[Review] TASC Insight Parent Portal
I've got this all up and running now and promised a review a while back. So here it is.
About TASC Insight
TASC insight is an ASPX based web frontend for Sims data aimed at parents.
Some blurb from their website "INSIGHT provides secure access to pupil data in your SIMS MIS, from attendance and behaviour and homework through to school reports, in a clear, easy to use and understandable manner. Now even non-technical parents can engage in their child's learning and participate in school life."
What a dream this was. Literally its one installer that runs on your webserver. Just make sure you install and update sims workstation on the server before running it and type in a sims username, upload a logo. Thats really all that was required. It was up and running in about 10 minutes.
All the documentation is on a very well laid out WIKI here. Its constantly updated and relevant all the time. The only downside is you can't really print it out but sending the live link to anyone they can be up and running in a few minutes. Most things are self explanatory though.
Assuming you have parents email addresses in Sims and Parent priority levels set, all you have to do is click "sync" and it will create all the users automatically. You then have to "activate" them which will send them a welcome email and instructions on logging in.
The best bit of feedback we got from the test users was the ease of logging in. They found it really easy to use the 5 digit upercase password that was changed on first login. They loved the fact the system emailed them all the details and also had great comments on the large buttoned user interface and how easy everything was to find. In summary they absolutely love it. Some parents have mentioned that a few small design problems with firefox and works best with IE which is a downside.
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To say this is better than our old system (Capita Sims SLG) is an understatement. Its around 10 times cheaper (yes I said TEN times!!), easier to setup and upgrade (SLG was a nightmare), easier to create accounts, doesn't touch your active directory. Much better user interface, doesn't require SharePoint. More information, laid out in a better way. I really could go on. In my opinion anyone who keeps SLG without investigating this product needs their head examined. SLG was a total failure for us in our school and a complete waste of money. Using TASC insight has shown just how much of a success this can be with well written software.
I don't have any experience with the Bromcom Parent site so can't really comment but I doubt its any worse than SLG. Not sure about any other products but I did hear Groupcall were developing a parent app which could be very interesting in the future.
I've had to telephone them twice, both times I immediately spoke to a support/developer. Both very good experiences and fixed the problem very quickly.
Really happy with the new system in terms of administration (from my point of view) and more importantly the parents love it and actually use it day to day. That is the real measure of success.
Distribution of First-use Passwords
"The best bit of feedback we got from the test users was the ease of logging in. They found it really easy to use the 5 digit upercase password that was changed on first login. "
Out of interest, and not specifically related to TASC, how do you normally distribute first-time passwords to users (either parental, student or staff) ? Do schools prefer to email in general, or face-to-face (such as at parents evenings) etc ?