The Learning Communities were set up to allow schools to collaborate in direct response to the Entitlement Framework, the governments 14-19 Strategy, stating that all young people, post 16, should have access to at least 27 subjects and 24 subjects at GCSE level.
As there is a considerable distance between each of the schools, Foyle Learning Community recognised the important role Virtual Learning Environments would play in meeting the objectives.
After careful consideration of all the relevant software available, one outright winner was chosen. Rosa McLaughlin who is project managing the roll-out for FLC explains the decision:
"For us Moodle was the best choice for what we required. It’s right up there in terms of features and functionality offered by online classrooms and the fact there is no annual license fee means a considerable saving for our Learning Community.
"We were aware of Synergy Learning's expertise and track record in this area and having them on hand to help roll out a project of this magnitude was certainly a deciding factor."
The Foyle Learning Community aims to develop a VLE that will provide the member schools with the following:
• One central Moodle hub which all students can access, as well as a network of individual Moodle sites connecting each school and learning provider
• Access for pupils to online collaborative courses
• Collaborative teaching of courses
• Collaborative development by staff of resources and policy documents
Synergy Learning is working closely with the Foyle Learning Community to execute the implementation in a manner that will optimise uptake for the new online classrooms.
In order to introduce the VLE effectively, a 3-phase approach is being taken:
• Phase 1 will be an initial pilot for 4 schools (3,500 users)
• Phase 2 will incorporate 7 schools (6,000 users)
• Phase 3 will include all 15 schools (11,000 users) and the FE college
Rosa is feeling optimistic:
"It is vital that the rollout of the new VLE is well planned in order for it to be manageable for our team and well received by the schools. Synergy Learning has experience in setting up large scale Moodle Networks so their advice has been invaluable.
"We are just about to launch the initial pilot, with our teachers fully trained and ready to go! With a project as big as this there is always nerves, but there is a real peace of mind having Synergy Learning’s team available for ongoing support."
Jonathan McAlister, Synergy Learning’s Business Development Director and project lead at Synergy Learning for this project comments:
"We are delighted to be working with Foyle Learning Community on a project that is breaking new ground in Northern Ireland’s education process.
"Within our global client base we are used to dealing with clients who have big ambitions, so it is great to see a community closer to home that are setting their sights high and realising the potential Moodle offers."
Synergy Learning will host FLC’s Moodle sites on their new platform that has been built in-house and optimised specifically for Moodle software.
This is an exciting project, not just for Foyle Learning Community but also for Synergy Learning as it has the potential to connect every educational establishment within Derry City Council, and inspire other similar projects in Learning Communities across Northern Ireland. Rosa comments:
"Eventually we hope to connect learners of all ages, across all learning providers in the city, including our local university, primary schools and community learning providers.
"We want to become a city of learners that are upskilling, not just through our access to a wider range of qualifications but also upskilling our digital skills through the use of our VLE. This Moodle network will play a vital part of the city's bid to become ‘Digital Derry’."
Synergy Learning is the UK and Ireland’s leading Moodle Partner offering robust and scalable hosting, round-the-clock support, world-class training, award-winning theme design and expert development. For more information visit http://www.synergy-
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Synergy Learning has been creating interactive elearning content since 1997 for clients around the world. They have grown to become the leading Moodle and Mahara Partner in the UK and Ireland. For more information visit http://www.synergy-