTA spokeswoman was not able to explain why so few made the final list, though she did suggest some had withdrawn.

    Frameworks are designed to circumvent EU rules that impose a lengthy procurement process, by putting a bunch of suppliers through the mill and then listing them as pre-approved. BECTA said this framework would also let schools know which suppliers could be trusted to do a decent job on a learning platform.

    But a spokesman for RM Plc, a £263m supplier in the framework, said learning platforms were normally sold as part of larger projects, with education materials, network and hardware infrastructure, software for pupils to use in the classroom and so on. These bumper modernizations were increasingly being tendered by a single Local Education Authority for a host of schools at once.

    "[The learning platform] we are building is not being solely offered through this framework, so it will go back to being part of a major bid," he said.

    The learning platform framework, therefore, might be redundant, and used merely as an accreditation.

    However, Gerard Toplass, managing director of Azzurri Education, a £30m supplier of systems to schools, said he expected learning platforms to be sold separately in all but those schools that are being built from scratch.

    Most of the 10 suppliers in the platform framework only did business with LEAs and large groups of schools, said Toplass. Only two, including Azzurri, supplied smaller groupings and individual schools. He expected the framework would be used.

    David Wimpress, director of Netmedia Education, said that with links to 42 LEAs and five regional broadband providers to schools, he had probably sold more learning platforms than anyone else.

    And he said: "Without exception the business we've done has been discreet learning platform services and not part of a larger contract."

    "It will probably continue that way because it's such a specialized requirement," he said.

    The exceptions might be as part of Building Schools for the Future, where groups of schools would rekitting their IT sytems from scratch.

    The other suppliers awarded positions in the platform framework where Etech Group, Fronter, Pearson Education, Ramesys, Serco Ltd, UniServity and Viglen.®

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