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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, Do we even need a vle? in Technical; Seems like VLEs are only there because the government told us that we had to have them, question is do ...
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    BassTech's Avatar
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    Do we even need a vle?

    Seems like VLEs are only there because the government told us that we had to have them, question is do we really need them? Especially now everything's going cloud based???

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    Surely if a VLE is in a school's DMZ or on an externally hosted solution, it is also 'cloud based'? They have their place certainly - not sure what in the cloud can do the same things in enabling consistency of access to materials at home and at school.

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    BassTech's Avatar
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    You're right but here at least teachers just use it to dump files on. God knows we've tried to use it as a learning tool - using it to set homework, lessons etc but it always just ends up as a very expensive place to store files and little else.

    We use frog by the way, I just think sometimes using dropbox or similar would suit better...

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    I agree that using a paid for solution in this way is wasteful, and needs to be re-assessed. Ours has some great content on thanks to some staff - they don't use it to dump files, they create courses and have access to various materials and SCORM content. Not all departments use it, but for those that do it's essential. This is on Moodle.

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    BassTech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3s-gtech View Post
    I agree that using a paid for solution in this way is wasteful, and needs to be re-assessed. Ours has some great content on thanks to some staff - they don't use it to dump files, they create courses and have access to various materials and SCORM content. Not all departments use it, but for those that do it's essential. This is on Moodle.
    We did look at moodle but it looks like it requires a lot of time to be invested in it from a techie, I agree though SCORM is very useful although 90% of the software departments buy aren't SCORM

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    broc's Avatar
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    We are wrestling with this very question.......again.

    I firmly believe you need the staff to buy in & have the leadership team behind it or you are doomed. I am not convinced we are there yet.

    My fear is we end up with a very expensive white-elephant 'off the shelf' or a millstone around the necks of the techies who are set the task of implementing something like Moodle on a shoestring budget.

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    BassTech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    We are wrestling with this very question.......again.

    I firmly believe you need the staff to buy in & have the leadership team behind it or you are doomed. I am not convinced we are there yet.

    My fear is we end up with a very expensive white-elephant 'off the shelf' or a millstone around the necks of the techies who are set the task of implementing something like Moodle on a shoestring budget.
    Very good point, there's only so much us techies can do whether it's an expensive VLE like frog or a free solution like moodle, sadly it all comes down to who is going to push it from SLT and get the teachers using it to its full potential. Not to mention we have just put in 'Channel 4 Clipbank' which is similar to a VLE but we fear is going to drive interest away from frog.

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    Agreed - Moodle needs a lot of time and effort investing in the setup. I cut my teeth on it so I'm pretty confident now but to get someone else in to support it would take a good amount of training, and therefore cost. It needs to be centrally supported with staff training flexibly available - implementing a VLE without planning as it's just 'the done thing' will most likely be a waste of time overall.

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    InterwebsGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee91 View Post
    Not to mention we have just put in 'Channel 4 Clipbank' which is similar to a VLE but we fear is going to drive interest away from frog.
    Unless that has changed vastly in the last 13 or 14 months, then it is nothing like a VLE. It is just a video repository, and a pretty poor one at that. We found Clipbank to have been a waste of money, staff nor the students bothered with it - they just wanted Youtube!

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    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    I think you can provide all of the tools that a student needs using different products,

    For instance we have a wordpress site for blogs, a terminal server (soon to be VDI), sslvpn for remote access to files (with a web interface), google apps and skydrive with live@edu for email and Moodle for course materials, as well as several other sites (MyMaths, Education City etc). These products are all combined on our main website for easy access by students.

    Staff can see student work through moodle/access to home areas/google apps.

    I'll admit it's not as slick as a VLE offering, the one area we could improve on is access to timetables but what else does a VLE offer?
    Last edited by Mr.Ben; 28th February 2012 at 03:50 PM.

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    broc's Avatar
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    We dropped Channel 4 Clipbank last year.... hardly used. Bought by previous Deputy Head without any discussions with anyone to see if it would get used. First I knew about it was when I got a phone call to say the installation engineer had arrived to install the 'server'. After I took it out it was almost 9 months before anyone noticed it had gone.

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    InterwebsGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    We dropped Channel 4 Clipbank last year.... hardly used. Bought by previous Deputy Head without any discussions with anyone to see if it would get used. First I knew about it was when I got a phone call to say the installation engineer had arrived to install the 'server'. After I took it out it was almost 9 months before anyone noticed it had gone.
    We could probably have done the same.
    It looked OK in the sales demo, but once we had access to the full product it was just one unbelievable let down. It had potential, it could have been so much better, but to me it always felt like they couldn't be bothered with it, developing it etc, which is a shame because Channel 4 have a huge library of educational TV. I personally still believe they should have put the full TV programs onto it, even if it's name implied it was only video clips.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    I have seen some schools do the yearly survey to look at what software / systems are or aren't used ... and one enterprising school (with agreement of SLT) put in some made up software. The survey gave a breakdown of all services / systems and software including suggestions of what it could be used for, real or otherwise.

    Since the survey asked how frequently you used the various software and with which year groups ... turns out that Dado-lite, a tool for testing literacy levels by teachers outside of the English department was really popular, as was ner-fur-ding! ... and educational numeracy game.

    It told the SLT 2 things ... staff don't always pay attention and staff may not always be truthful.

    The said school now has a strict policy that when software is purchased the department has to outline how frequently it will be used, what the impact will be and what alternative options they thought about first. Saying that, the VLE they use (and some associated tools) have good reports to show how it is being used and by whom.

    Back to the OP ... the present line from the Department is that if outstanding schools use it then others should do too ... like all things in schools though ... if it is not part of a central plan or doesn't have the evangelists ... it will get nowhere.

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    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    We have just got the results back from a student Moodle survey, to find out what they think about it and how often they use it, & it was overwhelmingly positive.
    Most negative comments were about:
    - the colour scheme or design (which is fair enough)
    - staff not putting stuff up
    - staff leaving old documents or resources up
    - organisation of some departments.

    81% use it at least every week. 73% found it worthwhile.

    Hoping to use this to beat the staff into bucking up as it shows students are expecting it so they are letting them down if they don't.

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    mthomas08's Avatar
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    VLEs Required? Nope. The Gov pulled that plug.

    Do you need it? I would say yes.

    Cloud: Pretty much is what the VLE stands for, cloud is not just about externally hosting it is access to anything everywhere. And Cloud still has a long way to go to really get things where we as a school need them to be. We purchased Frog and with this we get access to a VLE, SIMs data (timetables etc), Parent Portal and SecureGateway Externally/internally. So technically that is classed as Cloud, when people (non IT Literate) use that term they actually dont know what Cloud means.

    We house our Frog Server and we pay Frog a Set Fee for Support, Server Maintenance and future Updates. This means we are not paying an external company just to host a server sitting in their cooling area instead of it sitting in our cooled area.

    Do we need a VLE: This is a big yes, we want external access to our resources and with Frog we have an impressive looking VLE that students can get involved in. As a result they also have input and so do staff - thats an important thing and we have the backing of SLT which again is an important step in my view. With Frog granting easy external access to our network drives again Frog are on call to support this function along with Securegateway/Parent Gateway/Sims Data transfer.

    We actually had a meeting last night discussion Digital Communication/Curriculum/Marketing and although as always half of it was a waste of time the other half had some reminders that Students are getting more technology at home. Mobiles, IPads and laptops etc - which in turn why not use this to your benefit as a School? for us down the line we want Students to access Frog through those devices. Will all of them do it? Nope but how many of them actually would? I actually have had some students ask if they can sync their phones with our email which they can. I have not even advertised this with Students yet but at least 20 staff do currently use this facility.

    More and more of our staff are wanting to use External access to our facilities which with Frog again they can do this and students will be able to as well.

    Is this a benefit? I would say a huge yes, we have given network drive/SIMs access externally which are currently being used well. And with Students being given this facility we do hope it will improve Learning and in turn improve Grades. We also have the occasional student who has been sent home/ill/injury etc again they can access this facility. We have had a VLE for a while (non Frog) and the biggest down fall with it was the look and feel which was why we switched to Frog. We wanted more staff/students involved with a VLE Platform, we wanted more ideas and new ideas being thrown our way.

    Strangely enough we have had more people involved in the short time of owning Frog then we have ever during the 5+ Years of our previous VLE. Although that has given us the ability to see what works well and what does not and it does require more then one person sitting there doing it.

    So in the end if you have the backing of SLT and a Team actually willing to push it forward and Departments actually willing to go along with it and come up with ideas as well you can really go some where with a VLE.

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