Yesterday I went to a meeting at Great Marlow School in, er, Marlow concerning the Wycombe A-Level consortium. While this was a fruitful meeting, what was equally interesting was the chance to meet afterwards with one of the Assistant Headteachers of the school and Haydn Jones, who's been leading on the development of the school's Moodle as both VLE and the main school web site.
The decision to use Moodle for both the school's VLE and its "public facing" web site isn't a small one, since the average school leader wants
a pretty painting aesthetic features which many people are convinced that Moodle can't provide. This isn't strictly true, since there's a plethora of really striking Moodle themes around can be applied and adapted - many are free, or a school can fork out around £20 for any number of lovely themes, or even design their own. We have plenty of schools around the county that have "rolled" their own theme, or adapted an existing one, plus there's my relatively simple flexible Moodle theme (if that meets a need).
What's been going on at GMS is a little more nuanced - as well as the look and feel of the site, there's been much thought about the process by which the average web site is updated, and by whom, and how that process might be simplified. As you'd guess, there are plenty of simple tools around to make it easier for appropriate staff to update elements of the site, but integrating them into Moodle might take some work.
Suffice to say that from my brief look at the work that's gone on at the school, it's clear that there's a lot of thought that's gone into it - and the practical yet innovative application of the tools is pretty good too. I've asked Haydn if he'd be good enough to write a post or two here to go into it in detail, since I think it would be of interest to many people. Here's a brief rundown of what tools (other than the ones built-in to Moodle) have been used:
- Google Calendar (through Google Apps Education Edition)
- Kampyle Feedback Analytics
- Google Picasaweb
I won't go into any more detail now - I'll leave that for Haydn when he writes his post(s) (no pressure there...). The site is due to relaunch in the near future, so hopefully you'll be able to read about how it was made around that time. In the meantime you could always request to follow Haydn on twitter if you're interested about what he's up to...