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Educational Software Thread, Curriculum software = Pants in Technical; I'm currently in a high school and have come to the conclusion that a lot of curriculum software is pants. ...
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    detjo's Avatar
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    Curriculum software = Pants

    I'm currently in a high school and have come to the conclusion that a lot of curriculum software is pants.
    It's badly written or badly designed or looks cheap and nasty or all of the above.

    I mean, who in their right mind writes an application that saves answers to a database in a network share and decides MS Access is the way to go????? WTF!
    Thought long and hard about that then!
    Or student software that MUST have an administrator password to work!!!!!!!

    Anyway ..
    I'm looking for a list of software that peeps have such gripes with. Care to share what the software is and what P's you off about it?

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    Michael's Avatar
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    I have to agree, MS Access is not designed for lots of users. SQL in any form would definitely be the way to go. You could always write to the company with your ideas/suggestions. I did with Sherston some time ago and they did listen

    Thankfully most newer software is web based which makes managing and deploying software a thing of the past. A typical example of this is EducationCity.

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    leco's Avatar
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    I've got to agree there's an awful lot of awful software - and why are teachers always won over by the sales blurb?

    Sherston are, and always have been, education based (ever since they were little acorns). They listen to and implement their user feedback.

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    I love the web based stuff.

    Generally I find the newer software not too bad - it's the older software that insists on 16 bit colour, violates the screen resolution and can't comprehend the fact your computer has 2GB of RAM that drives me mad.

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    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    All I can really say is I agree. We have been tempted to turn our hand to curriculum software just because anything half decent we turned out must surely by better than some of the stuff we see.

    It does make you appreciate the little gems that occasionally appear though.

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    The best (read worst) I have to deal with requires...

    - running from a network drive not UNC path otherwise sound won't work
    - doesn't support network printers
    - only prints to the currently selected default printer
    - saves to a custom database
    - looks like Windows 3.1

    So to get it to work I've had to...

    - create a custom launcher app made from AutoIT \ Batch \ VBScript to map a local port printer (using encrypted local admin privileges in the compiled AutoIT EXE)
    - set the above as a temporary default printer
    - map a non-persistent network drive and launch the app from there
    - add a splash screen and get the timings right for the local port driver to install and get itself ready, plus the mapping of the network drive script

    Doesn't mention any of that in the network install documentation!!!

    I've got high hopes for the new version of SkillsBuilder I've been sent though... web \ SQL based and integrates with Moodle niiiiiiice

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    detjo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gshaw View Post
    The best (read worst) I have to deal with requires...

    - running from a network drive not UNC path otherwise sound won't work
    - doesn't support network printers
    - only prints to the currently selected default printer
    - saves to a custom database
    - looks like Windows 3.1

    So to get it to work I've had to...

    - create a custom launcher app made from AutoIT \ Batch \ VBScript to map a local port printer (using encrypted local admin privileges in the compiled AutoIT EXE)
    - set the above as a temporary default printer
    - map a non-persistent network drive and launch the app from there
    - add a splash screen and get the timings right for the local port driver to install and get itself ready, plus the mapping of the network drive script

    Doesn't mention any of that in the network install documentation!!!

    I've got high hopes for the new version of SkillsBuilder I've been sent though... web \ SQL based and integrates with Moodle niiiiiiice
    Is it good or bad that we put up with this kinda stuff?

    The bottom line is; we always go that extra mile to get things working and help the school do what they need to do - and i must say, there is a certain amount of 'reward' having gotten it to work when it clearly didnt want to!

    lol ..I wonder if "Sorry, it doesnt work coz its shit" would work better in the long term coz schools would stop buying such crap and force the devs to re-think their programming!

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    In my experience, the worst ones will have this sentence in the blurb:

    "[Insert name of horrendously bad software] has been made by teachers for teachers"

    Last edited by mortstar; 3rd November 2009 at 08:31 PM.

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    2 simple software is also pretty good and their support is good ive lost count of the amount of times ive wanted an msi version of old software and e-mailed them and got the software downloaded same day (at home though cos leas net supplier (we must block anything useful even for contractors/staff) blocks it).

    Sherston stuff usually just works and older stuff can be made networkable with network installer disk in minutes

    softease generally works ok via ad now

    then you get junk like eyeprofile that stores stuff in app data or numicon that requires the reg key typed in for every user (had it added 3 times on 1 mandatory profile as it seems to change where it looks grrrrrrr)but by far the worst pos ive come across is digiblue pre v3 though i have since found a way to deploy 2.1 but sub that unsigned drivers means as an admin plugging the camera into every port on every pc its needed on

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    Quote Originally Posted by mortstar View Post
    In my experience, the worst ones will have this sentence in the blurb:

    "[Insert name of horrendously bad software] has been made by teachers for teachers"

    Yup, its a a gaurantee of crap software.

    I've seen one called 'cars v8' that required us to manually set permissions on a bunch of folders. It was just a right pain to install.

    Teachers should stick to teaching , not creating software!

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Other software that gets on my wick is when you need to put the install disc in the drive to run it.

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    There are a lot of bits of software that were born during the era of 'ad-hoc' school networks. ie. When schools lacked proper ICT policies, funding and equipment.

    So, teachers (who were running the networks too) built a lot of the software. As they weren't software engineers and had a lack of knowledge of things such as HCI and RDBMS, it was inevitable that the software they created would be problematic in the future. Sure, at the time it must've been great, but since then it usually has either become abandonware or a golden goose, as no-one has created a competing product of suitable quality.

    We have a selection of packages which are a nightmare - all of them from that era. All of them have obscure quirks. But we can't simply replace them, as it amounts to a pretty large figure to spend, when the old stuff continues to work with our tweaks and the SMT can see that.

    The question is - do we continue with our tweaks and bodges, and extend the life of this software for the kids to use and learn from (after all, that's what its for), or do we just say 'no more!' and say that our tweaks represent security risks, for dodgy old software that was fine then but isn't cutting it today?

  13. Thanks to localzuk from:

    leco (4th November 2009)

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    I actually think things have improved in the last couple of years.
    When I started in education it was awash with the "By teachers, for teachers" software. All with their own quirks and bodges to get them working over a network and very few with a msi.

    I have noticed that these days, its a lot more common to get a msi, even from small software companies, perhaps software companies have come to the conclusion that schools are a lot more savvy these days and software does get rejected these days due to its quality of programming.

    One thing that hasn't improved though is Testbase *shiver* - the one piece of software actively designed to make the most painful install experience possible.

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    The testbase installer is the most ridiculuous thing i've ever seen, there are other bits of software using the same installer (or maybe just testbase renamed as other things for other curriculum areas). I think we've also got things called exampro and examquest (or something similiar) using the same install method.

    I am about to recommend to one member of staff that they try and get a refund on a piece of software which incorporates a shared access database and a client program which refuses to write to it.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkeh View Post
    One thing that hasn't improved though is Testbase *shiver* - the one piece of software actively designed to make the most painful install experience possible.
    What, so you find having to enter odd serial codes and school names by the handful an issue? Never

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