Sydney school marries Moodle with Live@edu

Sydney grammar school Redlands has opted for the Cloud-based Live@edu e-mail system over an on-premise system and integrated the open source Moodle learning management system with it in the process.

Established in 1884, Redlands is an independent, co-educational school with more than 1500 students across four campuses.

The school promotes itself as having technology integrated into the curriculum and the director of ICT, Christian Jean Sellies, wanted to create an online learning platform that would allow students to connect to each other and existing learning materials.

Another aim was for students to be able to work from home on any computer without purchasing additional software.

The Redlands ICT committee thought a Cloud-based e-mail service might be ideal for the school’s needs, especially if it could integrate with the school’s open source learning management system Moodle.

Moodle is the main interface for the school’s student portal for learning and the Web Portal.

Redlands selected Microsoft’s Live@edu e-mail platform because of its ability to integrate with Moodle through a Microsoft-developed plug-in.

“At Redlands, students and staff use Moodle as an increasingly important resource in their online learning," Sellies said. "One of the key reasons we chose Microsoft as our hosted mail provider was the availability of the plug-in for Moodle to bring the students’ Live@edu mailbox into their Moodle homepage. Since rolling out Live@Edu, we find that the majority of students access their mailbox through their Moodle lessons.”

Sellies said this type of integration between Live@edu and Moodle] is something of a first and the support from Microsoft was good.

"Every time we encountered an issue, they helped us solve it. It’s a good partnership and one that gives us confidence to innovate," he said.

The Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle was first announced in mid-2009 and has since chalked up more than 5600 downloads from Microsoft.

Licensed under the GPL, the plug-in allows people to use their Windows Live IDs (Live@edu account credentials) to sign into Moodle and access Live Services, like e-mail, IM and calendaring without leaving Moodle.

According to Moodle, from a programming point of view Live@edu has the same APIs as any Exchange server, so it’s possible to use the module to integrate Moodle with private Exchange servers as well.

In addition to the Live@edu service Redlands deployed Microsoft Office 2010, Windows® 7.

Each student now has a 15GB inbox and 25GB of online storage to use for school work.

Microsoft Australia's platform strategy manager Robert Evans said in recent times, Microsoft has become a more open company on many levels, includings making its technology interoperate effectively with open source applications "that are often used by our customers".

"The ability to be able to continue using Moodle was a prerequisite for Redlands, so the availability of the Moodle plug-in was significant in Redland’s decision to select the Microsoft Live@Edu platform," Evans said.

Educational institutions often get discounted pricing from Microsoft, but the company is still claiming a have reduced licensing costs at Redlands by almost 50 per cent.

Office 2010 also integrates with the online storage and applications.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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