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Choosing a suitable MLE

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Started by Monika Kern 25 Mar 2012 12:31pm () Replies (29)

Hi there, I'm fairly new to VLN but trying hard to get up to speed :)

I work at a Decile 1 Intermediate in the Far North. I would like to run my computing class web based, and advice in a different group was to look at moodle or similar. The MoE website lists three providers for MLEs, KnowledgeNET, Ultranet and Moodle. We have also received information from a 'new to NZ' firm offering EduSpot.

How do we choose the most suitable MLE??? Money is an issue (goes without saying). Any advice would be MUCH appreciated!!!!!


By the way, EduSpot run a webinar on Wednesday 28 March 12:00

Link: https://promo-manager.server-secure.com/ch/7360/r9nb4m/484293/3a1199zcm.html

Meeting Number: 620 618 844

Meeting Password: eduspot

Many thanks in advance, Monika


  • Nick Ford (View all users posts) 28 Mar 2012 12:30pm ()

    For me decisions such as the one you pose require the consideration of a couple of separate but related domains before specific choices can be made.

    The domains are:


    How will the use of this technology support and or extend learner success and/or your professional practice.

    From the information you have shared in this forum I have the sense that you already have contemplated this and have a vision of what it is that you wish to achieve.

    Technology form and function

    In order to make an informed choice an understanding of the form and function of the technologies under consideration is required.

    The only real way to do this is to get your “hands dirty” with each potential solution. This has resourcing implications for yourself and your school.

    Once one has a sense of technology form and function this can be mapped to the pedagogical goals.

    Having a sense form and function also enable’s direct comparison between the possible solutions. However care is needed here to compare “apples with apples”. As such a direct comparison between Google Apps and an LMS like Moodle can begin to get tricky without having a clear sense of what it is that you wish to achieve and at what scale (as an individual teacher or school wide).

    As an aside in you post you refer to Moodle, KnowledgeNet and UltraNet as MLE’s. These systems are not MLE’s. They are LMS’s. 

    Google Apps is not a LMS (it could be used as one with the implementation of Google CloudCourse http://code.google.com/p/cloudcourse/) whereas Moodle, KnowledgeNet and UltraNet are.

    An MLE is defined as “a collection of software tools and digital content that supports learning” and as such LMS’s and other apps/services such as Google Apps can be considered to be components of a schools MLE but in them-selves are not a MLE.

    I know it may sound pedantic however the language is important when these types of choices are being made as solutions should be sustainable and scaleable.

    For more on MLE’s check out http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Ministry-initiatives/Software2#software_schools

  • Nick Ford (View all users posts) 29 Mar 2012 10:50am ()

    Yes folk in your position have an important role to play in schools in researching, trialing and evaluating emerging technologies and then in working with fellow teachers, IT staff and management in creating a business case for implementation.

    The business case would address all domains i.e. pedagogy, IT infrastructure, resourcing etc. This needs to be a whole school team effort led by the schools e-Learning lead or e-Learning unit.

    For me an important aspect of the e-Learning lead role is to function as a translator and “glue” in the school, unifying the various stakeholders and ensuring that everyone is talking about the same “thing”.

    Part of this role also involves managing expectations. You are correct in pointing out the shortcomings of an uncoordinated approach based on the preferences of individual teachers. Experience shows that teachers are busy folk and often do not have a full picture of the resource implications of the implementation of new technology.

    Having said that teachers know the business of teaching and learning and improving learner success is the goal. As such it is important that teachers have the freedom to “play” and explore with technology. A bottom up (bubble up from early adopter teachers and learners) and top down (formalized support and processes from management) approach works well. 

    Free stuff
    Technology usually involves a range of dependencies of which teachers are largely oblivious e.g. will the LMS integrate with the student management system, what are the impacts upon other systems in the schools MLE, what are the training, support and administration implications?

    Dependencies usually have resource implications and in the ICT game nothing is completely free. Even the free “stuff” costs when you want to implement on a larger scale or if tighter integration with other systems is required.

    For example, Moodle LMS is a free open source LMS application but if implemented school wide resourcing would be required for a server, staff to administer the system, training for teachers, support for students, integration with other systems e.g. SMS, timetabling system and what about backing the data up … etc.

    Detailed worked needs to be done in identifying requirements and associated resourcing across all domains. If this is not done the danger is that a school could end up painting itself into an expensive technological corner the only way out of which incurs further expense. This work also needs to consider the scalability and sustainability of any solution.

    Google Apps, Moodle, UltraNet, KnowledgeNet, LAMS et al.
    With respect to your summary Google Apps is free however there are other costs that need to be considered depending on the scale of implementation and degree of systems integration.

    The KnowledgeNet, UltraNet and Moodle solutions mentioned on the Ministry of Educations web pages (http://www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/Initiatives/ManagedLearningEnvironments/LearningMgmtSys.aspx) are hosted services i.e. the infrastructure, support, training and administration is undertaken by a commercial company on behalf of the school. The cost pertains to the provision of these services.

    Some schools may have resourcing to manage solutions in-house while (many) others will not and a hosted service may be more appropriate. Requirements, scale and available resource will ultimately inform any decisions.

    As an aside I do not advocate for any specific LMS solution. Upon evaluation I have found many of the LMS choices to be similar in form and function.

    Each and every school is a unique community and as such schools need to identify their own requirements and solutions.

    One of the aims of the VLN is to provide support for schools engaged in such processes through the sharing of information and resources.

    I do advocate for a systematic, coordinated and collaborative approach to the identification of needs and the implementation and on-going management and support of any solution. I also advocate that solutions need to be scalable and sustainable in the context in which they are deployed.

  • Nick Ford (View all users posts) 29 Mar 2012 12:00pm ()

    Hello and thanks for the challenge Darren Cool

    Re the need for an LMS.

    Personally I agree with you here. My only assumptions are in the context of Monika's question.

    Re the provision of LMS shared services. 

    A fine collaborative model and yes it makes sense to spread the cost between schools. Does one specific school in the “cluster” manage the Moodle server or is this an outsourced service? How is the LMS integration with the different SMS's the various schools have managed or do all these schools have the same SMS and/or is there no LMS/SMS integration?

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