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MIS Systems Thread, Schoolcomms future development in Technical; Hi, Just wondered if the Schoolcomms people could either comment on these, or pass them on to the relevant people. ...
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    Schoolcomms future development

    Hi,

    Just wondered if the Schoolcomms people could either comment on these, or pass them on to the relevant people.

    1) Are there any plans for scheduled import instead of a user of sufficiently high level having to log in daily and run the import manually - it does seem to be an ancient approach to data synchronisation. Our Year/Faculty PAs will only have "Send email" privileges when we release Schoolcomms to them. I'm the multi-user administrator and run the import before I send any message, but once I hand over to the PAs they won't be able to do this.

    2) Are there any plans for additional $variables in messages - $ParentSalutation would be the first I'd look for, and again seems a logical development that I'm surprised hasn't come yet.

    3) Probably less-used and less-popular option, but could users of a sufficiently high-level create messages but send them 'on behalf of' another user, or set the reply-to address of a given message. Say if a PA is absent and their line-manager or myself need to send an email from their faculty/department, but replies need to come back to that PA. Their own account is set to reply-to themselves, but my emails (multi-user administrator) come to me.

    Peter

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    don't represent schoolcomms, but on point 1, you can set the import to run automatically upon the first start up of Schoolcomms - I'm the administrator of our multi-users, but whenever any of the admin ladies sign in (if they sign in before me) the report runs then as well.

    fully agree on part 2 as well, and part 3 would be nice, I've found a workaround in that I will put the teacher's email address as a link on their name in the message - it works for the vast majority of the messages that go out, although we do have some parents that will just reply to me (or admin staff), so I'd like your option!

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    Quote Originally Posted by tombry View Post
    You can set the import to run automatically upon the first start up of Schoolcomms - I'm the administrator of our multi-users, but whenever any of the admin ladies sign in (if they sign in before me) the report runs then as well.
    What level are your admin ladies - ours are 'School User - Email only'.

    When they login, they don't get prompted to run it - I have to login as me first. Is there another setting which forces it to run at login without prompting that I haven't found?

    Peter

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    I'm an idiot.

    ours are set up as admin's - thus why they can run the import routine - and I think I did that for that reason actually. (It's been 2 years since I set it up)

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    All really good points.

    I can confirm on behalf of @Schoolcomms auto sync is coming. I've been asking for it for a while and so have others, and i was told at BETT it's defo coming.
    Otherwise, as you say, you have to be an admin, and then it can automate at run time, this was added relatively recently until the auto sync capability was put in.

    More fields should be possible, i guess you've requested this? There was talk of a user group / support forum but EG could serve that purpose really well now. Salutation makes sense.

    I usually know the passwords of the people i'm expected to send on behalf of, so just log in as them. It would be a good feature to have. Just thinking, is it possible to change your email address on the fly for that purpose, or will the system either a) block it as a duplicate or b) require you to confirm it. I think you might be able to just change it, but it's not a long term solution.

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    howartp (7th February 2014)

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    All really good points.

    I can confirm on behalf of @Schoolcomms auto sync is coming. I've been asking for it for a while and so have others, and i was told at BETT it's defo coming.
    Yippee!
    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    More fields should be possible, i guess you've requested this? There was talk of a user group / support forum but EG could serve that purpose really well now. Salutation makes sense.
    I've not requested it anywhere other than here - I've just found a 'forum' page on their website which is 'coming soon' but it would be great if EG could be used instead/as well. (Is MIS the right forum, or another forum for parent messaging?)
    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    I usually know the passwords of the people i'm expected to send on behalf of, so just log in as them. It would be a good feature to have. Just thinking, is it possible to change your email address on the fly for that purpose, or will the system either a) block it as a duplicate or b) require you to confirm it. I think you might be able to just change it, but it's not a long term solution.
    Yeah, at the moment I know the passwords because I've set the Mem Data and Passwords identical as I'm the only one mailing so far. However I'm due to handover some of them next week.

    Just a heads up to anyone who follows this thread, if they don't already know, there is a mailing list for SchoolComms updates which I only found a couple of weeks ago - I was about 6 releases behind and hadn't known about it. Click the (rather large but still completely missed when looking for it) button link at the bottom of most schoolcomms pages (in the blue footer bar).

    Peter

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    Hi all,

    Sorry for the slow reply, I was just making sure I had got my facts completely straight before posting:

    1) Are there any plans for scheduled import instead of a user of sufficiently high level having to log in daily and run the import manually - it does seem to be an ancient approach to data synchronisation.
    Yes! As Vik kindly confirmed on our behalf, we are bringing in the option to run the import using a scheduler. This will come roughly in line with the new desktop release for the Online Reporting product, sometime next month (March).

    2) Are there any plans for additional $variables in messages - $ParentSalutation would be the first I'd look for
    In fact the one you asked for does exist already – BUT there are some situations you need to be aware of before using it so read below carefully before using it.

    You can use ParentSalutation manually by typing $ParentalSalutation$ into the message body. BUT

    1) The Wildcard is looking at the data in SIMS.
    This could cause a problem because schools don’t necessarily update the data in SIMS after family events e.g. Divorce
    This can be resolved quite simply by running the routine to update parental salutation in SIMS: Routine>Student>Update Salutation/Addressee
    When the wildcard is used Schoolcomms will look at the updated salutation in SIMS

    However, the second problem is more complicated and the workaround is more involved for the school:
    2) This is concerning non resident parents.
    Scenario-
    • Parent A and Parent B divorce
    • Parent A remarries to Person C
    • School uses $ParentalSalutation$ wildcard
    • Parent B will receive communication with Dear Mr and Mrs Person C
    This is likely to cause upset, which is why the school might want to avoid using the wildcard.
    The workaround for this would be to set non resident contacts as non prime (priority 2) in the import strategy, and set resident contacts to have priority 1.
    This will involve schools changing a large amount of their data in SIMS.


    This is why although the $ParentSalutation$ exists in Schoolcomms we don’t make it available in the drop down. Schoolcomms is about parental engagement – not parental angst!

    I've not requested it anywhere other than here - I've just found a 'forum' page on their website which is 'coming soon'
    If there is ever anything that you want to do using Schoolcomms ring us up or email us and ask us if it can be done. Often (see above) it can be, and if it can’t we keep a wishlist. We can’t promise to do everything on the wishlist (or even half of it), but we do listen and we do have a budget for doing the most requested things.

    Just a heads up to anyone who follows this thread, ... there is a mailing list for SchoolComms updates ... Click the (rather large but still completely missed when looking for it) button link at the bottom of most schoolcomms pages (in the blue footer bar).
    We send customer newsletters to every customer, unless they specifically opt out. If you aren’t getting them and want them then we must have missed your contact details somehow, using the button on the website will make sure you get back on the list.

    Hope that helps

  10. 4 Thanks to Schoolcomms:

    GREED (7th February 2014), harriuk (11th February 2014), vikpaw (7th February 2014), zag (11th February 2014)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schoolcomms View Post
    Yes! As Vik kindly confirmed on our behalf, we are bringing in the option to run the import using a scheduler. This will come roughly in line with the new desktop release for the Online Reporting product, sometime next month (March).
    Yey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schoolcomms View Post
    In fact the one you asked for does exist already – BUT there are some situations you need to be aware of before using it so read below carefully before using it.

    You can use ParentSalutation manually by typing $ParentalSalutation$ into the message body.
    Ah, yes, I've just tested this with my technician who helpfully is a parent and receives his home emails on his Android. Just to confirm to anyone reading this, you DO need the extra $ after the end ($ParentalSalutation$) - it isn't a misprint.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schoolcomms View Post
    We send customer newsletters to every customer, unless they specifically opt out.
    Ah, I suspect I opted out after we had a demo a couple of years ago which I loved but school refused to buy it, so I'll have been receiving unnecessary newsletters - but I kept pestering them and finally we've gone with it - that explains why I wasn't getting updates.

    Peter

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    I would like to add something to the wishlist. I think it would be great to have a teacher app. You have attendance write back - so technically the system is in place, it just needs a fancy app UI to go with it. (I know it's easier said than done!)

    But if people, really want it....

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    I would like to add something to the wishlist. I think it would be great to have a teacher app. You have attendance write back - so technically the system is in place, it just needs a fancy app UI to go with it. (I know it's easier said than done!)

    But if people, really want it....
    Hear, hear!

    I was hoping this was what they were announcing at BETT, instead of the Portal thingamabob.

    Peter

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    I would like to add something to the wishlist. I think it would be great to have a teacher app. You have attendance write back - so technically the system is in place, it just needs a fancy app UI to go with it. (I know it's easier said than done!)

    But if people, really want it....
    Is the whole thing not really a teacher app anyway? I get the UI redesign. Assume we are not talking Parent Gateway here.

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    School Gateway is a parent app. I'm thinking about what you can do between the actual Schoolcomms application which sends out attendance alerts, and deals with the responses, which then writes back to SIMS. Essentially, the tools are there to let someone just take a register on an app, and then send it back to SIMs. It would take a heck of work (i'm guessing) as it was never meant to do that, but it's a very nice option to have and a good way forward to keep moving and expanding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    School Gateway is a parent app. I'm thinking about what you can do between the actual Schoolcomms application which sends out attendance alerts, and deals with the responses, which then writes back to SIMS. Essentially, the tools are there to let someone just take a register on an app, and then send it back to SIMs. It would take a heck of work (i'm guessing) as it was never meant to do that, but it's a very nice option to have and a good way forward to keep moving and expanding.
    So moving into Emerge territory then. I think that is the key, with Emerge from GC, and from Capita, and now with this teacher app, the space is already quite crowded. Granted other MIS' don't have nearly as many apps for this, if at all, but then most want to work with SIMS (and why not!). But that's a whole other conversation (in fact one I have had with the guys!)

    Not suggesting it isn't a great suggestion for Schoolcomms, I can just see where the market might make this a difficult push.

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    I'd rather see the partners do what they do well, and be allowed to expand, without have their toes trodden on. GC now have a parent app, SC should have a teacher app, Capita, well, they should build an MSI for SIMS...

    ...oh hang on, they are gonna do an MSI wrapper now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    I'd rather see the partners do what they do well, and be allowed to expand, without have their toes trodden on. GC now have a parent app, SC should have a teacher app, Capita, well, they should build an MSI for SIMS...

    ...oh hang on, they are gonna do an MSI wrapper now.
    I completely agree. I don't think anything is stopping them expanding, it is more should they try in a crowded market? I suppose it is down to them to decide if that market is crowded or not. I know that if I were in a school and Schoolcomms built a teacher app, I'd be the first onboard!

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