Comparisons and advocacy

 
 
Picture of Darren Smith
Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 
A colleague received an email from some nice RM folk. They were concerned about all of the things that Moodle currently can't do which Kaleidos apparently can.

I have been out of the Moodle loop recently so was hoping for help putting together a paragraph by paragraph response. I would wager this is a generic thing RM are putting out to many schools ....



1. Lists of resources available within VLE are made visible to teachers for the purposes of sharing resources/best practice

2. MIS integration with Kaleidos will be possible but not with Moodle (attendance data/AFL/tracking data/etc). With the Herts Learning Platform in place, linked to Kaleidos, parents will have an opportunity to see their son or daughter's homework/coursework diary. They could be able to see what work is overdue, for example.

3. Kaleidos adopts Microsoft Sharepoint technology and uses web parts...this makes it technical possible to integrate with other systems, like MIS

4. A MAJOR CONSIDERATION - Kaleidos can be run "offline"/stand-alone, so if all internet connectivity should go down for whatever reason, teaching and learning is not disrupted. Moodle is purely web-based - no internet, no Moodle

5. Kaleidos will allow you to tag a resource to a teaching and learning objective so that you or a colleague, perhaps more significantly, can then actually find this resource at a later date. Moodle does not do this.

6. Kaleidos has searching functionality to allow teachers to search for a video/audio file, excel spreadsheet, word doc, weblink by teaching objective (mapped to QCA schemes or frameworks already populated in to Kaleidos and to search by keyword too. There is no searching functionality in Moodle. How will you know what is in Moodle or actually available on your school network when preparing a lesson/course?

7. With a raw installation of Moodle, no training or support is available - with Kaleidos, we give a four-day training and consultancy package as well as ongoing support and mentoring should this be required. This helps the less ICT-confident teachers to use a VLE effectively to enhance teaching and learning.

8. A low-level of technical know-how is required to use Kaleidos effectively. It has been designed for teachers, obviously not all of whom are ICT experts. While your ICT department may have the technical expertise to use and configure Moodle from scratch, will some of your colleagues in History, English, Geography? Who will have the technical ability to create courses for these departments? With Kaleidos, if you can use a PC, you will be able to create/change lesson plans in line with teaching and learning objectives, allocate work out to students either individually or to groups. Use Kaleidos to drive your lessons with pace and in an engaging way without being an ICT expert!

9. Kaleidos does not rely on one or two super-users. Its features will exist regardless of who operates it. What happens if one or two of your department leave? Who will take the Moodle reigns?
 
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Ray Lawrence
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi Darren,

Just a quick reply to a couple of points...

We can certainly help with 7 smile.

The areas in 8 & 9 have been covered extensively in this discussion IIRC (although not from a UK school perspective the principles are pretty much about the same).
 
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Jason's pic
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 
A couple of quick comments:

4. The Internet has become so readily available [at least in my environment] that this sort of consideration is a non-issue [and continues to lessen as the Internet grows]. If someone has a computer to do any sort of eLearning, then they generally have Internet, so off-line functionality is negligable IMHO. Not a 'MAJOR CONSIDERATION' at all. Besides, there are ways to run Moodle offline if you really must, such as using CD and thumbdrive etc.

5. The new metadata feature in Moodle will address this issue, allowing links to learning outcomes/objectives/standards

6. The roadmap suggests upcoming global search features in Moodle that will probably solve this problem.

7. I couldn't find a price for K product on the RM site but I would suggest the money a school saves by using Moodle can more than cover adequate training, such as Ray's suggestion.

8. If I can get my woodwork teachers to use Moodle then any teacher can use Moodle [they're not that bad, but a good illustration]. In fact, Moodle requires very little training etc to operate from a teacher's perspective - everything is self-explanatory and has help documentation in a "just-in'time" fashion via the question mark links. I think they are clutching at straws with this argument.

9. Moodle can be administered by as many people as you like. I have several key people who are administrators of my Moodle site and this means I can fall under a bus and Moodle will still run. It is a simple case of initial setup allowing for continuity of administration. They are using FUD here for sure!

Overall, I didn't find any moot points in their arguments. I know I am biased but hey, I can impartially look at something when I want to wink
 
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Picture of Robert Rittenhouse
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 
Some comments:
3. Kaleidos adopts Microsoft Sharepoint technology and uses web parts...this makes it technical possible to integrate with other systems, like MIS
This assumes MIS systems use these technologies (ours does not).
4. A MAJOR CONSIDERATION - Kaleidos can be run "offline"/stand-alone, so if all internet connectivity should go down for whatever reason, teaching and learning is not disrupted. Moodle is purely web-based - no internet, no Moodle
Moodle is perfectly capable of running without the internet. Rather difficult to connect with it but I imagine the same is true with Kaleidos (just how can "Teachers have remote access to work anywhere, anytime - even when they have not access to the Internet." Dial up?)
8. A low-level of technical know-how is required to use Kaleidos effectively. It has been designed for teachers, obviously not all of whom are ICT experts. While your ICT department may have the technical expertise to use and configure Moodle from scratch, will some of your colleagues in History, English, Geography?
And Moodle was not designed for teachers? For and by, I'd say.

A low-level of technical know-how is required to use Moodle effectively. We don't expect colleagues in History, English, or Geography to configure Moodle from scratch. They are able to build classes.
 
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Picture of Andy Diament
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 
Some more ripostes

1) Searching is always evolving in moodle; these commercial vle's seem to offer an endlessly nested tree structure of resources which can be overpowering.

2) My reading of this thread is that this functionality will be available for schools using using sims.net (i.e. loads of them in the UK); RM helped pay for some of this work!

So, not hard to counter all of the claims, now or in the future.

Andy D
 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
Group Developers

4. A MAJOR CONSIDERATION - Kaleidos can be run "offline"/stand-alone, so if all internet connectivity should go down for whatever reason, teaching and learning is not disrupted. Moodle is purely web-based - no internet, no Moodle

Seems like this would only be a <GOOD THING>TM when course content is static. I know in Higher Ed. instructors are often changing course content up to the last minute, so having an offline mode seems to me that it might cause alot of confusion: e.g. faculty member updates quiz, readings, makes announcement, etc. Students who used off line mode don't get latest readings, take old version of quiz (or miss a pop-quiz altogether), miss important announcements, etc.

IMO, a good way to deliver offline, static content, is with a textbook, while for an interactive learning environment, you probably want students to either have access to the latest content, or fix their problem with their ISP.
 
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Picture of Richard Treves
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 
4. A MAJOR CONSIDERATION - Kaleidos can be run "offline"/stand-alone, so if all internet connectivity should go down for whatever reason, teaching and learning is not disrupted. Moodle is purely web-based - no internet, no Moodle.

As others have noted, offline is possible with Moodle but I think its synchronisation that is the real issue here.  I agree with others who have said this is not that important (it was helpful when I used dial up with firstclass but you had to be careful not to spend all night downloading someones idea of a cute cat video posted on an odd forum) if not problamatic (see Michael's post).  However, if I remember correctly the UK OU announced at the UK Moodle Moot that it was contracting Intel to build this functionality.

Rich
 
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Picture of Guy Thomas
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 
Kaleidos from what I understand, runs locally and then synchronises with the web version.
This causes lots of problems when the synchronisation fails - as recently mentioned on the RM website (totally not valid XHTML for their site by the way)

We have our own Moodle server on our network. When the internet goes down the only people who cant access it are people outside of the school network.

I think this is a far better solution than synchronising data over the internet between a local and internet version of the same VTLE.

RM are crappy. Their email solution RM easymail is a joke and went down for over a week recently with lots of mail lost and with mail boxes corrupt. They don't take standards seriously - I emailed the CEO and he'd never heard of XHTML compliance even though he regards himself as a techie. Besides that, the CEO is a nice guy - shame about the company. A school near us spent £30,000 on Keleidos - none of the teachers want to use it.
We use Moodle - teachers were using it with minimal training and are doing some pretty advanced stuff - cost of Moodle £0

Enough Said.
 
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Picture of Phil Waud
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 

That isnt quite fair from RMs point of view, although I do accept that they have some serious problems with their system.

>> Kaleidos from what I understand, runs locally and then synchronises with the web version.
 Correct, the current version of Kaleidos does work in this way, RM say that if you have 1000 users all downloading and uploading files then most school broadband systems wouldnt cope. the new version is entirely web based and they are looking at having a local copy hosted on site in case the net connection is down. Personally, I dont think this will happen and the school will be left high and dry if their net connection fails.

>> I think this is a far better solution than synchronising data over the internet between a local and internet version of the same VTLE.

Agreed, but they are right in saying that the bandwidth considerations can be considerable and if your moodle server is down, your stuffed.

>> RM are crappy. Their email solution RM easymail is a joke and went down for over a week recently with lots of mail lost and with mail boxes corrupt. They don't take standards seriously - I emailed the CEO and he'd never heard of XHTML compliance even though he regards himself as a techie.

Surprised that their website isnt compliant, are you sure? There web guys are pretty good.

>> A school near us spent £30,000 on Keleidos - none of the teachers want to use it.

That would be something like 15k on a server, 5k for Kaleidos including a training package and 10k for content. Its very similar to what we spent.

>> We use Moodle - teachers were using it with minimal training and are doing some pretty advanced stuff - cost of Moodle £0

Sorry, your just wrong on this. The total cost of ownership with Moodle can be high if you include a decent server and staff to look after it. Im guessing most schools have some guy who does it n top of their normal duties, but if you dont, try taking , say 25% of your salary as a cost.

Moodle can be used by some teacher straight from the box. As a whole school solution, it needs a lot of work on standardising the way it is used and many (most?) staff would be completely bamboozled by the way it works.

I dont want to sound negative, I love Moodle and we are currently using it as our VLE, but I cannot recomend it as the VLE we will use in the future for the reasons I have outlined.

Phil Waud
VLE Coordinator
Horbury School

 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 

Good synchronising is really tricky. In the past I worked with Lotus Notes/Domino and there are very good tutorials on the IBM website about this subject: http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/

 
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Picture of Guy Thomas
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 
Response to Phil Waud

>> Correct, the current version of Kaleidos does work in this way, RM say that if you have 1000 users all downloading and uploading files then most school broadband systems wouldnt cope. the new version is entirely web based and they are looking at having a local copy hosted on site in case the net connection is down. Personally, I dont think this will happen and the school will be left high and dry if their net connection fails.

Hmmm. RM are talking rubbish if they think the broadband connection is an issue. We have a proxy exception in all our browsers and local DNS entries to override the web address of our Moodle. Therefore, you open our Moodle in school and it goes directly to the web server. It is only accessed from the internet from outside the school. Is it me, or have RM just completely missed the most basic solution for offering fast on-site access? Again, evidence of their incompetence as a company. Maybe they should purchase 'basic networking concepts for dummies'.

>> Surprised that their website isnt compliant, are you sure? There web guys are pretty good.

Try validating it yourselves - I did today and it failed with 31 errors. Also, their web guys are pretty poor if they can't make a site pass the w3c validator. I would be ashamed to put out a website that doesn't validate. Obviously they don't care.

>>Sorry, your just wrong on this. The total cost of ownership with Moodle can be high if you include a decent server and staff to look after it. Im guessing most schools have some guy who does it n top of their normal duties, but if you dont, try taking , say 25% of your salary as a cost.

Agreed. My post is a cost- but 25% of it is less than £30k plus the staff and server to run Keleidos. However, we've only been running Moodle for 7 months and we already have over 100 courses created. I'd say its worth 25% of my salary. Also, no matter what VTLE we had, I would still need to be here to provide on-site support and training. So really, the cost is close to £0.

>> Moodle can be used by some teacher straight from the box. As a whole school solution, it needs a lot of work on standardising the way it is used and many (most?) staff would be completely bamboozled by the way it works.

I've not met one member of staff who has been 'bamboozled' by the way it works. The comment I am consistently getting is 'I can't believe its this easy'
Also, I'm sure if it meets the requirements of the Open University, it should meet our requirements too.

Also, RM Keleidos will never be able to compete because of the number of awesome free add ons for moodle. Another school in Wakefield (not us) is using an assignment module to get students to record their French/German/Spanish oral answers directly into the VTLE as mp3s via a flash interface. Hmmmm, I seriously doubt RM Keleidos will ever ever ever do that.

>> I dont want to sound negative, I love Moodle and we are currently using it as our VLE, but I cannot recomend it as the VLE we will use in the future for the reasons I have outlined.

No problem, each and to their own. However, tread cautiously with RM. This year, they've lost peoples emails and had the entire IMAP service down for over a week. That's not what you would expect from a professional company and I wouldn't trust them with a VLE for that reason alone.

Also, I've had to phone RM up and tell them that their own IMAP mail server misreports CRAMMD5 authentication when it only accepts plain text. Why should it take a school to point this out to them?

They are rubbish. Take my advice - don't go there.


 
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mberry
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 
There's a post on Ian Usher's blog about Kaleidos.
 
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C'est moi
Re: Moodle V Kaleidos: A Considered Response.
 

oops... just picked myself up off the floor after chuckling... thoughtful

as a former employee at Herts (and someone who would have been in the midst of this had I still been there) I have a few opinions, but will leave them out of this...

2. this neatly sidesteps the whole issue around parental logins (which, imho, no-one has cracked). What's RM's answer to a parent who has kids in more than one school - who manages the parental accounts? Schools? With more than 2000 parents, does the school does the IT support helpdesk for the parents who can't login / forget passwords etc. - this isn't a problem restricted to RM (we'll face it in Bucks) but the text seems to suggest that RM have "magically" bypassed it...

plus: attendance module, using workshop for AFL, using forums for AFL... OK, this point is dead and buried, next one...

3. this is known as "interoperability" - do RM have a monopoly on this? I think not... web services will deal with that imo

4. as has been said before, it's not a major consideration, but consider info given at the UK Moot where Intel (?) are developing an offline Moodle browser...

5. next version - tags all round... besides, this isn't an apples with apples comparison - one of Kaleidos' major selling points is the (overwhelming) amount of pre-written content that is bundled with it, Moodle meets different criteria. It's a bit like saying "this Excel competitor doesn't do WordArt". Moodle sitting with a digital repository will work as good as if not better than Kaleidos.

7. how much £££ do you want to give RM? Having seen Kaleidos demonstrated I'd say that there's so much training needed because it's so involved... don't put kaleidos in front of unbriefed primary teachers (even ICT literate ones) unless you want them chasing you out of the room saying ...and take your confusing technology with you... I've yet to meet a teacher who wants to use ICT who can't understand creating resources in Moodle, I've meet gifted ICT co-ords who, try as they might, can't use Kaleidos...

8. Don't Make Me Laugh (see above)

9. i can point to schools with a Kaleidos champion who will scupper everything if they leave - this isn't about a specific technology - it's about the culture within the schools.

Put Moodle & Kaleidos in front of teachers and there's only one choice - put them in front of SMT, throw in a bit of FUD, some glossy marketese and a few buzzwords like SIMS, AFL and things become more obfuscated... 

 
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Picture of Mike Miller
Re: Parental access...
 

2. this neatly sidesteps the whole issue around parental logins (which, imho, no-one has cracked). What's RM's answer to a parent who has kids in more than one school - who manages the parental accounts? Schools? With more than 2000 parents, does the school does the IT support helpdesk for the parents who can't login / forget passwords etc.

 

Parental access is a thorny issue, in terms of getting a good registration model for which both the security level offered and the associated administrative process overheads are acceptable. However, it's not impossible, and the MLE platform that I design for, Assimilate, has a secure and elegant solution which addresses those concerns.

Regards,

Mike

 
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Picture of Richard Ackland
Re: Parental access...
 

I am Head of ICT, and Director of E-Learning at Aylesford School in Warwick... it is pretty much your average 11-18 comprehensive, average cohorts, average results and a good balance of staff. Some are ICT literate some are not. All are willing to try out new things and new ideas.

As part of a PFI project in warwickshire all schools singed up for a teacher toolkit. RM won the bid for this project, which costs an average school £25k per year. Kaleidos is a big part of this teacher tool kit.

Prior to having this kaleidos installed, We have also had Moodle installation. I set this up, primarily for a single online A-level ICT course, so we could be as flexible with our students as possible. This hosted externally on a dedicated server.

In essence, give or take 4-5 months, both were insatlled at the same time. This was 18 months ago.

At present in a staff of 80, 2 occasionally use Kaleidos. No others do.

Our moodle has grown. I use it for all my ICT courses to provide e-homework and additional course materials. We have a staff area where staff communicate socially and officially. Each department has their own area for their documents, meetings and a means of departmental communication that can be accessed from anywhere. Our A-level course now has extrenal candidates using it as part of a consortium of sixth formers. This pretty much meets all the costs we face, approx £3.5k per year, taking into account all the support from our *team* of technicians, and the cost of the dedicated server.

It is used by 80% of our staff regulary and by about 90% of our 1100 students.

RM offered us 4 days of the training that you mentioned above. It was appalling, patronising and most of the time did not work. We cancelled the last 2 days of training due to this as the school was not gaining anything out of the training.

I have given our staff 1 hour of training in use of moodle.(I say training, it was more of an intorduction at a staff meeting) Occasionally some staff pop in to get a hand with something, never taking more than 15 mins.

RM support.... they offer support with in 24 hours... that is.... within 24hours your problem will be logged and your call returned and you placed in a waiting list for help. The longest this has taken is 7 weeks!

Kaliedos is DIABOLICAL, EXPENSIVE and DEMOTIVING for both staff and students. It simply doesn't work.... when it does it is confusing. You can't create courses... only one off lessons.

In terms of intergartion with SIMs... at the last check, for myself it displayed the class lists for Business Studies, 2004, which I have never taught??

Remember it also required RM to install their hardware (a server) in your school, which is managed by them.... see point above on Support.

Our moodle still grows. Music is now asking to set up courses for thier students... langauges are also interested... .

I am in a good position as we have both systems running simultaneously.

Feel free to email me with any other questions about this.. as I feel so strongley about how appalling Kaleidos is.

Ask most of the other schools in Warwickshire who *use* Kaleidos. There is bad feeling about this...

2 schools in warwickshire have moved to moodle dispite still having to pay for kaleidos.

 
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Picture of Guy Thomas
Re: Parental access...
 
Yup, more evidence that anything RM spew out seems to be absolute crap.
 
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Picture of Michael Mawson
Re: Parental access...
 

Dont get me started on the level of support/help provided by RM!  I've been looking around for an alternative email solution for some time.  www.primaryemail.co.uk seems to be a good choice, which looks to use a standard MS exchange system.

Has anyone used Primary Email?  If so, do you have any feedback?  It looks to contain a lot of good features (outlook web access + windows mobile phone support) but seems too good to be true.. feedback would be appreciated.

 
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Picture of Max Wild
Re: Parental access...
 

We have been using Moodle for  two years and it is now a valued and well used tool in nearly all subjects.

We have also created parent pages that are maintained by Year Heads with useful information for parents. Parents have their own log on and thus are asked to include their own email address, which we then use with the Quickmail block for communication.

It would be interesting to hear of any other schools who are extending the use of Moodle to the whole school community.

It would also be interesting to hear about the user administration. We have been helped by an outside contractor to develop a script that links our MIS to Moodle so that enrollment on courses is largely but not completely pain free. Allocating students to groups (ie classes) has not been automated yet

Moodle has developed out of higher education and although we find it excellent in the school environment there are issues that are specific to schools. We would welcome a forum to discuss these issues.

Maxwell Wild - Manchester High School for Girls, UK (4-18)

 
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Picture of Matt Gibson relaxing in the Alps
Re: Parental access...
 
+1 for a school issues forum
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Parental access...
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers
There is a school issues forum, but it is called Moodle in K-12 Schools, which is American jargon for Kindergarten to 12th Grade.
 
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Picture of Matt Gibson relaxing in the Alps
Re: Parental access...
 
Ah...

Not 4-10yrs old as in British Jargon. Maybe that forum could be renamed?
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Parental access...
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers
Or just live with the odd Americanism. At least Moodle spells 'colour' right by default.
 
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Head
Re: Parental access...
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
I have just stumbled across this post rather late, but found it very interesting. I am Director of ICT a secondary school in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Our lovely LEA have just bought into the RM VTLE and are now trying to roll it out across the county. To the best of my knowledge neither RM nor the LEA have succeeded to get it working in a secondary school yet! Not a good start!

I set up Moodle a number of years ago before the likes of RM got on the VLE band wagon and Moodle has gone from strength to strength in our school. We now have almost 200 courses with over 2300 users. It is fully integrated into my Active Directory user system and works seamlessly with my current systems. All apart form SIMS that is!

However that is not really a surprise as SIMS is the biggest beast of all in our schools ICT systems and what takes up most of my time. The support provided by the LEA is awful and often I will phone them back with the solution to my problem before they have found anything out! Anyway back to RM and Moodle!

I was at a SIMS roadshow the other month and they categorically said that the only VLE that integrates with their systems is theirs. Fair enough! however I have had the LEa and RM both try to tell me that their VTLE integrates with SIMS. I think people are stretching the truth to shift units!

As far as I can tell, the integration that RM have is Capita's freely available web parts, which I believe there are a number of people in the Moodle community looking into right now...

Anyway, enough of my rant. Needless to say, I will not be adopting RM's solution. I am quite happy with Moodle!
 
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Picture of Matt Gibson relaxing in the Alps
Re: Parental access...
 
Hi Jon,

Your thoughts sound a lot like what I found out myself about 6 months ago. FYI, there is a long-running thread here about the SIMS integration with Moodle. Capita have produced more that just web parts - there is also a restricted IMS web service profile, but the Moodle web services stuff that will integrate with it is still in its infancy.

Having had the demo from the RM guy, I have to say that it seemed like a glorified content delivery system, with little to offer in the way of collaboration or communication. Moodle for me all the way smile

Matt
 
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