Martin’s Weblog

MLE to PLE – A Framework For Considering Systems

The blog offers an outline of the main approaches to provision systems and offers some categories to help you when considering and selecting systems.

Systems approaches

It is possible to build much of a PLE with any of the systems approaches below but bear in mind that real world systems will be a combination of some or even all of them.

Product – on-site

Using a supplier’s product and installing, developing and maintaining it on-site.

Examples of this approach are Moodle and Sharepoint

Product – hosted

Using a supplier’s product but having a 3rd party host the system for you – you manage and access it across the net.

Examples of this approach are using  Serverlogic  and Coweb  to host Sharepoint.

Service – “cloud”

Using a suppliers service – you are not aware of the underlying technology or system but the service you get e.g. access to email, blogs and  shared workspaces.

Examples of this approach are Google sites and Microsoft Live@edu

Organisational DIY

Using your own specialists to program and design your own system.

This could be on-site, hosted or in the cloud.

An example of this approach is Centime which is originated at EHWLC and is developed in partnership with a small number of other educational organisations.

Personal DIY

Using and integrating whatever the users (learners and staff etc) choose to use. 

Examples are the use of people’s own on-line identity (e.g. openId), email, blogs and social networks integrated with organisational data.

Evaluation Criteria – Outline

The headings below can be used as an outline for more detailed work when it comes to considering what system is right for you.


What ownership options does the system offer regarding the use and fate of material in held in the system and do they meet your requirements for ownership.

– What happens when the author leaves the organisation.

– Who can say how the resource is published (private to organisation, public to specific users or fully public)

– “Copyright” – who decides if it can be copied and by whom 

– What happens when there is a disagreement about a resource – liability, conflict resolution etc

These questions can be considered for both staff and learner authored resources.

Service levels

 What service levels does the system offer for availability, security and performance and how do they meet your requirements for service.


What management options does the system offer and do they meet your requirements for management.

For example in provisioning and controlling user access and resources how easy is it to create accounts; change accounts; change access to resources; remove accounts and provision group resources, spaces and permissions.

Data integration

What data integration options does the system offer and how do they meet your requirements for data.

For example – how easy is it use the system in combination with data systems used by the organisation.


How does the system meet your requirements to adapt and change – does the system allow you to deliver what you want and how easy is it for the system to develop what you want.

Teaching and Learning

What teaching and learning options does the system offer and how does the system meet your requirements for teaching and learning.

User experience

What user experiences does the system offer and how does the system meet your requirements for teaching and learning. How easy is the system to use – is it suitable for your users.

Organisational culture

How good a fit is the system with your organisational culture.

For example -do your people like a clearly defined framework to work within, are they comfortable with experimentation and change.

Future potential and issues

What future potential does the system offer and does this meet your requirements for future developments.


What skillsets does the system require and do you have these or are you able to develop them, buy them in or contract them out.


What are the costs and the cost types (e.g. capital vs operational) of the system and can you afford them. Consider all the associated costs – cost of equipment installation, maintenance and operation; software licences, staffing costs (training, development etc) and costs to meet the criteria above  e.g in supplying the skillsets, data integration, service level etc.


June 21, 2008 - Posted by | ICT, IT and education

1 Comment »

  1. […] in June 2008 I wrote “MLE to PLE a framework for considering systems” which attempted categories approach and offer criteria to help evaluate […]

    Pingback by Approaching Clouds – First Impressions « Martin’s Weblog | December 7, 2008 | Reply

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