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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, LGFL MLE in Technical; And the winner is .... Fronter http://www.lgfl.net/lgfl/accounts/ne...rchive/issue61 Though in parnership with LogicCMG so there must be some serious money knocking ...
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    Face-Man's Avatar
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    LGFL MLE

    And the winner is .... Fronter

    http://www.lgfl.net/lgfl/accounts/ne...rchive/issue61

    Though in parnership with LogicCMG so there must be some serious money knocking around

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Quote Originally Posted by Face-Man
    And the winner is .... Fronter

    http://www.lgfl.net/lgfl/accounts/ne...rchive/issue61

    Though in parnership with LogicCMG so there must be some serious money knocking around
    <rant>
    <sarcasm>Oh, I'm so excited I can't sit still.</sarcasm>

    I wonder if this is gonna get completely ignored in the same way as the LGFL digitalbrain.

    Because of course schools were consulted on this by ...... no one.

    The most popular vle in the uk is ........ I guess moodle. 1548 registered sites in the UK.

    I enjoyed helping out on the BETT stand on friday, but there seems to be so many clueless idiots making decisions about educational ICT.

    So for anyone at the LGFL reading this, I am not impressed.

    But I'm sure it'll all be okay when we all go away and ICT is outsourced with BSF.
    </rant>
    Disclaimer: These are my opinions not my employers.

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Is this a good VLE or bad VLE ?

    Even tho Moodle's free does this have more features than moodle ?

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    Is this a good VLE or bad VLE ?

    Even tho Moodle's free does this have more features than moodle ?
    There's the problem, the website doesn't give much information other than the usual marketing blurb,

    No demo, So we can't even see what we are getting.

    The moodle site runs on moodle, so we can see what is possible.

    If you want a specific feature in fronter, you have to hope and pray that the company will find it in there interest to add it in.

    And when we say moodle is free, don't forget that it's not only free of cost (to acquire the software, of course there is a cost for server, maintainence etc) but it it free to do whatever you want to it. I.e. open source, (see www.gnu.org) so if I want to add SMS texting with a link to my MIS system I can code it up and give that away free as well.

    So is this a good VLE ? I really couldn't say.

    Is this good software ? Check out the way the links to pages on there website work, I have never seen anything quite so odd.

    Is there a community of thousands of people around the globe using with information and courses being shared ?

    Is the LGFL going to share the process of chosing the VLE ? Becta only released there recommended VLE providers a few days ago, but thats another story.

    Is there a range of books and companies that help with training and support ?

    How many other Universities and Schools use the product so that skills are transferable for staff and students ?

    Do you want me to go on ? probably not, I'll try and shut up now.

    Regards

    Budgester

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Ok ... a quick retort *against* Moodle ... perhaps a little surprising from me but there you go.

    Moodle is nice ... moodle is good ... but moodle does not always fit into how a school operates.

    Yes, it is free to download and install ... but someone maintains it and makes sure it runs ... there, a cost.

    Someone creates courses and puts them on there ... another cost.

    Someone works on it with the students and with other users ... someone ensures that it is backed up ... that it is patched ... someone looks at new bits and redevelops how the school uses it.

    All are costs to the school.

    Moodle is not *free* ... there are costs involved ... and too many people keep shouting *Free, free, free* ... without including the small print. If you are going to say free then include the small print. I have a go about other VLEs that fail to do this so why should moodle be any different.

    Options ... Moodle can be easily hosted so that a chunk of these costs are paid for on an annual basis and you don't have to worry about it ... the backup, the patching, etc.

    The creation of resources and courses takes time. Some other VLEs have tools that make more sense to staff based on existing resources ... this can save time in training and in creating materials.

    Moodle does not include email. Yes, there are a number of other packages out there that can be plugged in, but even the OU have not ditched their prime choice for email and conferencing yet ... FirstClass lives and is thriving at the OU and other places (Ultraversity is another FirstClass base ... and Plone is the other part!)

    Personally I don't like DigitalBrain and I think that *anything* that the LGfL puts in will be better. Fronter is based on a similar structure to Moodle and several other VLEs, but has a number of ready to go packs that can be plugged in to it ... not including other resources that can be purchased.

    The VLE has to fit around the pedagogy of your school ... not the other way around. Some schools are innovative and will use the move to a Learning Platform as a chance to shake up what they do and people like Miles, Drew, Art, Josie and so many more are good examples of this ... but it doesn't work for everyone.

    On a personal note ... I am unlikely to ever say that Moodle will answer all of my needs ... I will however say that it answers a chunk of them, and that as part of a larger plan it will fit in nicely. I now have the Moodle web-parts and hope to try them out in a few weeks time, so perhaps a combined system of WSS 3.0, FirstClass and Moodle will be the answer ...

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Ok ... a quick retort *against* Moodle ... perhaps a little surprising from me but there you go.

    but moodle does not always fit into how a school operates.
    I fully agree with you on this point, the same is true for all VLE's

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Yes, it is free to download and install ... but someone maintains it and makes sure it runs ... there, a cost.

    Someone creates courses and puts them on there ... another cost.

    Someone works on it with the students and with other users ... someone ensures that it is backed up ... that it is patched ... someone looks at new bits and redevelops how the school uses it.

    All are costs to the school.

    Moodle is not *free* ... there are costs involved ... and too many people keep shouting *Free, free, free* ... without including the small print. If you are going to say free then include the small print. I have a go about other VLEs that fail to do this so why should moodle be any different.
    I think we need to clear up how we are using the word free.

    All the costs you mentioned are going to effect pretty much any VLE someone chooses to use.

    Lets no forget the freedom the the gpl license gives you (this the license that moodle is under).

    See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html but you really need to sit down with a coffee and think about what this is saying.


    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Moodle does not include email. Yes, there are a number of other packages out there that can be plugged in, but even the OU have not ditched their prime choice for email and conferencing yet ... FirstClass lives and is thriving at the OU and other places (Ultraversity is another FirstClass base ... and Plone is the other part!)
    Surely a VLE is just that, a Virtual Learning Enviroment, not an email server, or a document repository.

    Let the email people do email, and the VLE people do VLE's

    As long as you can plug in your communications solution, be it email, sms, voip etc, to your VLE.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Personally I don't like DigitalBrain and I think that *anything* that the LGfL puts in will be better. Fronter is based on a similar structure to Moodle and several other VLEs, but has a number of ready to go packs that can be plugged in to it ... not including other resources that can be purchased.

    The VLE has to fit around the pedagogy of your school ... not the other way around. Some schools are innovative and will use the move to a Learning Platform as a chance to shake up what they do and people like Miles, Drew, Art, Josie and so many more are good examples of this ... but it doesn't work for everyone.
    Surely thats the point, people like those you mentioned above, are pushing the boundries of teaching and learning, and are willing to share their experiences. Can we name any high profile users of other VLE's, or can we talk to a vibrant user community.

    I'm not overly enlightened of the different types/methods of pedagogy but I'm pretty sure that moodle is able to flex and fit around most types, and if not you have the freedom to modify it, and then share them changes.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    On a personal note ... I am unlikely to ever say that Moodle will answer all of my needs ... I will however say that it answers a chunk of them, and that as part of a larger plan it will fit in nicely. I now have the Moodle web-parts and hope to try them out in a few weeks time, so perhaps a combined system of WSS 3.0, FirstClass and Moodle will be the answer ...
    I sure Martin from Moodle will also say that moodle isn't designed to meet all of our needs, but it surely has to be the market leading VLE.

    Regards

    Budgester

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Quote Originally Posted by budgester
    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Personally I don't like DigitalBrain and I think that *anything* that the LGfL puts in will be better. Fronter is based on a similar structure to Moodle and several other VLEs, but has a number of ready to go packs that can be plugged in to it ... not including other resources that can be purchased.

    The VLE has to fit around the pedagogy of your school ... not the other way around. Some schools are innovative and will use the move to a Learning Platform as a chance to shake up what they do and people like Miles, Drew, Art, Josie and so many more are good examples of this ... but it doesn't work for everyone.
    Surely thats the point, people like those you mentioned above, are pushing the boundries of teaching and learning, and are willing to share their experiences. Can we name any high profile users of other VLE's, or can we talk to a vibrant user community.
    Have a chat with the guys over on the Bodington Community about other open source VLEs ... University of Leeds, UHI, Oxford and Eton have put in a large amount of time and developer costs into creating an environment that is not Moodle, but has not had the same uptake partly due to the lack of religious fever (I should know ... I am a Mac User ... and vi ... I can spot religious fever a mile away now!)

    NotSchool is one of the most successful platforms for students not able to make it to school ...

    Ches Lincoln has been a pioneer in the use of VLEs and Learning Platforms for distance and independant learning ... and now she has almost become persona non grata at the OU because she spoke out against Moodle not meeting all the needs of the OU and that FirstClass still had a valid place. Her face no longer fitted and she questioned the direction that HE/FE institutes are taking ... the exact same way others question the direction schools are taking with MS based products.

    I'm not overly enlightened of the different types/methods of pedagogy but I'm pretty sure that moodle is able to flex and fit around most types, and if not you have the freedom to modify it, and then share them changes.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    On a personal note ... I am unlikely to ever say that Moodle will answer all of my needs ... I will however say that it answers a chunk of them, and that as part of a larger plan it will fit in nicely. I now have the Moodle web-parts and hope to try them out in a few weeks time, so perhaps a combined system of WSS 3.0, FirstClass and Moodle will be the answer ...
    I sure Martin from Moodle will also say that moodle isn't designed to meet all of our needs, but it surely has to be the market leading VLE.

    Regards

    Budgester
    But people aren't just after VLEs or Course Management Systems ... they want learning PLatforms which include more ... much more ... email, content management at a granular level with easy administration, usable for formative assessment with immedieate feedback to students, staff and manglement.

    Yes ... I am aware that the costs that I previously mentioned are costs that have to be covered one way or another ... some of the LP providers have those costs bundled in ... other don't and that has to be taken into consideration ... but I have listened to too many people evangelising about open source that repeatedly fail to mention the additinal costs ... training, technical and development time ... costs that may already be built into other solutions.

    I suppose it all boils down to jut trying to make people aware of a larger picture ...

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    I to like moodle but have one big problem with it sustainability. I know of two schools that had brilliant VLE's made with moddle that have just slowly died when the "expert" left for a better job. One of them had a brilliant hand over to the new manager but they were over worked and something had to give. If you are in london this time they are not imposing the solution but allowing LA buy in (mainly through BSF) and synetrix do offer a moddle product with the added services a large company can add. Come the revolution and A true PLE that allows a student to wake up and decide if today is a good day to do their GCSE math exam online or not then we will have finally delivered on what ICT can offer.

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Have a chat with the guys over on the Bodington Community about other open source VLEs ...
    18 months ago at the Moodlemoot one of the Bodington developers admitted that a number of departments within Oxford University had installed Moodle. The logic being that they wanted greater control rather than follow the party line and use Bodington.

    On your point about a VLE not automatically fitting the pedagogy of a school - I agree but I also think that the dynamics of Moodle development provide a more fluid system. One more open to change since the thrust is coming from schools/colleges/universities.

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    But people aren't just after VLEs or Course Management Systems ... they want learning PLatforms which include more ... much more ... email, content management at a granular level with easy administration, usable for formative assessment with immedieate feedback to students, staff and manglement.
    That would be the holy grail :-)

    But slowly we are all getting there, what would be nice to see would be the examination companies, QCA etc creating the basic schemes of work as a SCORM resource.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    but I have listened to too many people evangelising about open source that repeatedly fail to mention the additinal costs ... training, technical and development time ... costs that may already be built into other solutions.
    Fully agree about the evangelising, it can get old and tired after a while.

    Running an free software project myself, I know about the cost of free software all to well. I also know the cost of my sanity when using non-free solutions (free = freedom) as I have been banging my head against CMIS 2.8 for a couple of weeks now. Bring on schooltool.

    What should be done with any project within ICT (in fact most things in life) is to make decisions based on needs and specified criteria.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    I suppose it all boils down to jut trying to make people aware of a larger picture ...
    And occasionally hitting them with a cluebat.

    Regards

    Budgester

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Does Moodle integrate with SIMS as we want parents to check on their Children's Attendance.

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    The last I heard it didn't due to Capita's £5,000 restriction on accessing "their" database.

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    a way around this restriction (Moodle can access an sql database, if you know what fields to search) might be to have a nightly export from sql to e.g. mysql then have moodle access the mysql ? Have done something similar with CMIS ages ago, but now we just access the CMIS SQL directly from moodle.

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Various people are working on this issue. Your local SIMS support team should give you the licence code (on request) for activating IMS. In principle this may then integrate via sharepoint into Moodle.

    Watch this space.

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    Re: LGFL MLE

    Quote Originally Posted by budgester
    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    Is this a good VLE or bad VLE ?

    Even tho Moodle's free does this have more features than moodle ?
    There's the problem, the website doesn't give much information other than the usual marketing blurb,

    No demo, So we can't even see what we are getting.

    The moodle site runs on moodle, so we can see what is possible.

    If you want a specific feature in fronter, you have to hope and pray that the company will find it in there interest to add it in.

    And when we say moodle is free, don't forget that it's not only free of cost (to acquire the software, of course there is a cost for server, maintainence etc) but it it free to do whatever you want to it. I.e. open source, (see www.gnu.org) so if I want to add SMS texting with a link to my MIS system I can code it up and give that away free as well.

    So is this a good VLE ? I really couldn't say.

    Is this good software ? Check out the way the links to pages on there website work, I have never seen anything quite so odd.

    Is there a community of thousands of people around the globe using with information and courses being shared ?

    Is the LGFL going to share the process of chosing the VLE ? Becta only released there recommended VLE providers a few days ago, but thats another story.

    Is there a range of books and companies that help with training and support ?

    How many other Universities and Schools use the product so that skills are transferable for staff and students ?

    Do you want me to go on ? probably not, I'll try and shut up now.

    Regards

    Budgester
    I don't doubt your enthusiasm for Moodle and knowledge about its positive features, I have never used it so can't comment. On the other hand I have been a user of Fronter for a number years and I am a bit frustrated at how your painting it in such a bad light!

    Is it a good VLE? - Well by in large it is, I have found it to be reliable and robust.

    Does it have a demo? - Yes go on there web site and sign up for access, on top of that they are always happy to put you in contact with establishments which use it to give an unbiased view.

    Maybe you see the links on the website as odd but frankly you get used to it. I have seen far worse from some solutions!

    Fronter is open source based itself and is by in large one of the largest players in the market accross Europe with millions of users. Fronter prefers the community method to drive development with healthy online forums and regular user conferences. The UK user conference is during the autumn and allows Fronter to show new features, gain feedback and take back new requirements from the users.

    Fronter will happily add custom features for the userbase if asked, if its not critical this is usually done during the two annual updates.

    In the end Fronter is the preferred solution not the only choice, from the commercial products available its one of the best available in my opinion.

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