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VLEs versus wikis and blogs etc.

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by roamingteacher, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Occasional commenter Forum guide


    Could I please get some opinions on the use of blogs, wikis and sites
    as an alternative to VLEs? I am currently researching alternatives and,
    so far, it seems to me that Google Sites and Wordpress combined would
    be far more powerful (in terms of functionality) than a clunky out-dated
    VLE.
    This article was useful in terms of comparing wikis and sites:
    http://aabele.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/blogs-vs-wikis/#comment-26


    Hit me with your thoughts and I'd be REALLY interested to hear
    from anyone whose school has already ditched the VLE and found a useful,
    reliable and user-friendly alternative. In order to let
    this be as 'outside the box' as possible, please assume that online
    safety for students is a given, regardless of platform proposed.
    Requirements are:

    <ol>[*]files attachments enabled;[*]discussions enabled (instant chat would be a bonus);[*]permissions can be edited at page level (not just site level) ;[*]beginner-level computer users will find it intuitive and simple to use. </ol>
    Thanks.


     
  2. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    It all depends on how serious you are about the source material.
    At BETT 2007 Mr Ed Balls suggested schools make more use of wikipedia; however, when I suggested to him that wikipedia does not have the veracity of other sources and should never be used where reliability and referencing is required, most in the room agreed with me.
     
  3. You managed to sit in the same room as that ***** Balls? Maximum respect.
     
  4. I use www.ecikgu.com.
    It is for individual teachers rather than for a school but it is good.



     
  5. I use www.ecikgu.com.
    It is for individual teachers
    rather than for a school but it is really easy to use and installation
    and set up can be done by abyone, whatever their IT level.

     
  6. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Occasional commenter Forum guide

    Thanks for the replies. I'm not suggesting the use of sites like Wikipedia as a resource - I am talking about creating a wiki site to hold the contents of various courses, and be used as a learning platform.

    I'd not heard of ecikgo so thanks for that. I'll explore further. Do you use it with students too and if so, what benefits have you noticed? What limitations does it have in comparison to (for example) a VLE ?

    Thanks again.
     
  7. momentofclarity

    momentofclarity New commenter

    Surprisingly the best software/website I have used was the ManageBac site. It is specifically designed and developed to support the CAS component of the IBDP, but has been expanded considerably the last 18 months to include much of the internal assessment etc. I know its not exactly what you are looking for, but it allows for 90% of the functionality you mention, only really missing the real time chat function. If you are not involved in IBDP I doubt they would prevent you from subscribing. There is a per head cost for students to access it, but that covers the entire year and it is relatively low (approx 10USD/year). The support is outstanding for it as well. And now I realize I seem like I am a sales person so I will stop. Hope you find what you are looking for.
     
  8. oldgit

    oldgit New commenter

    I'm a little confused as to exactly what you're looking for - and guess that you may be too. I've been using a combination of Moodle and MediaWiki (the engine behind wikipedia.com) for a number of years now and these do everything you ask for and a lot more.
    PM me if you would like more info/insight.

     
  9. Nezelette

    Nezelette New commenter

    If the only functions you need are the ones listed in your OP, then a full VLE might be an overkill. Simple wiki providers such as wikispaces might be enough (although I'm not entirely sure about uploading / attaching files).
    If you want a VLE, with a lot more scope, yet ease of use, I recommend Frog. It's increasingly popular. They claim they have never been dropped by a school.
     

  10. I think I see where the OP is coming from. With Michael Gove likely to remove the requirement for learning platforms to

    provide electronic portfolios for students and reporting facilities for parents, it would be tempting for international

    schools to 'ditch' their VLEs as British families might not therefore expect one to be provided as part of a 'British-style'

    educational package (or at least not upgrade/maintain them). Tempting, yes - but extremely short-sighted in terms of risk

    and resource management.



    I'd certainly agree that managebac is worth a look at if you have IBDP students, but if you're looking for a couple of free

    choices for individual classes in other year groups, Nicenet is still

    around - pretty basic, but it does the job; another possibility I've been looking at recently is Edmodo. Another teacher, whose blog and twitter feeds I follow, recently

    posted this on the subject.



    The received wisdom from some of the other educators whose opinions I respect on this issue is to keep with Moodle and get

    it to talk to everything else - MIS software, Google Apps for Education etc. I can certainly appreciate that, but I'm

    currently looking at whether just using Google sites/groups as part of Google Apps for Education would provide the

    flexibility our teaching staff need in terms of posting resources and enabling students to upload work for

    discussion/assessment while keeping the process simple enough to not stifle their creativity. If that works, I'd be tempted

    to not add an additional layer of complexity. Obviously, if you're not using Google docs/mail etc then this might not be a

    route you would want to consider.



    Two other free possibilities (and one that probably won't be free for you). Ninehub still offer free Moodle hosting for classes and Wikispaces are still hosting free wikis for

    teachers. Ning used to be free, and I saw some very innovative stuff done by colleagues eg: video responses to questions

    embedded in a discussion thread; but now costs anything from $20-$500 per year. However, if you're in the US, Pearson are

    sponsoring Ning Mini.

     
  11. google sites allows you to make a website easily and is easy to use and to add stuff to but you don't get much user space.
     
  12. cityfree

    cityfree New commenter

    In my current school we use efolio and when I was at uni in Iowa we used Blackboard (far more advanced than efolio so better for older kids).
     
  13. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Occasional commenter Forum guide

    Thanks for the responses. Just another tuppence...
    Reasons for ditching the VLE are nowt to do with Mr Gove, but rather its limited functionality. It's so awkward to use that staff generally don't, unless they absolutely have to. A few more IT-savvy peeps do make more use of it, but it is soooo time-consuming compared to other tools, such as Google Sites. Plus, the students hate it - I mean, really hate it. ("Please just send it in an email or put it on Edmodo, pleeeeease Miss...")
    Oldgit - thanks for your info on Wikimedia and Moodle. I have looked at these and they are under consideration along with other options. What I am looking for is something user-friendly that can integrate new tools as they come out e.g. Glogs, embedded media etc.
    Have tried Edmodo, but it's just not there yet in terms of what it offers. Sadly too as the students originally loved it. Enthusiasm soon trailed off as we all realised how limited it was in terms of collaborative work. We still use it to share docs and links sometimes but it has died a death.
    I've used Frog in the past and have unreserved hatred for that system. It was a combination of the IT department holding their cards close to their chest, so one could seem like a true 'expert', but the little I was shown left me very unimpressed. Our department tried to use it, but several of us ended up using Wikispaces instead.
    I love the idea of Moodle integrating all the Web 2.0 software - I'll certainly be keeping my eye on that one!
    Efolio - will have to investigate...
    Perhaps my situation is a tad more challenging as all our students have their own laptops and are very on the ball when it comes to IT. They are not impressed with anything that takes more effort than an alternative takes, and that is why I'm trying to find something user-friendly but open enough to integrate new tools as they come out. Not that I'm advocating jumping on the latest gadget bandwagon, but if we can use a site / piece of software / app etc. for a particular part of a course, it would be great to have the option.
    Please continue the comments - they are really helpful and I appreciate every single one. [​IMG]




     

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