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VLEs Bill Tagg Report

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Following my research into VLEs, 2007-2008, I published this document. Research was funded by a Naace/Becta 'Bill Tagg Bursary'

Text of VLEs Bill Tagg Report

  • 1. Report The current state of affairs with regard to virtual and managed learning environments in UK schools. Funded by The Bill Tagg Bursary (Presented to Naace/Becta) This report is based on initial research September November 2007 and continued thereafter. Prepared by R J Tolley (Maximise ICT Ltd) 31/07/08
  • 2. Contents Introduction.............................................................................................3 Some Background .................................................................................................................................................3 Initial findings ........................................................................................................................................................3 Progress over the last six months ............................................................................................................................5 Issues affecting change ..........................................................................................................................................6 Some Conclusions .................................................................................................................................................9 Quality control of the questionnaires ...................................................................................................................... 11 Appendix-1 list of Learning Platform Services Framework suppliers ....12 Appendix-2 Extracts from Becta re Learning Platforms........................13 Funding for your learning platform [Dec 2006].......................................................................................................13 What are procurement frameworks? ......................................................................................................................13 Specifications ..................................................................................................................................................14 Best value.......................................................................................................................................................14 Appendix-3 Statement on BSF from 10 Downing Street ......................14 What is Building Schools for the Future? (Tony Blair March 2007) .........................................................................14 Appendix-4 Analyses of Data from October 2007 Research ................15 Copy of On-Line Questionnaire - The Status of VLEs in Schools ............................................................................15 Appendix-5 Charts of statistical Analyses ............................................16 1. Percentages of schools with/without VLES:........................................................................................................16 2. Home ownership of PCs: .................................................................................................................................17 3. Home accessions of the VLE............................................................................................................................17 4. The physical location of the VLE Server(s).........................................................................................................18 5. Percentage of Identified Named Suppliers: ........................................................................................................18 6. What level of influence did/will groups have in the choice of VLE?........................................................................19 7. Do you have an e-Portfolio system up-and-running? ...........................................................................................19 8. Schools familiarity with using an Intranet as number of years before installing a VLE ........................................... 20 9. Schools relative Intranet usage before installing Moodle.................................................................................... 20 Bibliography..........................................................................................21 R J Tolley Report Completed July 2008 Page 2 of 27
  • 3. Introduction Some Background Learning Platforms or Managed Learning Environments are not new. For some 25 years schools have had their Networks of computers even before web-based technologies became popular in schools. These, for some time were called Intranets and along with the improvement due to the introduction of ISDN, we then had, for a short time what were called Extranets or closed Intranets with secure remote access. All of these, including the use of free-standing machines, have been referred to by Becta as a schools Learning Platform. Latterly, for several years, schools have supplemented their MLEs with websites able to provide more general information to teachers, pupils, parents and other interested parties. Concurrent to the above developments, it should be noted that quite independently schools administration service providers had been steadily been developing their MIS systems for schools. Way back in 1981 information was being passed to LAs via TTNS or Prestel and then via ISDN and now broadband. These data- transmissions have evolved to include aspects of funding, requisitions, staffing, pupil data etc. For many years, due to the obduracy or caution of office administrators, the MIS and the learning platform have been kept rigidly apart. The notion of teachers actually downloading lists of pupils names or performance data or SEN notes was incomprehensible. Admittedly, the most common MIS tool, SIMS was quite arcane and took some time to adapt to the more common MS Windows format, overtaken, in the writers opinion, by CMIS in the last 4-5 years. Bectas emerging understanding of the above, along with the individual progression of a few education infrastructure specialists, such as RM, Viglen and a variety of smaller companies, has therefore produced a plethora of versions of what a VLE might be. It is interesting to note that even some of the latest software providers whose work might have been based on supplying administrative systems to schools still have a somewhat parochial approach to what a Learning Platform might be and how it is used. Initial findings Where progress has been made in the introduction of a VLE into schools it has been generally down to the interest and enthusiasm of individuals rather than any clear sense of leadership Leaderless, from above. In only a few schools have I discovered a whole-team consensus or motivation without a for their VLE. Vision the people RBCs are all very different in their approaches. Some, like the Northern Grid for Learning appear perish. to have worked well with schools but others appear not to have made any significant contribution to the initiative. Similarly many Local Authorities appear not to have shown clear leadership generally due to a very limited ICT team having too many day-to-day pressures to see the bigger picture. A few Local Authorities (LAs) have made corporate decisions about the establishment and Everyone delivery of an LA-wide platform but even here the actual take-up by schools has been did that which was inconsistent. Some, for instance, have made unilateral decisions for Moodle but with little right in his reference as to how the Primary schools would fare. own eyes. The most significant factor in this national debacle is the limited and now outdated guidance R J Tolley Report Completed July 2008 Page 3 of 27
  • 4. given to the suppliers by Becta. The technical specifications given to potential suppliers gave a very free hand for them to interpret solutions as they wished. I wrote to Becta early last year asking if they were able to issue a set of clearer definitions in relation to Learning Platforms,

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