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#1 gavin holden

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 02:40 PM

Had my first look at our new VLE today. Despite two years of me repeating the word 'moodle' to anyone related to the decision, we have gone for kaleidos.

At first it seemed that it had some very good features. (I'll go into more detail when I've had a better look around.) However, I've just logged in for the first time on my own computer and guess what - it is not compatible with Firefox. I find this incredible. I've emailed them to check that I am not doing anything wrong.

Does anyone else have the 'new and improved' kaeidos yet? Are you happy with it?

Although it is very early to say yet, this seems like a very bad sign. There is no way on earth you'll get me using IE and I dont really want to have to run two browsers at the same time.

The system also seems quite slow. Not as bad as dial-up web browsing, but everything is significantly slower. Again, this criticism may be too early. I will have a play over the next week and write a full review on here if anybody is interested.

#2 gavin holden

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 04:04 PM

It seems that i jumped the gun - firefox needs the latest flash player for kaleidos to work (unlike IE for some reason)

#3 Carl

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 04:10 PM

Is there anything stopping you or your department running your own Moodle?

#4 gavin holden

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 04:40 PM

I've actually been testing moodle within the dept already. I have been using my year 9s as a test group. I really like it but it blew my database the first time I used it. To roll it out to all History classes would mean more expense as I'd have to increase my bandwidth. The school wont pay for it as they are already paying a ridiculous sum for Kaleidos. (I know it would only be a few quid more.)

I'm going to have a really good look at kaleidos before I make any real decisions. I will continue to develop my moodle site on the side.

I've just spent the last hour looking aroung kaleidos. It is so slow. This will really annoy me if I am using it for any length of time. Moodle has a much better range of tests and quizzes. Kaleidos is on first impressions less daunting than moodle but not being an ict natural myself, I found it much easier to find my way around moodle intuitively than kaleidos. Kaleidos has a kind of 'my space'/desktop page (nothing to do with murdoch's myspace) which is a nice idea - you can drop widgets into your desktop - e.g. calender, rss feed window etc - but it seems superficial really - these things can be done using a web browser. There is a clunky 'my bookmarks' widget/application but it is vastly inferior to delicious for example. It already seems behind where the web is today.

These are my initial impressions - I'll post again when I've had a better look.

#5 Andrew Field

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 04:59 PM

It is a tricky one this isn't it.  I'd look to try and find some additional way of hosting bits and pieces with Moodle.  We have Kaleidos but only for the Maths department - everything else is in Moodle and I find it infinitely superior.  However, I must be honest and state that I steer well clear of Kaleidos and only got involved when a salesman suggested that the College might 'like' to extend Kaleidos across the entire school for an amount with quite a few zeros on.

Depending on how Kaleidos works, you could always use a combination of the two - use Moodle for the parts you like and then use Kaleidos to link to Moodle.  It might be worth looking into some departmental funding, just to explore the costs, of having a Moodle setup too.

Tricky situation though - and one that many colleagues may find themselves in in the future.  With BSF you have to use what you've given.  Obviously you can always just use it to link to Moodle, but then Moodle has to be paid for.  One avenue worth exploring is what other local schools are doing.  In addition, is your place involved in the Diplomas at all?  Moodle is a great tool to use for those as it works very well across sites and would be a genuine justification for setting up an additional VLE.  In terms of local schools is there anything like http://www.cambsmoodle.org who have our second major event tomorrow?

#6 gavin holden

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 06:20 PM

I've been testing our vle (kaleidos) before it is formally launched later this term. I'm not really impressed. It is very slow to load - it is flash based and seems to take forever. There is little logic in the way you navigate through the site (compared to moodle which is very straightforward.) I've a meeting soon with a rep from RM (which run kaleidos.)

I wondered if anyone could help me with a couple of questions. Is moodle able to accept SIMS data? (I'm sure that I read somewhere it can.) Can moodle be used to store whole school information (target grades, FFT data etc) on pupils? Can school timetables be integrated into moodle for access by staff? I still haven't given up on the schooll using moodle but I need to strengthen my arguments a bit. The way courses, test and assessment data is managed is far superior on moodle. In fact, Kaleidos has no proper assessment section at the moment - I am told it is still 'being written'!

#7 goneunderground

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 09:07 PM

View Postgavin holden, on Sep 5 2008, 07:20 PM, said:

I've been testing our vle (kaleidos) before it is formally launched later this term. I'm not really impressed. It is very slow to load - it is flash based and seems to take forever. There is little logic in the way you navigate through the site (compared to moodle which is very straightforward.) I've a meeting soon with a rep from RM (which run kaleidos.)

I wondered if anyone could help me with a couple of questions. Is moodle able to accept SIMS data? (I'm sure that I read somewhere it can.) Can moodle be used to store whole school information (target grades, FFT data etc) on pupils? Can school timetables be integrated into moodle for access by staff? I still haven't given up on the schooll using moodle but I need to strengthen my arguments a bit. The way courses, test and assessment data is managed is far superior on moodle. In fact, Kaleidos has no proper assessment section at the moment - I am told it is still 'being written'!
Hi there
Yes Moodle can accept SIMs via an MIS upload tool developed by a guy from CLEO (Cumbria& Lancs Online) Details of the plug in you need here: http://moodle.org/mo...p?d=13&rid=1585  You can add target grades in the gradebook as grade items - I've been doing it for PE - but Moodle's gradebook isn't the friendliest of beasts I have to say. Not sure what you mean by 'integrate' timetables for access by staff? If you explain a bit more I might have an idea.Moodle can do most things; where it falls down in my mind is in online editable spreadsheets etc.. (we use google docs for that) and e-portfolios - which aren't native to Moodle but need to be added on such as Exabis or Mahara. There is a lot of whole school stuff you can use Moodle for - we have done our end of year pupil reviews on Moodle; our next year's options will be done and sorted entirely on Moodle (once I have set it up :) )

#8 Andrew Field

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 09:10 PM

View Postgavin holden, on Sep 5 2008, 07:20 PM, said:

I've been testing our vle (kaleidos) before it is formally launched later this term. I'm not really impressed. It is very slow to load - it is flash based and seems to take forever. There is little logic in the way you navigate through the site (compared to moodle which is very straightforward.) I've a meeting soon with a rep from RM (which run kaleidos.)

Kaleidos, in my opinion, is extremely overpriced and the previous comments I've made still stand - I steer well clear.

Quote

I wondered if anyone could help me with a couple of questions. Is moodle able to accept SIMS data? (I'm sure that I read somewhere it can.)

It can - there are now modules / improvements which have been developed that allow you to import student data from SIMS to Moodle.  However, in my limited knowledge, I'm not aware that Kalaeidos can do anything more.  When you're making use of Moodle, the need for connectivity with SIMS is actually not really there.  It is simplicity itself to setup user accounts and whilst it would be useful just to import classes instantly from SIMS, there isn't a single VLE that provides complete synchronisity with SIMS - and without that, there isn't much point bothering.  The best use of Moodle allows you to setup your courses, get students to enrol in them and then you organise the students into their groups.  Very straightforward.

Quote

Can moodle be used to store whole school information (target grades, FFT data etc) on pupils? Can school timetables be integrated into moodle for access by staff? I still haven't given up on the schooll using moodle but I need to strengthen my arguments a bit. The way courses, test and assessment data is managed is far superior on moodle. In fact, Kaleidos has no proper assessment section at the moment - I am told it is still 'being written'!

It can store whole school information, but this is something I want to do and haven't done yet.  Where I think you instead need to target your keeness is actually at the subject level.  There are some excellent add-ons (that I haven't used it) such as the Criteria Reference Block - http://moodle.org/mo...uss.php?d=96509.  This allows you to setup your course with attainment points and then provide feedback with progress towards grades.  Ideal for the OCR Nationals in ICT.

What I want to do is have students' targets shown to them when they login and then some form of progress indicator that appears.  I haven't made much progress on this, but it is more down to time rather than Moodle's capability.  This again is the advantage that Moodle is open source.

I think Kaleidos is good at tagging resources - but I don't think you can do much else.  However, I'd suggest just setting up a Moodle site yourself, put together some courses - perhaps adding in some of my ContentGenerator.net SCORM tracking etc. - and then you can demonstrate the reality of Moodle.

Moodle doesn't provide a neat finished solution for use in schools - you need to setup, tweak and tailor it exactly to your requirements.  However, this is in no way a disadvantage.  You aren't forced to pay for (£XX,000s+) something which is fixed and untweakable.

#9 gavin holden

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 08:00 AM

View Postgoneunderground, on Sep 5 2008, 10:07 PM, said:

Not sure what you mean by 'integrate' timetables for access by staff? If you explain a bit more I might have an idea.Moodle can do most things; where it falls down in my mind is in online editable spreadsheets etc.. (we use google docs for that) and e-portfolios - which aren't native to Moodle but need to be added on such as Exabis or Mahara. There is a lot of whole school stuff you can use Moodle for - we have done our end of year pupil reviews on Moodle; our next year's options will be done and sorted entirely on Moodle (once I have set it up :) )


What our SMT want to do as the first feature is to make the vle an information portal for staff to access data. Currently we have to physically find the relevant menber of staff to get copies of various pieces of information. They want the vle to contain all staff tand pupil timetable information, class lists, attendance data etc.


View PostAndrew Field, on Sep 5 2008, 10:10 PM, said:

Kaleidos, in my opinion, is extremely overpriced and the previous comments I've made still stand - I steer well clear.



It can - there are now modules / improvements which have been developed that allow you to import student data from SIMS to Moodle.  However, in my limited knowledge, I'm not aware that Kalaeidos can do anything more.  When you're making use of Moodle, the need for connectivity with SIMS is actually not really there.  It is simplicity itself to setup user accounts and whilst it would be useful just to import classes instantly from SIMS, there isn't a single VLE that provides complete synchronisity with SIMS - and without that, there isn't much point bothering.  The best use of Moodle allows you to setup your courses, get students to enrol in them and then you organise the students into their groups.  Very straightforward.



It can store whole school information, but this is something I want to do and haven't done yet.  Where I think you instead need to target your keeness is actually at the subject level.  There are some excellent add-ons (that I haven't used it) such as the Criteria Reference Block - http://moodle.org/mo...uss.php?d=96509.  This allows you to setup your course with attainment points and then provide feedback with progress towards grades.  Ideal for the OCR Nationals in ICT.

What I want to do is have students' targets shown to them when they login and then some form of progress indicator that appears.  I haven't made much progress on this, but it is more down to time rather than Moodle's capability.  This again is the advantage that Moodle is open source.

I think Kaleidos is good at tagging resources - but I don't think you can do much else.  However, I'd suggest just setting up a Moodle site yourself, put together some courses - perhaps adding in some of my ContentGenerator.net SCORM tracking etc. - and then you can demonstrate the reality of Moodle.

Moodle doesn't provide a neat finished solution for use in schools - you need to setup, tweak and tailor it exactly to your requirements.  However, this is in no way a disadvantage.  You aren't forced to pay for (£XX,000s+) something which is fixed and untweakable.


I agree - my focus should be at the department level - moodle will be far better in this respect. Howver, I am trying to prepare some arguments indefense of moodle when operating at a whole school level.

The general level of ICT skill amonst staff at our school is quite poor. My worry is that kaleidos will end up being simply an information portal for staff and nothing else - using it at a departmental level will not work for many staff as it is too cumbersome. I have been asked to be on board with kaleidos from teh beginning with the aim of selling it to the rest of the staff. The problem is that I don't think I'll be able to sell a product I don't see as that good.

RM have great salespeople and can convince the people with the purse strings that their product is best. Moodle doesn't have salespeople so is at a disadvantage.

#10 Andrew Field

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 09:12 AM

View Postgavin holden, on Sep 6 2008, 09:00 AM, said:

What our SMT want to do as the first feature is to make the vle an information portal for staff to access data. Currently we have to physically find the relevant menber of staff to get copies of various pieces of information. They want the vle to contain all staff tand pupil timetable information, class lists, attendance data etc.

That isn't a VLE then - your school could use SIMS directly for this.  We do - each member of staff uses SIMS to take lesson registers and then has access to all student data, timetables, classlists - everything.  Neither Kaleidos or Moodle will do this for you.  What your management seem to be doing is trying to jump from nothing to an MLE (managed learning environment) directly.  The company that provide SIMS do offer add-on modules that allow you to integrate the data into their own VLE but I haven't personally seen any schools with success in this area.  If anyone is reading this and knows otherwise, please share your secrets ;)

I think all you can do is get busy yourself in the area that know the major impact can be made - with the students directly.  SIMS can do all the things your SMT are after and there are add-ons that allow you to make SIMS more accessible.  My place has just purchased some fantastic reporting software that seems to make to make that whole process fantastic.  Previously we've used Assessment Manager directly which has been fiddly and cumbersome.  I'll mention more about it when I've had a chance to use it myself.  However, I think your school is trying to jump too far initially.

Quote

I agree - my focus should be at the department level - moodle will be far better in this respect. Howver, I am trying to prepare some arguments indefense of moodle when operating at a whole school level.

The general level of ICT skill amonst staff at our school is quite poor. My worry is that kaleidos will end up being simply an information portal for staff and nothing else - using it at a departmental level will not work for many staff as it is too cumbersome. I have been asked to be on board with kaleidos from teh beginning with the aim of selling it to the rest of the staff. The problem is that I don't think I'll be able to sell a product I don't see as that good.

RM have great salespeople and can convince the people with the purse strings that their product is best. Moodle doesn't have salespeople so is at a disadvantage.

I can see all the points you are making.  If the decision to purchase Kaleidos hasn't been yours then you cannot be help accountable for it.  However, you cannot sell something to staff that you don't believe in yourself.  I think what you could perhaps do is come up with some ways for Kaleidos and Moodle to be used at the same time.  If you have some sales people coming in, why not arrange for them to come in and present their proposals and thoughts to the whole staff?  That way you aren't the one trying to persuade staff to use something that you don't believe in.

Simultaneously, you can setup your own department-level Moodle and run that as a great way to organise, structure, assess, track and support your students.

Get both systems going and then review progress of each.  In the situation you've been forced into I think that is the only way that you can make things happen.  Whoever has believed in Kaleidos should be given some trust.  If they believe it is so good, they need to be given time to show exactly why.  You can use that time to show how good Moodle is too.

It also sounds like it would be worthwhile setting up some form of ICT support group - perhaps a representative (NQTs / keen new staff) from each department?  This will help plant the seeds of ICT growth across the school.

#11 goneunderground

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 10:38 AM

It also sounds like it would be worthwhile setting up some form of ICT support group - perhaps a representative (NQTs / keen new staff) from each department?  This will help plant the seeds of ICT growth across the school.
If  your other staff are not IT literate you run the risk of Moodle ending up as a portal in the same way you are worried about Kaleidos -I agree with Andrew's above quote  on this very mucb -  this is what we've done at our place and you'll find NQT's/keen new staff willing to come onboard - and remember (as my bosss is always telling me!) if it is going to work you can't do it all yourself. If it is any encouragement btw I have  had quite a few people come for training who've had other VLE's foisted upon them from On High (Kaleidos being the main once actually) and who have decided to use Moodle alongside it. Yes, Moodle doesn't have fancy salespeople and big money behind it but it  isn't at a disadvantage - it does have hundreds of thousands of users world wide - and more specifically, there are schools and individuals in the UK - in this forum - whose experiences you could draw upon to 'sell' Moodle .

#12 Andrew Field

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 10:45 AM

Great point - the absence of salespeople is actually to Moodle's advantage.

What does annoy me intensely is how large companies are seriously caching in on the VLE market. As I see it (and I'm fully prepared to be wrong - so please correct me) the sales are being made, tens of thousands of pounds of school budgets are going out of education and only then, when the product has failed to deliver, do many schools turn to Moodle.  The large companies aren't too troubled as they've already pocketed the cash :(  Schools themselves have then wasted money, time and effort when they could have just used Moodle all along.

I think local authorities have a massive role to play here - they need to do more to help and support schools in an appropriate VLE choice.

#13 Andrew Field

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 12:20 PM

I did a quick search for some reviews of Kaleidos to try and find some balance.  After all, I've just found Moodle meets my ICT & Business faculty's needs perfectly so I haven't looked any further.  However, a Google search seems to point straight back to this forum.

Looking a little further - this school http://www.ridgewayschool.com/ seems to be using Kaleidos and have put together some guides in .pdf format: http://www.ridgeways...dosTutorial.pdf.  Perhaps you could get in touch with them for some tips.  Although I would go back to one of the original points - get RM to come in and sell it to the staff, that is part of what you pay the money for.

#14 gavin holden

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 02:06 PM

An update on our progress with Kaleidos.

All staff have now been given access and there is one hour(!) available on our next training day for staff to get familiar with it. We can access the following data: pupil and staff timetables, pupil attendence, pupil behaviour log, pupil data (only in raw form - cannot be manipulated within the vle) room booking info, class lists.

We have also been given our own 'portfolio space' for uploading stuff to. We can create areas called interest spaces and assign other users to them - you can create a sort of homepage for your department here but it seems really fiddly to use. We also have our daily staff notices on the vle - but as I have argued, it is far easier to just look at the staff noticeboard.

You can create courses but the system is very slow and cumbersome and not intuitive in th way moodle is. Some departments will benefit from being able to store electronic files centrally but for me it is much easier to upload them to my own website.

You can create quizzes but moodle is far superior here. Kaleidos does not seem to have any data manipulation yet - they are creating an assessment manager add on but it hasn't been released yet.

We will not be given e-mail and neither will the students. I thought that this would have been a good feature - the ability for students to e-mail work directly. The idea would be that they upload work to their areas but you would have to then go into their area to mark it (I think.)

The training we have had is very limited - we had a trainer in for about 3 hours who worked with four teachers but couldn't answer all of our questions. The system crashed a couple of times while he was demonstrating things which didn't fill me with confidence.

Each teacher has a blog they can add to and you can set up forums for discussion but they are a little cumbersome to use and there is much better stuff out there for free on the web.

I have been told that Kaleidos is scorm compliant but have not had the time to test this feature yet.

This is really the main problem. We have not really been given any time to find our way around it. The few of us who had a couple of hours training were then expected to filter down the training. It is going to take much more than this. A heavy investment in staff time and training will be needed to get this off the ground. I have been told that RM are open to developing Kaleidos in the way that each school wants it to move but feel this is more of a sales pitch.

I'll post again after Friday's first whole-staff training with some comments on their reactions (and how the system holds up with multiple users (first time we test this aspect.)

So to summarise, my main areas of concern are:

- system is slow (for me - I like to work fast with whatever I use - cant stand pausing while screens load)
- the look of the vle is poor - can be customised but in a very limited way
- navigation is not intuitive - you really have to be trained or constantly refer to the help section. Moodle for example is easier to just 'work out
- problems with crashing -sometimes I log on and parts don't work
- for some areas, there is better stuff free on the web (but these can't be bolted on to Kaleidos)
- data manipulation not possible (i.e. our data that has been transferred through SIMS)

#15 Andrew Field

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:43 PM

Gavin - thanks very much for your detailed thoughts so far.  I do hope we can keep going with things like this on the forum.  If any of the RM representatives would like to join in and share further views, that would be even better.

What worries me about RM is that they have a reputation for delivering pre-prepared materials / 'solutions', charging a lot from them and then seemingly let you 'use 'em or lose 'em'.  I believe they have changed a lot in recent years but it would be good to know more.  The feature set does seem rather disappointing at this stage.  Despite many of us feeling negative to RM it is important to focus on the functionality and affordability.  If the RM solution gets the job done more effectively and efficiently then Moodle that it, ultimately, deserves to triumph.

What your personal experience seems to suggest is that thus far Kaleidos lacks enormously in terms of usability and 'playability' to help teachers experiment and develop expertise.  Can it really be that bad?  One of the major benefits in purchasing a major commercial VLE should be the extensive training, or even moreso, the extensive usability that negates the need for training.

I'm trying to be positive and not just bash Kaleidos - at the moment Moodle comes out of this looking better and better.

#16 gavin holden

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 04:58 PM

Just posting to update about the testing we did of the vle on Friday.

The speed was the biggest problem - it was so slow I was embarassed to be associated with the thing. People were clicking on different pages or options and waiting 10-20 seconds for a page to load. It really was terrible - completely unusable. This is not a school server issue - it is RM's problem. You can guess what effect this had - many staff were instantly put off the whole idea - this was exactly what I had warned about. Staff also found the navigation around the site very difficult. There were positive comments about some features (e.g. uploading of resources) but these would be seen on any vle - i.e. they liked the idea of a vle - not necessarily this one.

Many staff felt it would make their lives more difficult and some will be hard to win over to the idea of a vle because of this.

#17 goneunderground

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 06:07 PM

Oh dear  :(  Don't know what else to say; I can just imagine the set up. Oh dear  :(  And RM???


View Postgavin holden, on Oct 27 2008, 04:58 PM, said:

Just posting to update about the testing we did of the vle on Friday.

The speed was the biggest problem - it was so slow I was embarassed to be associated with the thing. People were clicking on different pages or options and waiting 10-20 seconds for a page to load. It really was terrible - completely unusable. This is not a school server issue - it is RM's problem. You can guess what effect this had - many staff were instantly put off the whole idea - this was exactly what I had warned about. Staff also found the navigation around the site very difficult. There were positive comments about some features (e.g. uploading of resources) but these would be seen on any vle - i.e. they liked the idea of a vle - not necessarily this one.

Many staff felt it would make their lives more difficult and some will be hard to win over to the idea of a vle because of this.


#18 gavin holden

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 07:09 PM

View Postgoneunderground, on Oct 27 2008, 06:07 PM, said:

Oh dear  :(  Don't know what else to say; I can just imagine the set up. Oh dear  :(  And RM???

We have informed our LEA IT department and I guess I'll hear something after half-term.

#19 Andrew Field

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 08:06 PM

View Postgavin holden, on Oct 27 2008, 07:09 PM, said:

We have informed our LEA IT department and I guess I'll hear something after half-term.

You now need to push this as far as you can - you've firstly been forced to use a system that you weren't keen on and now it has failed to deliver appropriately.  RM or the LA providers have to get this sorted.  It is vital the connectivity issue is sorted as without that the whole VLE will become completely pointless.  Try your very best not to get ignored - instead put all the concerns in writing, get the support from SLT and get those responsible into school.  Currently it sounds completely unusable, so you should even start asking questions about getting the school's money back.

It would be very easy for you to turn around now and say "I told you so" but you are clearly too professional to do this.  You still continue with your own Moodle don't you?  I would just keep using that - I do hear stories of people just uploading a link from their given VLE to their Moodle site.

This is yet again bad news about Kaleidos though - I hope RM (or whoever is responsible) get it sorted.  I am very keen to find out good news, positive stories about RM as they are one of our BSF bidders (part of one of the three short-listed teams).  Come on RM - start showing us some good stuff :)

#20 Serendipity

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 01:17 PM

I have been following this discussion with interest, as Kaleidos is the chosen VLE for our school.  In some ways it will be easier to administer as we are a primary school.  On being shown the VLE, we had the same sorts of concerns as regards speed and the fact that it crashed as it was being demonstrated.  We were informed that these were teething problems, which were being ironed out.  I would be interested to hear from Administrators of Kaleidos how much time is taken setting it up and keeping on top of any problems which might occur.  I am by no means a technical ICT person, but I have the most knowledge of web site design in school, which seems to point to me being designated the Administrator and 'Champion' (two roles).  I am just wondering if thre will be a life for me outside computers!




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