VLE: a worthwhile investment?

I wrote about the value of a VLE prior to joining my present school, DHSB, and I was at that point unsure of its long term value.  Now, just over two years into my new role it is time for me to question the value of the VLE again.  We invested in Frog prior to my arrival; this had involved a significant investment in time and money.  The VLE had two login profiles: students and staff.  Neither group used the VLE extensively, it was primarily used by staff for booking ICT rooms and students studying ICT used it to submit work.

We undertook a major rewrite of the VLE two years ago and created separate sites for parents and governors in addition to the student and staff areas. 

I will discuss what information we have available on each of these areas in a future post.

At Frog’s conference earlier this year I remember Dai Barnes asking a developer about pedagogy and the impact of the VLE upon teaching and learning, that is an area I don’t think we have cracked yet.  Google Apps, in my opinion, does this better.

What it has enabled us to do is take great leaps forwards in our parental engagement.  We invested in the parental portal module which Frog states was “designed to engage parents first and foremost”. 

After some quite significant teething problems with the SIMS extractor (we have SIMS hosted remotely and that seemed to cause no end of problems) parents are now able to login after 6pm and see rewards, sanctions and attendance data for that day.

VLE parent view

I read a great post by Scott on his new blog, where he looked at using Google Apps to create a free vle. We introduced Google Apps this year and I have to agree with many of Scott’s points, however the parental engagement aspect of our VLE means that I’m not ready to call time on Frog anytime yet.

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3 Replies to “VLE: a worthwhile investment?”

  1. I believe that the VLE is absolutely invaluable for our school! Students and staff use it on an hourly basis and without it, there is so much we wouldn’t have/be able to do (such as the iDHSB app!). Not only has the school majorly improved communications between parents and the school, they have entered a completely new realm of excitement as I am sure that ther eis much more to come in the future. Already, we are all slowly beginning to realise the “apps” are the way forwards…

  2. The VLE has entered the DHSB consciousness, the point where others “see the point”.

    This process has been slow and has tormented our impatient souls. It has also involved a great deal of time, graft and grind on your part, often unsung, getting it to look good enough for others to engage.

    But It lives. 

    Let’s see where it goes! 

  3. Interesting post. Remember that on it’s own Google Apps isn’t a full VLE but there are several VLE Apps in the marketplace which you install directly on to your domain. Our system ”CourseDirector’ is one and we’ve gone for tight Google Apps integration so for example courses are created as Google Sites and homework is submitted to Google Docs.

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