OWL: A Free, G Suite VLE

Is there still a role for the VLE/LMS in school? This post argues that there is. The post outlines a solution using G Suite and an App I designed to achieve the outcomes of an amazing VLE/LMS with none of the cost, hosting or server maintenance.

Over the Easter Holiday this year I had the amazing opportunity to be selected on the Google for Education Certified Innovators Programme in London. Hearing so many excited, enthusiastic and committed people working on a range of projects to improve education was amazing. The idea for my project came from a gap that I think a lot of schools face.

G Suite is amazing, but my school (like many others) relies on the functions of a VLE (or LMS for anyone overseas). A VLE/LMS/E-Library is something we often need as educators: a single tool to point people towards where we house our content (e-books, revision material and other weblinks). However, the cost of VLEs is often very high for schools, so there had to be an easier solution.

This is where OWL (Online Web Library) comes into play. It’s a Google Apps Script I have designed to house many of the features of a VLE but built on the back of G Suite. It contains:

  • A centralised booking calendar
  • Easy access to assignments in Google Classroom
  • Educators can map content in one central space.
  • Educators can create their content in Google Sites and map it to one central VLE platform for easy access
  • Carefully tracks the usage of users so that you know what’s been accessed and by who

In effect, it gives school a full VLE\LMS experience at zero cost utilising the power of the Cloud. There’s no server (it’s a cloud based service), setup is very quick and straightforward and with Google Sites you get access to the best site building tool out there.


The homepage of OWL at Dixons Allerton Academy

To get started click here to get access to three documents:

Moreover, if you’re a UK SIMS school, why not use my guide on getting SIMS synced with Google Suite so that you can use Google Classroom (linked in OWL) as your one stop homework setting tool.

The product will remain free and has been tested in a number of Academies in the UK as a successful VLE replacement.

The product is in a BETA phase, as it’s not been widely rolled out beyond a few controlled schools. Therefore, if you need any help setting up or getting started, I’m available on Twitter @theedtechschool and will gladly support via Direct Message and e-mail to support you with any aspect of setting up and running the service.

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