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MIS Systems Thread, The UK Government and MIS Systems in Technical; So, the the application cannot be installed, with the database structure correct and it is not easier to import the ...
  1. #16

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    So, the the application cannot be installed, with the database structure correct and it is not easier to import the data into it, thus rendering it more easily readable? If this is not the case, then I am mistaken and apologise for my comments.
    Last edited by f21970; 5th July 2009 at 09:10 AM.

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    If you've got a backup of the SIMS database, you don't need the commercial frontend to read it. just install an MSSQL server and restore the backup. You don't need the sourcecode to be able to obtain and install an MSSQL server. or you could probably even dump it into mysql to read the data. The evilgenius plan would be completely foiled if the data was encrypted.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by f21970 View Post
    So, the the application cannot be installed, with the database structure correct and it is not easier to import the data into it, thus rendering it more easily readable? If this is not the case, then I am mistaken and apologise for my comments.
    If someone is able to get hold of the SIMS.net database of a school, one could assume they also had access to the S: drive, which contains all the installers for SIMS.net. So, they'd be able to install it anyway.

    You are equating 'open source' with 'open distribution' and 'insecure' which is simply not the case.

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    Cybernerd - having not restored a SIMS database into a 'blank' SQL database, I was not aware that it would recreate it's own table structure. So, my mistake on this point for which I apologise.

    Localzuk - I am a total fan of open source and don't generally regard it as insecure, and not all schools have an S: drive, or run their SIMS databases on a server (I'm not talking about my school here). Not all schools encrypt their data as they should. Not all schools have a local techie to police them, and fumble by on what little in-house or outsourced knowledge is available - this is predominantly in the primary sector, but I understand what you are saying.

    Again, if I am mistaken, I apologise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    Capitas turnover is £2,441.4 million and they made £226 million profit last year. They are almost entirely funded by govt spending. If govt want to reduce public sector spending then this would be a very good place to start.
    If £226M is true that is disgusting! Certainly there is no correlation between the quality of SIMS.net and it's cost! No one could argue that SIMS.net was a well planned, well constructed piece of software. It always seems to me that it is a software project that has grown too quickly, with inconstant interface and metaphors. It would not surprise me if the various modules of SIMS.net are developed by people who have no idea how the other modules work, or indeed how the system is constructed!

    Anyway with only small fraction of the money that has been spent on SIMS.net by the government, we could have a really good MIS in about three years. Yes, nationalize software development for government administration, make it open source!

  6. #21
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    The £226 mil profit is for the Capita group as a whole, not just Capita Education Services.

    If you look at the figures only 11% of the £2441mil turnover is from ALL their education activities.

    Capitaes have spent a load of money recently on developing their software as well as new products (learning gateway and partnership exchange - to meet more government agendas). Your fees don't just cover software development, there's support and all the associated costs of running a business.

    Back to the open source MIS, the major problem here would be constant changing government data requirements.

    Pretty much every school census since its inception has demanded more and more data. The MIS providers are constantly having to change their products to meet the governments demands on schools. If its not the new work force return, its diplomas or some other extra bit of data. (This is the source of most of the updates needed)

    Up until 3 years ago our local authority designed and sold its own MIS for local primary schools. With the every changing data demands they found it increasingly difficult to keep up and eventually pulled the project.

    Given the propensity of all governments since Thatcher to sell / out source anything and everything, to put it in to the hands of the market, a project like this will never be centrally funded.

    Given the governments inability to spec / manage and major IT project correctly over the last 20 years I think we are better off with what we've got.

    The independent schools could band together and look at a project like this, but none have and my guess is its just too complex a beast for too small a gain.

    What does your MIS cost you? Half a teachers salary? Half an IT suite? The same as your broadband? Is it really that much of cost?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamescox84 View Post
    It appears to me to that the UK government should develop an Open Source and Free MIS system for use in schools.
    It's not really the business of governments to go writing software products. "The Government" is only a collection of elected individuals, in power for a potentially short term, their business is to provide a sensible framework for companies that write software to operate in. In the case of school MIS software this would strike me as enforcing open standards so that schools have a choice of MIS applications to make use of and can switch between them as they like based on available features and/or price rather than being locked in with one vendor.

    Also, writing MIS software is a dull, boring and tedious task. The prospect of modifying code to constantly keep up with ever-changing data acquisition/retention/presentation requirements isn't something that's going to fill your average programmer with enthusiasm. This lack of enthusiasm can be offset by giving your average programmer a decent amount of money, but it's not the kind of thing that attracts open source volunteers.

    Writing yet another school MIS isn't going to work. However, writing applications to work in concert with current MIS applications could work quite well. We'll be discussing this, and other, issues at the Open Source Schools Unconference in a couple of weeks - I'm sure we can organise recordings or transcripts of the discussions for those that can't attend physically or virtually.

    --
    David Hicks
    Last edited by dhicks; 5th July 2009 at 08:20 PM.

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    in theory an MS Access database should be good enough for MIS, and would be easily updateable. Provided you can set the file to continuously update when people have it open.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nephilim View Post
    in theory an MS Access database should be good enough for MIS, and would be easily updateable. Provided you can set the file to continuously update when people have it open.
    Erm. No. No, no, no. A large school can have 100 people connecting at the same time, or more. An access file could *not* deal with that safely. Add in real-time access requirements (so external users would be accessing too) and you have a system guaranteed to fail.

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    well thats why I said in theory. In our place only 9 people have access to sims, myself, my line manager, the head, deputy head, bursar, office staff (3 of them) and reception. I can see your point though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nephilim View Post
    well thats why I said in theory. In our place only 9 people have access to sims, myself, my line manager, the head, deputy head, bursar, office staff (3 of them) and reception. I can see your point though.
    How does your school handle report data entry? or attendance? or assessment data in general?

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    I was about to point out how Capita had financialy supported the Labour party. But erm....

    Rod Aldridge, former chairman of the Capita business services group who had lent Labour £1m in 2005, said he did not plan to lend the party any more: “I don’t think there’s any cause for it.”
    The Times 14th June 2009.
    Rats, sinking ship, biting the hand that feeds you, yadda yadda yadda.


    In a sane world it would probably make sense for the government to produce a school management software package (or procure it centrally). All schools need to produce the same returns and hold the same information after all, and this is set down by government. But since every time our government commission an IT projector it goes £47bn over budget and then doesn't solve any of the problems it's meant to, it's probably best leaving capita to it.
    Last edited by K.C.Leblanc; 5th July 2009 at 10:37 PM.

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    I agree that itís not the governments responsibility to fund MIS systems. Itís just not good economics and takes choice away from the school. It is however the governments responsibility to fund a framework for MIS systems to work together, a.k.a SIF. The government should be putting more money into that and there are already open source SIF servers and agents on the go.

    Ian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    How does your school handle report data entry? or attendance? or assessment data in general?
    The 3 office staff are employed to do that as part of there jobs.

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    CAM
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    Look at IE versus Firefox (groan!).

    IE had the market share. It was dominant, ridiculous usage figures but because everyone used it, the software was developed as a piece of crap. It was insecure and lacked features like tabbed browsing and RSS news readers. People used it because it had virtually no competition.

    Then along came Firefox with it's security, tabbed browsing and RSS news readers. It's popularity shot up along with it's usage figures. This made IE take notice and now there have been significant improvements to IE due to competition becoming a real threat.

    Now compare this to the MIS market. If only one government funded MIS system existed where would we be? We'd be using the MIS equivalent of IE in it's monopoly days. Then we'd all be complaining about it and wanting someone to develop an alternative and back to square one, multiple companies selling multiple MIS systems.

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