Sero won a competitive tender to review four leading VLE systems deemed of relevance to the OU within the universe of large HEIs in the English-speaking developed world with significant activity in distance teaching. The OU had decided to go to tender when its own VLE was going through significant upgrade issues and a clearer external sense of direction was valuable.
The methodology used by Sero was a refinement of that earlier developed by Paul Bacsich for use in HEFCE studies, customised to OU in a few cases. Associated with the main study were studies reporting on i) the leading relevant sites for the four suppliers, ii) the closest comparators to the OU and iii) technical issues specific to implementation at very large scale.
Specific conclusions were confidential. Some general points are of interest:
- There are varieties of open source community – the “very open source community” is not the only one
- The dangers of home-grown VLEs are considerable
- Leadership position in an open source community incurs costs as well as benefits
- There are benefits, not only costs, in running “hot spare” systems