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MIS Systems Thread, MIS changeover in Technical; As we are in the process of looking at a new MIS I've been reading any threads on here and ...
  1. #31
    SiobhanH's Avatar
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    As we are in the process of looking at a new MIS I've been reading any threads on here and am concerned I'm missing something with some of the comments. We've seen Progresso, iSAMS and Aspen and liked all 3. I've seen the issues surrounding Progresso and that is putting a big question mark over them but we did like th elook of iSAMS and have had good reports from some local Independents using it. Am I missing something with it???? Aspen also looks very good even if there aren't many schools using it yet. I wopuld appreciate any feedback from those fo you that know what you're talking about

  2. #32

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    Aspen is really darn good and combines the MIS with built-in VLE features, and workflows. But i'll let @GREED sing the rest of the praises.
    It can be hosted on site as far as i know, it's just in the cloud so don't let it put you off @KK20
    Last edited by vikpaw; 23rd April 2013 at 02:53 PM. Reason: error

  3. Thanks to vikpaw from:

    SiobhanH (23rd April 2013)

  4. #33

    GREED's Avatar
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    Indeed Aspen MIS can be hosted on your site if you wish, even if it wasn't there are ways to get at your database we have customers who are doing that. Interested to know what you want to do with the database that means you need to get inside it, you have database level access from within Aspen, can run SQL scripts etc as much as you want. I suggest if you are wanting to modify the core database logic (which is all you would want to do and not be able to do in the application) then Aspen is not for you as we cannot support that... Not I imagine would many others.

    What you gain in cost savings in having it in the cloud are worth investigating.

    I should mention that as of our 4.9 release we are including dual factor authentication support. A big issue for cloud accessed products.
    @PhilNeal what is the large African animal in the room you mention? :P

    I would suggest you also check out our sticky thread on this forum or our dedicated support forum also hosted here on Edugeek - under Direct Support Forums. There is a raft of information here about the product I have already mentioned, and links to some YouTube demos.

    Or just ask of you have any questions!

    Thanks @vikpaw

  5. #34

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    We simply have a large intranet that needs access to the timetable data, set data, examinations, pupil roll, pupil telephone numbers, doctors addresses etc. Currently I need to run scripts and programs to grab all this information from E1 and place it into an SQL database for our intranet to use. It would be much friendlier for our Intranet to simply access the required information from the MIS database directly.

    In our experience cloud is bad for critical components. E1 was down pretty much all of yesterday for example, no cover could be scheduled, no exam information could be checked, registers couldnt be entered etc. If it wasnt for my intranet copying chunks of pupil information we wouldnt have had pupil contact numbers for emergencies. None of my core systems (intranet, email, moodle) have ever been down (short of a reboot at lunch time for planned reasons!).

  6. #35

    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    With Schoolbase, you simply set the permissions for the appropriate people to look at what they want through Schoolbase. There is no need for Doctor's information, timetables, etc to beextracted on the intranet. The teacher logs in to schoolbase and can see their timetable, room bookings, mark the registers, emergency contact info (if allowed), etc through that.

  7. #36
    Jona's Avatar
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    Have you looked at iSAMS?

    We're an independent and extra various bits of data from the MIS for use in several other systems.

  8. #37

    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KK20 View Post
    We simply have a large intranet that needs access to the timetable data, set data, examinations, pupil roll, pupil telephone numbers, doctors addresses etc. Currently I need to run scripts and programs to grab all this information from E1 and place it into an SQL database for our intranet to use. It would be much friendlier for our Intranet to simply access the required information from the MIS database directly.

    In our experience cloud is bad for critical components. E1 was down pretty much all of yesterday for example, no cover could be scheduled, no exam information could be checked, registers couldnt be entered etc. If it wasnt for my intranet copying chunks of pupil information we wouldnt have had pupil contact numbers for emergencies. None of my core systems (intranet, email, moodle) have ever been down (short of a reboot at lunch time for planned reasons!).
    So I take it that the intention is to keep the intranet as the front end and want to pull information into that. Aspen MIS has a very simple, easy, but full featured front end for staff, student and parents built in, because it is all cloud already. The need for an integration with such a front end potentially disappears.

  9. #38
    CAM
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    Time to pull the quote out again!

    Quote Originally Posted by CAM
    Any critical system that is put in the cloud must have a redundant Internet connection. This is a key technical requirement that is overlooked far too often.

  10. #39

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    Without going into too much detail we have an inhouse .net developer who has built up our intranet for bits not normally found in an MIS - it isnt intended as a replacement as it only fills in bespoke requirements rather than an entire systems (it wont create census reports, registration, timetable, exams entry from secure results etc etc). For instance, our pupil report does the following:

    Staff opens intranet which is SSO inside our perimeter. Opens the relevent report which changes depending on the time of year (sometimes a comment, sometimes simply grades, sometimes it is based on exam results). The exam results are automatically filled in at the appropriate times, other times we have effort target attainment with a trend displayed from previous reports and/or exams (colour coded for a weighting scale i.e. if a person has consistently underachieved). Automatic "clubs" reports are generated depending on what clubs have been attended vs signed up for. Attendance is calculated and appears next to the comment for the teacher to write about (attendance isnt shown as a figure on the report). Form tutors are emailed when all year reports are in and emailed at deadlines as to outstanding reports. Printouts are created as necessary with different layouts depending on the time of year and type of report (simply press print to preview after selecting the range). SMS is sent to parents automatically depending on the time of year, preference and exam results criteria.

    That is just the pupil reports. We have pupil pastoral tracking that generates house colours, headmasters awards, music awards and automatically emails the correct people (autoprint was disabled as the paperbin using the card was used for something else, printing is done manually by clicking the link in the office email), clubs registration (outside of normal registration as clubs are not compulsory) which generates billing reports and emails to the correct admin staff, learning support referral system again emailing the correct LS staff based on the referral, specific learning difficulty generation linked to individual education plans and specific learning plan, EYFS tracking plus many many little foibles that certain teachers ask for (automatic excel spreadsheet generation for departmental reports), exam seating planner with archive (allows split rooms, external candidates not resident to the school) parents evening scheduler that allows single slots for siblings as appropriate.

    Having access to the database simply makes this work. We have managed to make it work from the closed system that is E1 although chunks of data couldnt be grabbed effectively - timetable and exam results are particularly tricky but doable in a manual fashion (luckily these are predictable changes so I can run a manual update at these times!). Oddly enough I only extracted certain data as when we moved to E1 from phoenix we were promised all sorts of things with respect to extracting data via their PI sync tool (which turned out to be bunk), I then took to grabbing and replicating as much as I could in case of a connection failure. Good job I did....

    coincidentally, the doctors information is used when creating trip forms on our intranet. You choose a set of recipients (or a preset list for the common trips taken such as sports fixtures), add the information about a trip and two sets of forms are generated, one to send to pupils regarding the trip with all the generic detail and one for the teacher to keep as a trip portfolio containing relevent medical information, contact details and special needs.

    So for an MIS (for us) a modular system is good as we wont need to pay for bits never used (which is why schoolbase attracted me). Database access is good as we can use the database for our own "read only" needs.

    If aspen can be hosted locally how is it you cannot get at the database data? Is it a bespoke database? encrypted with an private key? Is it the web files are hosted locally (say on our existing IIS system) but the core database is hosted externally? Does your SQL allow an "sp_addlinkedserver" approach thus I could link my own server in some way - I havent thought this through yet with regards to security and permissions assuming it is an IIS based system etc etc. Obviously the SQL link approach would need to be able to be scheduled as I dont like the idea of logging on to an MIS to run an update again.
    Last edited by KK20; 24th April 2013 at 09:11 AM.

  11. #40

    GREED's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=KK20;959055If aspen can be hosted locally how is it you cannot get at the database data? Is it a bespoke database? encrypted with an private key? Is it the web files are hosted locally (say on our existing IIS system) but the core database is hosted externally? Does your SQL allow an "sp_addlinkedserver" approach thus I could link my own server in some way - I havent thought this through yet with regards to security and permissions assuming it is an IIS based system etc etc. Obviously the SQL link approach would need to be able to be scheduled as I dont like the idea of logging on to an MIS to run an update again.[/QUOTE]

    You can access the database, I am saying that if you intent to make out of application changes to it then it is not supported.

    Aspen's database is flat with little database logic at the core table level. Our logic is help within the application data dictionary level which offers distinct advantages for security and application processing, not to mention extremely flexible (because you never change the database, only the mappings and logic at the application, you can more or less do whatever you want within the database). The downside to this is if you want to tap into the SQL tables directly you bypass elements of record security (Don't worry, this doesn't make Aspen any less secure this way!!) as well as not having access to the table field names etc.

    If you want to talk more on this, give me a ring we can go into detail.

    I guess I would like to understand more about the requirements a known MIS cannot provide and see how much could actually now or with local configuration be met with Aspen MIS.

  12. #41
    Heebeejeebee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KK20 View Post
    well I can see there is a rep from aspen but I don't want an online hosted database; I want full access to it so that wouldn't feature in my search.
    Sorry to keep this off topic but that's the main thing that worries me about Aspen and other hosted MIS platforms. We have both SIMS and CMIS running in our trust and I need direct access to the database for loads of bespoke stuff that'll simply not work unless given access to the raw database. We've had a few demos of Aspen and it looks good, fits the bill but has that one stumbling point that makes me twitch a bit (knowing how much stuff will break).

    HBJB

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heebeejeebee View Post
    Sorry to keep this off topic but that's the main thing that worries me about Aspen and other hosted MIS platforms. We have both SIMS and CMIS running in our trust and I need direct access to the database for loads of bespoke stuff that'll simply not work unless given access to the raw database. We've had a few demos of Aspen and it looks good, fits the bill but has that one stumbling point that makes me twitch a bit (knowing how much stuff will break).

    HBJB
    You do, we just do not support it if you want to make changes. We have customers who have done that fine, in fact we have even built for larger LA size customers some database to database solutions, and of course that would be available.... at a cost. Ultimately, as you come onboard and have the inclination to learn Aspen and it's database, it is yours to do with as you want. We pride ourselves on not being restrictive on the application and database, in fact we promote it.You do have to understand through that there is no business way we would be able to support every customer with every change at database level they wanted to make, without a fee in some cases. But the database if yours, and we can help you understand the database to help you write your own extractions, if the built in extraction facilities are not to your linking (we have customisable/writeable imports and exports!)

  14. #43

    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heebeejeebee View Post
    Sorry to keep this off topic but that's the main thing that worries me about Aspen and other hosted MIS platforms. We have both SIMS and CMIS running in our trust and I need direct access to the database for loads of bespoke stuff that'll simply not work unless given access to the raw database. We've had a few demos of Aspen and it looks good, fits the bill but has that one stumbling point that makes me twitch a bit (knowing how much stuff will break).

    HBJB
    Also... have I met you? Did I come and demo? Sorry... name to face and all that!

  15. #44

    vikpaw's Avatar
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    But why do you need database level access for extracting info if you can get access to all the data via the interface through reports which can be scheduled and automated?

    The only reason for DB access would be to make your own bulk data edits, e.g. change all 01 numbers to 020 etc. but most modern systems let you do that through the interface too. Aspen does, iSAMS does, Engage does CMIS does . . .

    If you really do want to change the structure of the DB, then that's scary ground, but from what i understand, Aspen let's you add lots of 'fields' for your own use through the interface too, as do all the other systems.

    I'd be interested to compare a list of providers and see what info they don't let you access easily or in the right format.

  16. #45

    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    But why do you need database level access for extracting info if you can get access to all the data via the interface through reports which can be scheduled and automated?

    The only reason for DB access would be to make your own bulk data edits, e.g. change all 01 numbers to 020 etc. but most modern systems let you do that through the interface too. Aspen does, iSAMS does, Engage does CMIS does . . .

    If you really do want to change the structure of the DB, then that's scary ground, but from what i understand, Aspen let's you add lots of 'fields' for your own use through the interface too, as do all the other systems.

    I'd be interested to compare a list of providers and see what info they don't let you access easily or in the right format.
    I too am interested to know why a data export scheduled cannot do what is being asked in some cases, and why there is a need to access the database itself when you can get the same results through the interface and or exports.

    I'm also interested to know why it seems Aspen cannot do what is needed within the application which would remove the need for the additional seperate interface. I get it if you want to pull data from other MIS systems... but if they were all in Aspen, Aspen has a top level trust layer that culminates all data from all schools, this sits above where other MIS systems usually sit, which is at the school level.

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