GREED (10th October 2012)
Thanks Graham for your reply, and I can understand your developers having reservation about changing a product that is already fully functional
As you know, too many people 'judge the book by it's cover', and I could see our schools taking one look at the ASPEN interface, compare it to our current system's interface (which is quite pretty looking by the way), and make rash judgments before even seeing what the whole system can do
Imagine being given the choice of a black and white newspaper to read or a full glossy magazine, I'm sure most people would reach for the magazine, even thought the content is not up to the standard of the newspaper
I'm not trying to 'dis' the interface, I'm just thinking from an ordinary school staff user point of view, because in the end, they are the ones who have to use it everyday, and the nicer it looks, the easier it would be get them to accept a change of MIS
An idea of the Bromcom interface is here - it's just really pleasing on the eye
If ASPEN had the Bromcom interface, I'd give it 12 out of 10
Last edited by ntm1275; 10th October 2012 at 05:44 PM.
GREED (10th October 2012)
But, you know what, I really appreciate that feedback, and you'll in some way be pleased to know it is common item. Thanks for the Bromcom link, I can see how the use of colour does really help, not in the skin but in the content itself. As I say, watch this space (I can say no more, lest I be shot from across the pond!)
ntm1275 (10th October 2012)
Thanks Graham, and I appreciate that you probably cannot divulge any information at this present time
When you are allowed to share any concept designs, I would be interested in taking a look
Last edited by ntm1275; 10th October 2012 at 11:46 PM.
Quoting from your post 'A little from, and about, Follett'
I'm interested in the possibility of writing customisations to APSEN in JavaIf you or yours can write Java or SQL scripts, you can apply your own Aspen customisations, and they will not break with the next upgrade. Some members of the international Aspen user community compete each year to win the title of the most useful Aspen customisation! Of course, Follett can look after such customisations if you prefer.
I was just wondering if there are any limitation to this in ASPEN, or is it 'the skies the limit'
I have an idea of what we may want to do, but don't know if this was written in Java whether it would work with ASPEN
Here is not the place to give any great detail as It would probably take pages for me to explain
Do you have any examples of the kinds of things users have already done by themselves - brief description with a few screenshots
I'm writing a report to senior management, and want to include as much info as possible
Last edited by ntm1275; 16th October 2012 at 06:18 PM.
Any more quick fire questions for the Aspen Team?
Of course, as you can imagine there are some limitations on what you can do in terms of customisations, certain things have to be the way they are. Generally, it is when you need new database changes or changes to the core framework of screens/pages linked to other pages and data in the database that you hit the wall. But, once you get past the fact you can alter any and all fields either UDF or pre-built, can alter the layout of any page (and even some more to that if you know some XML), can create your own imports, exports, workflows (which includes new data entry screens), processes to run just about any jobs or procedures in the software (all of this requires some Java)...
... what else might you want....
Well, a good deal then comes round Aspen Pages where you can develop your own widgets to display internal and external content. I think because it is so visual, there is a push to have good looking content available, and this is where customers tend to spend the time.
Is it possible to see screenshots?
What is support like for the SWC and Learning Aims Returns?
And once again, I seem to have missed this reply, apologies CAM
Can you be a bit more specific, are you talking support for returns in general or around the issues the government imposed on everyone by changing things at the last minute?
What are the Assessment features in Aspen like and could you expalin briefly the types of Analysis you can do on Assessment data as I feel this is the one real weakness of our current MIS and we use our current MIS to hold the data and do a little Analysis but export the majority out and use other methods and systems to anaylse our data.
Aspen MIS has an assessment suite (for want of a better term) used much like any other markbook feature. Aspen MIS comes into it's own suddenly when you know that not only is the initial setup of markbooks and other administrative activities much much simpler and often for the most part a one time only job at setup of Aspen MIS (I have worked with a major competitor product, so I know how much work is involved there!), but even more incredible i think is that the markbook belongs to the teacher. What I mean by this is the markbook is flexible for every teacher, for each of their classes, and they can modify and manipulate the structure (the number of columns, they types of marks, gradescales, etc etc) for themselves with very easy to use tools. It is like the markbook from their desk has been lifted and put onto the system, and they have control over it. This then links directly to assigning and receiving and marking assignments (homework usually but it could be any type of work).
I can go on more about this aspect if anyone is interested.
In terms of analysis, Aspen MIS has a customisable data analytics feature (continuing to develop with each release) which gives you some analysis and extrapolation of data from any aspect of the system including the markbook. There are also some grade equivalent and other tool available within the markbook itself. However, the real power of Aspen MIS' analysis features come with the associated reporting engine. This is not just exporting to Excel and going from there (although you can do that if you want and many schools prefer to do that), but using a number of pre built reports or building your own in an industry standard reporting application (the same sort of thing banks use to report on) to analyse data in whatever way you choose, including pivots, charts (any form of chart), formulas/functions (any).
I guess to answer the point you were getting at, we don't have too many built in tools either, particularly a fully customisable framework to perform whatever analysis you can think of (point me to an MIS that truly allows that...), because we feel Aspen MIS is better suited to handing that over to a completely free framework tool to craft the exact analysis routines you as an individual school wants.
Thanks Graham for the comprhensive reply, I feel what we have is fine as regards holding the data with Mark books etc and that these are reasonably flexible in the type you can create to hold your data. To be honest the supplier of this system has said that you can do reasonable Analysis with their system and it has the capacity to do this if you can find your way around the system and it has the functionality to do this but to be honest I don't agree and have even visited a number of schools using the same MIS system and they are all doing the majority of this in Excel or other system because the MIS isn't sophisticated enough at analysing the data.
I sort of get what you say as regards the Framework for building reports and the fact that you have some pre-built into the system just query if the prebuilt reports and framework for building reports are really good why many schools would want to export to Excel because as soon as you Export the information into Excel it is not live and at present we do this is because we can't generate what we want in the current system and wouldn't do this unless it was completely necessary.
I understand your points precisely. I would like to see an MIS that does it all. The reason that Excel is so popular is because it is easy to use, and most know how to use it now! But much more than that, the framework it is built on is designed specifically to allow users to customise... their forumlas the outcomes the charting the... I'll go on! I don't know how much was spent over the years to develop Excel but I will say safely into billions...
Every school wants something different slightly, to build just an analysis framework is specialised in that area. There are great third parties who do just this and make a darn good job of meeting the flexible requirements of school. We are working with some of them. You'll (or rather, we'll) never beat the likes of excel when it comes to data manipulation or extrapolation (that is the harder bit!), that is what it was designed for!
Our reports: Produce the same extrapolation facilities and you get as an end result with excel. Like any reporting, you design the majority of the layout and calculations before hand and then produce. Incredible detail can be produced, I think I explored this above! In addition, you mention it not being live when you export and manipulate (and then I assume you present later); with the manipulation done when the report it run, it is a lot more up to date than having to change after running! You can even schedule, regularly to update with the latest, already-analysed/manipulated data.
I understand your points on wanting the functionality of excel inside the MIS... I am sure someone will try that one day soon... and good luck to them. It is a lot more work than it would sound on the face of it, to also include the easy interface to allow non-technical users to interact just like they do in Excel. I know this sounds like a cop out, but there are good reasons why no one has done a good job of this yet, including our good friends from Bedford.
Steven_Cleaver (3rd December 2012)
Thanks for the reply and understand exactly where your coming from and can see and fully understand the points you make. Again thanks for your honest and frank response much appreciatted.
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