Comments on: ‘Eduserv-funded study into the use of Microsoft SharePoint in UK Higher Education Institutions’ Report

From: http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/static/5007/SPfinal.pdf

Microsoft is promoting SharePoint as a VLE. ……… Despite not being frequently deployed as an institutional VLE, SharePoint is being used in teaching and learning, particularly for functions which are not easily fulfilled by the VLE, for example: group collaborative work, ad-hoc non-repeated courses, and work that cuts across several or many different courses.”

I would contend that the above excerpt from the report’s Executive Summary simply doesn’t hold here.

These facilities are much in demand by Oxford students and academics and are the exact reasons why we chose Sakai (and Bodington before) as our institutional VLE. I am assuming that this text mainly refers to Blackboard / WebCT (and perhaps, to a lesser extent, Moodle).

The Blackboard model of a VLE where students are pigeon-holed into particular courses would simply not work for us.

The main body of the report also mentions licensing restrictions of Blackboard being a problem when opening up materials either to other institutions or the general public – of course open source solution such as WebLearn do not suffer from such problems. Indeed one of the largr modifications that we have made to Sakai is to make it very easy to open up Oxford learning material.

From page 25 (section 7.2)

“We are using both SharePoint and Moodle in our Department and we seem to fall into two groups of teachers/researchers: Moodle is used by those who teach standard modules and find it convenient. SharePoint is used for those who want more flexibility, more collaborativeness, and the possibility to have different levels of user permissions and contributions.”

Again I would contend that this doesn’t hold for WebLearn – two more strengths of Sakai are the collaborative features and the ability to offer a myriad of different permissions within a single site. Again we have enhanced these facilities locally as they are of great importance to Oxford.

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