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#1 Barney

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 01:06 PM

I realise that some of you use moodle. Would you recommend it and if so what costs are involved? I realise it is free but add ons cost money. How much do these cost and which ones would you needs to purchase?

Also moodle users out there - is it any good? Are there any others that are better? What about Frog. It looks good, but expensive?

Any thoughts would be gratefully received!

#2 Andrew Field

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:13 PM

There is a whole range of things that you need to consider regarding a VLE. Mostly in terms of where the funding is coming from and how much staff 'by-in' you can get. To many teachers they genuinely (and quite rightly) see the limitations of a VLE because they are mostly about creating a basic place for files to be uploaded. Yet those who really have the time and opportunity to develop something fully can make extensive use of a VLE.

If your school is sitting on an appropriate level of funding for VLE development I would have no question to suggest you use Moodle. It is not a free solution - the costs are transferred. To me, the costs are transferred in a far more appropriate way. Once you have covered the costs of hosting, you then need to invest in staff training and staff 'discovery time'. This means you are investing valuable funding directly in your own staff.

Commercial VLEs, which I currently believe are led by Frog, offer an alternative cost model. Frog is a fantastic solution and remove any issues in terms of hosting, updating and developing.

Thus the questions you are posing really aren't quite along the right lines - you need to look at the funding that is available and the staff who will run it. Do you have a range of techincal colleagues who have the time, inclination and keenness to run, seutp and develop a VLE? Do you have any county support, support from other schools etc. etc?

Whatever VLE you choose what is most essential is that the school invests time and effort directly into it. Moodle, Frog or anything else is of little use if it isn't going to help your students. Where have students got to at the moment? What web-based support is offered to them already?

I'd suggest contacting Frog directly and asking them to provide you with some example schools - talk directly to them, look at costs and training. Then set this against the brilliant flexibility of Moodle and where the costs there reside. Also look online for Moodle partners - they will be able to provide costings and support for hosting. This will allow you to identify the best direction to go in.

At my school I've developed a student portal at http://www.neale-wade.net where we've developed a VLE using Moodle - http://www.nwvle.net. This has mainly been because we had the enthusiasm, but didn't have the available funding. If I was at the same position again I think I would still go for Moodle, mainly because I really appreciate the flexibility and functionality - I can extensively customise it to my needs and even program additional elements. Frog offers similar customisability but at a cost. I've spent literally hours developing, upgrading, tweaking and adapting our VLE. For me, as a Head of ICT, I really like what we currently have. Yet I'm not sure I would be the same as a Head of History. I can track what work students have submitted, feedback, offer suggestions and support students' learning further. The VLE is an ideal learning tool for my ICT courses. It wouldn't be appropriate usage for a history lesson involving engaging discussions, role-play, arguments and source analysis. Granted many of these things can be done 'online' but the VLE has to support the learning in school. For ICT, the courses we've designed on Moodle do this extremely well. Yet the effort there has been in the preparation, adaptation and development. The time spent doing this has been extensive.

What really annoys me is how some companies have taken an enormous amount of funding out of education by providing sub standard 'look alike' products that are a basic webpage with little more. I haven't even mentioned these in this post.

Barney - do have a look at http://www.effectiveict.co.uk/ where you can ask further questions about the ICT side of things if that is of interest.


Generate your own versions of my games, quizzes and eLearning activities: ContentGenerator.net

#3 Barney

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 11:55 AM

Thank you so much for the reply. We origionally used Moodle, then went to Fronter (not my choice!) due to county buying into it. It is not very good in terms of its functionality and it does not work on our network due to latancy issues we cannot fathome. On good thing about Fronter was the ability to interact with students on a forum. Does moodle have forums that can be monitored? also I believe now that there is a sims module - do you know how much?

Or rather is there someone I can contact who works for moodle if there is such a person. Sorry to be think!

Thanks!

#4 James Potter

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:33 PM

I agree with everything Andrew has said above.

In my experience of implementing moodle sites, you have to try to firstly, get the SLT to understand that there needs to be a staff time commitment, IE freeing staff for training/discovery. Also, this needs to be done on a fairly regular basis as a training session a term probably won't cut it in the early days. For me this seems to have been the major barrier to decent whole school progress with moodle, as you get a few enthusisatic departments which are keen to work on it in their own time, but then other departments who never touch it because they don't have the time/interest/technical expertise in it.

If the SLT can't do this, then I'd suggest going for something a little more commerical which is pre-built to your specifications, although as Andrew said there are more 'up front' costs, and a lack of flexibility which you can get with moodle.

I'm afraid I can't help you with paid for moodle modules as I've never used them.

Good luck!!

James

#5 mikel

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:45 PM

Thank you so much for the reply. We origionally used Moodle, then went to Fronter (not my choice!) due to county buying into it. It is not very good in terms of its functionality and it does not work on our network due to latancy issues we cannot fathome. On good thing about Fronter was the ability to interact with students on a forum. Does moodle have forums that can be monitored? also I believe now that there is a sims module - do you know how much?

Or rather is there someone I can contact who works for moodle if there is such a person. Sorry to be think!

Thanks!


I use the Moodle forum all the time to get the students to "brainstorm" essays before they start writing. It works really well.
Mike Tribe

#6 Barney

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 11:57 AM

I know that this might be a silly question but...

If we used moodle how long do you think it would take to install and get it running so that staff could start working with it?


Ball park time would be great - in the region of... :)

#7 Guest_Nick Dennis_*

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 01:20 PM

I would take a look at Jan Webb's article which highlights what needs to be done to deploy a VLE successfully.

#8 Ben Walsh

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 09:22 AM

Just wanted to say what a good article this was - thanks for flagging it up Nick. The continuing disconnect between visionaries, ICT providers, school managers and frontline teachers is understandable and explicable but this does not make it any less frustrating or damaging. As a History teacher my biggest single concern is that in many schools (the majority in my personal experience) ICT is seen as relevant to some subjects and much less relevant to others. This perception is held by managers, students and even subject teachers. Many History teachers never even get the chance to try something out. All too often the fundamental root cause is the seemingly unending desire of management teams for quick fixes when all evidence points to the conclusion that any worthwhile innovation takes time and commitment if it is going to have a large scale and recognisable effect. The quick fix mentality is rather nicely summarised in this Dilbert cartoon - it's not exactly research data, but I suspect many of us will recognise the picture!
http://www.dilbert.c...mic/2011-01-07/




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