Schoolcomms (12th February 2013)
It looks very impressive I stood open mouthed when Tim and Frances showed me the school gateway app... Brilliant. Huge step forward for schoolcomms.
I always like popping over to their stand at BETT, always have something new and significant to show off!
Schoolcomms (12th February 2013)
I've been looking further into this intouch Vs schoolcomms situation, while I thought the developments of schoolcomms apps at BETT was impressive its still lacking basic functionality that intouch provides.
Allowing individual teachers to email other teachers regarding a specific student and only if it relates to them, so all the teachers that actually teach little johnny receive the email as opposed to all staff.
Sending out detention information to parents
Sending reports (ok this is on the way in schoolcomms)
Ability to find incomplete marksheets and email the teachers who haven't finished them. (Is there a report that could do this without in touch?)
Vice versa schoolcomms provides things that intouch doesnt such as;
Being web based so its accessible anywhere
A lot cheaper (for one year of intouch we would stand to get around 2 years of schoolcomms, although I appreciate this cost will break even after a number of years)
New app, which will reduce costs when sending out text messages - it can also integrate online payments in this app.
Obviously schoolcomms have given us the ability to email timetables and exam timetables for a while now which is great, and the support is always spot on. However I cant help but think that intouch maybe the way forward soon given that its development is further on, and it provides the functionality listed, which is something we will sooner rather than later require, over things like an app.
I had a phone call from Capita last week telling me that i can use their online portal to send messages to parents in the event of snow etc and no one being able to get in to send the message. The follow up email says you export the data from SIMS then import into your account on the web portal then you can send messages out. I havent done it yet as if i need to send a text out and cant get in then i just remote in and do it! Not ideal i know if the system crashes as well so will be doing the portal as well.
Impartiality please gentleman ... I'm sure it's as boring to everyone else as it is to me to hear the same couple of people banging on about the same supplier at every opportunity across multiple threads :-)
We used Schoolcomms before Intouch was introduced and I would agree that it is now not as good. That said much of the functionality required is now available in other products other than Intouch or Schoolcomms. For example we use TASC Pars for registration and Insight as the parents' portal and emailing all teachers of a pupil, emailing teachers who have missing marks etc is available in the former and timetables and reports are viewable in the latter.
Here I am trying to re-evaluate what we can already do and looking to rationalise our use of the various products that we have.
The one advantage I miss is that if we used SIMS.net. SLG, Lesson monitor and Intouch that we would have a single interface but the disadvantage is that it would add significantly to our annual licence and maintainance costs.
For me this thread is about whether 'consolidation' of systems being easier for schools, is actually good for schools in the long term. I fear that many schools will be driven by what's easier for them and I believe this is very dangerous as ultimately it will remove choice from the market.
You only have to look at our high streets and the supermarkets to see the same thing happening in another sector. I am NOT saying that schools should choose inferior products just to ensure choice, but I hope they will not be driven simply by what's easy without considering the consequences.
Impartiality is not the aim here.
We are here to share our personal view and experience, which inherently introduces bias.
If you're involved in a product not mentioned here then you're outta luck.
This wasn't an open discussion about systems in general and the one product for all approach, but that would make a great thread.
@GREED is probably the most easy going sponsor I know and the first to praise competitor products when appropriate.
Tasc does have a lot of features and I recently heard of CHQ which purports to do all that schoolcomms and emerge and many other things do together.
Sometimes though I like a dedicated product that does its job well, so long as we don't spend all our time keeping the separate systems in sync.
On a side note, in another thread I posted a sims report to email all teachers of a given student. Works a treat here. Can't link as on the app!
I think for non emergency situations I would like to see the MIS sync with the inhouse email system which that report does for us. It might even work with office 365 if used via an outlook client.
If you need any more help with this then give our support team a call and they can talk you through it.
Our problem is that, it's a bit of a hassle for staff to use Schoolcomms, even when linked through SIMS, so we don't use that function. Despite having a site licence for multiple users, there are only key users that have access. When single sign-on, or even just same sign-on (as AD) works, this will remove a massive hurdle.
Just done the same exercise and gone for inTouch, a tad pricier but if your planning on staying for a while then you have lower annual costs.
The main reasons were and this should be anyone priority, ease of use for staff and tie in to existing data, data retention (how do you keep your data if you leave a cloud supplier, your tied into all of these not just Sims), price, off site availability (you have a portal for emergencies where Sims cannot be accessed), other
We have used another supplier for a number of years now and feel intouch is now comparable enough to move in house, its more secure as it isnt a website and staff are so poor with security, at least i can enforce/managed their access inhouse and only accessable from certain machines in school, its also one less place for all your parental data to reside.
We are also about to launch slg from our sharepoint farm and this brings a lot together in Sims. Again expensive at the start but cheap ongoing and keeps everything in one place.
Makes management much easier than having a pep on the vle, 3rd party messaging system and no tie in between them, add in discover and then there are some very powerful tools.
Apps are also part of slg now and the slg site is tablet complient.
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