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MIS Systems Thread, The future of SIMS in Technical; Will be interesting. The first school I worked in used SIMS and I had to deal with the nightmare that ...
  1. #31

    maniac's Avatar
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    Will be interesting. The first school I worked in used SIMS and I had to deal with the nightmare that was migration to .NET. The next school I worked in had Sercos CMIS/E-Portal which I thought was brillient - web interface for registration and reporting, easy to setup external accessibility for parents/carers and students and extreemly flexible. It had its flaws but was streets ahead of SIMS.

    It was almost like stepping back in time coming here and going back to SIMS again, and seeing that it really hadn't moved on that much in the 2 years that I'd been away from it! It's about time they considered updating their old model of having to run client software on every workstation that connects to it.

    Bromcom is another system that has been using a web based interface for a long time as well. That was no where near as good as E-Portal, but was still quite well written and did what it needed to do. do any schools use Bromcom, as it very rarely gets a mention here.

    Mike.

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    On the web side - Complete intergration into SharePoint with either school level or LA implementation possible - With enterprise implementation a parent with children in multiple schools can see all their children in a single view. Teachers can record assessments, create written reports over the web, parents can see the outputs.

    On the client side - the home page can be customised to your role and pushes information to you. Lesson Monitor has a complete behavioural system built in that schools say that they have transformed the atmosphere within the school. AD provisioning; trusted logons

    I think a lot has changed!
    Last edited by PhilNeal; 22nd May 2009 at 03:27 PM.

  3. #33

    john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post

    That is the last thing we want!!

    And the days of visiting every machine to update SIMS ended a very long time ago! All workstations have been updating automatically for a avery long time!
    Still occurs when they need a new add-on such as a newer updated .Net Framework or something like that which isn't part of your usual build, or when permissions go wrong, and then you have to get all machines on the network to update so if thats all wifi based it can stuff the bandwidth through the roof and grind it all to a hault so not really the best solution still in my view.

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    On the note of Bromcom when I was in high school a few years ago I had a habit of snouting around in the backend of the network.

    Do they still store the U/N and password for teachers in ridicolous files you can open with notepad?

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    If they do this there won't be reason to change to serco for us....

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Some of it is happening already Jo!
    Move to Serco? NEVER!
    Not while I am here anyway. The stories that some of our current staff (Teachers and Support) tell me about their experiences! They cannot believe how efficient and flexible SIMS is!

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    Someone I know in Sheffield is at a school that uses SERCO and apparently they like it very much. I suspect it's a bit like SIMS, in as far as people don't realise what it can do until it's set up properly.

    Or maybe SERCO's just not any fun to deal with...

  8. #38
    Sivadam's Avatar
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    There are a handful of Serco Schools in Sheffield.
    Some of the staff I refer to have been at one or more of them!

  9. #39

    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Efficient? Sims? Christ - how bad IS serco?

  10. #40

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    It ain't that bad at all I would say though they ALL have pros and cons, I far prefer Serco over Sims from the bits of SIMS i've seen and talked about, but whatever you do you need somone to manage the MIS and keep at it, don't just get bored and stop keep on going and going and going and going.

    A key for me to the new revitalisation of Serco where I am is the new training that I will be giving to staff as a lot have not had Foundation training on it so there are users using it who have been shown by the person they took over from / A.N. Other and they have no idea about features due to this and I will address this. So key is training and I think this is the same for SIMS as well, good training and constant listening to feedback and supporting staff is what we need. Once we have this then things will work much better for all I feel

    But as for me I love my Serco and I certainly enjoy it really, although it does have a just found Summer Census bug! But hey its only a small fix for us thankfully.....

  11. #41

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    I agree with comments above. They both have pros and cons without any clear winner, however one thing for certain is that they're both going to become increasingly more expensive for schools to run.
    I'm talking in terms of hardware, licenses and training so the way forward will be to have it centrally managed by the local authority. However, with recent internet connectivity problems in Birmingham schools for example, this really isn't an option at the moment due to the nature of MIS systems; they really are mission critical!!

    More and more applications are going the web based route however and it makes managing such applications much easier and cost effective. The BBC have many applications/games, then you have applications like Classroom Monitor and Education City which are great examples of how it can be done.

  12. #42

    john's Avatar
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    I would argue that centrally LEA hosted MIS's is the worst way to go IMHO, When you look at some LEAs Centrally Managed Internet & Email systems (or the firms they paid probably £100,000's to for the services) they are just not reliable enough. We have to register students twice daily, and each lessons to check for truants etc, write reports, rely on them for names, addresses, contact details etc and with the poor service I see myself and hear about on here that is only a pure dream and a really far away one at that.

    Every school should have its own MIS server locally to work, perhaps a central master Database at the LEA that we extract and re-integrate to say daily but I cannot view a main one where we all web / terminal into the LEA going to work.

    I certainly don't like or want the LEA or third party taking control over my MIS, I know it fairly well, know its niggles and how it likes to be looked after and the thought of them controlling it isn't good, plus with the way they are with Internet, I can see them saying you will take attendance each period this way, reports will be done on our schedule using these comment banks etc, so very limited flexibility for the school concerned.

    Fine the LEA have MIS support people but that's about it, they write custom reports etc but I certainly love the fact that I don't rely on them to fix bugs, send me the patches, update it etc etc I enjoy the direct contact with Serco for it and the support of other Edugeek's on here who I know have Serco and are here with ears to bend if we have problems

  13. #43
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    Synaesthesia,
    My comment was more a reflection on how excellent SIMS is. As I said in another post, it is about time those that really do know SIMS started challenging the disparaging posts that seem to regularly crop up on these forums. No disrespect to the members here but there does seem to be a general lack of knowledge from some contributors.
    If you have problems with SIMS then refer to SupportNet (or your Support Desk) and get the help you need, rather than offering such unwarranted negative comments here!

    John - I totally agree with you re. LA Hosted. What you describe is exactly what B2B is designed to do - both for Pupils and for Staff!
    Last edited by Sivadam; 6th June 2009 at 05:02 PM.

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    I would argue that centrally LEA hosted MIS's is the worst way to go IMHO, When you look at some LEAs Centrally Managed Internet & Email systems (or the firms they paid probably £100,000's to for the services) they are just not reliable enough.
    If is a difficult decision to make I agree, but still inevitable in my opinion. As it stands Sims appears to be going down the SharePoint route. I had a discussion with Birmingham recently and they do plan to host it centrally, but schools will still host their MIS systems locally. It's all down to cost at the end of the day as I mentioned above.

    All this aside, there are good hosting providers out there. On a managed service a hosting provider may have SQL2005 or SQL2008 installed with as many as 100-200 databases per server (for example). This is how I imagine MIS systems to be managed in future and in terms of licenses/support it would save thousands. I don't think anyone disputes this, but you are absolutely right, it's the reliability and availability which are the current problems.
    I do think overall there are more advantages. Backups can also be managed centrally as of course upgrades to software out of hours.

    As I mentioned above (using the example of Classroom Monitor), their software used to be hosted in each school (using MYSQL, if I remember correctly), but now they host everything and teachers just need to visit a logon page using a browser. They can also access this information from home (if necessary).
    I suspect their support costs have gone right down and their client base has probably increased due to the availability of their product and I believe it's a trend that will continue to increase in popularity.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    Synaesthesia,
    My comment was more a reflection on how excellent SIMS is. As I said in another post, it is about time those that really do know SIMS started challenging the disparaging posts that seem to regularly crop up on these forums. No disrespect to the members here but there does seem to be a general lack of knowledge from some contributors.
    If you have problems with SIMS then refer to SupportNet (or your Support Desk) and get the help you need, rather than offering such unwarranted negative comments here!
    Fair play, but I'll give you 2 guesses who I work for I actually thought you were being a little sarcastic, however I'm unable to judge sarcasm online and off

    I don't have an issue particularly with what it does and how it goes about it, I do however have issue with it's performance on reasonably specified machines and servers, the memory it munches on, the bandwidth it seemingly chews without the need and it's knack of being able to come second only to Windows in new and innovative ways in which to crash.
    Thankfully I've a team behind me that is heavily involved with its development and have a few little tricks to counter the stability however it's resource hunger baffles even them. How hungry is Serco in comparison?
    Not out to badmouth particular products, I'm always very interested to see what else is in use and available and I like to see my schools get what they pay for

    Re the centrally hosted ideas: the couple of schools I have with SIMS hosted by Capita seem to get on rather well with it, however rather like the Junior Librarian .Net atrocity I'm also having to deal with, I don't like the idea of having a reliance on a wide area networking technology so intermittent by it's very nature.

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