Letter to my mp

Dear Roger Godsiff,

I am writing to you about a rather arcane issue to do with the elearning software that the British Education Technology Agency is recommending to schools and other publicly funded bodies.

I work as a maths lecturer and Information Learning Technology Development Coordinator in a large FE college based in the north of Birmingham, but I am writing here in a personal capacity. 34 FE Colleges in the West Midlands are making good use of an open source (i.e. free, but no commercial support) e-learning platform called Moodle (see http://moodle.org/). It transpires that BECTa is advising against the use of open source and free software in schools. A number of small regionally based businesses now offer support with Moodle and other open source software. Commercial learning platforms tend to be ‘regionalised’ versions of US products with, in my opinion, a poor match to UK needs. Moodle is an Australian development and much of the development activity is being driven from Europe and the Open University in particular.

Moodle is widely supported in the UK, by the Open University, many other Universities including UCE, and by many FE Colleges. Apparently, John Pugh MP has tabled an ‘early day motion’ (software in education, number 179) to the following effect…

“That this House congratulates the Open University and other schools, colleges and universities for utilising free and open source software to deliver cost-effective educational benefit not just for their own institutions but also the wider community; and expresses concern that Becta and the Department for Education and Skills, through the use of outdated purchasing frameworks, are effectively denying schools the option of benefiting from both free and open source and the value and experience small and medium ICT companies could bring to the schools market.”

I would like to express my support for this motion, and I would like to add that the enthusiasm generated by Moodle far outweighs commercial products – it is the feeling that individual teachers can join the Moodle community and have a voice in the development of new features – and this leads to wider and more rapid acceptance. I have, in my ILT Development Coordinator role, seen much more interest since my college adopted Moodle in preference to a commercial VLE product that had (in my opinion) deep flaws.

Some links that may aid your researcher





Yours sincerely,

Keith Burnett

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