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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, VLE - is it worth the spend? in Technical; Hi Guys We have just been having a discussion about which VLE, and where we need to move forward with ...
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    ceebster's Avatar
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    VLE - is it worth the spend?

    Hi Guys

    We have just been having a discussion about which VLE, and where we need to move forward with it.

    One question has come out, asking is there any academic gains from students who use a VLE against students who have no access to a VLE.

    As results is one of the important targets that schools have to work towards - have any schools found success in having them.

    Or are they just a waste of money, year on year with subscriptions and paying salaries for staff to keep them up to date

    All feedback and comments greatly appreciated

    Thanks

    Chris

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    alan-d's Avatar
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    I don't have any stats proving that a VLE improves education but another consideration is the cost of resources. Without a VLE how much more paper and consumables are used to reproduce teaching resources? The time spent creating paper resources is probably greater than the time it takes to create them within a VLE.

    We use Moodle hosted in-house so no subscription fees to worry about. It started as a trial to see if a VLE was a worthwile option and it has stuck. Some departments would not be without it and after 3 years or so even the technophobic elements are starting to embrace it.

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    bossman's Avatar
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    Our staff are truly embracing our Moodle VLE and for the cost (Hardware and Time) is minimum, now that the DFES has done a U-Turn on live data for parental access a lot of schools have been stung into buying VLEs at ridiculous prices just to accommodate this functionality.

    I have heard from numerous schools who have spent in excess of £30k for a certain VLE and more to find out that its Sims integration functionality is flawed and needs copious amounts of re-coding every time that Sims is updated.

    Go for an option that is both cost effective and that which staff will embrace.

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    "now that the DFES has done a U-Turn on live data for parental access"
    Have you got a link to this information I can look at?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rooney View Post
    "now that the DFES has done a U-Turn on live data for parental access"
    Have you got a link to this information I can look at?
    I would be interested to see that as well please.

    We have subsequently gone with Moodle and it is being very well received by staff and students.

    Andrew

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rooney View Post
    "now that the DFES has done a U-Turn on live data for parental access"
    Have you got a link to this information I can look at?
    I have searched for this as well and even asked the LA who couldnt find it and told my boss that the requirement still stood. I would very much like some info on this if possible

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    To bring folk up to speed on the general view of Parental Engagement, online reporting, online learning space, etc ...

    At the moment, with a number of Becta's roles being pulled back into DfE, there is no changed documentation to say whether this Govt likes or dislikes any of the above. DfE have met with a variety of people and have said that they recognise the importance (and success) that Parental Engagement has on improving attainment, achievement and the life chances of learners (I know, I know ... lots of buzzwords but that is the language they use) ... but there is still no clear direction on online reporting, etc.

    Most schools I know who haven't made a choice are holding fire ... but others are still going ahead because they see that, although the general target is not there, they know and understand the benefits it can have ... whether it works for their school or not is another answer.

    The other aspect of VLEs when look at the spend is looking at whether some of the functionality allows you to cut costs elsewhere. Ray Fleming's recent article looking at Sharepoint to save costs is a good example ... and other VLEs can do similar things. But it usually has to go hand in hand with your school development for other things ... and if the VLE (in whatever form) is just a bolt-on because they have to ... then they will not have any educational or financial benefit from it.

  8. Thanks to GrumbleDook from:

    john (16th October 2010)

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    Becta modified its appoarch to "live" info for parents quite a while ago. I don't know many schools that would agree to live updates on behaviour issues being reported to parents. It's still considered to be important to be current with info. ASCL strongly supports the concept of sharing data with parents in a timely manner.

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    One of the ways I got the English faculty interested in producing work for the VLE was in the run up to study leave and the exam period. Revision plans, possible questions and other reminders could be accessed 24/7 (and often are). It allows for two way communication between staff in school and pupils at home. Various problems could be ironed out, nerves calmed etc. The ability to see individual data on these pupils could then be correlated against expected results and those actually gained.

    One result you would expect is that those pupils who were most conscientious would get better results, and visited the online material most often. However, it appeared that the majority of pupils spent time online revising (they could of course have simply logged on and realized Coronation Street/East Enders were on and left the machine to watch them). Results have improved over the past two years this scheme has been run, and indeed exam results for the whole school are the best ever. In English it would be fair to say that those who were expected to do well did so, but there was an improvement in those who were marked down as getting a borderline D for example and gained the extra marks to climb up a level to C.

    I’m sure that our school is not alone in spending time concentrating on these “borderline” pupils, pushing them to achieve a higher mark and make the higher grade. What can’t be disentangled is if teachers pushing these pupils in conjunction with the online help led to these results, or if teaching alone was responsible for it all. The statistics show that the online revision material was used heavily in the run up to the GCSE exams; I’m responsible for the VLE, I don’t teach, but I believe that use of the VLE played some part in these raised results. It’s one of those things which can’t be proved or disproved without study over a longer period. It could also be that the quality of the last two years’ Year 10/11 cohorts was higher than in previous years.

    It’s very difficult to measure value for money in education when developing a young person’s self-esteem and life view.

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    Our moodle VLE has been relatively successful. We arn't typically a school who embraces new technology but SMT have pushed a couple of departments and most of the rest seem to be following suit. We don't use it to its full so Moodle seems like it has been a good move (no licenece fees for feature we dont use). A couple of things that got people on board are the masses of CDs/DVDs we already owned full to the brim with SCORM content which we gladly put on for them, and also the ability for teachers to set work for absent pupils with a simple "Do x,y & z from the VLE". The kids love doing work on a computer, and the teachers love not having to find out resourses, photocopy them, put them in the post/get someone to drive them round, loan out books etc.

    One of the things which pushed this along nicely was the volcano in Iceland. I simply reminded departments and SMT that if they had already been using the VLE then setting work for students stranded in other countries would have been a breeze, as it stood they had to type up their lessons and email them.

    Another thing which has got people on board is the ability to reuse resources. As long as the curriculum doesnt change too much from year to year, once you have all your lessons and homework up on the VLE that it, no more creating resourses, no more planning homework... they can focus on taking things to the next level rather than being bogged down with the mundane.

    And the last thing is as said, no more paper!!! The teachers who use it alot absolutely love being able to go home only holding their handbag, get home, log onto the VLE and mark away. No more forgetting to pick up a stack of paper or books. No more forgetting your 4gb memory stick and not being able to take pupils work home for marking...
    Last edited by j17sparky; 17th October 2010 at 11:47 AM.

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    would like to chip in about Moodle- its ace. ICT department runs through it (all class work, assessments, homework, tracking etc) helps pool our resources, printer gathering dust etc etc. Great. Had a capita effort before, utterly rubbish, researched around and went moodle. Has been super, and other departments beginning to get on board after a year of me plugging away and promoting. Don't know where I would be without it frankly. Has cost the school next to nothing and seems easy to maintain/host in house (although thats not my bag).

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    bossman's Avatar
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    Since building the Moodle VLE there has been a big take up from Staff and the SLT have now augmented a framework which has empowered the staff to take up their respective gauntlets and make it work for all departments.

    With this in mind I have not forced the parental access until now but have taken a different route with which to engage the parents and this is through a software company called TASC Software - excellence in education and at a very minimum cost per annum will allow parents to log into a portal and view their respective child's Sims data, live. This is very controllable also through various setups within the interface.

    This piece of software will allow the student also through AD authentication login to their own assessments and exam results or timetable. I have thought about parental access to our Moodle VLE but then had second thoughts as it would be a logistical nightmare whereas the Tasc Software just integrates with the Sims really well and at a later date we may be able to tie all three together when Moodle 2.1 is official.

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    Moodle or Sharepoint are both very attractive for variety of reasons. With the School Agreements from Microsoft you now get all Sharepoint features for "free" as well. Whatever you start with, ensure that the content is not platform specific and can be moved easily around afterwards; otherwise your first decision will be very important. Teachers don't like change and I wouldn't recommend anybody swapping platforms just because they can or want to.

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    Jobos's Avatar
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    Reading this thread I lost count of the number of times Moodle was mentioned but no word of Fronter which is the VLE used here... I wonder why

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    IMHO ... NO it isn't worth the money.

    I was sent a login yesterday by my daughter's secodnary school to their new VLE (won't mention it's name but it's mentioned in this thread).

    Virtually no information of any value, virtually no interaction for me, most of the options locked down (no permitted access), my contact details incorrect, achievement information just static sentences with no ability to see more. Utterly hopeless and I won't be going back to have another look anytime soon.

    I wonder how many other 'parents' like me in this scenario will reach the same conclusion. I wonder also what the stats are as to what % of parents EVER login to these (working in a Primary school I don't have numbers but I'm sure some of our secondary school friends here might know?)

    For me the idea of a VLE was a good one, but like so many things it was decided without talking to parents first .... build the mountain and the people will come!!

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