Well, @vikpaw is a Sims guru so that would be a start!
I'm starting my new job as Data Officer for a large secondary school tomorrow. Remit: information management, SIMS, lots of Excel. Anyone else here doing the same job, would love to compare notes and hear war stories
Three quick tips:
- Make sure you make use of result sets they are incredibly powerful and important.
- If you are going out into Excel a lot you are probably missing a trick. Data needs to be shared by all and as soon as its in Excel it becomes inaccessible and out of date
- EduGeek is brilliant but do remember specialist assessment knowledge is also available on SupportNet Forums
I'm a data manager and started in probably the same boat as you about 4 and a half years ago.
Phil Neal's advice is good. I imagine you are probably taking over an established system, but if you are having to build up any SIMS assessment stuff, don't just rush into it! I'm sure there are lots of data managers out there who to love to start from scratch with assessment manager! Result Sets are definitely king (I think a good approach is to try to set up a system with the smallest number of aspects as you can)
Another general rule of thumb that might save you head/heart ache is to strive as much as possible to encourage people to record and access data in only 1 place (usually SIMS.) Keep everything as central as possible and avoid double entry wherever possible (you'll be surprised how many people suggest double entry as a solution to problem, it pays to be firm!)
When I started the job I spent 4 days straight reading SIMS documentation! Although this was eye-wateringly boring, it was a good foundation! I personally think that is most important to understand the way that the different areas link together, rather than how each area works on it's own. Particularly the links between the timetable, academic manager, course manager, exams and assessment manager.
If you haven't already get yourself signed up for Support Net on the Capita website. While you'll get some great advice on EduGeek, there are many more data manager types over on Support Net (or so it seems to me!)
I've been a data manager for too long and agree with Phil when it comes to Excel. We have 1200 pupils and it is impossible to keep Excel up to date. For example our science department has Excel wizards and some very intricate and complex spread sheets but they have given up trying to track KS3 and KS4 progress in them as they were constantly having to alter the classes as pupils came and went or because of demotions and promotions. In SIMS the data is always there in the right place. I do use Excel for producing final printed versions of mark sheets but that is all.
In general I would advise keeping close view on this forum and also the Capita support net. Also worth doing the Capita courses if you can get to them and can afford them.
Good point about Excel. Using excel only really works to create snapshot/summary data, don't use it for data you need to update and maintain (it's that double entry thing again)
I found the diagram attached when giving a talk to a year 12 ICT group. You may find it useful.
vikpaw (6th February 2013)
Data Manager here. In my experience, you will want a nice way to share assessment data but SLT love their spreadsheets so your Excel skills had better be kept up to date. VLOOKUP is especially important.
Another data manager here
If I could restart with SIMS (again, I actually got that Data Manager's dream of a clean SIMS install to work on a couple of years ago when we merged with another local school!) I'd make sure I had a solid understanding of how everything linked together. Keep aspects as generic as possible, make result sets as logical as possible, use the minimum amount of gradesets you can get away with (i.e. you don't need three gradesets for GCSE grades, this will only make it trickier to keep track of what's what later on, especially true of BTEC's!)
Whenever possible, thoroughly test any new functionality (or even "new-to-you" functionality) to be sure you know the ins and outs of it before you roll it out en masse - it's much easier to correct your mistakes early on in testing than to create 100 templates and then realise you misjudged a formula!
SupportNet is a very good resource, every member there is a SIMS user, but there are some real pros here too; it pays to search both!
One last thing, feel free to pose questions here that may seem incredibly simple, as quite often others manage to see a way of doing things that makes so much more sense than the way you first think they have to be done!
If you haven't already, bookmark EduGeek
Last edited by LosOjos; 4th February 2013 at 12:10 PM.
You essentially run a report at a scheduled time, import it into a google spreadsheet automatically and hey presto you have a live(ish) spreadsheet to share with staff.
It doesn't just stop with spreadsheets - you can integrate with visualisation, appengine and Google sites API's.
Bev (8th February 2013)
Google Secure Data Connector for the win. Brilliant.
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