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MIS Systems Thread, Go4Schools - Anyone used it recently? in Technical; We have a demo scheduled sometime in the next few weeks and I've STFF and found a few threads asking ...
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    Go4Schools - Anyone used it recently?

    We have a demo scheduled sometime in the next few weeks and I've STFF and found a few threads asking about it, but not a lot of good/bad/medicore opinions (from a technical/data manager and end-user perspective).

    I know some of you have it, ('cos there's a smoothwall https inspection thread that mentions it), so general impressions in terms of design decisions, fitness for purpose and "oh dear fsm why did you do it that way?"

    Specific questions:

    • I see someone mentioned they're a rebrand of Stars4Schools - that doesn't ring any bells with me - were they terrible?
    • Does it have usage metrics? i.e "x percentage of group y used it this month?". We'd like to be able to assess ROI.
    • How's the MIS import/export? What doesn't work? (We use SIMS). edit: I see it doesn't write back to the MIS, so if you discontinue the service, you've lost the data. Are the downloads they make available suitable for MIS import?
    • Have they done anything dumb while you've been using them?
    • What's their site availability like? Do they renew SSL certs in a timely manner?
    • Does their technical support understand their products?

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    @pete did you get anywhere with this. It looks like we will be using it but there a lot of installation pre-requisites.

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    We had a demo. I'm still waiting on requested implementation docs (haven't bought it, want to see them before we even consider buying because we've been bitten before).

    General impression was that while there were some good things (reporting, some analysis, parental side of things, development seems responsive), there were some not-so-great things (cluttered marksheets with onus upon head of dept to maintain) and some annoying things (lack of usage metrics, not writing data back to SIMS*, permissions from SIMS not being transposed over, still having to actively save reports/marksheets rather than autosave like an online word processor would).

    *they make everything available in CSV format, but attempting to massage said data so it could be fed back into SIMS wouldn't be simple. Attendance data writing back to SIMS is a new (or pending?, can't remember) feature but it only writes back AM/PM, not per-lesson and it's the per-lesson attendance that's useful for us - AM/PM doesn't tell us who skived PE, for example.

    My general impression was "better than I thought it'd be, better in some areas (browser compatibility) than SLG, some concerns from a sysadmin POV, not convinced overall".

    Cost-wise with the attendance module (pre-negotiation) it's about the same as the yearly renewal for Hosted SLG.

    Can go to PM if you want more info.
    Last edited by pete; 26th November 2013 at 02:59 PM.

  4. Thanks to pete from:

    laserblazer (28th November 2013)

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    Our new HT rates it highly and has signed up.

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    We've been using it for about 12 months. Not too hard to set up and their tech support is good. they will remote in and install for you which saves a lot of time. Teachers seem to like it once they get to grips with it. Does require some work from HODs to set up mark books and someone with overall oversight to ensure staff enter data in good time.

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    Apologies for resurrecting this, but I've just returned from leave.

    We've had Go for nearly two years, it was already in place when I started 14 months ago. The application we use now has developed significantly from the tools we had when I started.

    At our school we have decided that the data team (myself & an assistant) will manage the system. We generate all the reports, manage the markbooks and monitor usage. This does take a significant amount of our time but allows for a consistent approach. There is a great deal of flexibility in the way markbooks are set up and this allows us to cater to the differing needs of the departments.

    Once up and running we have useful data available in real time; extracts and ad-hoc reports are straightforward and the amount of on-screen information is comprehensive.

    On the down side, developments of the system are not always explained (or even announced) and a lot of self education is often needed. Educating the end-users can be stressful!

    The support does seem to have deteriorated in the past six months or so, it now often takes two or three explanations of a problem before you get past the "automated response" type reply.
    @pete to answer your specific queries:-

    It is a rebrand of Stars4Schools - I believe this was an issue with copyright rather than anything else

    It has some usage metrics, for example you can see which parents have accessed their child's report and when. This data is downloadable for further analysis in Excel. There is no means of monitoring staff access.

    The MIS import from SIMS works well, although it is a once per night event and, thus, subject to delays. The feed rules provide a means of manipulating the data from SIMS as it comes across - we use it to build extra-curricular classes etc. It can take some time to get your head around the feed rules and the subject locking system, but we have used it effectively in the past to manage rotations etc. Getting data back into SIMS can be done by exporting from Go into CSV format and using Routines / DataIn / Assessment / Import from Spreadsheet; although we don't do this as we have chosen to use Go as our primary tool for assessment, monitoring and reporting.

    Your comment on discontinuing the service now has our SLT thinking!!

    Have they done anything dumb while you've been using them? Not intentionally; there have been days (one or two) where logging into Go has resulted in a message about loss of service / functionality as a result of something they have done, but most of their enhancements have been just that.

    Site availability is very good, our broadband connection is the weakest link in our connection. I've not seen a problem with the SSL certs.

    Does their technical support understand their products? - Yes, but they don't always understand your problem using their product.

    Regards

    Steve

  8. Thanks to Seb1780 from:

    laserblazer (12th December 2013)

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