Comparisons and advocacy

Choosing a VLE

 
Picture of Amanda Overton
Choosing a VLE
 

Hi,

I'm posting to the comparisons forum in the hopes of perhaps finding someone who might be able to assist us with some Moodle information. We've recently merged two colleges and we're in the midst of choosing a new VLE platform to move forwards with in the new organisation.

One of the possible options is Moodle, but while we can get comparative data from suppliers for other products like Blackboard or Canvas, there's no supplier as such for Moodle so we're looking for anyone who might be happy to fill in our criteria survey  to give us some further details about it.

It would probably take about 20-25 mins and we would be extremely grateful for any assistance anyone can offer.

Thank you very much,

Amanda

 
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Mary Cooch
Re: Choosing a VLE
Documentation writersMoodle Course Creator Certificate holdersMoodle HQParticularly helpful MoodlersTestersTranslators

Hello Amanda. There is a central place for information about Moodle suppliers - feel free to send a message via the contact form on https://moodle.com 

 
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Picture of Amanda Overton
Re: Choosing a VLE
 

Hi Mary,

Yes funnily enough, I have already sent them a message via their contact form to ask if they'd be able to offer us any assistance, but I've had no response, so I decided to try and widen the net a little by posting on here as well. 

Amanda


 





 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Choosing a VLE
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

Which partner did you contact and have you had a response since your last post here?

 
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Picture of Amanda Overton
Re: Choosing a VLE
 

Hi Marcus, I contacted Moodle HQ themselves because we're looking for general information about Moodle, not information specific to a particular partner. And no, I haven't had any response from them since my last post. 

 
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Picture of Just H
Re: Choosing a VLE
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Perhaps you could post a link to your survey or the actual questions.

There's general information about Moodle all over the web, so people can point you in the right direction or give specific answers if we know what you are looking for.

 
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Picture of Amanda Overton
Re: Choosing a VLE
 
Yes, certainly - the survey can be found here and any responses will be very much appreciated: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VLEproject


Basically, although we have gathered a lot of details from general web information, what we were hoping for now is some specific data regarding Moodle from people already using it which we can compare with the survey responses we have relating to other VLE systems.  But I can appreciate that it's a lot to ask in many ways!

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Choosing a VLE
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

If I were choosing a VLE and didn't know the subject area I would talk to as many end users at similar organisations, focus on end users, i.e. teachers and middle managers.  If you are an FE college try to get hold of as many people at FE colleges as you can.  Talk to anybody with the word "sales" in their title as a last resort. Book yourself to attend the BETT show in February to talk to the vendors (free to get in, a lovely day in glamorous Canning Town).

Most vendors offer ways of getting free accounts to experiment with the software, so you can get a MoodleCloud account that has some minor limitations (e.g. 50 users and 200 MB of disk space or some such). As you are consolidating two existing systems you will already have a good idea of the features of at least one contender.

Then investigate plugins including authentication and integrations. I notice you mention ProMonitor integration, I'd be very interested if you find a product with good integration with that.  Focus on the integrations. I'd be interested if anyone claims to be focused on FE as sadly its not where the money is.

For the international audience, FE is Further Education meaning mainly 16 - 19 year olds.




 
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Picture of Amanda Overton
Re: Choosing a VLE
 
Thank you so much for your advice and for taking on our very long survey! 

Yes, a trip to Bett is already in the pipeline and we're talking to people at a couple of other organisations who use Canvas and Google Classroom, but as you say, the more we get, the better. We also have a contact at Moodlerooms who will give us their slightly different perspective on Moodle!

If we happen to get any details of a system that does play nicely with Promonitor, I'll definitely pass on the details to you - we'll be using a lot of the Pro suite for our merged organisation so we'll be keen for any opportunity to integrate. 

But I agree, FE is often the poor relation in comparison to HE (Higher Education - degree level) or even schools. I think the thing that's encouraging the sales folk at the moment is that there are going to be quite a few FE colleges like ours that are going through mergers, and which will probably then be doing a similar process to us!

 

 
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Picture of Dave Perry
Re: Choosing a VLE
Particularly helpful MoodlersTesters

All the moodlers I know who've asked about ProMonitor integration have had to DIY it due to lack of support from Compass.

I'm leaving a message with one of my colleagues in MIS, who has been to the user groups (we know that certain features/capabilities we asked for have been developed, so clearly they do sometimes listen to the people maintaining instances of their products).

Alternatively you could ring your Compass rep and ask if they have any plans (and if they, please share them with the forum!).

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Choosing a VLE
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

Hi Dave, that is about what I have heard as well. Throughout my 12 years in FE I got vague promises from a major VLE vendor that they would do something about BTEC style grading (Pass,Merit Distinction), I left FE three years ago and there is still nothing from them addressing that issue.

It might be well worthwhile surveying how your current VLE systems are used. It could be that they are mainly used as a big shared drive and if so why is that and how might a new system help people get more real benefit.

I had not thought of the impact of mergers on VLE's we may well live through interesting times. Bedford College do some interesting stuff in the FE sector. One thing to be aware of is anyone telling you that they can automatically move content over through programming magic.

Ahh, the cinderella sector, you can amputate toes but still the slippers will not fit (and if they did you would be thought of as over funded and further painful cuts would be imposed)


 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Choosing a VLE
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

Last time I looked Google Classroom was not a VLE in the same way as other products mentioned when discussing this sort of thing. That is not to say it is not useful, just not a VLE.

 
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Picture of Amanda Overton
Re: Choosing a VLE
 

Yes indeed, it was one of those things we thought we should consider (like the Microsoft and Apple equivalents), but figured we'd probably rule it out pretty quickly as it doesn't have the overarching functionality of a VLE.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Choosing a VLE
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Why Moodle?

What is Moodle?

Why Moodle is Best?

Why Moodle Matters.

Moodle is Important to VET Students

These links explain a little about Moodle, but very little. I don't think they are precisely what you want, but they do provide some insight into the ways in which Moodle is used, how it is seen. There are a lot of links like these, but these were the first few I found. 

The most interesting one is "Why Moodle Matters". Basically, the author is suggesting that the numbers of users are actually self-reported, and Moodle's user base is open to anyone who wants to look at it, and they are just the registered users. Unregistered users don't get counted, and I know three who are not registered, mainly because I never bothered. smile (They are all small, limited use anyway, and when I have raised it, the owners have all said, basically  "Erm..um...oh..." which is code for "I don't want to upset you by refusing.")  I wonder how many other micro-Moodles there are that are not registered.

The main points about Moodle:

Unlike Canvas, Moodle is run on widespread and well known scripting, (PHP and JavaScript) database (Open Source), shell (Apache) web applications. Moodle is Open Source. You can, if you chose to, get your own coders to change anything you don't like. If you want to develop your own Moodle tools, most coders will be far more familiar with these technologies than with Ruby, I suggest. 

Unlike Blackboard, you don't have to wait years for expensive updates, you can upgrade every year if you want for your costs, little more than wages, and no licensing fees. 

Moodle does not pretend to be anything other than a LMS, it is not a mix of LMS and SMS. 

The main benefit of using Moodle is right here, these forums. No other product, AFAIK, has such a vocal and enthusiastic support network. Have a problem? Just ask, someone will help. 

 

 
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Picture of Amanda Overton
Re: Choosing a VLE
 

Hi Colin,

Thank you very much for the links - they were very interesting, especially the Why Moodle Matters one, which also then linked me off to listedtech.com as well, and that provided some more useful info on the various LMS systems and their take-up/usage.

I personally agree that Moodle's platform looks to be something far easier to support than Canvas's Ruby on Rails, but as far as the higher ups are concerned, it will come down in the end to the built-in functionality I think (although hopefully taking into account the massive amount of development that Moodle plugins provide). And as you say, the support that the community offers - which just in this one forum post has been brilliant! smile

 


 
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Picture of Gavin Henrick
Re: Choosing a VLE
Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersMoodle HQPlugin developersTesters

Hi Amanda

Thanks for getting in contact again!

Our global network of Certified Moodle Partners are the contacts who will be able to handle this kind of information gathering and needs analysis. Their staff are the ones who handle  similar queries all the time - whether it's about their services or Moodle in general. If you want to contact me directly I will introduce you to a Moodle partner who will be able to assist you.

Regards

Gavin

 
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