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MIS Systems Thread, Any good options for writing to SIMS? in Technical; This is my first post on EduGeek so please bare with me.... I am an I.C.T co-ordinator at a small ...
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    Any good options for writing to SIMS?

    This is my first post on EduGeek so please bare with me....

    I am an I.C.T co-ordinator at a small first school and we are keen to adopt a new VLE component which is being offered through SWGfL's Merlin. This new module will take data from SIMs and display it for parents/teachers to view.

    My problem is that we currently do not utilise the power of SIMs because we only have it on one machine in the office which is only ever used by our senior admin officer (and SIMs manager).

    What would others recommend as the next steps forward? I did have BromCom and Capita come in and show us their systems which I loved but the cost is unbelievable (in the region of 5000 a year) especially because we are small school of 180 pupils. I know about SIMs in the classroom but that would mean linking our curriculum and admin network which I am not keen to do.

    Is there other options? Free options? Does anyone import data into SIMs regularly using an online format perhaps?

    All suggestions welcome...

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Hi

    Someone with bit more experience of Sims (aka a Sims ninja master) will come along in long term to answer in more detail. The merlin (aka RM LP) module gets if I remember rightly student behaviour, attendance and assessment (sure more but without access to a test system of any kind now).

    So attendance I assume already done via omr sheets. In terms of assessment this can be imported in via excel sheets just need to set some templates up. Not sure about behaviour (remember this module can also be used to record rewards).

    Two things to ask does your Sims support via LA have any people can tap into to help you maximise your use of Sims.net and if not how about local upper school with a data manager who can help you...

    As said if wait a few the true Sims ninjas will be along as my knowledge of data side of sims is limited these days

    Also a side note at some point not sure when reporting modules etc of RM LP will write back to sims.net.

    Russ

    Russell
    Last edited by russdev; 30th March 2011 at 11:14 PM.

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    I think you need to bite the bullet and link admin and curriculum. There are a million threads on here discussing this. With any decent network setup there should be no real reason why not. You could still have separate domains if you like, but really there's no need.

    Getting staff to use SIMS is difficult at best but they will only start when it's easy - i.e. on their computer.
    Start with electronic registration and move on from there.

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    I agree with eean. Link the Admin and Cirruc networks. I've worked with numerous Primary Schools on just this kind of expansion. It will cost, but perhaps not as much as you think.

    I'm sure you'll already have the SIMS Attendence module, and that's all a primary / first school will need. I suspect what Capita demo'd will have been Lesson Monitor, which you simply won't need (and it's very expensive). So, if you link the two networks together (something I've done a few times), you can roll the SIMS client out to the teachers' PCs in the classroom, then they are able to take the register directly in SIMS, for the AM and PM registration periods. Once they've got used to that, you can roll out Assessment, Behaviour and Achievement collection, again in the classroom. Capita will not charge you any extra for this, you should already have the licence to have other people use SIMS on their PCs. Also consider having your other admin staff access it. Permissions can be specified for all users to keep everything secure.

    Reading into your post, it sounds as though the Senior Admin's workstation is also the SIMS server. In all likelyhood this might not be powerful enough to serve SIMS to more than, say, 5 other workstations (post spec's and we'll be able to tell you). You may want to consider moving SIMS onto a dedicated server. You'll also need to make sure that the link between the two networks is sufficient, a 100Mb link at the absolute minimum. A 1Gb link between the two would be ideal, with another 1Gb link to the SIMS server. Essentially creating a 1Gb 'backbone' with 100Mb feeding each workstation. This would future proof you for some time in a school of your size. You don't want teachers not using SIMS because they feel that it's too slow, you may as well not bother.

    There are some quirks you might run into, depending on how your two networks are set up and how they are linked. Again, post the current setup and we'll help.

    Hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Innovate View Post
    My problem is that we currently do not utilise the power of SIMs because we only have it on one machine in the office which is only ever used by our senior admin officer (and SIMs manager).
    If you only have one person using SIMS then your best option might be to replace it rather than expanding your use of it - why get yourself locked in to using SIMS if you don't have to? Maybe try ScholarPack instead - an open system, so if you want to want to do thing like write data back to its database you can, and has thouroughly comprehensive support options.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    If you only have one person using SIMS then your best option might be to replace it rather than expanding your use of it - why get yourself locked in to using SIMS if you don't have to? Maybe try ScholarPack instead - an open system, so if you want to want to do thing like write data back to its database you can, and has thouroughly comprehensive support options.
    That's certainly a possiblity. However, does the VLE support systems other than SIMS? And don't forget, while something like Scholarpack maybe be free in itself, there will be a cost in person-hours getting all the data moved across, and in re-training.

    Of course, rolling SIMS out into the class-room will also involve a certain level of training...

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    Russ,

    Thanks for the reply.

    So attendance I assume already done via omr sheets.
    Attendance is done the old fashioned book and manual input way - would love to go electronic. Will definitely look into some excel templates - anyone got any good ones?

    Two things to ask does your Sims support via LA have any people can tap into to help you maximise your use of Sims.net and if not how about local upper school with a data manager who can help you...
    Not sure, I will see. Plan to send an email off to our LA IT team and see what they would recommend.

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    NorthernSands - thanks for the reply. Lots to think about.

    Will look into the spec of the machine and let you know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernSands View Post
    That's certainly a possiblity. However, does the VLE support systems other than SIMS? And don't forget, while something like Scholarpack maybe be free in itself, there will be a cost in person-hours getting all the data moved across, and in re-training.

    Of course, rolling SIMS out into the class-room will also involve a certain level of training...
    VLE I think will only link with SIMs... agree with other comments stated also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Innovate View Post
    VLE I think will only link with SIMs... agree with other comments stated also.
    Just something to think about: whilst the VLE will only link with SIMS thanks to the Capita SIMS Webparts, is it absolutely neccessary for the parent portal to be a part of the VLE?

    The reason I say that is that ScholarPack already has it's own parent portal, albeit not one that could be directly integrated in to the VLE, but you could link to it. This also makes sense from a data protection POV, as it requires parents to enter an additional username and password to access any data.

    Other bonuses with ScholarPack are that it's free (training is of course an issue, but it sounds as though it will be whether you stay with SIMS or not anyway) and it is entirely web based, so anybody on any machine/device with web access can gain full read/write access to it (with the proper login credentials and permissions of course).

    SIMS is a huge system that does a hell of a lot, but it comes at a cost. On the other hand, it's probably the biggest MIS their is, so there is an abbundance of support available both here and over at SupportNet, as well as from other schools and most likely your LA (although I do hear that ScholarPack offer very good support too).

    Weigh up all of your options - don't do what our SLT did and stick with the same system just because you already have it - the easiest option is not always the best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Innovate View Post
    What would others recommend as the next steps forward? I did have BromCom and Capita come in and show us their systems which I loved but the cost is unbelievable (in the region of 5000 a year) especially because we are small school of 180 pupils. I know about SIMs in the classroom but that would mean linking our curriculum and admin network which I am not keen to do.
    Not sure what you were demo'ed from our side or even who did the demo (I could do some detective work and find out) but I wanted to make sure that what you were shown covered all your options.
    Because it sounds to me like you would be able to get some benefit out of WebFolder SD product (SD = SIMS Direct).
    It's a web service so you'd be able to run it without linking your networks together (with a bit of a tweak).
    Anyway contact me off list and I'll double check that you were shown all the options, because to be honest that figure sounds a bit unusual for a quote from us for a school your size.

    Regards
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    The reason I say that is that ScholarPack already has it's own parent portal, albeit not one that could be directly integrated in to the VLE, but you could link to it. This also makes sense from a data protection POV, as it requires parents to enter an additional username and password to access any data.
    This would mean me ditching everything though through SWGfL Merlin wouldn't it?

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    If you want free, open access to your data any time using custom based systems, SIMS is probably not the best option unless you want hefty repair bills.

    Also look at what your LA uses. Support off of them can be invaluable.

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Not sure about merlin but assuming that using standard Rm lp tools it will link with sims. Cmis and intergris.

    @schoolpack That said Rm were looking at why other Mis to integrate but you will need to talk to them about that..

    Russ

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    Quote Originally Posted by Innovate View Post
    This would mean me ditching everything though through SWGfL Merlin wouldn't it?
    I don't know what Merlin is, but I assume it's just a VLE based on Sharepoint or something? (just because that seems to be the norm for LA's). If that's the case, surely you could disable the SIMS part and just pop in a link to whichever system's web portal that you decide to use?

    Sorry, I don't know enough about Merlin to give you a definitive answer there, might be worth checking with your LA just how rigidly SIMS is integrated with it.

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