FolioSpaces offer free eportolio spaces

Looking for a web platform for my final assignment for the IDEL course I have come accross FolioSpaces, which offers a free portfolio space in a Mahara platform.

I have use Mahara since its beginnings and helped to translate it into Spanish. I find it a very smart platform based on open source and supporting multiple pluggins, such as GoogleApps, Embebly, The Europass Portfolio, etc. It also supports the LEAP2 standards.

The cons are that in the free option of FolioSpaces there is some publicity added to the views.

EUCEN 41st CONFERENCE. Education as a right

25 – 27 May, 2011. Granada, Spain. EUCEN is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with the special theme of human rights, focusing on the role of higher education in promoting the right to education for all, and making it a reality. EUCEN has invited representatives from UNESCO, the European Commission and other international institutions to lead discussions at the conference. More information in the Elearning Europa newsletter or here.

Sloodle, a compromise between SL and OpenSim?

As an Sloodle Tutor, I  would to introduce Sloodle explaining its main advantages compared with SecondLife and OpenSim.

Sloodle (acronym for Simulation-Linked  Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment ) is an open source software which integrates the Moodle based web-based virtual learning environment with the 3D virtual world platform of SecondLife. The project is supported by the University of West Scotland, the San José State University and several independent developers across the world (the complete list of Sloodle founders can be found in the community site). It has been funded by Eduserv until October 2009.

The main advantages of Sloodle for educators are its affordability and its easy-of-use configuration, freeing educators from the economic constraints of SL or the development time constraints of OpenSim. Another advantage is its interoperability as it blends a 2D and a 3D platform into a single 3D/web virtual learning platform.

Sloodle is affordable because educators can download, install and configure-both in world and in Moodle- a set of free objects which will allow them to design and develop meaningful activities to be undertaken either in SecondLife or Moodle. Courses can be blended across both platforms and students can teleport to SL in order to undertake the activities keeping their scores in the Moodle Gradebook. Basically, what Sloodle does is to enhance a tradicional 2D LMS with a tridimensional experience, Sloodle contributes to sustain the persistence and social discovery of SL beyond the virtual world.

Unlike OpenSim, where a considerable amount of development work needs to be done by the educator, in Sloodle it is possible to download, rezz and configure the object without knowing a single instruction in Linden script. The projects is well documented through its wiki, and there is a variety of tutorials and guides in different formats (YouTube, Vimeo, dotSub, etc). The Sloodle community is likewise very supportive and friendly, and I am talking from my own experience.

In terms of immersion and co-presence, I personally think that the Sloodle Island and the Sloodle Tutor Groups is a safe and supportive environment for learners and educators. Sloodle avatars are always linked to a Moodle users account (in the Sloodle Tutors Group, our avatars are linked to our accounts in the Sloodle community website), so educators can always know who avatar corresponds to each one of their students,  and they monitor students’ work in word eve  don’t know much about SL features. (there is an Sloodle object for that) .

One of the myths around Sloodle is that you can only use it if you are a Moodle user or you have a Moodle site, but this is not true. Sloodle includes stand-alone objects that will allow you to develop activities in-world.

The Sloodle objects can be classified into four main groups:

1)            Objects for the integration SL-Moodle: Sloodle Set, Controller, Registration Booth (and Login Zone)

2)            Objects for Teaching and Learning: These objects are used to blend activities across Moodle and SL. Some of the most popular are:

.                    Web-intercom. A chat-room that brings Moodle chatroom and Second Life chats together. Students can participate in chats in Second Life using the  Moodle chat and viceversa.

.                    Quiz chair (and Pile-on Quiz). Assess in Second Life – grade in Moodle. The  quiz tools allow tutors to author quizzes in Moodle, but students can take the quiz in SL, in a more engaging game-like activity, and their grades will be recorded in the Moodle gradebook.

.                    Distributor. A Second Life vending machine can be filled with items by a tutor, allowing students to access  pre-selected items.

.                    Multi-function SLOODLE Toolbar. Enhances the Second Life user interface with a range of classroom  gestures, quickly get a list of the Moodle user names of the avatars nearby or write notes directly into to a  Moodle blog from Second Life.

.                    Choice tool. It allows students to vote and see the results both in SL and Moodle.

.                    Presenter : it authors Second Life presentations  of slides, videos (including YouTube) and/or web-pages. The contents can be browsed both in SL and Moodle.

3) Standalone objects, such as the QuizHub, which allows educators to easily create quizzes in SL

4) Objects for collaborative browsing. The Sloodle browser has the same functionalities of of RL browsers. Avatars can click on hyperlinks, read their RL emails, access to Web 2.0 social platforms or complete online forms in world.

In the latest versions of SL an  Award  System has been developed which allows facilitators to award points, automatically or manually, to students in  Second Life for completing course-related  tasks. Points earned by a student in Second  Life can also be fed into the Moodle grade  book (I haven’t used the Award System myself).

I have been myself a Sloodle tutor since 2008 and I used Sloodle to delivery environmental courses to adults and youngsters at risk of social exclusion in Fife. It was a truly remarkable experience as it was the first time that the youngsters had accessed to a virtual world in which residents are also humans. The experience definitively spurred their curiosity about sustainability and peak oil.

I have two Sloodle demo courses which I would like to share with the participants of the Mscel programme.

1)      Sloodle for Beginners: This is a demo course developed for JISC Scotland which explains some of the main objects in Sloodle. It was developed for the  previous Sloodle Set, so  it doesn’t include the Sloodle Browser or the Presenter.  The autoreturn has been set to 120  minutes, so that participants can also use the parcel to test their own Sloodle objects.

2)      Into Transition: An Introduction to the Transition Movement. This is an example of how it may look like a Sloodle course. It was developed for the iMoot 2010, as I was a speaker at the event representing Sloodle.

Username/s: From  test1  to test4.

Password: hola1 to hola4.

For any doubts or further information, contact me at maricruz_garcia(at)

Virtual Learning Platforms in Europe: a comparative overview

European Schoolnet has rcently published  compelling report comparing the use and level of developments of VLE in three countries: Great Britain, Spains and Denmark.

For those who don’t want to read the whole report, the main conclusions are:

“Our findings:
As regards the deployment of virtual learning platforms:
• It is gradual, generally slower than expected, and, depending on the case, concerns 40-55% of schools
in the United Kingdom, Andalusia and Catalonia. In Denmark, however, 97% of state schools delivering
compulsory education have a virtual platform.
•I t is usually based on a combination of top-down approaches (those initiated by the responsible authority)
and bottom-up approaches (initiated at the “grass roots” level), with the exception of Andalusia, where the
top-down approach is clearly more pronounced.
• The governance of the process deployed – and of its follow-up after the platforms are operational – is based

in Denmark on very close involvement of stakeholders; elsewhere, it is based on a clear but sometimes
complex division of responsibilities in terms of implementation.
As regards their use:
• Communication between teachers and the management and organisation of school life are the most
advanced uses, as opposed to educational uses, which are considerably less developed, whether in the
United Kingdom, Denmark, Andalusia or Catalonia; active pupil participation remains limited in all countries,
but in Denmark such participation is seen as being supported by the fact that the curriculum encourages
project-based teaching.
•  ommunication with parents has only really been developed in Denmark.
•  dministrative uses are very advanced in the United Kingdom, and are growing in Andalusia; generally this
reflects the need to reduce administrative burdens in areas responsible for a significant number of schools.
Success Factors
In terms of the general approach adopted:
•  onsider the implementation of virtual learning platforms first and foremost as a process (objectives,
strategies, partners, stages, etc.). and not as an essentially technological intervention.
•  rganise active, close participation by the different stakeholders (teachers, local authorities, commercial
publishers of digital educational content, etc.), in ways and with an intensity appropriate to their respective
roles in the virtual learning platform system, from the outset and throughout the process.
•  irect the technology towards educational objectives immediately – from platform design to implementation.
•  ring together the resources and multifaceted expertise required to carry through projects of the scope and
complexity typical of virtual learning platforms.
•  rganise (quasi-) permanent access to ICT equipment at school level, particularly in classrooms rather than
in dedicated laboratories.
In managing the implementation process:
•  e pragmatic and patient at all stages of the process.
•  arry out more or less formalised evaluations, either integrated into the process itself or at regular intervals,
to allow for any necessary adjustments or corrections en route.
•  se virtual platforms to solve recognised problems of organisation or teaching or to simplify unavoidable
In supporting teachers:
•  evelop programmes and actions for training teachers not only in ICT and platform operation, but also in
their pedagogical use, bearing in mind the value of running such courses online.
•  rovide technical support, available during usage time (school hours and even outside these) and capable
of responding quickly and effectively to spare teachers from technical tasks and enable them to concentrate
on pedagogical aspects.