A primary school has been speaking to me about their website.
Currently it is built on Uniservity, where they are paying over £1000 per year. As a web developer, looking at ALL websites built on Uniservity, they are horrible:
- Built on HTML tables. Maybe 8 years old, and limits what can be done hugly.
- Usability is awful, extremely hard to do the most simple of things
- 3 column block layout, so you cant make a website look good
I could go on forever, but simple answer is: they donít want to pay 1k per year, for this system where they cant make a good website.
So my couple of questions:
> Other VLEs such a Moodle are open source, and have good documentation, however it seems a lot of work to build a new system on this, that they may not use to its full capability.
> Uniservity advertises this "Life" system of theirs, that seems a lot more up to date, with a good layout and different tools. However, when I email them asking about it, and why I see no other school with this, they simply wonít answer the question I ask (3 times now), however seem to drift away from the question, whatís this about? And why donít these schools have or know how to get this upgrade?
I'm considering proposing to build a static website, maybe built myself or using a CMS such as Wordpress. However, the two questions above have me unsure.
All of the schools in our county are coming to the end of their contract with Uniservity and are being offered the opportunity to trial and sign up for the new Life site. We're currently looking at alternatives and one that looks promising to us is Microsoft Sharepoint. There's a free version (with some limited features) or the full version that still looks to cost less than the ongoing costs of Uniservity.
Is it just a website you need or a full VLE?
If just a website... Joomla nice and simple
If you need a VLE then the migration will require a bit more thought
See this is one of their problems. Currently they have Uniservity, and dont use the VLE part because the website is disgraceful.
However, I think that they should just go for a website, with their own domain and hosting, and have a area where files can be downloaded on a directory.
I would probably build the website on Wordpress, or CodeIgniter as I have most experience there.
I am moving all my schools over to Google Apps for Education. The Sites section is perfect for a primary school and is nice and easy for the staff to use.
I also work in East Sussex and know many schools that have just signed up for the Google package. The MS offerings are not very primary school friendly, that said, the college in uckfield has been using Google Apps for ED for almost a year, so its not just for the small schools.
If you just want a static website and don't need any particular VLE functionality then something like SharePoint from Office 365 for education or Google Sites from Google Apps for education (which are both free) might be appropriate.
I can only comment on Google Apps for ed but it is far from static as a website and can be used as a VLE with homework collaboration etc. You can also use google apps code to code your own stuff or integrate sims as someone had done listed in these forums.If you just want a static website and don't need any particular VLE functionality then something like SharePoint from Office 365 for education or Google Sites from Google Apps for education (which are both free) might be appropriate.
You can also integrate other core g apps into the site like calendars, start pages, blogs, forums, wikiis, widgets.........
Should have also put that you can create a form with questions and google will automatically gather all the responses and create a spreadsheet with graphs and charts.
There is a VLE add in for Google Apps - not sure how good it is and it's not free: look in the Apps store.
Also there is a proper CMS that you can run in Google Apps, which I'm guessing is more powerful than Sites. I have no experience of it but it might give you some pointers to Google. There are other tools about (some paid, some not) that let teachers manage and see what pupils are doing. The yanks are well into it all.
We pay for a very expensive VLE, and really I think it misses the point.
If the school just wants a cheap, clean and easy to use website I'd recommend Wordpress with a simple theme and nice calendar plugin.
If they want a Learning Platform too you could look at some of the companies that offer both such as Web Anywhere (cheap, but a bit limited) or DB Primary (more expensive but an excellent Learning Platform). I have schools that use both and are pleased with both.
I personally don't know much about Life. Even though I have a couple of schools that have bought it, they still haven't been migrated to it and have no idea what's going on! Come on UniServity - sort yourselves out.
As, for MOODLE, my personal view is that out of the box it's just not good looking/friendly enough for a primary school, so you can either spend loads of time configuring it to your needs, or if you really want to use it then go for Learn Anywhere (by Web Anywhere) which is MOODLE underneath.
Hope that helps.
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