Big Ideas, Big Problems

Back in September, the school found out there was some funding available via an organisation called LSIS for a project to raise achievement at KS5. One of my English colleagues approached me and proposed a more engaging VLE-type experience as his students sometimes find Moodle a little dry and institutional.

We’ve now got the go ahead, and some funding, to implement something. Having had a sit down with my visionary colleague, he’d like the students to see a classroom with, say, a bookshelf where all of the books link to resources and the posters link to activities, etc.

Options? I could create a simple HTML or Flash front-end that would point to Moodle activities or resources. This would be pretty obvious and I think the students would see through it fairly quickly.

At the other end, I could code my own CMS from scratch. By mid-January. In my spare time *fnarr*.

Somewhere in the middle I could choose a simple CMS and skin it to hell, or maybe even try with Moodle. Necessary features would be:

  • Login (for tracking use)
  • Resource hosting (textual & multimedia)
  • Student communication (either a forum, IMs or both)
  • Web conferencing capabilities (almost certainly linked to a 3rd party, maybe DimDim)
  • Setting and Uploading work, ideally with the capability to provide feedback

I also considered Edmodo, which would meet some or all of the criteria above – but isn’t customisable in terms of appearance and therefore doesn’t provide the GUI that is required.

Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?