For those looking for an easy answer on how to do controlled assessments… I’m afriad I haven’t got it yet. In the UK the exam boards have come up with the concept of Controlled Assessment – this is a replacement for coursework, much of which was done at home which was seen to be too open for interference by parents or other cheating and discriminatory to some especially those who do not have facilities or people to help them at home. There are of course  other reasons for this change.

This seems to have caused a  problem that has suddenly jumped out of nowhere at many schools and certainly at our school with History, Geography, Drama, Citizenship, ICT and probably others all faced with the dilemma of how to get students to produce coursework in lessons without them having access to it outside lessons.

Each subject and each exam board seems to have a different set of rules which seem to include

  • No access to work outside of lessons
  • No access to sites on the internet to help them with work
  • No access to internet
  • No access to school network
  • No access to certain programs
  • No ability to save work in pupil area or e-mail home

I’m not a school network expert – for some schools who are well resourced and have the expertise this probably isn’t a problem. But for many who are stretched it is no doubt causing many headaches. It potentially means every student doing these assessments needs a separate login and account just to do this work – for my average sized school you are talking potentially 300-400 accounts – possibly setup differently for different subjects. For A-level Computing we’ve already had to deal with a similar dilemma – the new online AS exam is all done with access to a small subset of programs and no network or internet access – for the last 2 exams out technicians have reinstalled a whole suite of computers just for the exam students have logged in to do the exam (sometimes in 2 sittings) and then the machines were reinstalled back to normal! For our network manager and technicians this was the simplest way.

Here are a few solutions that we have used or thought up or heard from with for controlled assessments (not all tried and tested)

1. Memory Sticks – students use a generic login which restricts their access – students then save their work on the memory stick at the end of the lesson and the teacher takes the stick in. – advantages: simple! very simple. disadvantages: memory sticks can go wrong or get lost, work is not backed up with the school systems, lots of memory sticks need to be bought – again possibly for every subject.

2. VLE handin – similar to the above students login to an account only allowing access to certain features. They upload their work to the VLE and the teacher locks the work: Advantages: No USB sticks! Disadvantages: Requires internet (if VLE hosted offsite), fiddly for students and teachers, requires ways to open and close work every lesson.

3. Networking knowhow – The experts at Edugeek have a few solutions including this one – http://www.edugeek.net/forums/how-do-you-do/58143-controlled-assessment-how-we-did.html – for some of these solutions it requires an assessment role to be created (like students and teacher roles) and this is turned on and off at the start and end of every lesson.  I imagine this would be done manually. Advantages: It should work and hopefully less fiddly for the less techy teacher – Disadvantages: Network administrator workload heavy

4. Yacapaca – this is similar to the VLE approach. We love Yacapaca in our ICT department for lots of types of quizzes, homeworks and assessment – it’s very easy to use, easy to setup and completely free (though you can pay a reasonable price for support should you wish) In their last e-mail they sent instructions on how to use their system for controlled assessment as explained in this blog post http://selbictnews.blogspot.com/2010/06/using-yacapaca-for-controlled.html Advantages: Simple, fast Disadvantages: Still need to restrict certain features on school network (though not as complicated) Need to setup Yacapaca accounts (though this is easy to do) Restricted file formats, needs internet access.

2 post publishing additions:

  • do it on paper by hand – this is seriously being considered by some people – Advantages: It doesn’t get any simpler technology wise, no worrying that an exam board will tell you that you are a cheat. Disadvantages: No spellcheck, redrafting means rewriting, hard to read, moderator may not like hand drawn submissions as much.
  • Just do things as normal with your regular system but keep a close eye on students (suggested by Mr Thomson in the comments below) – I like this one! Advantages: Easy, you treat your students as responsible people rather than potential cheats. Disadvantages: Some qualifications may not allow this, need to monitor students to ensure they do not save copies of work elsewhere, possible sleepless nights if you are paranoid about exam boards deciding this isn’t correct.

So what do I recommend – I recommend whatever is easiest for you!

Please do add your suggestions to the comments and if I have made any mistakes do correct me.

This is my presentation for Teachmeet Edtechroundup Edition #TMETRU09

For more information on Teachmeet visit www.teachmeet.org.uk for more info on Edtechroundup visit http://edtechroundup.wikispaces.com/

You can see info (and some recordings) of my previous Teachmeet contributions here

Both are fantastic CPD communities and opportunities and it’s great to see the two concepts joined together for an evening.

A few ways teachers and students use our VLE (Edtechroundup Teachmeet)

Please see my video presentation below. I used Screenr to record the screencast which limited me to 5 minutes hence the rush at the end. In the video I show different ways our VLE is used.

1. Student blogs – most are just for fun but we’re hoping to have students writing regular book reviews and sports reports in future.

2. As a document/resource repository for lesson or home resources. Many people decry this use as a waste of a VLE. Okay it doesn’t use all of the features and isn’t very interactive or collaborative but is a great place to start and has obvious benefit for teachers of allowing students to access work from home. Especially useful for revision time.

3. For discussion forums – Great for reflection, discussions or just setting open questions. When students post their response the whole class can see it, learn from it and comment on it. When they do it in their exercise books it’s just between them and the teacher.

4. For extracurricular clubs

5. Making students a teacher in their own course – they can then share their notes with classmates and build a collaborative resource to help with revision.

Look forward to hearing your comments and feedback as well as ideas of things you do with your classes.

Staff E-learning Newsletter

Posted on November 9th, 2009 in moodle, rickypedia, VLE | 2 Comments »

Last week I sent out this staff e-learning newsletter to try and keep staff informed and enthused about e-learning and our VLE. The response so far has been excellent, we’ve had three new teachers start using the VLE in a week. See the newsletter below, I’ve slightly amended it to remove some personal details but most of it is still there.

__________________________________________________________

Dear Staff,
 
In an attempt to avoid unecessary meetings or announcements in shout I’ve been working on this mini newsletter to keep you updated on e-learning and the VLE. I’m hoping I can keep up a monthly newsletter throughout the year. Take a look, have a read, let me know what you think.
 
Here’s what in this newsletter
1. Reminder of how to get on the VLE
2. Resources and tutorials to help you, where to get help
3. VLE Teacher of the month
4. VLE teacher targets
5. Simple Videoconferencing in the classroom
6. Inspirational Videos for the classroom.
7. Reminder about Nintendo DS Consoles
 
1. Reminder of how to get on the VLE
It may have been a while so here’s how you log on…
Visit www.rickypedia.org and login – to log in use your eportal username and password. Once you are logged on if you click your name in the top right corner you can change your password and your profile details.
 
For students their username is…(removed for privacy)  I have attached a helpsheet that you can print out for students. (not attached to blog post)
 
2. Resources and tutorials to help you, where to get help.
If you get stuck with Rickypedia please come and ask myself or Julie. If you want to book a mini training session with me I can come and visit you during registration for a 10 or 20 minute slot, if you need we can probably get cover for your registration. For password resets or anything urgent you’ll probably find Julie easier to find, she’s in the quiet room every day except Friday, I’m around usually in the staffroom or LI6 on Monday and Wednesday mornings. If you need either of us Julie is at (removed e-mail from blog post) and I’m at (removed e-mail from blog post)
A few resources to help out:
On Rickypedia are a few resources – once you’re logged in, on the list of subjects click on “staff” and then choose “Tutorial videos” for basic videos on how to create and build up courses.
Also in the “staff” – section is a course called e-learning training which has a sheet for pupils explaining how they log on.
A group of very good online and short (2 minute) training videos are at http://www.vimeo.com/channels/44004 I think these work at school but can’t promise so you may need to look at home!
 
3. VLE Teacher of the month
The aim of this bit is to show you how different teachers have used the VLE. This time we’re going to visit Sophia in the History department.
 
I have attached some screenshots of Sophia’s courses with this e-mail
 Example uses in History department (pdf)
The history department are using the VLE as an interactive resource to enhance teaching and learning. In a year 9 module there is a unit on life in the 19th Century. The first resource in the course is a link to an interactive resource on the Manchester Art Gallery website looking at a painting of the times. The next resource is a discussion forum where students have to discuss various questions on the painting. It is amazing seeing students building up their knowledge and responding to each others’ posts.
Next there is a link to a page on the national archive website on the same topic followed by a downloadable word document containing a worksheet for students to complete. A powerpoint from the lesson comes next followed by another 2 discussion forums for students to carry on answering questons online. To give you an example of how students have used it – one discussion done over 3 teaching groups has been viewed over 800 times – how often does that happen with a student’s work in an exercise book?
 
4. VLE Teacher Targets
Some people like a challenge or a target to meet – here are some for you to try and get done this month.
Beginner: Create a new course and add something to it.
Intermediate: Create an online poll (it’s called ‘choices’ in Rickypedia)
Advanced: Set an online homework (assignment) and mark it online.
If you finish a challenge come and see me and I’ll give you a ‘well done’ sticker, 3 stickers and you can have a certificate!
 
5. Simple Videoconferencing in the classroom
Anyone wishing to try out simple videoconferencing should take a look at Flashmeeting a free tool provided by our local broadbam consortium. It now works in school!
http://flashmeeting.e2bn.net
Flashmeeting allows up to 25 people to chat using text, audio or video – you could also use it to connect just one person upto your class online even if they only have a basic webcam or microphone. Even without a webcam in your classroom you can talk to them via audio or text chat.
 
6. Inspirational Videos for the classroom.
This great presentation has links to 100 youtube videos that you could use in the classroom. Some are truly amazing.
http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/youtube.htm
Obviously YouTube is blocked at school to keep us safe – see this blog post about how to download these videos to bring into school. http://elearnr.org/2008/09/13/how-to-find-and-download-youtube-videos-for-use-in-the-classroom/
 
7. Reminder about Nintendo DS Consoles.
Reminder – we have 16 Nintendo DS consoles and a variety of games including maths, english, braintraining, puzzle, french and just for fun games. You can book them out for lessons or registration for your classes or forms – the sign up sheet is on the bottom of Mr. Griffith’s noticeboard in the staffroom (he hasn’t complained to me yet!) and the consoles live in a neat easy to carry box in Mr. James’ room.
For some cool ideas on how to use Nintendo DS in the classroom please check out this evolving presentation – 23 Interesting Ways and Tips to use a nintendo Ds in the classroom
http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/nintendodsdsi.htm
 
Enjoy and come and ask if you need a hand with anything!
Daniel

__________________________________________________________

Teachers are often critical of commercial resources available to them. Be they “old fashioned” textbooks, “new fangled” software packages or, even newer, resource packs for VLEs. This is sometimes because resources, such as books, are written to work generally with a large group of people but may not tailor to exactly what a teacher wants or to what a class needs. A good resource can provide a lesson structure as well as content for both teachers and students to follow. Even with a good resource I find myself dipping in and out of it as suits me and as suits my students. I’m sure in common with all teachers I may use a textbook for some of the lesson but complement it with other resources such as websites, explanations, or other activities that I create or use. I think for ICT based resources, online or otherwise, we have higher expectations. With a textbook I would not expect students to just read through it and follow text, explanations and exercises. With an ICT based resource there is an expectation that content, especially engaging interactive content, will let students learn independently with less direction and less picking and choosing from the teacher. Maybe it’s these high expectations or maybe it’s the often high prices that often lead commercial education packages to disappoint.

With this thought in mind I wondered if I could do better myself? A module on my MA in ICT in education (now complete) gave me the opportunity to develop a web based learning environment. While most people built a website I wanted to see how well I would do at building a self contained learning resource on a topic. Additionally I set myself the challenge of developing a scorm compliant resource. In layman’s terms scorm is a standard for packaging up learning materials (files, quizzes, information etc) into one package (or zipped up file) that can then be loaded up and used in any system or VLE that reads scorm packages (eg moodle). I hope that explanation makes sense, if you want more details you’ll have to ask someone more knowledgeable!

If you want to read my full report on how this development went I’m attaching my full assigment here (all 6000 words of it) below. Be aware this report was written in June 2008. To summarise…

I chose the tricky to teach and I think slightly dry topic of database normalisation for my resource.

I used an online authoring package called myudutu to develop the resource. This was found via Jane’s E-learning Pick of the Day. Although the interface was sometimes a little cumbersome it did have some great features such as build in quiz type activities and a powerpoint importer.

Creating the resource took many hours, many more than I would spend preparing a normal set of lessons on the topic. The end result was far from perfect and far from what I wanted. I wasn’t happy with the navigation, the design of materials, the narration I provided. I am unable to share my materials as I haven’t got copyright for all the content I included.

And my conclusion taken from my document was as follows…

Having seen a number of commercial offerings for content for VLEs I was always left unimpressed. Most were expensive, uninspiring and did not comprehensively cover the topics I needed. Part of the challenge I wanted to take on was to see if I could do better. Though I created a resource that did a good job for me and my class I’m afraid I didn’t do better. The overall quality of my resource was not on par with commercial offerings in terms of layout and design. My content was good but every teacher likes to use resources in a different way and they may not meet the requirements of many teachers. The time taken to create the resources was also prohibitive. I did not tally the exact time spent creating the WBLE but I estimate I spent 6 to 8 hours creating a resource that is far from perfect and that would occupy a student for a maximum of 2 hours. For a software house this may be a good return on investment but for a teacher it is a prohibitive amount of time. One of the problems with getting teachers to use online learning environments is the time it takes them to prepare online resources (Dabbagh, 2002). This project has left me a little downhearted that this is a problem that will be very difficult to overcome for teachers who want to create comprehensive and professional materials. On the other hand, a few years ago I felt I could not create a professional quality website. Now there are online tools that I have mastered that have changed this. I hope in the near future that rich learning creators will be available that produce professional and immersive resources with minimal effort. Until then I shall be leaving any similar projects of this kind to the professionals and concentrating on making use of simpler tools WBLEs have to offer.

Do you have or know of any great content or easy to use content creators? Share it in the comments section, commercial suggestions/adverts are welcome as long as you make it clear who you are and are happy for others to disagree with you or confident they won’t!

Downloads (PDF 333kb)

Designing_a_web_based_learning_environment

Each year for the last 4 years I’ve taught surveys and databases to my year 7 class.We used to start off by creating a spreadsheet with columns for name, age, favourite food and send all the students wandering around the classrooms to collect details from their friends.Next we went on to make a survey on paper, create a hypothesis, hand the surveys to friends to fill in, collect and type up results into a spreadsheet and then create graphs and a presentation about what they found out…It was a pretty good series of lessons that students enjoyed; but this year we kicked things up a notch with a bit of techology. Here’s how:

  1. We ditched the paper surveys for online surveys using Google Docs. Students created their surveys using the forms part of Google Docs. (We use the free Google Apps Education Edition via our own domain).
  2. Students posted the links to their surveys on a forum on our VLE. This was one of the trickier parts as most students hadn’t done this before. They could then complete their friends’ surveys. It also gave us an opportunity to discuss what makes a good or bad question or survey.
  3. Students analysed results – some downloaded their Google Spreadsheet to Excel while others did them on online. They all had to create a graph from their data.
  4. Students created a presentation to show their findings – most did this using Powerpoint though some used Google Presentations. All presentations had embedded graphs.
  5. Students uploaded their presentation to a Moodle Database and then had to view and comment on their friends’ presentations.

Students seemed to enjoy the work and interacting with their friends. Some parts had a steep learning curve but for most students it was the first time they had done anything like this before.  From a teacher’s point of view it was hard work and for a less able class I would certainly break the tasks up into smaller tasks but if you like the sound of it give it a go and let me know how it goes.

Although the market is more developed than when I started looking at and learning about VLEs about 3 years ago it’s still very confusing. In the UK there are approximately 10 Becta approved learning platforms (note that’s learning platforms rather than VLEs). There’s also probably another 10 or so out there that I’ve looked at and probably many more I’ve never heard of. If you want to compare features and costs you need to invest a considerable amount of time phoning round or getting in demos as these things aren’t always clearly published.

The wonderful community at Edtechroundup are compiling a table of VLE features and costs and Andy Kemp has written an excellent summary of different systems he’s experienced.
Ivan Langton jumped into the debate with his blog post “Is Moodle the Volvo of VLEs” which has a pop at Moodle’s old fashioned and blocky design. This debate is great and important but I feel a couple of important points have been missed.

1. Most schools do not know what they want!

Some of us now have a bit of experience using VLEs but I doubt there are many of us who have seen a school with a fully integrated VLE (I reckon 2 more years and I’ll be close!)  Even those of us who know VLEs and who use VLEs probably haven’t used all the features or worked out how every subject can or should integrate them into lessons. For those schools who have less experience a table of features is likely to mean even less. Looking at features and costs can be misleading. Schools need to look at what they have and what they need. Here’s a few commonly mentioned features that I’ll try and put a contrary view on.
MIS Integration: What are you going to use it for? Does your MIS system need to know how a student has done in a VLE quiz? Do you need to see attendance records from your VLE? I decided not to worry about this as the cost wasn’t worth the benefits for us and we already have web access to the MIS without a VLE.

Single Sign On: How many systems do you use in school? Can you combine them all? If you get single sign on working how many other systems won’t work with it? I wanted single sign on but it wasn’t realistic to start with. We also have so many web systems staff and students use that 100% single sign on would be impossible. Right now I’m prepared to wait until a better system comes around that’s more comprehensive.

Creating User Accounts/Class Groups Automatically: This kind of falls into the above two categories. How will you create user accounts? Will they come from the MIS or from a single sign on system? We created manually in the end which took a technician a small amount of time to extract the data from the MIS.

Online Markbook: Is this essential? How many staff will use it?

Included Resources: Some commercial VLEs come with resources such as Brittanica (that I’ve heard great things about). Do you need these included resources? Would you prefer to spend the money on just the ones you want?

Curriculum Mapping: Some VLEs allow you to map or tag your resources to parts of the National Curriculum – are your staff going to want to do this?

Features and Tools: Eg Wikis, Forums, Blogs etc. Are there better online tools to do the job that staff are already using? Does a specific VLE offer an implementation that is so good that it stands out? Is this really what is going to be your deciding factor? Probably not!

In summary most staff will only use parts of a VLE. The expert staff who you may expect to use more may prefer to use other tools such as a blog on blogger, a google sites website or a wiki on wetpaint.

2. The Main Cost isn’t the hosting and technical expertise but the time for training and creation of content.

Many people comment that Moodle can be expensive in terms of setup. I believe this time for setup is the same for any VLE. For £500 a year my school has fully hosted, functional and supported Moodle installation from ECognition . We needed to create user accounts, courses and resources. This is the same for any VLE. Your commercial package may include setting up servers, single sign on and user accounts – but this will surely also need time from people in your school, such as you or your network manager. The real cost though is in creating materials, courses and training staff. It doesn’t matter what VLE you have, creating courses and resources takes time – teachers don’t have much time.

So why have I fallen for Moodle?
1. You can spend money on the bits you want to spend it on rather than on software licenses. It may be in house training and taking teachers off timetable. It may be getting external trainers in. It may be paying someone to integrate your moodle with your MIS. It may be buying laptops to use the VLE in school. It may be buying resources to add to the VLE and many more options.

2. You can start small and grow organically. If you spend £30,000 on a VLE there’s some real pressure to use it even when it isn’t the best solution to your problem. Forcing people to use a VLE can cause resentment both amongst pupils and staff. With a smaller investment in Moodle I am equally happy when staff use other web tools or our Google Apps  installation to do things how they want.

Bigger costs require bigger benefits and create bigger pressures

Flexibility breeds creativity.

Sorry there is no part 3: The ugly but do take a look at part one of this story here

Welcome to part 2. In part one I described the frustrations of trying to build up a course on our VLE on e-safety. Here’s how my course ended up looking course

Before we got to the course we did two other activities. I got students to design their own logo using MS Publisher. They learnt to group items and save as a JPG. Students were then taught how to log in to our VLE Rickypedia, to change their password, to update their profile and to add an avatar. The logo they made at the start of the lesson became their avatar. I’ve written two previous posts on avatars and profile fields. These activities took about 30 minutes of the lesson to complete. Next students moved onto the films.

The first film was linked from here . The second film embedded from teachertube. Students watched the films (all our PCs have headphones plugged in now) and did so very attentively. I next put a discussion forum in for students to write about the films. This was the prompting I gave them

forum instructionsStudents then posted their replies. I’ve picked a few random posts below. Some posts led to some great online discussions.  Most students didn’t get beyond making and reading these posts. Over the next two lessons I plan on covering other e-safety related issues. I’ll keep you posted as to how they go. (Nb to see the images below in better quality click or right click and open in a new window)

discussion1 discussion2discussion3discussion4discussion5discussion6

Welcome to the first of a 2 part post – the good and the bad. What do you want first, the bad news or the good news? I’m going with the bad.

This is the story of a lesson or series of lessons introducing our VLE to new year 7 pupils as well as starting to address issues of e-safety.

As I’ve said in previous posts part of my plan to introduce the VLE Rickypedia this year is to train up year 7 pupils to use the tools sensibly and safely so they can do so throughout their time in schools. I’ve been looking at a way of doing this and to integrate it with a current unit that we are teaching this year in ICT lessons (this scheme of work from teach-ict is a great example) . In real life unlike the A-Team plans don’t always come together exactly as you want them. A nasty cold cut down my already haphazard organisation and planning and I ended up one Wednesday morning with a nasty cold, an hour to plan and two year 7 classes rapidly approaching.

Sorry to spoil the suspense but there is a happy ending to the story but here’s what happened in between…

1. I looked through my e-safety bookmarks and came across the thinkuknow and digizen resources – both great resources!

2. I looked at the teacher resources on thinkuknow.co.uk (it doesn’t click to open on firefox so click here)

3. The videos are available to download – rather annoying as I wanted to just embed or link to them for students to watch. Let’s just have a look to see if they are up anywhere else so I don’t have to download them and then place on our network or VLE…

4. Yes I found the videos! But they’re on youtube – like most schools we can’t use youtube – ironically it’s not deemed safe enough – okay then I’ll download them…

5. Okay I need to log in first to download – I’ll just register quickly…

6. Ah – I have to wait for them to validate my registration… in reality this meant I applied on 27th and my registration was validated on 3rd February… okay no videos for me…

7. Just to rub it in it tells me that once my registration is accepted I’ll be able to access some lesson plans and resources but others are not available until I complete half a day training course at one of their venues.

8. I move to other video sharing websites such as teachertube to see what I can find… a couple of okayish American videos which aren’t so relevant to my students.

Oh dear. By now I’m rather frustrated… 30 minutes left to get something sorted. Why if you want kids to stay safe online and teachers to teach pupils to stay safe do you make your resources so hard to access. Okay to be fair there’s some great resources still on the website but I wanted a video… you’ll see why in post two. Then of course with youtube and most other video sharing websites blocked by the Hertfordshire web filter it makes finding resources that much harder.

So onto step 9…

9. Visit digizen – also a great website though centred on social networking and cyberbullying. Rediscover the great film let’s fight it together  – guess what it won’t play on school computers, I’ve no idea why.

10.  One google search later and I find another copy of the video on truetube that works in school.

Why oh why is this so hard. If I wasn’t an ICT teacher on a mission I would have given up long ago and not wasted 40 minutes or so on the steps above. Do carry on to post two to find out what happened in the lesson and how it all went… there is a happy ending!

VLE Staff Training

Posted on January 22nd, 2009 in VLE | 6 Comments »

In the world of Educational ICT money is often spent at hardware and software without thinking about training and time. It doesn’t matter how amazing technology is or what change it can facilitate, if teachers don’t understand how to use it or don’t have time to use it it won’t get used! There are many reports and articles that back up this argument but I think to most of us in the edtech world who aren’t salespeople (and to the honest and good salespeople of which I’m sure there are many) this is a given.

So the challenges of implementing our VLE are pretty much what I’ve expected. The jobs that are being done or need doing are: Finding time to create examplar resources, setting up a sensible look and feel for the system, setting up sensible navigation for the system, the admin part of uploading users, training pupils and training staff.

I’m going to have to just get stuck in and tackle as many of these things as possible simultaneously but right now my priority is to get the training off the ground.

We started with our inset in the first week of term where I spent an hour with the whole staff introducing the concept of a VLE and did a tutorial on how to login, change profiles, add a course and add items to a course. There’s only so much you can do with 80 people or so in an hour with only a handful of laptops. Nevertheless it was a good start and taster for everyone and at least gave people an idea of what was now available for them to use. A friend at a North London school who uses their VLE extensively across the school told me that every one of their whole school insets has to have a VLE related part, maybe that’s something to aspire to.

The next step is organising extra training sessions. I’m going to aim for sessions to have a maximum of 10 people in each and try to schedule them either during the day (taking staff off timetable for an hour) or after school. My plan is to offer staff the option of beginners, intermediate and advanced sessions at either time. I am also offering departments the option to take their training in departments.

We’ll see how it goes this term. I’d be quite happy to get a few groups of enthusiasts wanting to come back for more training rather than a large number of people with knowledge but less desire. I’m also wary of overstretching myself in terms of giving the training, but I’ll worry about that when I get there.

A quick question to you all to finish? How do you train the staff in your school or institution and what model works best?

Thanks to choosing Moodle as our VLE our school has a VLE budget to spend on training, hardware and resources. Okay we didn’t get quotes from every supplier out there but the first one we had in quoted around £30,000 for their “package”. Our current budget is more modest (I won’t put the figure online but feel free to twitter or e-mail if you’re curious).

So now with a little money in the kitty to spend I’d like to ask three questions.

1. What hardware or devices should we buy to make best use of our VLE?

2. What software should we buy to make best use of our VLE?

3. What content should we buy to make best use of our VLE?

Open source suggestions are of course welcome but here’s what I’m looking for and here’s where I’m thinking right now.

Software or hardware needs to be easy for teacher or pupils to use. It need to be easy to install (for hardware preferably it won’t need installing). Content needs to be good! For software I’m looking for software that will help teachers and I hope pupils create engaging content for the VLE.

This is what my three answers look like so far.

1. Hardware:
A handful of bluetooth adaptors for students to get photos, audio and video from mobile phones.
A digital voice recorder that records straight to MP3.
A simple to use camcorder that produces footage in a format that can be uploaded straight to VLE
A laptop with useful software, editing software and webcam that can be loaned out to staff for developing resources.

2. Software
Screencapture/screencasting software.
Simple Audio, Video and Image editing software.

3. Content
The only subject specific content I’ve found is by birchfield or boardworks which look expensive. Any other suggestions for any subject would be welcome.
Our librarian is keen to get an Encyclopaedia Britannica subscription for 6th form (age 16-18) research.

I hope to get lots of ideas and recommendations from people. Please do provide hyperlinks or reasons. If you have a product that you make or market I’ll happily share it if it’s good! I will write up all suggestions as a new post to share. Just to clarify I’m not looking to provide a concise list of everything but a shortlist (very short) of items that are quality, easy to use and I hope value for money (or free!). Many thanks in advance.