Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A trojan but not a virus

I’m sat in the Teaching and Learning Centre in the middle of a presentation about a virtual learning environment from a major ICT provider (previously mentioned elsewhere in these pages). It’s interesting because this provider has already approached a number of people in the authority (including your narrator) about this product, but we’ve said a firm but polite “no thanks”. So how come they’re here today? Well, this VLE comes a bundled with a particular Maths product – I’ve heard it described as a Trojan horse with the word “Alive” printed on the outside. So some of our schools which use the Maths product find that they get a VLE by default - and hence the company are here today, describing the Maths product but also getting a plug for the VLE in as well. This is the provider that has asked a well known educational blogger to advise it on all things Web 2.0 – which seems like a cursory nod to social networking aspects of learning, so expect the next version (or next but two or three) to involve exciting 'new' things like blogs and wikis!!!
Here’s an interesting claim – “the unique thing about this is that it can import a whole folder structure”. (ahem) Unique? OK, we’ll just assume that the ability to zip up a series of folders, upload the zip file and unzip it doesn’t exist anywhere else.
It’s described as a “teacher tool” – very interesting, much momentum at the moment is basing things around the needs of the learner and putting the learner at the centre of what's going on (and hence more in control of their own learning). A comment from a headteacher I’ve encountered was that this system reinforces the notion that the teacher controls learning and dispenses it to students – hence the acronym VTLE…
We’re now moving into a practical time – which should be interesting.
The quizzing engine is very basic - no space for feedback for incorrect answers, short answer questions have to be marked manually, no option of matching questions and no apparent option for importing any standard question formats. One of the exciting things about working with lots of schools in Moodle will be creating a series of banks of questions shared between schools and classes, which has a lot of potential if the number of questions generated during yesterday’s Inset is anything to go by.
The process for setting up an assignment is incredibly laborious – six stages, some of which are unfeasibly complicated. I can’t imagine an ‘average’ teacher having the time (or patience) to work through the process – it only just makes sense to me, and apparently I’m paid to look at this sort of stuff all day.

Kaleidos screenshotKaleidos screenshot
Kaleidos screen shotKaleidos "hand in" screen 3 of 6 (!)
Kaleidos screenshotKaleidos screenshot
Kaleidos "hand in" screen 6 of 6...Creating a resource step one of four...

My overall impression? It’s very comprehensive – there is shedloads of content, all linked to various national frameworks but it’s far, far, far, far, far too complex to use for most staff. I would have been absolutely terrified to have to explain this system to the primary staff yesterday. One other thought – I guarantee there are Moodle installations kicking around in Abingdon…

1 comment:

  1. Keleidos is very confusing for teachers. A school near to my school can not get the teachers to use the damn thing.
    We use moodle, it requires little training to get people going and has been pretty successful for us so far. Also its standards compliant (xhtml strict in 1.8). RM do not take web standards compliance seriously - their website fails miserably.