Friday, January 27, 2006

Beauty Contest

It's a contest of beautyYesterday I was invited to Varndean School in Brighton and Hove to do a presentation at a 'VLE Showcase'. B&H is a small authority and the team there wanted to give the seven secondary schools who attended a few examples of what was available in the arena of Learning Platforms. Those available were:

  • Digital Brain
  • Moodle
  • MS ClassServer / Learning Gateway
  • Fronter
  • Capita SIMS.net Learning Platform
  • Ramesys Assimilate

(The comment from someone when I described what I was going to was Oh, it sounds like a beauty contest...)

Apart from Class Server (presented by a teacher from Blatchington Mill School in Hove) and Moodle (presented by the author of this blog), the other presentations were due to be done by product reps. About thirty people attended; a mixture of technical people, senior management and headteachers, as well as a few LEA people. I say "due to be done" because I had to leave early to get back to Buckinghamshire to go to a meeting of a school ICTAC (ICT Across the Curriculum) group to demonstrate Moodle and explore ways in which we could start to use it in the school, and so didn't see the two final presentations after lunch.

A clear theme which came out from the questions from those present was a reliable integration into an MIS system. Until the SIF format (and in particular the UK implementation of that) settles into something meaningful that's going to be a moving target - in the opinion of the writer there's no mileage in preparing a module specifically to integrate with something like SIMS until the other product is SIF-compliant. Depending on who you talk to, nothing is fully SIF-compliant (and what does "compliant" mean anyway?).

4 comments:

  1. It seems to me that SIF is fine and dandy for larger scalability but if schools wait for this then they'll have a long wait. In the meantime, and it is anecodotal, a lot of schools are simply getting on and doing - some with the help of LEA consultants using a variety of solutions. I see the problem as being a grass roots vs top down one and the area inbetween needs guidance and mediation but "compliance" - hmm well that word says it all really.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It seems to me that SIF is fine and dandy for larger scalability but if schools wait for this then they'll have a long wait. In the meantime, and it is anecodotal, a lot of schools are simply getting on and doing - some with the help of LEA consultants using a variety of solutions. I see the problem as being a grass roots vs top down one and the area inbetween needs guidance and mediation but "compliance" - hmm well that word says it all really.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know what "SIF" is (it's too common an acronym to google for it easily), but we've been working on adding IMS Enterprise support to Moodle, which allows integration with an MIS for course enrolment. Is that related?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Someone needs to hurry up and sort out where we are going with these standards, models, architectures or whatever. SIF, IMS Enterprise and MIAP, Shibboleth, SCORM, IMS LIP, QTI, LDAP all seem to be defining overlapping strands of interoperability for identity, authentication, authorisation, data interchange etc. etc. It is a minefield one can easily get confused over. The DfES need to pull their finger out and provide us via Becta a nice clear diagram to show Local Authorities not just vendors the layers and alternatives being discussed. If you rely on vendors they will major on the standards or areas they are most familiar with, have technology to fit and where they see business coming from. Hence the debate about SIF vs IMS enterprise from Becta vs Capita and the MIAP emphasis from 14-19 vendors.

    ReplyDelete