Gibbons is a total software solution for Schools. It is perhaps a Learning Management System, although it lacks the marketing aspect of selling courses (such as the focus of WPLMS).
There are other examples of this type of software, perhaps the most common being Moodle. Gibbons, however, feels a lot more responsive.
Gibbons feels like a modern application. When a person edits or creates content (staff, student accounts, courses) it feels almost instant. Compared with Moodle, it feels loads more responsive.
Like Moodle, Gibbons is Open Source and completely free. To install it, you will probably need a hosting solution. Many host providers offer control panels that allow users to install a variety of hosted solutions. A2Hosting is one such host provider that has a low price, to the high quality of their hosted products. They offer Gibbons as an install under their Educational programs, listed in the control panel.
Gibbons offers quite a lot of features. In fact a whole school or college could use something like this to manage the teaching, staff, students, and logistics.
Although it took days to get Gibbons slightly set up, once I got far enough to finally create courses and classes, I ended up with a student view like the above screenshot.
As seen above the student is notified they have homework. Their classes are listed on the right, and a calendar (confusingly called a Timetable) sits in the main section.
Downside to Gibbons
The main downside to Gibbons is the limited documentation, compounded by the fact the software is unnecessarily complex! I’ve never seen anything like it. I spent 5 hours, across two days, to try and figure out how to create a class. I’m not joking. I’m also not alone.
The software is touted as “made for teachers by teachers,” and perhaps this is logical to teachers from whatever location they are from. From my viewpoint, the software just isn’t reasonable in implementation.
One example is in the creation of Courses and Classes. In America, most of us would think a course and a class is synonymous – but in this software they are two entirely different elements.
A Gibbons course, is not a class. It is a category that holds classes. It took me awhile, but I finally found out how to create a course. I created them, only to find out they still weren’t populated on my kids login. I couldn’t find a way to enroll him. It was so frustrating.
I went back to the course, edited it, and scrolling down I noticed a section on “add a class to this course.” Confused, I expanded that and saw that the classes are members of the parent object, Course.
That’s but one example. I’ve hit dozens of hurdles. Gibbons does have documentation, but it feels lacking. As an example, the latest documentation covers the School Administrators menu’s, yet there are elements in the menu not in the current documentation. One such item is the “Houses.”
What exactly is a “House?” It sounds like a fraternity! I have no idea how to use it, or if it’s useful.
Attendance… yet again… I found out that the course and class details, have options for “take attendance,” (yes or no), but I can’t yet find out how a student choses an option to set “attendance.”
I’ve given up on Gibbons, reinstalled it to try it again, and given up again. This cycle of mine has gone on 4 times now.
When Gibbons shines, it really shines. Unlike Moodle, the Dashboards are clean, responsive and useful.
I wasn’t able to find a way to use Gibbons to assign tasks. The closest I found was “Homework,” but homework in Gibbons is tedious. Homework here is based on curriculum defined within Gibbons. Meaning that a person sets up the lesson plan, the details of what a student needs to read, and study… This is overkill for homeschoolers… unless you are creating each lesson plan yourself!