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MIS Systems Thread, Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you in Technical; Feel free to contact me if you get stuck....
  1. #31

    Geoff's Avatar
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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Feel free to contact me if you get stuck.

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    Feel free to contact me if you get stuck.
    I'm confident you'll regret saying that 8)

  3. #33

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Capita never give out Garantees
    Exactly. I was laughing at our local support the other day. They phoned to tell us we had to they had accidently sent us a patch which may break SIMS. I was sat there thinking ....the patches always break sims, what's so unusual about this one?
    Don't MIS systems need to interact with County Council/LEA/whatever though?
    I think there are certain file formats required for sending data to LEAs, the ones I have seen are XML based.

    I agree it would be no small task getting people to switch and because of this I've never really bothered looking at the alternatives. But if there's a lot people out there running education systems who really want to change, why not? I suspect you would have to 'sneak' the system in at first. For example introduce it as a method of converting all those horrible .csv SIMS exports into a database which is usable to other applications. Once you've that 'foot in the door' you wait until you are confident the new system works well, and then the next time SIMs falls over or your school is negotiating support costs its 'Hey well the Open Source solution we've been using for X can handle all this, we don't actually need SIMS anymore...'


  4. #34

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Which begs the question, what does SIMS.NET/CMIS/whatever do that FreeMIS/SchoolTool can't?

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Which begs the question, what does SIMS.NET/CMIS/whatever do that FreeMIS/SchoolTool can't?
    stuff like payroll, room booking, fingerprinting, data mining - all the 'extra' modules that sims/cmis have, but only break something else if you use them.
    The imortant thing from SMT perspective that sims/cmis do is they have sales reps. OSS doesn't.

  6. #36

    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    @CyberNerd: You mean all the tools that nobody use or have to pay extra for

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Does FreeMIS do PLASC? Does it do assessment mark entry? Does it do termly reports? Does it do ATF and CTF import/export? Does it do attendance/e-reg? Does it do SEN register? Does it do timetabling, curriculum assignment. Does it do cover?

    If it doesn't do all these then walk away.

  8. #38
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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    My favourite thing about SIMS used to be it's error messages. On the old DOS version, just before it crashed, loosing your the past 2 hours' work, you'd get a message worded like this:
    There has been an error in this program. This is probably not caused by something you have done but by a fault in our programmers' logic. Please call your SIMS support team.
    Where else will you find honesty like that?
    Much nicer than 'User error 243' - makes people feel it's them.

  9. #39

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Quote Originally Posted by NetworkGeezer
    Does FreeMIS do PLASC? Does it do assessment mark entry? Does it do termly reports? Does it do ATF and CTF import/export? Does it do attendance/e-reg? Does it do SEN register? Does it do timetabling, curriculum assignment. Does it do cover?

    If it doesn't do all these then walk away.
    It covers:

    Assessment
    * Asset Management
    * Attendance
    * Home School Communications
    * Communication Between Staff
    * Finance
    * HR/Personnel
    * Pupil Data
    * Report Writing
    * Self Evaluation/Review
    * SEN Management
    * Planning for Learning & Teaching
    * Timetable Construction

    Not sure if it would do what we need it to do at our school. And then that's without looking at support, documentation and training. All things .ICT are pretty good at when it comes down to it.

    FreeMIS may fit a small niche market but I don't think it's going to supplant a more structured and supported SIMS.net any time soon...

  10. #40


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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    It covers:

    Assessment
    * Asset Management
    * Attendance
    * Home School Communications
    * Communication Between Staff
    * Finance
    * HR/Personnel
    * Pupil Data
    * Report Writing
    * Self Evaluation/Review
    * SEN Management
    * Planning for Learning & Teaching
    * Timetable Construction

    Not sure if it would do what we need it to do at our school. And then that's without looking at support, documentation and training. All things .ICT are pretty good at when it comes down to it.

    FreeMIS may fit a small niche market but I don't think it's going to supplant a more structured and supported SIMS.net any time soon...
    To put this into context, FreeMIS is a community project primarily developed by one person, unpaid. Captia and Serco are multinationals worth Millions. I'm sure that all it would take are some forward thinking schools/LEA's to hire some OSS programmers to get the extra functionality that we require. By the time the code has been put back into the global community for others to develop it will snowball. Same with Moodle - started by one person in 1999, now has 14000 registered sites and 5million users -yet its essentially blackboard. I don't think FreeMIS is really ready for most of us, yet. I do think it has a lot of promise and the potential savings would be astronomical, not to mention the freedom to tinker and lack of lock-in we'd enjoy.

  11. #41

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Assuming of course you have the knowledge and resources to tinker. I think that most OSS projects that tout this as an advantage project only towards the programmer- amateur or otherwise- and Im no programmer; so inevitably I try look to other parts of the software. And FreeMIS on that basis wouldn't float my boat. There has to be more to OSS. For me support and documentation and training are therefore top requirements. Most open source software projects fail badly here.

    But you raise some good points.

  12. #42

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    IIRC there is an area in Scotland and an LEA that have invested in FreeMIS so somebody must see it as a viable alternative. Short term it's probably not going to be viable but long term could be an entirely different matter.

  13. #43

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_
    IIRC there is an area in Scotland and an LEA that have invested in FreeMIS so somebody must see it as a viable alternative. Short term it's probably not going to be viable but long term could be an entirely different matter.
    Obviously. But that isn't the point. With the government asking for increasingly more digitised and complex data information from schools and with systems such as SIMS.net having the resources to deliver those, I find it hard to believe that FreeMIS (as good as it no doubt it) will tame the beast. FreeMIS whips SIMS.net on price, but after looking at the on-line demo I don't think it's anywhere near the feature set of SIMS.net.

    So I don't think that proof of the competence of FreeMIS can come by the fact that one desperate local authority has chosen to allow it to be used in schools where they are. I think it does what it does and no doubt well- but even with the foibles of SIMS.net I have encountered over the last two weeks, I would prefer SIMS. It's simply more polished, better able to cope with the mass of data it has to store and offers a richer feature set.

    Don't agree? Fine. Use FreeMIS then. Put your network where your mouth is :-)

    Paul

  14. #44


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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    I think that most OSS projects that tout this as an advantage project only towards the programmer- amateur or otherwise- and Im no programmer; so inevitably I try look to other parts of the software. And FreeMIS on that basis wouldn't float my boat.
    Sure, If programmers are working from an open model then anything is possible, the point is that others can write modules for integration to other open systems - moodle being a prime example. For example a school/college/uni could hire someone to do integration with whateverserver (elgg/moodle/drupal/email/authentication/printing/etc)) and a whole new functionality has been created. Proprietry systems just don't have this flexibility - SIMS even says as much in the license agreement, yet together we're paying these guys a *lot* of money and IMO it would be better spent on community projects. I do hope the LEA in Scotland is the start of things to come.

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    Re: Sims, spawn of the devil i tell you

    I agree. In an idealistic "community driven" model this would work wonderfully. Eric Raymond's "bazaar" would be open and we all could pick and choose and collaborate and world would be a whole better place without mega-software houses pushing us (the small guy) around and foisting expensive software applications down our skinny systems' administrator necks...back in the real world, many of these projects *seem* excellent at the outset but cost so much in support time and re-training that they just aren't as cheap as they were supposed to be. And that community you talk of is a testosterone driven beast of its own where programmers and scripters rule simply because they write the code. The end user is secondary.

    So if I were a government representative in this real world I have pictured above, how would you answer me if I asked where support would come from and how we would (as schools) deliver census returns and reports and digitial information back to central government? And how would you answer me if I asked about training for these community driven applications?

    You used Moodle as an example- and I think its a wonderful piece of software. But have you actually read some of the forums there? It sounds a lot like the kinds of forum banter you get on proprietary software forums, except you are at the mercy of a "community" as coder rather than a company. And companies tend to carry a lot more of a legal obligation to fulfill SLAs and other service principles than open source communities ever would agree to. And therein lies the biggest problem.

    When dealing with sensitive data (as an MIS system does often), and when dealing with modules for which different people need varying levels of training and documentation to master; and when dealing with the inevitable support issues that arise from using something as complex as an MIS system- where would the buck stop? Who is this "community"? Whou could us non-programmers aim our guns at and complain to when things don't work?

    At least with SIMS we know where to go to for that. There is- in a corporate way- some liability. Some support. And that, in the end, can be worth the cost!



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