I work for Schoolanywhere, a Moodle Partner.
Just now i have been speaking to a high school in London about collaborative learning in Havering Local Authority (UK)
they were talking about 'shared' learning with fronter as most schools in the area use this VLE
can moodle do this? -
why is moodle better than Fronter as a VLE?
Website is here.
1) It costs, as in license fees.
2) You pay extra if you want things like the ability to customise design or do equations.
3) I cannot find out anything about whether it is open source or not, what it is written in . . .
4) There are no prices on the site.
5) Support. I can find no forums.
They say this . .
Your Fronter license- and hosting agreement usually gives your organisation support for a registered super user/administrator. Please notice that we do not offer end user support.
All support enquiries are handled by your local Fronter-partner. Consult your agreement for information on email and phone numbers for your local help desk.
All Fronter regional offices offer professional user and admin courses, both for beginners and advanced users. Please consult your local sales office for information about their courses.
Your local help desk can handle:
- Bug issues
- Change requests
- Requests for new functionality
Opinion: the PR is OK, I like their metaphors, I probably could live with it if it was a true report of the product, I'd be much more attracted to it if it was OS.
You have to look at it through the government/BECTA's eyes. They see the benefits that can accrue from bulk purchasing across an authority and staff dedicated to handling one particular aspect of IT, such as Exchange Server, or their brand of VLE. As an example, our school is going down the Moodle route having rejected Fronter and a couple of other VLE's, as well as the one I thought would best meet our needs (not Moodle by the way), and have plumped for Moodle. I have been timetabled two days a week to administer the thing and translate teachers' ideas into reality. As things stand the site is in it's infancy and anyone could take over the running of it, but a year down the line if I see a better job, go for it and land it, who's going to provide the support? This is where the confusion with "Helpdesks" I saw in another forum post comes in. BECTA were not talking about a local school helpdesk, but one where VLE support amongst other things will be based. And though some individuals within BECTA understand the concept of Communities of Practice, it doesn't get you very far when it comes to making hard nosed business decisions.
Once the managed service provider moves in, I'll be moving out, no longer employed by the school but by the provider. I may still end up working in my current school but the likelihood is that I'll be in a "pool" and visit various schools as and when needed. The only choices I have in this is that if I say no to the move I will effectively be deemed to have handed in my notice of termination of employment. I will be out of work. I can of course jump ship and get a job in private industry, but if I wanted that I wouldn't have chosen to work in a school. As every school in the country is going through this process, there's no "escape"
I know I seem to have gone off at a tangent, but in order for people (because this is a world wide community, after all) to understand why some schools are going down particular VLE routes I feel that some background information is needed.
I managed to secure a place on the last minute on my LEA's VLE procurement board (I have a very supportive Principal). I am elearing Adviser at a Sixth Form College and whilst we are not (fortunately) under the remit of LEAs I felt it was important we should have some involvement with regard to the 14-19 agenda.
There is currently a bit of a scrap going on as to which VLE the LEA should spend its £320 000 on. At the procurement meeting I could not believe the beaurocracy that the LEA has to go through before they can even DECIDE on a VLE. Not ONE PERSON on that board was actually involved in teaching learners who had been using a VLE! At the rate the procurement procedure takes it looked like school kids in this borough would have no access to a VLE in the next year (2010) at least. I was therefore rather concerned to find out that 4 of the local High Schools had got fed up waiting for the LEA and invested their own funds into one called " Frogteach"...has anyone got any info on Frogteach?
In our borough all of the 3 FE Colleges have elected to go for Moodle. We had Capita's Learnwise four years ago which did NOTHING it promised. We installed Moodle 4 years ago and have been delighted with it. We have also discovered how to link Moodle sites so that kids could move seamlessly from school to school, there are a number of portfolio plugins which can be packaged and exported using SCORM and therefore solve the interoperability issue. Our server cost £2000 and what training has been needed has been done in house and using the Moodle.org forums. What I cannot fathom is that the initial £320 000 could be invested in creating technicians' posts and the further funding which would have gone on paying a faceless corporate body like Fronter or Frog could be used to actually train teachers. I see something like Fronter as a nice shiney Jaguar, sitting on someone's drive with no money left for fuel and no-one allowed, but the techies, to drive it.
There are several schools in my LEA who have "got fed up" waiting and found their own solutions, FrogTeacher being among them. As commercial VLE's go, it's quite good, and I can give you the address of one school which has been using it for over two years, and are very happy with it.
Lancashire Grid for Learning (LGfL) have gone down the route of providing every school in their LEA with a Moodle site, and even provide online tutorials
As you've noted, though Moodle itself is free, servers, support and training all cost. Of the few commercial VLE's I've seen, £3000 a year seems to be the average annual fee for running them remotely, in effect, you "rent" space on a remote server.
Ah, but it's pretty
>>Maybe they (the school) are not using it to its full potential
There you have it. The problem here is that unless anyone is employed full-time to maintain and produce work for it, then it's going to be another white elephant. I've seen a few schools now who are advertising for people to manage their VLE full time. Some companies do provide ready made work with which to pre-populate your site, while others just maintain it for you. My own role in school is changing from full time IT technician/web developer to two days a week managing our Moodle site. Teachers haven't enough time in the day to produce lots of work for their VLE. One commercial provider (Uniservity) told a meeting of teachers that all they had to do was to upload all their Powerpoint presentations and that would be fine.
I'm lucky in that my head teacher lets me go along to these presentations and feedback to him.
>>I'm trying to convince them that Moodle is the way without sounding like an evangelist and want to make sure that Frogteach is an inferior product pedagogically.
What I did was to use some of my personal webspace to set up a demo Moodle site. This was two and a half years ago, and it was not so much to convince them to go with Moodle, but to show them what a VLE could do. There are lots of free resources out there. You can find some useful information at Edugeek.
There are people, myself included, who wanted to go down a managed VLE route, for some of the reasons I gave in a previous post. However, after a year of research the best candidate chosen by our IT department was vetoed by senior management, and so we have ended up with Moodle (by no means the second best), and everything done in house. I'm currently almost half way through a (online) degree in Education, Research & Technology at Anglia Ruskin University, and having to get my head round the intricacies of Moodle is not the sort of extra work that I want. Having seen the alternatives open to us though I decided that the current route was probably the best bet, and as part of my degree course I can use the experience gained in "mastering" Moodle.
As someone who has been a member of Edugeek for almost all of the 3 years it's been alive, I've been able to follow threads from their very beginnings, so perhaps someone like you coming to the site can get the wrong impression because you have to dive in somewhere.
What was the best (and second best)? What are the main faults with Moodle? I have poked around various LMS and find Moodle to be great. I know the support question is huge, but once you have a workable solution (on site or a hosting partner) what is the problem?
If I can give you some background to this;
our Local Education Authority's (LEA) in-house team were pushing for everything to be based around Sharepoint, as it would not only integrate with the council's intranet/internet, and the operating systems of all schools, but eventually with the MIS system in use in most schools. It seemed a good idea to have continuity from primary school, through secondary and on into further education. If the system was based around Sharepoint this could be managed. Unfortunately, with the advent of Managed Services, the LEA in-house team has been taken over by a private company, and the Sharepoint route no longer seems an option.
For around about the same amount of money as other commercial products, we could have the whole thing (Scholaris) hosted in our school, on our servers, so that if the internet went down at least pupils and staff in school could still access it.
The whole system would be managed remotely by Scholaris, though they have agents in this country (England) and the whole burden of handling this would be taken off the hands of the Network Manager and myself (Technician).
I am now timetabled two days a week to manage Moodle, though it's something I want to do and it meets my projected career path, I don't think the time alloted is enough. Not only am I responsible for installation and maintenance, but I have to work with teachers to develop online courses.
I think the point is that in education we're being asked to cover all sorts of bases which in private industry wouldn't be in our remit.
Having used moodle quite sucessfully for the past 2 years (though nowhere near it's full potential) we are moving to an authority wide frogteach based vle. yes moodle is powerful and highly customisable but requires a lot of technical time for developments/training etc and many schools don't have the luxurious resources of others. frogteach is customisable out of the box, well supported by frogteach and constantly updated and improved (they listen to suggestions from their clients).
At the end of the day the whole point of the MLE/VLE.... is to allow us to do our job better i.e. teach and produce independant learners. For us to achieve this each school has to decide on a solution that will be best suited to its teachers and learners. Our moodle was well used by a small amount of teachers - frog will be well used by more teachers.
Putting aside which one is best the focus should be on which one will be best used by the your school the whole school and nothing but the school.
Frog Teacher's demo sites might look 'pretty' but the mark-up is atrocious.
Not one of the demo sites (including their own website) passes w3c validation. This is just not acceptable in the modern era of web development. If they can't create a product that meets w3c standards (moodle does) then just imagine how shoddy the server side code is! As of today (2008/08/06) www.frogteacher.com fails w3c validation with 168 Errors! Moodle.org fails too, but only on anchors with un-escaped ampersands. Frog has lots of really bad mark-up errors (e.g. script tags without type attribute).
A default moodle installation will pass xhtml strict validation- Frog will not do this.
Also, Moodle can look really pretty with theme customisation.
I was personally involved in the standardasation procedure of MS-OOXML and know what a bully Microsoft is.
"UK Agency Files OOXML Complaint, EU Demurs"