Comparisons and advocacy

MS Class Server / Sharepoint

 
Picture of Darren Smith
MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Anybody using Microsoft Class Server? I'd be interested in what people though of it in terms of:
  • How it compares with moodle
  • How students feel about using it
  • How staff feel about using it
Thanks,

Darren Smith
 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Go back to the year 1996: Teachers don't have VLE's and construct webpages by hand - all different from the others - and they use separate tools for construction and communication with their students. Where can you put in this Microsoft approach the educational arrangement and integration you are used to in Moodle? (or aTutor or Dokeos..)

My killing comment: you do not need a VLE? I agree, give students a good old paper encyclopedia, a SMART assignment on paper and say: learn! (why not? What makes just the use of internet - any use - magic? explain..)
 
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Picture of Samuli Karevaara
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersTranslators
"What makes just the use of internet - any use - magic? explain.."

I vote for the dialog: interaction between real humans via a technical gizmo.
 
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Picture of joe mc-h
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

I have just finished overseeing an implementation of sharepoint and classserver (microsoft learning gateway).we worked with a microsoft Gold parnter and have a "customised" solution (as long as customised means our own logo). We have finished testing and in house piloting and I am about to go live with client piloting (I work as part of an adult and business education division of a college).

The features are great but I have found it almost impossible to create a flowing learning experiance within the course sites (SharePoint services collaberation sites).

I can create nice sequences within the ClassServer Asignments but these need to be assigned (thus appearing in a list on an assignments page), and can't be embedded alongside other activities or linked to. (if I'm wrong please tell me any help would be appriciated!).

I'm currently looking at my options. The one that looks most faverable at the moment is to get rid of classserver. Turn on "my site" within SharePoint. use sharepoint to run email, and document stores. And use moodle to create the "course sites" with all the learning activities it has etc....

We are lucky enough to have a .net developer (who nearly had a heart attcak when I suggested a php/open source system). he thinks (Ok I think) that he could right a web part that would display a students enrolled courses from my site.

I will be running with the MLG for the next few weeks during the initial pilot and will be using it with other trainers and learners.

I'll post how I get on in a few weeks

 
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Picture of Leonhard Küllinger
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
I try evry year Class Server on an Singleinstall. We could have this for free (our ministery pays this for all schools in austria). And i am glad that we are working on moodle smile. Class Server is not handylike for teachers who wont spend all their time on configuring courses. Its to complex to get something useful on the road. I have to teach my colleagues and know the circumstances they are worring about. If they don`t work every day with the progs they have to find the right things getting the lesson running. With Class Server its almost impossible.
 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
By the way, children do not need these kind of products for pure sharing: they share already for years with ALL THESE FREE TOOLS, LIKE MSN, SKYPE, HYVES.NL..
The point is that sharing is not the same as collaborate in a learning setting where the teacher can monitor the process and give feedback instead of grading the final product:
These M$ products fail these:
  • No way for real collaboration
  • No easy way for a teacher to monitor the learning process
again, if I am wrong then show me...
 
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Picture of John Rodgers
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
I wonder if you're right Ger.

I have looked at MS website again (just as I have periodically for the last year or two) and I haven't been able to get any indication of how the "quiver of tools" works.  I notice one lesson plan starts out with...

Put this Word document on all of the students computers...Read this web page... discuss this topic...

I really want to know more, since I expect the active directory part will be very appealing to IT if they are ever approached by MS, but it really looks like a disparat set of tools lumped together as an LMS.
 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
  1. Which - in class server integrated or with class server communicating - tool (other then classroom live discussion, nothing wrong with that by the way smile) are they using for that discussion? I could not find any tool on the M$ page that could support that.
  2. How can you as learning coach monitor the transcripts of these discussions? 
  3. How can the student see the picture - other then a billboard with tasks on it - of the relations between the resources, the goals and the activities?

I saw http://www.examstutor.com/ in another thread. Has the same narrow view of delivering content, tests and tasks and then offer personal tracking of the results.. Is that all there is in your educational view? 
 
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Picture of Martin Brown
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

Hi

I am one of the developers of examstutor, and I think you guys have got the wrong idea about us.

We developed examstutor as a response to the cost of commercial vles, it does the things teachers that use it want it to do, based on the feedback we get from users, we charge schools a subscription fee of £10 a month per subject for all students and all staff on and off campus, we host examstutor for all institutes and maintain the site, provide content, all for £10 a month. We think moodle is great, we aren't out to compete with you, in fact we are aware of subscribing schools that use moodle, and also use examstutor with students for its content, we are trying to provide an option for schools and individual teachers that is simple to use, and has content from the start.

PS Does anyone think its worth having a preview option in the forums ?

We are not looking at examstutor as the ultimate vle, simply a very usable environment that helps teacher support students as they prepare for exams .. hence the name, please do not pigeon whole us as a competitor, because we aren't at all. In fact this posting is our first attempt to open up communication with you guys. Because our view of education is a very open one Ger.

 
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Picture of John Rodgers
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Thanks Martin:

What about an examstutor/moodle integration?cool
 
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mberry
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Hi Martin,

It's great that you're charging something reasonable for the service. approve

One of the issues facing schools investigating Moodle is the relative lack of content available - most of us have had to start from scratch for our courses, which I've found very empowering, but feedback has it that this isn't everyone's cup of tea.

Now the situation will be eased a couple of years down the line, when SCORM packages are as readily available as photocopiable worksheets, but for the time being, there's an interesting niche which smaller scale, technically literate firms might well be able to exploit.

You've got loads of content, we've got a world class VLE with a huge user base, how about packaging some of your stuff as Moodle courses, resources or activities for schools to use, ideally with the option of them being able to adapt the resources to suit their own context?

PS, forums can manage without preview, as threre's a (configurable) 30 minutes to edit the post.
 
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Picture of Martin Brown
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

Hello Miles and John

Yes, lets do it, is the short answer.

Examstutor is php / mysql based, which from our understanding so far is the basis of moodle, and therefore there may be a number of ways content can be integrated into moodle. Examstutor content is much more than photocopiable worksheets. We already enable institutes to integrate examstutor content into intranets, removing our own 'intelligent navigation system', we have also done some work on integration in the other direction with school intranet resources being incorporated into examstutor, so yes there are a number of ways this could be achieved.

I think we'd need institutes to subscribe to examstutor to integrate the content into their version of moodle, as I think I mentioned before we already know of institutes that use moodle and subscribe to examstutor for its content. We pay royalties to authors of content, donate 10% of institute subscriptions to educational charities, and use the rest which isn't alot, to maintain and develop the site, I personally believe our subscription fees are not just 'reasonable', they are down right cheap.

 So, lets talk about how we can do this, we are new to moodle itself so the solution maybe very obvious to you guys, or we may even be able to find a new way to do this that works for us both.

I look forward to talking about this further, as we are big fans of what you are trying to do with moodle, and the way you are trying to do this.

P.S. Clocked the 30 min edit option after i'd posted my first posting, familiar with other forums providing this preview option so expected it here, like the option of realising that everything you typed 15 minutes ago was madness, and being able to go back over it.

 
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Picture of John Rodgers
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
This sounds like a great idea Martin.  I'm subscribing to Examstutor as I type.

I don't have a great understanding of Moodle development, but one of the important directions is the development of a web services approach, as well as an API to interact with repositories.  This might be a good place to start.

One of my favorite and most worthy educational charities is a free open source program called Moodle.wink
 
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Picture of Martin Brown
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

Hello John

We'd welcome your subscription support, I think if we are serious about this we should offer a reasonable discount to institutes that are working with Moodle if they want to access the examstutor content, through it. If you are subscribing for the school / college you work at.. email us at helpdesk@examstutor.com and reference this posting.

We are big fans of Moodle, but we are also big fans of our adopted charity

Schools for Children of Cambodia, British Registered Charity No: 1099609

They build/run/maintain schools for children in Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world, who would not otherwise be able to attend school. The money we raise gets spent sponsoring students, teachers and buying equipment for the schools - not vles - but shelves, tables, chairs.. we like this as its an an example of how a Virtual Environment can support Real Learning Environments, and it recycles education funding - schools subscribe to us using e Learning Credits, some of which then goes onto fund education the otherside of the worldsmile

You can find out about the charity on examstutor, and even make an independent donation if you like what they are doing.

In reference to the initial posting we are still looking at Moodle, and still at the head scratching stage - we can see, for example, that you could link to examstutor content as an online resource within a course created in Moodle, we could do this so pure content comes through without a second level of navigation from examstutor. But we are also wondering if we should think about creating the entire course and packaging this with the links already set up, so it can be 'plugged into' a school / colleges version of Moodle, is this a possible?

Any suggestion / advice would be greatly welcomed, we are based in Enfield, if there is a school / college in North London that is using Moodle we'd be keen to talk to you, and possibly pilot something with you.

Anyway, please feel free to contact us, as we are keen to get this off the ground, once we know the best way to do it.

 
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mberry
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
But we are also wondering if we should think about creating the entire course and packaging this with the links already set up, so it can be 'plugged into' a school / colleges version of Moodle, is this a possible?

It's entirely possible, and content like this would be very useful to many schools. I guess the next stage would be to set up your own copy of Moodle and start playing with porting the content across - as your system's also php/mysql based it might be possible to automate this via a script, but it may be easier to start with copy and paste! Moodle has good support for SCORM, which is likely to be the English schools standard for content, so it may be wise to move some resources into this format, so they can be re-purposed later anyhow, eXe and reload are worth exploring for this. More important things like discussion forums, chat and collaborative space have dedicated activites in Moodle, as they do in other VLEs that support them.

Moodle has its own (open) course backup format, which allows entire courses to be moved from one instance to another. So far though, most folks haven't worried too much about IP issues with this, so you'll need to get this locked down via a watertight EULA rathter than technical means, unless you're inclined to go creative commons wink

I'd suggest looking at something at GCSE level, other than ICT, as a pilot.
 
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Picture of joe mc-h
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

Hi Miles,

If you want to look at an installation of Microsoft Learning Gateway, your welcome to come and visit.

I can show you the moodle insatlation I'm playing with as well side by side.

I will publish a comparison on this forum soonish, but not before next half term.

Joe

 
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Picture of Farhan Mohsin
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

hi,

can you plz send me the link of Microsoft Learning gateway, you have implemented, with cost & requirement to

farhan_mohsin@hotmail.com

Regards

 
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Picture of Darren Smith
Examstutor with Moodle
 
I vote for the plugged in method big grin. I don't really like the idea of VLEs being jump stations and it could also then integrate with Moodle's gradebook cool but this would probably be a longer term aim.

You could put all of the resources together into a course and then this could be very easily imported into your customers Moodle sites. See my site for free examples - http://www.e-subjects.co.uk - or the moodle exchange on this site. Oh, on that note the is definitely a market. I have put up a GCSE revision course and some A level computing courses (created by David Berry) and the site membership has jumped to over 500 and I am getting between 2 - 4 thousand daily hits!

If the course import model isn't flexible / specific enough then you could create your own course format to get it looking exactly the way you wanted and this could be very easily installed in the school's moodle installation.

I am very interested to see how this could pan out and have just subscribed for a trial. Once that has gone through and I have had a play I will may have a clearer idea of how they could be linked together.

I have held off contributing to the discussion as this seems to be the wrong forum. Perhaps this part of the thread could be moved or we can pick this up in another moodle forum where we are likely to be able to involve other moodlers who would an interest in this? Perhaps the K-12 forum?
 
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Picture of Martin Brown
Re: Examstutor with Moodle
 

Thank you Darren

Happy to take your lead on correct forum, and we will take a look at your site.

We will set up a test Moodle site, to experiment with possible options. It sounds like the the plugin version is the best option if we can get it working, there are possible issues with this for us, but we my be able to find a nice solution.

If you have requested a free trial we will probably set this up for you this comming week. There is overlap between Moodle and Examstutor - which has online testing, tracking, resource upload / download, links directory facilities for institutes, we are assuming that Moodle schools would want to stay with the Moodle tools for these elements.

 
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Picture of joe mc-h
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

Hi Miles

Have you seen the NLN materials?

Joe

 
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mberry
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
No.
Well, I managed to look at some a while a go, but they're only downloadable by folk in FE or ACL, so we mere school teachers don't get a look in.
I find it equally amusing that the BBC Jam materials (such as they are) are only going to cover half the curriculum, so as to preserve the market for commercial developers.

I see you're in Godalming. That's where I live too. Freaky.

 
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Picture of Joel Brondos
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

I have loads of ClassServer quizzes and tests I've painstakingly created/edited. Is there ANY way to export/import/integrate them for Moodle use?

 
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Picture of joe mc-h
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

Re-reading my post I feel I was a bit harsh on the Microsoft Gold Partner!

As far as ClassServer goes there was little customisation carried out. HOWEVER. They did intergrate our MIS --> Active Directory --> ClassServer Database which work extreamly well!.

They also set-up the MLG as per the Microsoft implementation guide.

Without a huge effort there is little to customise as far as ClassServer goes or making SharePoint services sites into an intergated fully featured VLE.

I didn't want anyone to get the impression that I was unhappy with the service of the Gold Partner. 

Joe

 
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Picture of Farhan Mohsin
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

hi,

can any one share the implementation link of  microsoft learning gateway

those whose have implemented sharepoint and classserver (microsoft learning gateway) plz reply

farhan_mohsin@hotmail.com

 
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Picture of Gary Lyon
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

For me, dialogue is very big,  but also:

  • The opportunity for flexible learning environments and experiences.
  • The ability to capture the learning/exchange process of students as a part my efforts to continuously improve the impact of curriculum.
 
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mberry
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
I'm not using it, but I've seen it in action in a few places. They're using it at Shirelands Language College up (or in your case down) in Sandwell, and have had a lot of interest in their work. I'm sure they'd be happy to tell you more. Interestingly, their version had one discussion board for the whole school, which they'd turned off because it was being abused!.

The following is not an exhaustive or authorative list.

Things Class Server can do that Moodle doesn't yet:
  • Individual allocation of work
  • Mark essays
  • Full integration of the whole Microsoft experience (Office change tracking etc.)
  • MIS integration (although I've heard this described as done with string and masking tape, however MS are involved with SIF in the US)
  • More granular permission/role management (if I remember correctly)
  • Curriculum objective tracking (I think)
  • Curriculumonline integration
  • Cost you an arm and a leg

Things Moodle can do but Class Server can't:
  • Wiki based collaborative work
  • A wider range of integrated communication tools
  • Provide read/write access to the source code (this is the crucial difference, as this means the code can evolve to embody the needs of the users, and, in theory at least, allow for integration with pretty much anything; I'm told that MS are keen to get UK schools more involved in Class Server development, though)
  • Modular resource and activity support
  • Mark algebra (well, when STACK integration is working post 1.6)
  • RSS, CSS, Language support,
  • Provide free support through Moodle.org




 
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Picture of Frances Bell
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Miles,
3 questions
Is MS Class Server based on Sharepoint?
Do you know what the licence structure is (server, content provider, user - all need licenses?) ?
May I quote your comparison (duly attributed) in a project report I am writing?
 
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mberry
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Hi Frances,

Is MS Class
Server based on Sharepoint?
Not exactly, but do use all the functionality you'd need sharepoint, I believe. Please bare in mind that I'm no MS expert!

Do you know what the licence structure is (
server, content provider, user - all need licenses?) ?
Server licence I think, together with client access licences (per student, according to Pugh's price list, see http://www.pugh.co.uk/Products/microsoft/classserver-4.htm
I guess you also need an MS-SQL server. I'm not sure about the licencing for content providers, probably not necessary as its SCORM 'compliant'. I guess there's be some sort of deal to get on the approved content providers list.

May I quote your comparison (duly attributed) in a project report I am writing?

Yes, in so far as it's now in the public domain, but I would emphasise that it's not an authative view!
 
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Picture of Frances Bell
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Sorry for delay in thanking you - I was submerged in project deliverables so - thank you Miles big grin
From what I can see from the links you provided
there are two levels of licensing for MS Sharepoint (haven't checked CLass Server)- server and client, priced for UK education as follows
Share Point Portal Server 2003
ex. VAT
Media
£21.06
MOLP A
£1299.00
MOLP B
£1245.00
Share Point Portal Server 2003 Client Access License (CAL)
ex. VAT
MOLP A
£29.00
MOLP B
£27.00

It is not clear what a client is (content provider or plain user).
We were considering using this on CABWEB but needing to manage these licenses for our fairly short term collaborations with variable number of users would have been:
a) expensive
b) a lot of work
If students had needed a client license, it would have been - very very expensive!
The moral is - we made a good decision to go with Moodle.
I'll leave you  guys to tussle with MS Class Server.
As an oldish IS person, let me remind you all that "supplier lock in" is the payback for marketing investment.  A bit of lock in is realistic but let's take the long view.
FYI, on our project, we went with Moodle about half way through the two years.  We have adopted a 'configure not customise' strategy (wouldn't suit everyone) that fits our situation of short term funding, since we can upgrade merrily with little extra work and increase our chances of sustainability.
 
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Picture of joe mc-h
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

I believe that you would also require a SQL server, which would require licencing.

 
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Picture of Graham Glass
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

You only need a SQL Server if your database is going to grow over 2GB (actually that might be 4GB) I think, otherwise you can use MSDE.

My understanding is that you need...

Class Server Server + CALs

Sharepoint Portal Server + CALs (can't use the free Sharepoint Services for the Learning Gateway, has to be SPS)

Optionally Exchange Server + CALs

Optionally SQL Server - Server + CALs

ISA Server (though this is only a couple of hundred quid, you might end up having to get a new server if you don't run this already).

It starts getting really expensive when you factor in the licensing for remote access - as far as I understand it you end up paying a SPS licence cost for each potential remote user (not concurrent); and given that the SPS licence is something over a tenner, that's hellishly expensive for even a medium-sized school.

Like the product though.

 
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Picture of Dave Emsley
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
Particularly helpful Moodlers

I saw the product at BETT and have to say it looked good.  Its single, main score is integration with other MS products; MS Server, IIS, email, explorer, internet explorer, office etc.  They may not be good products but they're adequate for the job and the advertising clout of MS is going to end up forcing it into many, many schools sadIMHO

The front end looks very similar to all VLEs however the big win that the product scores is a single log in for all functions.  

Due to the clout that MS has at LEA level it's my view that sharepoint is going to become the basis of the mechanism for data transfer to and from LEAs and therefore they'll have the unfair advantage in all departments.

sad

Dave

 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
Core developers
Hmm, I looked at it a few months ago and joined the mailing list on MSN. It seemed a feature impoverished product back then and the mailing list is pretty much dead (1-2 messages/week on a busy week).

Back then I couldn't find a site that really talked about it's use as a VLE/LMS, just alot of marketspeak about how it integrated with other products (but not what it adds to them?). From the main site it appeared to me to be some lower level managers pet project rather than something MS was really interested in moving on.

It also isn't even mentioned at edutools (http://www.edutools.info/item_list.jsp?pj=8) which seems odd if this is a space MS really wants to move into.
 
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mberry
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Now that's one for Frances to quote: "it appeared to me to be some lower level managers pet project" Ace!

Believe me, things are very different in the UK schools market, into which large sums of tax-payers' money are about to be poored at regional and county level.

We're hearing lots from Microsoft, RM and Capita, as well as a few of the content providers themselves, none of whom feature in the global or HE VLE marketplace, and nothing yet from Blackboard, WebCT, or indeed Sakai, who have all the experience at HE level. There's some interest from FIrstClass and Uniservity, and DigitalBrain has a share of the present market, but these are relatively small fish when compared to the above.

Moodle, however, has a great following amongst those teachers and schools that have tried it, and amongst the more enlightened local authorities smile

There are a few threads about this situation elsewhere on Moodle.org: try e-strategyMoodle in UK SchoolsUK LP standards | Learning platforms (a good starting place) | Programmes of study vocabularies | MIS integration | Learning Services Framework Agreement
 
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Picture of Darren Smith
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Thanks for all of the responses so far smile

Intergration with exchange and the like does seem to be it's main strength. It also seems to intergrate with Facility CMIS perhaps via SIF as Miles mentioned. It also seems to be strong on bringing all of the data on a child together whereas moodle has this scattered across the site. Also the school Miles mentioned seem to be doing interesting things with roles.

This is all very tempting but I do have one concern. Is it not too complex for non-technical teachers? Is it straight forward to get it to do what you want?

Darren
 
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mberry
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Well, Shirelands are using it for, I think, all their curriculum. That said, they've a team of 11 full-time multimedia developers on the staff!

I think Moodle's built-in content creation tools are likely to present an easier learning curve for non-techies, but the resulting resources and activities won't be as visually stunning or game-like as something the pros can put together. This isn't an issue for us, as I'd favour function over form and content over presentation if I had to choose. I guess there's more sense of ownership of the environment and its contents in Moodle. This matters.

"Is it straight forward to get it to do what you want?"

Well, that rather depends on what you want. As it's closed code, if what you want's on the features list, you're fine; otherwise, not so much.
 
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Picture of Alan Dodson
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

I'm the Learning Gateway Director for the Primary School 'node' of the Learning Gateway based at Shireland Language College.  I feel it's worth pointing out that the Shireland Gateway is not just in use in one school - currently we have around 50 schools, Primary and Secondary - the LG provides us with the tools to collaborate within and between schools in a way that would be very hard without the technology.

Class Server is only one aspect of the Learning Gateway - the tool for delivering and creating online work assignments.  Email, discussion boards, polls, surveys, IM and others all contribute to the collaboration as a whole.

As for "Is it straight forward to get it to do what you want?" - that is the key - the thinking needs to be ' I want to do this - how can the LG help?' rather than 'What can it do, so how can I use it?'  The tools are simply that - what users use them for is up to them.

 

Alan Dodson

alan.dodson@shireland.sandwell.sch.uk

 
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Picture of Mike Mr.
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Pardon my ignorance.

1. What is a VLE?

2. What is a LEA?

Thanks!


 
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mberry
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
VLE = Virtual Learning Environment, ie a Course Management System, but with more of an emphasis on providing communication and collaboration tools; in the UK schools sector, the term 'learning platform' is preferred (though not by me...)

LEA = Local Education Authority, is the county (or borough) wide public body overseeing schools. They're now called just Local Authorities, I guess because the education bit has caused problems wink.
 
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Picture of Yew Hong Ng
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
My school (in singapore) is starting with MS Class Server next month, just went down to Microsoft Singapore yesterday to see the demo. Looks good. As a content management system, and an education administrative portal, it looks quite sophisticated. But as an LMS? I'm still not sure. For one thing, the demonstrator failed to answer questions like whether Mathematical symbols and non-latin languages are supported (it seems like the answer is no). The way questions are created in setting tests and quizzes also leaves much to be desired - the demonstrator failed to show us how pictures can be inserted, and I dun think any other media (flash, mov) is even possible. Our school is integrating this with our Tablet PCs for all students initiative, so we got to see some custom features specially developed, and those look good. Give me 2 months and I can probably provide a better evaluation.
 
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Picture of Darren Smith
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Thanks for the feedback, Yew.

I have come to pretty much the same conclusion. I will look forward to more information in a few months if you feel you have anything to add.

Thanks again,

Darren
 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Show me where students can work together and teachers can monitor the process? (what's in the name sharepoint smile)
 
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Picture of Darren Smith
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
It would appear students can work together in a number of ways. It does not seem to have a wiki as Mils mentioned but it does have integrated e-mail and integration with MSN messenger which our kids certainly use more than moodle messenger. It appears to have a DMS which allows file sharing which moodle is lacking at the moment. It also has forums and other methods which moodle uses.

As for monitoring progress it buries Moodle hands down I'm afraid.

The gradebook is centralised. Targets can be set to individuals and assignments can be marked against the target. Graphs, charts and data can be produced for individuals or classes (and other variations). It will also integrate with electronic registration systems we use in the UK to allow seamless transfer of data and information which would be used for reports to parents.

Also, as already mentioned, roles are already in place meaning parents can monitor a child's progress and view targets and, say, attendance data from the registration system which is a very important as a parent myself. Parents, pupils, teachers, governors and other roles all get very different and customisable views of the site.

In short Moodle wins on some learning tools and cost and The Learning Gateway (sharepoint + class server + others) wins everywhere else. The problem I have is the school I am moving to is MS sponsored and gets all of this for free! Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't even consider MS if I had to pay for it!!!!! I need to decide if I want to continue to use mooodle and put up with it's weaknesses in data, tracking, intergration and so on (there will be no funding for moodle improvements as far as I can tell) or use MS and do without wikis and other bit and pieces which I don't tend to use extensively to be honest (other than the podcast add-on). In my experience most non-technical secondary teachers just use these things for marking assignments / homework and providing electronic resources anyway. The more technical use features such as forums, e-mail messages and the like which the MS solution has.

I hope I am in the right place to discuss these differences openly without other moodlers becoming defensive. By most accounts Moodle is the best open source VLE but let's not pretend it's the best VLE - that is down to school's individual needs and requirements. I wish I had a zillion dollars to give to moodle to make it the best but I haven't sad.

Darren
 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 

You say: "The problem I have is the school I am moving to is MS sponsored and gets all of this for free."

I see, poor kids. Well.. at least you will have a real DMS smile

 
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Art Lader
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
Documentation writers
there will be no funding for moodle improvements as far as I can tell

Hi, Darren,

I do not know anything about MS Class Server / Sharepoint, so I cannot comment on them. But I am not so sure that you are right about there being no funding for Moodle development.

Just my two cents, of course.

-- Art
 
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Picture of Darren Smith
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Arghh no, Art!

Sorry, I didn't mean that. I meant there would be no funding in my new job for additional moodle development - ie I can't see me getting hands on money to, for example, fund / sponsor the centralisation of the gradebook when this feature already exists in the MS solution.

As for moodle funding in more general terms i don't doubt money will keep coming in from partners and the community - I for one will certainly be making a donation when 1.6 comes out as a lot of others have stated they would in the open social forum.

Sorry about the confusion.

Darren
 
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Art Lader
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
Documentation writers
My fault, I am sure, Darren!

-- Art
 
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Picture of Gee Lindblom
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Hello!

I've just joined the Moodle forum and found this discussion of Class Server and SharePoint. How is Class Server working for you, now that you've been using it for two months?

You've probably found the answers to your 11 March questions, but if not, perhaps my comments will be of use.

Class Server does indeed support mathematical symbols and non-Latin languages. Anything you can do in MS Word, Excel or anyother MS Office product, you can also do in Class Server. You can create a Word document in your preferred language -- with or without math symbols -- then import it into Class Server to create a Learning Resource, which you can then assign to your students.

You can also insert images and other media into Learning Resources -- but not within individual question blocks. Instead, you can insert an image/media file above a question block and refer to it in the question text. As an example, below is a link to a free Learning Resource ("Black History Month") that includes images and a sound file.

www.broadeducation.com/www/email/06/02/Feb06.html

Best wishes,
GeeWhiz

 
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Picture of Tony Sheppard
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint
 
Having just come back onto the forum after some time being busy I thought I'd start with this thread.

Sharepoint is indeed one part of Micro$oft's Learning Gateway, which is an extremely powerful collaboration tool.

I have been looking at it for some time as a replacement for FirstClass, but with the idea of still pushing Moodle for "pet projects".

There are many additional add-ons to gain the extras that Moodle has by default and with some careful planning it can be done. The downside is that M$ usually push you to work with a "partner" on this to "tailor Learning Gateway for your school."

Now, I get on very well with a number of "on the ground" people at Microsoft. Most have the same goals that we do for the education of students, with the added pressure of the hard sell. The problem I have with it is that often the partner will give a "one size fits all" setup and schools have to fit round it rather than build what they need.

And it can make things restricitve for how schools work with VLEs, creating obstacles instead of empowering staff (sheesh ... I'm almost fluent in manglement talk now!)

Perhaps it would be helpful is someone could prepare a case study of setting up the same courses side by side on a number of different VLEs to give the pros and cons ... this might be a better way of doing a comparison.
 
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Art Lader
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint & being squashed
Documentation writers
Well-stated, Tony.

Actually, I think that we probably all agree that the best thing that could happen is that many Course Management Systems develop side by side and that each one evolves in its own direction as the needs and desires of its users dictate.

The problem with Microsoft, I guess, is the same as the problem with Wal*Mart: It feels like part of their game plan is to completely squash everyone else.

I just don't want Moodle to be squashed.

Not terribly profound, I know, but it is what is on my mind.

-- Art
 
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Picture of John Rodgers
Re: MS Class Server / Sharepoint & being squashed
 
Nobody ever got fired for choosing Microsoft.

Unfortunately, when alot of us chose IE for a browser (because it was the easiest choice) and granted MS a monopoly, five years later we have an heavy, outdated non-compliant browser.

Your fears of a monopoly are well founded Art.
 
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Picture of John Rodgers
Re: MS Class Server only not in Canada you say...pity
 
The head of IT for my district and I spent 3 hours at Microsoft Canada yesterday and saw the Microsoft partner LMS put together by an Australian Company called IT-Solutions (I think).

I lost track of the term Ms Class Server during my grilling session, so I asked our IT guy afterwards why I wasn't reviewing MS Class Server.  He told me his understanding was Microsoft wasn't selling/supporting it anymorethoughtful.

I'm not sure:

  • Whether that's accurate (we're checking)
  • What the the implications are for the project roadmap if it is accurate (perhaps there is a different strategy in the UK)

 
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Picture of Colin McQueen
Re: MS Class Server only not in Canada you say...pity
 
I have a little bit of Microsoft Learning Gateway (MLG) experience from the Southampton pilot project two years or more ago. This involved a set of 6 (or was it 7?) servers running Microsoft's full gateway. There was a single active directory controlling the whole lot. If you look here you will see the general architecture. The portal is obviously Microsoft Sharepoint Portal Server (SPS) which basically gives you Sharepoint services (which are a "free" addition to Microsoft Server 2003) plus some very useful agrregation, top level services and "audiences" which are pretty powerful. In the original architecture Class Server integration was cludged into the whole system with a horrible need to have a script updating the Class Server teacher/pupil/class database from the Active Directory but since Class Server 4 I think CS can use the Microsoft SQLServer database. So in the full gateway you are looking at not using the Class Server portal. I think Microsoft label Class Server on it's own the Foundation Learning Gateway, trying to provide a roadmap to building from a smaller beginning to a full Local Authority system. All seems a bit of a kludge to me. Certainly when I was working with it the parents bit was a kludge particulalry in the Active directory where we put the parent class server link id into the IP telephone field of their active directory record. Also the SIMS integration never materialised during the project. It is there now of course. Capita have written their web parts to read and in some cases update/write/delete from the SIMS database via the SPS web part. 

On the plus side as Miles said the Office integration was very powerful. Too powerful for schools I would think. Document release management and versioning just didn't compute with the teachers I was training. The "presence" aspect was controlled by the live communication server and worked well. I also thought the indexing service was exceptional but again over complicated for how schools work. There was no course management as such. That would have to be configured into the SPS via Sharepoint services. As personalising of education in schools gathers momentum I guess the MLG may fit better. The discussion groups and lists aspects of Sharepoint is very adaptable but I found the web interface unfriendly and confusing. Too many similar screens.

There is a huge implication for costs for the full gateway regarding licensing as mentioned earlier. I think something like £120 000+ for the full gateway was quoted at the end of the pilot including hardware, licensing, management and branding. That was for a small Local Authority. Of course for a managed mission critical system using Open Source you'd still have quite a high TCO mainly for management and customisation. The MLG needs a lot of customisation. It's not an off the shelf product but a blended and customised solution.

Several MS partners in the UK are licensing Sharepoint Portal Server (plus the other server gubbins) to provide their large scale solution probably without class server. RM will plug in Kaleidos as the VLE part (or VTLE as they call it). Capita will plug in whatever you want I suppose but I'm still unsure how they will promote this alongside their version of the Granada Learnwise VLE, branded the SIMS.net Learning Platform. Seems like a lot of doubling or even tripling up of functionality. SPS will gain a lot of ground over the next few years in the UK schools market. RM is probably going to use it for the whole of Scotland as they deliver their LP for £39m.

As for Class Server disappearing? I wouldn't be suprised. It's not developed much over the last 4 years. The editor for learning interactions is awful. You can put images in but flash file and video integration is a kludge.


 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: MS Class Server only not in Canada you say...pity
 
You remarks made me wonder: what happens if a student, used to the integration at the institute as you describe, tries to lgin at home to experience the same service? 
 
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Picture of Colin McQueen
Re: MS Class Server only not in Canada you say...pity
 
It works from anywhere. The Active Directory is for the gateway. It is not the Active Directory for the individual schools. I guess it could be synchronised/unified.
 
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Picture of John Rodgers
Re: MS Class Server only not in Canada you say...pity
 
Thank you for this.  I am developing a vision.

Microsoft has a marketing bundle referred to as "a learning gateway" which is a framework, rather than a product.  It is based around sharepoint for the collaborative learning side, other microsoft based services for authentication etc.

They have a group of partners worldwide that put together "Portals" to go through the "gateway" (when God opens a portal, does he close a gateway?).  Scholaris is the portal I looked at.  It is provided by an Australian company called Solutions-IT and had its first full roll-out November 2005.

Student information systems are custom integrated by the Portal partners. Every district will be different and require a unique solution, I would guess.

The Portal also offers other learning management services that the "Gateway" can't provide.  I wish I could say how it looks to provide two different spots for learning and deciding how integrated they are.  On reflection I think the answer is "not very well".

MS Class Server doesn't appear to be one of the "Portals" offered in Canada.

I can now see just having sharepoint would not perhaps create an instant well integrated learning environment.  I'm wondering if the significant features are overkill for a classroom.


 
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Picture of Michael Eastaugh
Re: MS Class Server only not in Canada you say...pity
 

Thought it might be worth mentioning that it looks like RSS, Wikis and blogs will be included in V3/2007 of sharepoint natively. They can also be supported in v2/2003 with 3rd party web parts (some free).

The sharepoint learning kit also looks quite interesting, due for release with the other 2007 products. The SLK project is here.

 
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Picture of Paul Nijbakker
Sharepoint Learning Kit vs Moodle
 
Hi,

Our IT staff have also seen some kind of demo of the Sharepoint Learning Kit. This "free" addition to the MS Learning Gateway (which is not free) obviously pleased their technological view on matters. I also think they might feel adopting this MS environment would restore their control over the eLearning effort.

I have not (yet) been able to find any detailed comparison of the capabilities of MS learning platform/cluster and other VLEs. The Microsoft site is rather vague about it.

Rgrds,
Paul.
 
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Picture of joe mc-h
Re: Sharepoint Learning Kit vs Moodle
 

Hi Paul,

I have now been a SharePoint/Classerver user for about 18 months and am now have also been using sharepoint 2007 with the SLK (Learning Kit) for  few weeks.

I've only been using the out of the box functionality of the SLK and I have found it to be a good honest SCORM player that provides simple feedback to teacher and student. you can also use it to "assign" office documents. and it gives learners the opportunity to pick to do assignments themselves.

It works through integration with Document Libraries and seems stable and easy to use. However you cannot really embed these assignments within a wider structure. (I have not been able to link to an assignment from any other list or page within sharepoint), Also there is no creation facilitates as part of the SLK at all! (the teacher client in classserver has been totally dropped) SLK is a SCORM player. with the scorm data is written to the SQL database there are no reports or report generating options as standard within SLK. you would need to write the reports or use SQL reporting services (I'm sure someone will create a webpart soon).

Learning Essentials 2.0 (a free download for MSoffice) has direct SCORM package creation from word/powerpoint/excel and it does this admirably, Unfortunately there is no SCORM reported question/testing functionality (that I have found).  Thus at the moment there is no MS facilites for creating assesment activities

There are very little templates (I've found one called "classroom management" )or customised lists designed specifically for educational use. I have created a Glossary tool similar to Moodles and a customised list that combines links to libraries and online resources. (I'll happily sent the .stp files or entire courses .fwp to anyone who would like a look.)

I have really tried to like the new version of sharepoint it has a nice wiki function, blog, the document Libraries are fantastic BUT IMHO It's hard work... If you want to do something you are starting from scratch.. there is very little documentation, the site usage reporting is barely better than web statistics. and there is no way of grading work other than through assignments in SLK.

I need to stress that I have only been using Sharepoint 2007 & SLK for a few weeks (please correct/help me if I am incorrect on any of the comments I am making) but I have spent a good volume of time trying use it's functionality with my classes and being frustrated that there is no clear way of structuring content and learning activities without simply writing a web page. Colleagues  that have good IT skills have found learning to use Sharepoint 2007 harder than they were expecting, I find it easier than 2003.

I notice that there are Moodle webparts for SPS2003. If Moodle could use SPS2007 (should I be writing MOSS2007?) as its document store, then that may be a real winning solution. Mike Haines (on these forums) also manages the learning gateway site www.learninggateway.net and I'm sure will help in any way he can.

hope this helps 

Joe

 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: Sharepoint Learning Kit vs Moodle
 
The Belgium company Wortell integrates Moodle with these MS products. I like theo power of this combination.. best of both worlds. Now only the price..
 
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