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.

One Response to “Top software and hardware for creating great VLE resources? Any tips?”

Great post and great questions. My thoughts…

1. Hardware –
Have a look at seeing if you can ‘up-spec’ existing staff laptops (if you have them) with some USB mics and webcams. Add audacity and Movie Maker (he says hopefully – can you record straight to Movie Maker from a webcam?) and you’re spreading your reach well beyond one or two dedicated machines.
Have a look at some of the ‘netbooks’. I know the Asus EEPC has a built in webcam and mic – again you may well get more ‘bang for your buck’!
If you’re really looking to push the boat out and make something seem quite ‘special’ invest in a couple of macs for more high end work

2 / 3 – Software / Content – If you haven’t already, invest in a whole school license for the Content Generator stuff. The new versions are scorm compliant, so staff can create and then set ‘games’ as homework and track how well pupils do – http://www.contentgenerator.net

4 – Secret Option 4 – Staff Time. If you’ve got money, and you’ve want content, use the money to buy in some cover to give staff time to get the VLE populated with good quality content that they have created. Far better than anything you’ll be able to buy off the shelf, and you’ll obtain a much greater buy in from your staff as well. I’d probably avoid the Birchfield and Boardworks stuff, it looks very pretty and works quite well, but it’s never really fitted the courses that I wanted to build (if that makes sense).

Might be worth also asking the question over on the Effective ICT forum – http://www.effectiveict.co.uk/forum, you might pick some some other useful views.

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