Benefits of onsite Moodle installation
Using Overnet Data’s Edulink solution, schools in the UK and internationally are reaping the benefits of integrating their Moodle learning platform with their school’s management information system (MIS). Wrenn School is one such example.
Wrenn School in Northamptonshire is a larger than average co-educational secondary school with over 1,300 students and 200 staff members, split over two physical sites. This posed fundamental challenges for effective communication across the school, sharing student information and managing student courses.
Despite having an incumbent learning platform in place originating from the long gone days of the Becta Learning Platform Framework, Wrenn School originally decided to switch to a self-hosted and self-managed Moodle platform. To combat the challenges of school-wide communication, student reporting and simplifying the management of student courses they opted to use Overnet Data’s Edulink product to fully integrate Moodle with their school’s management information system, SIMS. This led onto Overnet Data providing full onsite hosting management, support and training on Moodle.
Nick Mallard, Senior ICT Technician is part of a network team of three at the school and explains why they chose Moodle.
“Obviously the biggest advantage of Moodle is that it is open source and free. It is entirely customisable, scalable and its development is driven by the community. Even as a managed onsite service, it is a significantly cheaper option compared to other proprietary learning platforms.”
Hosting Moodle onsite delivers several advantages over the cloud based approach. Nick outlines these.
“There are advantages to hosting Moodle onsite. Firstly, if the internet goes down, it’s not the end of the world as far as the platform is concerned. Plus, it also allows us to have more control over the software updates we wish to apply to Moodle, as well as choosing the right hardware. We use a lot of video content in our courses and an onsite solution caters well for this.”
Nick outlines how Moodle is being used for teaching and learning:
“The majority of staff are reasonably well versed in Moodle, so they had a good idea about getting new courses added to it. There are people logging on all the time to Moodle and we typically have a course for each subject. Teachers and students have easy access to teaching and learning resources online from home and in school. They can access Moodle on different devices – smartphones, iPads, tablets and laptops. So, from home or in school, our users have got easy access to all the resources they need, whether it’s just text or rich media content such as video and audio. Homework is posted up onto Moodle and some testing done using quizzes.”
What were the main benefits experienced by the Wrenn School following the deployment of the Overnet Data Moodle solution?
“Firstly, the huge, huge benefit for us is the integration with SIMS. Staff can do the basic SIMS stuff like recording attendance, achievement, behaviour and things like that right within Moodle. Teachers will often review the attendance and achievement of each child. For example, they can see that a child has been late 6% of the time.
For students they find it useful to access their timetable, so they are always up to date with when and where they should be.
The other big one is parental engagement, as parents can see their children’s SIMS performance data at home. Finally given our school is split over two sites, communication is key and Moodle helps out a lot here.”
Wrenn School opted for a managed onsite Moodle service with Overnet Data and this has given the team at the school the comfort of knowing they can always turn to experts to help them out when needed. Again, Nick explains why;
“It takes a lot of the responsibility away from the school so to speak, so if something goes wrong, we aren’t pressured into getting it sorted ourselves, especially if we haven’t got the expertise. We are technical but not in the way of Moodle for instance. Instead we turn to Overnet Data and their technical helpdesk has been massively helpful to us. It is a huge benefit and bonus having Overnet Data there to help us out with running major maintenance updates on Moodle. Plus, if someone comes to us and asks questions that we’re not sure about or wants a feature adding, we e-mail their support team and get a response the same day! This is really, really useful.”
Has the Moodle integration with SIMS benefited the senior leadership team (SLT)?
“Absolutely, yes. The biggest benefit is the reporting side of things. With the integration between Moodle and SIMS, they can easily pull up all the information they need regarding performance data. It’s easy for them to concentrate development of the school in certain areas. For instance, we have a large behaviour department and SEN as well. So, it’s handy for the SLT to be able to access Moodle and see what areas need pushing a little bit more.”
Summing up the interview, the key benefits experienced by Wrenn were:
- Improved teacher productivity through SIMS integration
- Assisting the SLT to make better informed decisions through improved access to data
- Increased student and parental engagement
- Cost savings compared to proprietary learning platforms
- Technical support from Moodle experts to assist with any problem, however big or small