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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, Some Fronter detail please in Technical; We're in the early stages of building a VLE here in Neath Port Talbot. At the moment we're looking at ...
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    chriseboy's Avatar
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    We're in the early stages of building a VLE here in Neath Port Talbot. At the moment we're looking at a combination of Sharepoint with the Learning Kit and SIMS Web Parts and Moodle for class management.

    Could this Fronter thing be an alternative or am I misunderstanding? They seem to be a bit shy of showing the product off on their web site (no screenshots or online demos!), which seems a little dodgy to me.

    The thing we're finding with Sharepoint is that it is a nightmare to customise. We don't particularly want our VLE to look like a sharepoint site and we would like it to be XHTML compliant (after stripping a Sharepoint master page down to bare basics it still reports over 150 W3 errors!). Is Fronter any better in this respect?

    Anyone got any accessible links of this product running?

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    You can pretty much forget about customising frontier in any useful way.

    I spoke to Fronter about implementing our own code modules, and Fronter will not support custom versions, I must admit, I expected this since it is hosted remotely, a big problem imo.

    From the demonstrations I have seen, Fronter only "links" to SIMS in a very tenuous way, since it is hosted remotely and has no direct access to the SQL server, it cannot store information back into SIMS.

    As stated, it is not an MLE. I am not convinced it ever will be, either. When we questioned this, we were told it was Capita who were dragging their heels, but there was no timescale of when the integration would be implemented.

    My gut feeling is after two years (what the local county contract here lasts for..) it will likely be phased out in favour of moving towards SIMS Learning Gateway, which will have the proper SIMS links, and with some tweaking could probably do most of what Fronter does.

    If you email the fronter people you can get a login to their demo site, but if you are used to using sharepoint, I think you are going to be very underwhelmed, it is a very unpolished product.
    Last edited by klawd; 30th March 2008 at 11:35 PM.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klawd View Post
    As stated, it is not an MLE. I am not convinced it ever will be, either. When we questioned this, we were told it was Capita who were dragging their heels, but there was no timescale of when the integration would be implemented.

    My gut feeling is after two years (what the local county contract here lasts for..) it will likely be phased out in favour of moving towards SIMS Learning Gateway, which will have the proper SIMS links, and with some tweaking could probably do most of what Fronter does.
    Just a quick point here - I've not seen a VLE with full integration between itself and SIMS.net yet, due to problems writing back to SIMS (which is not allowed in most cases). Fronter is no different here.

    Also, SIMS Learning Gateway is *not* an MLE. It does not have any of the VLE functionality that fronter has. It is purely a web front end for SIMS.net. Sure, you could find a web-part based VLE to integrate into Sharepoint, but so far I've not seen any decent progress on this. For example, the Learnwise solution by Granada was useless. It promised integration with Learning Gateway, but what this meant was you could click a link which would log you in to the seperate system. And as this is Capita's partner for VLE's, this isn't exactly hopeful.

    If you combine SIMS Learning Gateway with Fronter, you almost have a full MLE. And once full write-back is available in Fronter, and single sign on is implemented across your particular LEA, you will have the full MLE.

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    I managed to get a demo login, and you're correct, I was disappointed. There just didn't seem to be a lot to the system and the design and layout was awful. Its no wonder they don't post any screenshots or online demos on their site.

    We have a demo in April of the new SIMS Learning Gateway and web parts and have seen their new online demo inside a sharepoint system. Dare I say it, it actually looks pretty good! I'll believe it when we have it installed on our own system though

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