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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, UniServity - Between a rock and a hard place in Technical; We have used UniServity for the last 3 years after our authority went for this vle. They went for a ...
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    ICTCoordinator's Avatar
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    Post UniServity - Between a rock and a hard place

    We have used UniServity for the last 3 years after our authority went for this vle. They went for a loss leader and we have used it for free during this period. Now we have received our first expensive bill for renewal we are put in a real dilemma.

    On the one hand the vle is not great. It looks old fashioned and is not easy for most staff to use. On the other hand it is stable and some staff have put a lot of work into the vle for their departments. I know it is going to involve a lot of work and re-training to change to a new vle. I do not know much about Moodle but know that those who use it think it is great. We have had student teachers who use it for the colleges they come from and it looks good. Any advice from experience here would be welcomed.

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    Steven_Cleaver's Avatar
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    Hi

    We were in the same position about eight months back, we had the LEA's VLE for about 3 years for free and were just about to get the bill for it, same as you really we had a couple of departments using it well with a lot of resources but don't let this put you off going for Moodle we found although it took a bit of work you were able to move your resources to Moodle which we did over the summer and when staff came back we did some training with them and to be honest the ones that were using the previous VLE well took to Moodle really easily. We found Moodle much more user friendly than the previous VLE and to be honest alot more people are using Moodle than ever used the old VLE.

    Their is also bags of information on the web as regards Moodle and a lot of schools using it, we are also hosting this internally so we handle all the support for this and we can resolve any issues quickly and don't have to log support calls and wait for someone to get back to you.

    Good luck

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    ICTCoordinator's Avatar
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    Thanks for your reply Steven. What you are saying sounds very interesting and confirms some of my thoughts. What costs are involved in using Moodle?

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    Hi there. Uniservity to Moodle sounds a good move to me. Re (quote) What costs are involved in using Moodle? it can genuinely be anything from nothing to thousands (although fewer thousands than with a commercial VLE it must be said) If you host it on your own server it costs nothing but your admin needs to know what they are doing, which either means paying for training or giving them time to train themselves (perfectly feasible) Then also your teachers need training which again can be bought or can be done in-house by those who have played and taught themselves. (that's what we did) Alternatively if you don't want the hassle of hosting it yourself you can pay a webhost to do it -t this can vary from a couple of hundred pounds with a reputable web host or else a few thousand with an official Moodle Partner (companies officially accredited by moodle.)

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    Steven_Cleaver's Avatar
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    Hi

    Moodle is open source as you probably know so software is free as long as you have someone with reasonable technical knowledge, it can be set up by them it could probably do with its own Server so again this would be a cost and I have set this up over SSL (Encryted data) for security reasons and it is a requirement of our LEA of any web services we provide to the outside world.

    You can get an outside company to do this but it could prove costly as we had a look at this route ( anywhere between 7,000 and 20,000 for the whole thing) but decided to do it ourselves in the end.

    Very rough estimates

    Server depending on Specification: 2000 - 4000 including Server Licence.
    Domain name and SSL Certificate etc 3 years 200 approx or though you may be able to get this cheaper we used godaddy.
    Obviously the time in setting this up.

    We were lucky as I had already gone down the Server Virtualisation route so to be honest I didn't have to purchase a new Server just created a virtual Server to do this.

    The other benefit of hosting it internally is if for any reason you have internet issues students and staff can still access the VLE.

    If you want to have a look please find link below although it is in its early stages.

    https://moodle.lodeheath.org.uk

    The other good thing with Moodle is if you have Active Directory you can set it so users can use the same login for the network and Moodle.Before we set it up I found a couple of colleges in the area that were already using Moodle and visited these to see what it could do and for ideas. You can also download Moodle onto a USB stick and have a play with this if you type moodle on a stick into Google.
    Last edited by Steven_Cleaver; 15th January 2011 at 05:12 PM.

  6. Thanks to Steven_Cleaver from:

    plexer (27th January 2011)

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    Whilst uniservity is less than perfect, it is worth pointing out that they have just launched their next gen platform Life at BETT this week. Ignore the poncy "imagine a world..." type ads and ask to see it in action. That way you will be making an informed decision about swapping. You may also be able to negotiate pricing if they think you're interested. Our LA, whilst no longer paying for the VLE have negotiated a price based on the % of schools that continue with uniservity and a 12mth contract is cheaper than setting up moodle (although much of moodle's cost are in set up rather than continuous.

    Kat

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    Hi Steven like the moodle site we are just going down this road again due to uniservit costs. Can you let us know how you did the drop down menus and the bar that stays at bottom of the page even when you scroll
    Stuart

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    @rama1712 The bar that stays in place even when you scroll is available here: Moodle Bar v1.0 now available | Lewis Carr

    The drop down menu's are from the Aardvark theme which is available here: Moodle.org: Themes

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    I am looking at Google apps for Education for our VLE and have setup a website with access for the children. You also get all the other apps for free that link in with the website so if you create a document you can post that doc to the website without being in the website.

    If you have a google email account have a play with sites, then if you like it sign-up for Google Apps for Education which gives the school control over all Google products so you can restrict who has the calendar or can post videos .....

    Sites is soooo easy to use I can show someone how to use it in 15 mins but is probably better for primary schools.

    I have also seen that some authorities are moving to Google Apps.

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    Moodle

    Running a Moodle VLE can cost anywhere between 50 & 1000.
    In all honesty, it's not the cost of the moodle that is the issue, it's the training & development of staff where cost issues arise.

    As far as the platform itself goes, there isn't that much between uniservity & moodle, and even moodle 2 doesn't look amazing and new (unless you pay someone to develop skins for you).
    The question you should ask is what are you looking to achieve? Why do you want to replace one vle with another? Are you looking for eportfolios for pupils? Do you want areas for staff to share resources? When you know what you want, then you can look at the technology to support it.

    I run 120 moodle sites for my local authority. I'm moodle through and through, whilst I am very technically able, I can not run the background operations of a moodle, VLE, so you need someone to support you technically, (thankfully I have someone!) which involves cost. I've seen administrators moodle courses at 1000 a day that won't even touch the sides of what you need to know to keep your moodle running.

    I wouldn't bother hosting internally, the idea of buying servers is ridiculous when you can have a server sat in iceland/sweeden/san francisco that someone else manages. Besides, your school internet feed will not cope with a huge demand if your moodle grows.

    You are welcome to private message me if you need more info.

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    We are in the same situation. Microsoft are launching Office 365 (rebadged live@edu) for education with basic sharepoint for free, but then charging for full sharepoint on a per teacher per month basis.

    I am looking at a short term fix using skydrive, yacapaca, and other open forums. I know this is not ideal, but at lease we are in control of what we use and can use new features when and where we want. I have also come across EDU 2.0 for school: the free, easy way to teach and learn online, but not had time to really look at it yet (cost $900 per year for 999-2000 students!)

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    This is a strange post! No school has used the vle for free over the last three years. VLEs all over the country have been purchased by LAs using granTs from government. Some LAs gave the money directly to school and others chose the power of aggregated purchase and went used a tender process. Therefore the vle was bought on your behalf with your money.

    Strange you called it a loss leader. Uniservity was not cheap, but from what I know was cheaper than companies such as Fronter and RM. LAs were only allowed to put the tender to companies that provide many, many safeguards, resources, backing and data protection. They had to be Becta approved vles, moodle was not approved and doesn't have the safeguards that many schools should insist on.

    The new uniservity platform called Life looks good and simple to use. It looks more widget based and staff should get used to it far quicker than the present version.

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    Therefore the vle was bought on your behalf with your money.
    I know of schools that might have picked Uniservity had they been given the money and time to choose but don't like being told what they have to use. Some LAs are run as a business and the local schools are very weary of any info / requirements coming from the LA as it normally end up with them making a few quid.

    Another problem with this approach is they tend to choose tenders based on the secondary schools requirements but then expect the primary's to somehow shoehorn these features into their systems, which never works.

    Many Primary schools would have paid more if it reflected the requirements for a primary school but its not aimed at them.
    Last edited by edutech4schools; 11th February 2011 at 07:55 AM.

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    mylearningltd's Avatar
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    As far as a comparison to Moodle, I'd certainly recommend reading what the user "ning" above is saying. They give a good personal (and fair) portrayal of Moodle. It fits in with some of the experiences my collegues are having regarding the same product and environment.

    From my own experience of dealing with schools (existing and potential) the most important thing is becoming value for money (2011).
    Glitter and dazzle is giving way it seems for fundamental questions like "How is that going to help make things better?"
    With that in mind, FREE vs PAID is going to seem less important if the most important thing is going to be (and should be). "Will this help for the next 1-2-3 years?".

    To follow up on "dabroa"'s recommendations, I'd like to add My Learning UK Ltd to that list.
    Simple because they/we offer a Primary VLE that really is for Primary but at the same time can act as a Secondary.
    This solves the issue above mentioned by "edutech4schools" whereby a Primary school usually ends up with no budget or a VLE that the Secondary school selected.
    The needs for Primary vs Secondary are extremely different and to assume a Primary child could comfortably use a Secondary system in class (or at home) would be very optimistic indeed.

    Anyway, good luck with whatever decision you do make in the end!
    It would be good to know what your final decision will be
    Last edited by mylearningltd; 15th February 2011 at 04:34 PM. Reason: Mis-worded

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wirral_Wonderer View Post
    We are in the same situation. Microsoft are launching Office 365 (rebadged live@edu) for education with basic sharepoint for free, but then charging for full sharepoint on a per teacher per month basis.
    office365 email is still free - you dont have to take the sharepoint option if you dont want to.

  17. Thanks to apearce from:

    Trapper (16th February 2011)

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