Yesterday, I discovered a new website called Eliademy and it is one of the simplest tools I have ever seen for creating a Virtual Learning Environment and not only that, it is free, has no adverts and "will always be free". After an afternoon giving a session on using Frog ( my school's new VLE), I was impressed at how simple it was to start creating learning materials on Eliademy. It does not have the range of functionality as Frog, it doesn't come close, but it is an amazing tool if you want to create an online course quickly and simply.
Eliademy have 3 bold claims on their website: smart and friendly interface, fast and easy to use and that it increases productivity.When you visit the Eliademy website, it is certainly smart, to the point and very welcoming. The designers have considered what most creators of educational software forget; teachers are busy people and if they have to spend time learning how to use software tools rather than actually planning and creating resources, most will not bother. Clicking on Sign-up gives the option of either signing in using Facebook (a huge time saver!) or completing 4 fields.
Eliademy claim that you will own your own classroom in 3 steps and it really is that simple, you just sign in, create a course and then add resources. It's simplistic layout is so free of distractions that it really does encourage you to increase productivity.
Creating a new topic within a course is done with one click and you can add pictures, files, Youtube, Vimeo and Slideshare. This is relatively good although it would be nice to see a bit more integration with things like Google Apps. Within each course there is the course content, tasks (again set with about 3 clicks)and a discussion forum. Adding participants is done easily by email or by sharing a link on Facebook or Twitter. A great final piece of functionality is the ability to access notes in Evernote and it would be great to se even further integration between the two products along with some other useful 3rd parties.
This is a tool I would absolutely love to see take off in lots of schools. Given that I write a blog called Free Tech for Schools, when I see technology like this that provides the functionality and professional interface of an expensive product for completely free, I begin to salivate. It really makes me think that the best thing you can do to be a truly progressive and creative technologically enabled school is to cut your technology budget down to zero! When you are not committed to expensive paid for products, you have much more freedom to pick and choose between the very best free tools. For now, I recognise this tool to any school who wants a simple and effective solution that will allow them to compete with any school that has invested in an expensive learning platform. I might even say you would be more successful as it is so simple to implement, it could be populated with resources in no time.
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