OpenSIMS - Ideas

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Ian Tasker

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Apr 2, 2008, 10:32:54 AM4/2/08
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Hi,

I thought i would create a new thread for ideas about OpenSIMS (or
whatever name is picked).

Taking the lead from Simon there are areas we need to cover before we
hit the detail.

1. Architecture

I propose a framework using MVC architecure. I also spoke about ajax i
do take steve's point, dont use it for the sake of it. The main reason
i proposed it was to give the system a applcation feel instead of a
website feel. This will hopefully stop the compaints of it's slow.

2. Legal Requirements.

We should look to base it on the principals of the UK but be flexible
to allow for other coutries requirments.

3. Target Audience.

Are wee looking for individual schools, small clusters, LA, or
National Bodies DCFS?

4. Project Managment.

How are we going to start the ball rolling and keept it on course?
Another point i would like to raise it should there be a protected
core? Like the linux kernel, there is a steering group controling the
quality funcationality.

If we could make the core flexible allow plugins and expose an api
this will help users extend the program.

Can i have your views?

Thanks

Ian Tasker

Adam McGreggor

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Apr 2, 2008, 11:17:42 AM4/2/08
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On Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 3:32 PM, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi,
>
> I thought i would create a new thread for ideas about OpenSIMS (or
> whatever name is picked).
>
> Taking the lead from Simon there are areas we need to cover before we
> hit the detail.
>
> 1. Architecture
>
> I propose a framework using MVC architecure. I also spoke about ajax i
> do take steve's point, dont use it for the sake of it. The main reason
> i proposed it was to give the system a applcation feel instead of a
> website feel. This will hopefully stop the compaints of it's slow.

Some sort of versioning/revision system?


> 2. Legal Requirements.
>
> We should look to base it on the principals of the UK but be flexible
> to allow for other coutries requirments.

<cynical>
I'd suggest proper legal, not what LEAs "interpret" as being legal.
</cynical>

> 3. Target Audience.
> Are wee looking for individual schools, small clusters, LA, or
> National Bodies DCFS?

Would suggest that depends on take-up. Plan on building big would
be my suggestion

>
> 4. Project Managment.
>
> How are we going to start the ball rolling and keept it on course?
> Another point i would like to raise it should there be a protected
> core? Like the linux kernel, there is a steering group controling the
> quality funcationality.

Trac? (http://trac.edgewall.org/) Or perhaps something like
Launchpad (https://launchpad.net/)

>
> If we could make the core flexible allow plugins and expose an api
> this will help users extend the program.

APIs seem to be the way forward...

Ian Tasker

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Apr 2, 2008, 1:23:17 PM4/2/08
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Hi,

I have created a project called OpenSIMS on launchpad.

https://launchpad.net/opensims/

I'm looking for documentation that we can you as a framework to create
an outline for the data requirement for this project.

Thanks

Ian

On 2 Apr, 16:17, "Adam McGreggor" <tommarvolorid...@gmail.com> wrote:

Simon Elliott

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Apr 2, 2008, 1:42:19 PM4/2/08
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I agree on the big.

An easier start would be the independent school market in the UK as we are governed by Ofsted requirements but have the flexibility to choose suppliers.  If it succeeds there, it will also work in the international school network around the world.

If we also look at the common pupil dataset, that will give you the fields that LEA schools would need.

One complication is the Unique Pupil Number - we need to find a way to get hold of the algorithm that creates it.  It always starts with the LEA number (3 digit) and the school number (4 digit) but the rest is calculated from pupil data.

If you want to have a look at the screenshots at the intellischool sourceforge site, you will see an example of a pupil personal details frontend.

I have created reports that produce the required data for legal purposes (roll book, official registers) as well as useful ones.  I can also dump off my sample dataset as an xls file which will have all fields that I have created so far.

Shall I dump this to the intellischool site or email it to one of you to put on the launchpad site?

The pupil basic dataset has already been done for us here:  http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/ims/datamanagement/cbds/CBDSspecs/

Simon
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Ian Tasker

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Apr 2, 2008, 2:25:20 PM4/2/08
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Hi Simon,

Thanks for you input, that's a great starting point.

I agree with you on the big, targeting the private schools market with
give the product
credibility when there are a few people using it.

I have found this pdf about how upn's are created.
http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/twgpss/23sept04_paper3.pdf

Once I have found my way round launchpad I will add these sources of
information.

Another good resource is this

http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/ims/

Simon, is ok you use intellischool as a reference base for this new
project?

I don't want to trample on your toes if you have a lot invested in it.

Thanks

Ian


On 2 Apr, 18:42, Simon Elliott <simon_elli...@mac.com> wrote:
> I agree on the big.
>
> An easier start would be the independent school market in the UK as we
> are governed by Ofsted requirements but have the flexibility to choose
> suppliers. If it succeeds there, it will also work in the
> international school network around the world.
>
> If we also look at the common pupil dataset, that will give you the
> fields that LEA schools would need.
>
> One complication is the Unique Pupil Number - we need to find a way to
> get hold of the algorithm that creates it. It always starts with the
> LEA number (3 digit) and the school number (4 digit) but the rest is
> calculated from pupil data.
>
> If you want to have a look at the screenshots at the intellischool
> sourceforge site, you will see an example of a pupil personal details
> frontend.
>
> I have created reports that produce the required data for legal
> purposes (roll book, official registers) as well as useful ones. I
> can also dump off my sample dataset as an xls file which will have all
> fields that I have created so far.
>
> Shall I dump this to the intellischool site or email it to one of you
> to put on the launchpad site?
>
> The pupil basic dataset has already been done for us here: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/ims/datamanagement/cbds/CBDSs...

Brian Ellsmore

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Apr 2, 2008, 5:40:34 PM4/2/08
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Dear All

Like many of you, it would appear, I too have written an MIS for my
school. It's been running (and developing) for the past 26 years. I also
attend DCSF meetings where Census, CTF, SWF, CBDS and all associated
matters are discussed.

I don't wish to tread on toes or interfere where not wanted but if
anyone thinks that I may be of use or help then please just ask.

My school is a state comprehensive in Hampshire - which uses SIMS
throughout - except us!

Brian Ellsmore

Ian Tasker

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Apr 3, 2008, 4:14:44 AM4/3/08
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Hi Brian,

Thanks for your input. Are you running a custom MIS in your school?
If so what it's name?

The vision for the project is a free and open source School
Information Managment System,
built on a lamp stack and being OS and browser independant.

To fund the project when is gets going, support could be sold and a
hosted version could be offered.

Within the UK a hosted version could be very successful witht the
right features.

Your knowledge about the goings on in the dcfs will be great to have.

Thanks

Ian

Steve Lee

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Apr 3, 2008, 5:43:55 AM4/3/08
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On 02/04/2008, Brian Ellsmore <br...@arabella.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> I don't wish to tread on toes or interfere where not wanted but if
> anyone thinks that I may be of use or help then please just ask.

Brian this is an open forum and your experience will be very much
appreciated. Everyone brings a slightly different angle to the
discussion and work.
Please just 'chip in' as you see fit.

--
Steve Lee
--
Open Source Assistive Technology Software
web: fullmeasure.co.uk
blog: eduspaces.net/stevelee/weblog

Ian Tasker

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Apr 3, 2008, 6:30:45 AM4/3/08
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Hi

Is anyone familiar with launchpad.net?

Thanks

Ian

Adam McGreggor

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Apr 3, 2008, 6:33:09 AM4/3/08
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On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 11:30 AM, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi
>
> Is anyone familiar with launchpad.net?

I use it a bit...

Ian Tasker

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Apr 3, 2008, 7:16:34 AM4/3/08
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Hi Adam,

would it be possible for you to help set this project up in launchpad?

Ian

On 3 Apr, 11:33, "Adam McGreggor" <tommarvolorid...@gmail.com> wrote:

Steve Lee

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Apr 3, 2008, 12:51:22 PM4/3/08
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On 03/04/2008, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:
> would it be possible for you to help set this project up in launchpad?

May I suggest that before anyone launches into a new project it would
be really worthwhile looking at the existing ones already mentioned in
order to:

* get ideas
* see what they do well and what needs improving or is missing
* decide if one of them might be the best place to start

Contributing to an existing project means you hit the ground running
and users get the good features they want faster. You also have a
larger pool of developers to chip in.

Just my 2 c's worth

Tom Hoffman

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Apr 3, 2008, 2:32:28 PM4/3/08
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On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 12:51 PM, Steve Lee <st...@fullmeasure.co.uk> wrote:
>
> On 03/04/2008, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > would it be possible for you to help set this project up in launchpad?
>
> May I suggest that before anyone launches into a new project it would
> be really worthwhile looking at the existing ones already mentioned in
> order to:
>
> * get ideas
> * see what they do well and what needs improving or is missing
> * decide if one of them might be the best place to start
>
> Contributing to an existing project means you hit the ground running
> and users get the good features they want faster. You also have a
> larger pool of developers to chip in.

I have certainly spent a lot of time thinking about what I'd do if I
was starting a MIS from scratch in 2008.

Also, I should probably write up a proposal explaining how you would
use SchoolTool to do what you want to do, once I know more precisely
what you want to do.

--Tom

Ian Tasker

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Apr 3, 2008, 2:40:24 PM4/3/08
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Hi Steve,

Thanks for the input.

The main reason to get launchpad up (or any other offering) was mainly
to
put a stake in the ground that we could form and collect ideas round
it.

I don't want to re-invent the wheel, but it might be quicker to build
a new
wheel if the one we start with is a square one?

I have had a look at some of the free offerings for a MIS for schools
(i haven't looked at intellischool yet), but the first problem i have
found is usability,
teachers are notorious wingers and if the system is "fluffy" and
intuitive most of
their arguments for not using it are gone.

There are other things that can help speed a project up, like using a
framework.
A good framework can cut development time greatly.

Borrowing good functionality from other project is a must, I would
like to see
this project become the moodle of School Information Management
Systems.

Ian

On 3 Apr, 17:51, "Steve Lee" <st...@fullmeasure.co.uk> wrote:

Simon Elliott

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Apr 3, 2008, 2:44:41 PM4/3/08
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It took me around 6 months to write intellischool and 2 years perfecting it, listening to user concerns, etc.

Now it is finished, I wouldn't write it like that again.  Although you can share a filemaker database as a website, creating a true open source platform that any school can use is the answer.  With the growth of platforms such as the iPhone, EeePC and other simple web based units, getting teachers to enter data directly is much easier.

One concern from the start must be security.  Teachers must be able to log on but, under new guidelines, pupils and parents must be able to access data, such as attendance and assessment, in real time.

Does anyone know whether the MIS could be based on or added to Moodle?  As that is in almost every sixth-form college, it would have good leverage.

Simon

Ian Tasker

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Apr 3, 2008, 3:38:06 PM4/3/08
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Hi Simon,

We have been successful in integrating SIMS.net with moodle.
We are current getting hold of the documentation from Capita to
enable write back to SIMS.net from moodle.

Due to the security and data protection issues (data protection is a
massive issue with SIMS.net)
trying to base a system on moodle i think would be in practical.

Integrating moodle and mohara would be beneficial for a finished
project.

I am currently created a database in mysql, i will then post it in
this group for people to comment on.

I am creating the information from the Common Basic Data Set on
teachernet.gov.uk.

This hopefully will give us a starting point.

Ian

On 3 Apr, 19:44, Simon Elliott <simon_elli...@mac.com> wrote:
> It took me around 6 months to write intellischool and 2 years
> perfecting it, listening to user concerns, etc.
>
> Now it is finished, I wouldn't write it like that again. Although you
> can share a filemaker database as a website, creating a true open
> source platform that any school can use is the answer. With the
> growth of platforms such as the iPhone, EeePC and other simple web
> based units, getting teachers to enter data directly is much easier.
>
> One concern from the start must be security. Teachers must be able to
> log on but, under new guidelines, pupils and parents must be able to
> access data, such as attendance and assessment, in real time.
>
> Does anyone know whether the MIS could be based on or added to
> Moodle? As that is in almost every sixth-form college, it would have
> good leverage.
>
> Simonwww.thefreemac.com
>
> On 3 Apr 2008, at 03/04/2008,19:32, Tom Hoffman wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 12:51 PM, Steve Lee <st...@fullmeasure.co.uk>
> > wrote:
>

Ian Tasker

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Apr 3, 2008, 5:19:13 PM4/3/08
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Hi,

Here is a quick sudo db layout (http://groups.google.com/group/sf-uk-
mias/web/OpenSIMS+DB+Version+0.1.pdf), i am looking mainly at the
relationships and not the information contained in them.

if you can shed any light on some of the relationships i have missed
or got wrong that would be excellent.

once the db relationships have been defined we can see which area are
needed first.

Ian
Message has been deleted

Ian Tasker

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Apr 3, 2008, 5:24:01 PM4/3/08
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Miles Berry

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Apr 3, 2008, 6:13:11 PM4/3/08
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There's a lot to be said for adding proper MIS functionality into Moodle.
In no particular order:
  • A vast installed user base, not only in UK schools
  • Lots of developers; well documented code and data structures
  • Moodle already holds lots of pupil level data, course membership, grades, outcomes, notes, timetables, etc as well as the datamine of the log files - a good MIS ought to provide a synoptic view of this.
  • The role architecture potentially deals with lots of the data protection issues, whilst still allowing for AFL and parent communication. Moodle's security model is tried and tested.
  • Much of the UI work has already been done, and teachers and pupils are already familiar with this
  • Teachers' (and indeed students') familiarity with Moodle makes it, I think, more likely that they (rather than just management) could make use of information stored.
It was written a while ago now, but there are a few more thoughts on this theme at http://eduspaces.net/mberry/files/-1/4939/Knowledge+Management.pdf


On 03/04/2008, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:

...


Due to the security and data protection issues (data protection is a
massive issue with SIMS.net)
trying to base a system on moodle i think would be in practical.

Integrating moodle and mohara would be beneficial for a finished
project. 

(Moodle now has Mahara integration, FWIW)



On 3 Apr, 19:44, Simon Elliott <simon_elli...@mac.com> wrote:
>...

>
> Does anyone know whether the MIS could be based on or added to
> Moodle?  As that is in almost every sixth-form college, it would have
> good leverage.
>

> Simonwww.thefreemac.com

>





--
Miles Berry
Head, Alton Convent Prep
http://www.altonconvent.org.uk/prep

Steve Lee

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Apr 4, 2008, 2:44:41 AM4/4/08
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no luck with that link :-(

On 03/04/2008, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:
>

Steve Lee

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Apr 4, 2008, 2:53:37 AM4/4/08
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Miles that last point is REALLY important.

We found that with the MIS intranet system I worked on that once
teachers found the data accessible and useful for them they really
started to use the system and that had many advantages for the college
operation and processes, not to mention student experience. We went
from comments like 'what do MIS dept do for us apart from nag' to
'brilliant, can I have *this* data please'. OFSTED even called us 'the
Jewell in the College crown'. So

Whatever approach you will need tight integration with VLEs (to make a
MLE as JISC called it). Obviously Moodle is the one to go for as an
FOSS MIS. Single sign-on is another goal but OpenID or shiboleth help
there.

AFAIR Class was designed to be teacher facing from the start.

Steve

Ian Tasker

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Apr 4, 2008, 5:02:36 AM4/4/08
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Hi,

try here.

http://groups.google.com/group/sf-uk-mias

is under files

ian

On Apr 4, 7:44 am, "Steve Lee" <st...@fullmeasure.co.uk> wrote:
> no luck with that link :-(
>
> On 03/04/2008, Ian Tasker <ianwtas...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > Heres the link
>
> > http://groups.google.com/group/sf-uk-mias/web/OpenSIMS+DB+Version+0.1...

Ian Tasker

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Apr 4, 2008, 5:24:37 AM4/4/08
to Schoolforge-UK MIAS
Hi Miles,

Thanks for you input.

re moodle and mohara integration, what i was meant to say and didn't
type the finished project should have integration moodle and in turn
mohara.

Why do we need to integrate a mis function into moodle when you can
have a seem less join between two systems?

Most of the data held in moddle is taken from a MIS.

I have to disagree with

- The role architecture potentially deals with lots of the data
protection issues, whilst still allowing for AFL and parent
communication.
Moodle's security model is tried and tested.

Moodle roles are simple, the security system on a MIS will need to be
complex to be able to limit view/edit/run permission of different
users.

I'm not knocking moodle it's a great VLE, but it will never be a MIS.

Ian

On 3 Apr, 23:13, "Miles Berry" <mgbe...@gmail.com> wrote:
> There's a lot to be said for adding proper MIS functionality into Moodle.
> In no particular order:
>
> - A vast installed user base, not only in UK schools
> - Lots of developers; well documented code and data structures
> - Moodle already holds lots of pupil level data, course membership,
> grades, outcomes, notes, timetables, etc as well as the datamine of the log
> files - a good MIS ought to provide a synoptic view of this.
> - The role architecture potentially deals with lots of the data
> protection issues, whilst still allowing for AFL and parent communication.
> Moodle's security model is tried and tested.
> - Much of the UI work has already been done, and teachers and pupils
> are already familiar with this
> - Teachers' (and indeed students') familiarity with Moodle makes it, I
> think, more likely that they (rather than just management) could make use of
> information stored.
>
> It was written a while ago now, but there are a few more thoughts on this
> theme athttp://eduspaces.net/mberry/files/-1/4939/Knowledge+Management.pdf

Simon Elliott

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Apr 4, 2008, 6:28:05 AM4/4/08
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I totally agree.

I found that my register system worked because it looked like a paper register but gave the head instant feedback on attendance.

Again, assessment data needs to look like a grade sheet but have the flexibility to print as a report that parents understand.

When I ask about extending Moodle, or another VLE, it is because it gives a way of getting staff into two systems at once.  If the join can be seamless then that is fine.

The new regulations on reporting to parents in the UK will mean that the MIS will have to allow a parent to access data on their children in real time and teachers to add data to all children in real time.  Obviously, the system must therefore be based on one that gives a robust way that users can be assigned permission to view only certain records.  Even Filemaker has a problem at this level.

Simon

Steve Lee

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Apr 4, 2008, 6:45:29 AM4/4/08
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OK thanks, for some reason GMail barfed on the other one.

So some quick comments after a cursory scan.

* 'Students'and 'employees' should both be/relate 'persons' with
personal details.
* 'persons' relate to contacts (eg tel, email, various addresses)
* 'students' relate to 'courses' via 'enrolments' - for year etc
* some course will be modular so prolly want 'module'
* exams can get complex to model with different boards
* special considerations for exam students with disabilities

Enrolments may be more a quirk of FE were we dealt exclusively in
enrolments for LSC funding etc. It gets pretty hairy with course code
structures needed for entire course and individual years. Academic
year <> calender year and Roll-on roll-off courses (join any time) all
add more fun. You may not need any of this for compulsory sector if
that is you primary target.

Steve

Miles Berry

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Apr 4, 2008, 7:07:08 AM4/4/08
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Hi Ian,
Obviously development decisions are going to be down to those doing the development, but I'd not be too hasty in rejecting the notion of extending Moodle, which as the greatest success story for open source in education has a very positive public profile, which could only be a gain for MIS development.

On 04/04/2008, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Miles,

Thanks for you input.

re moodle and mohara integration, what i was meant to say and didn't
type the finished project should have integration moodle and in turn
mohara.

I thought that was what you meant (re  Mahara); no worries.

Why do we need to integrate a mis function into moodle when you can
have a seem less join between two systems?

Genuinely seemless, realtime joins would be fine. I'm not a programmer, but it seems to me that as well as the installed base gains from Moodle integration, you also don't need to worry about much of the underlying infrastructure, as Moodle already has this, and also you avoid duplicating data in two systems.

Most of the data held in moddle is taken from a MIS.

Well no. Most of Moodle's data is generated inside Moodle. A good MIS ought to provide summary and analysis of this perhaps, and certainly one would want to be able to populate Moodle user/course tables from the MIS.

I have to disagree with

   - The role architecture potentially deals with lots of the data

   protection issues, whilst still allowing for AFL and parent
communication.
   Moodle's security model is tried and tested.
 

Moodle roles are simple, the security system on a MIS will need to be
complex to be able to limit view/edit/run permission of different
users.

Moodle's roles are really very sophisticated. The OU have invested lots into getting this right with a really disparate group of users (including under 18s and prisoners doing the same courses, for example). For an introduction see http://docs.moodle.org/en/Roles . Parent (and inspector!) roles have already been thought through and implemented, see http://docs.moodle.org/en/Parent_role

I'm not knocking moodle it's a great VLE, but it will never be a MIS.

Perhaps so, but I have a suspicion that it /could/ be.

Ian

Simon Elliott

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Apr 4, 2008, 7:23:31 AM4/4/08
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The market to hit is the one where SIMS holds sway, that is the K-12 (R to 11) system with the ability to look after sixth-form.

An important part of this is assigning students to year groups and tutor groups for pastoral systems.

Registration for attendance must be done in the morning and the afternoon sessions for UK Primary and secondary schools, as well as lesson attendance as with all institutions.  It also needs to be able to print out an instant list of all present in the school at any time to create a fire list (as well as an absence list).

Simon

(would a wiki type system where we can all contribute our thoughts and specifications be a good idea?  That way we can grow the system on e-paper and then attack the programming when it is to an agreed level of maturity)

Brian Ellsmore

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Apr 4, 2008, 2:03:55 PM4/4/08
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Simon Elliott wrote:
>
> The new regulations on reporting to parents in the UK will mean that the
> MIS will have to allow a parent to access data on their children in real
> time and teachers to add data to all children in real time. Obviously,
> the system must therefore be based on one that gives a robust way that
> users can be assigned permission to view only certain records. Even
> Filemaker has a problem at this level.


I cann ot beleive that this is strictly true. It implies that if I enter
an item of data erroneously then a parent has the opportunity to see
that data before I have had time to check and correct it!

I never (nor would) allow anyone other than the teachers who 'own' the
raw data to see that raw data. Anyone else - including anyone else in
the school - only gets to see a read-only copy made by the system after
the 'owner' has submitted checked data.

Brian

Simon Elliott

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Apr 4, 2008, 6:22:49 PM4/4/08
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To quote Jim Knight on the new reporting arrangments to parents:

"And today I can announce we are taking important steps to use technology to bring all parents even more into the picture.
By September 2010, all secondary schools will be expected to offer parents real-time access to information covering achievement, progress, attendance, behaviour and special needs, and where it is appropriate secure online access. This will mean parents and children can look at it when and where they like. 
 To help prepare for this, from the start of the new school year in September, all secondary schools will be expected to provide this information to parents on a “timely” and “frequent” basis.  This should be at least once a term.
For primaries we should meet the same basic once-a term reporting by 2010, and offer more advanced reporting in real time by 2012."

I think this answers your point!  I was surprised when I heard this but apparently SIMS and Serco are both working on this and the latter have even done a pilot.  This will be made a compulsory part of the reporting and assessment arrangements.

Simon

Chris Puttick

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Apr 5, 2008, 3:01:55 AM4/5/08
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I think Jim Knight, like almost all British politicians, is about as
technical as my dog and does not mean real time when he says real
time; he just wants a place that interested parents can go to see
information about their child's performance without actually having to
make much effort or actually engage with the school.

But then I'm known to be cynical. Let's ask for a meeting with Jim
Knight to discuss how an open solution could be developed, and if met
with refusal get press releases out about government market
distortion, anti-competitive behaviour, failure to comply with their
own advice on open source, etc., and then go meet with Micheal Gove
and maybe David Cameron.


--
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Documents attached to this email may be in ISO 26300 format:
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Simon Elliott

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Apr 5, 2008, 9:59:32 AM4/5/08
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The idea is that parents can, for example with attendance, log on and see whether their child is in school or not, hence real time would be important.

They are even looking at how they can subsidise internet to poorer parents to enable them to have access to the data.

The reporting schedule, of once per term as a written comment, will be an important module to build in to the system.  Staff will need to be able to bring up a list of the children that they teach and be able to add or edit comments at any time with a simple collation system to generate reports automatically at the end of each term.  Spell checking is important - these are teachers we are dealing with.

Jim Knight seemed an amenable kind of guy when I met him.  David Cameron seems to be different to past Tories and maybe he will see that OSS is a good differentiator that they can use.

There was a tender process to create MIS systems for schools a couple of years ago but you needed to have a huge turnover before you could even enter the bidding to become an approved system.

Simon

Ian Tasker

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Apr 7, 2008, 9:17:02 AM4/7/08
to Schoolforge-UK MIAS
Hi Miles,

I have been talking your points with our moodle administrator, the
main issues we came across were

Could a moodle module handle every function of a MIS?

If not, would modification to the core be required?
This could affect other modules and any changes on the core via
updates could effect the MIS.

The other main foucs was with the market, would schools want to have a
internal version or hosted version.
The hosted version would provide a revenue stream for the project but
would have implication on a moodle hybrid, can moodle handle multiple
establishment on one install?

If we go down the route of a standalone MIS with integration with
apps, we would only need to test the integration points and not the
whole application when say the moodle core is updated.

Would teacher accept a moodle page as a MIS over a "fluffy"
application?

On a side issue. I have taken up simon request of a wiki it will be
hosted at www.schoolsict.com
There is a holding page of another project of mine, i'm just waiting
for the dns setting to be updated to point to the wiki.

Ian








On 4 Apr, 12:07, "Miles Berry" <mgbe...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Ian,
> Obviously development decisions are going to be down to those doing the
> development, but I'd not be too hasty in rejecting the notion of extending
> Moodle, which as the greatest success story for open source in education has
> a very positive public profile, which could only be a gain for MIS
> development.
>
> seehttp://docs.moodle.org/en/Roles. Parent (and inspector!) roles have
> already been thought through and implemented, seehttp://docs.moodle.org/en/Parent_role

Stuart Johnson

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Apr 7, 2008, 9:52:05 AM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com

On Sat, 2008-04-05 at 14:59 +0100, Simon Elliott wrote:
> The idea is that parents can, for example with attendance, log on and
> see whether their child is in school or not, hence real time would be
> important.

I think by "real-time" they are meaning daily at best and even then what
is there beyond attendance that is worth the investment of daily time. I
could see homework set and over-due being useful (and ClaSS does this
now). But online access to reports once a term is hardly real-time. Do
any state schools not already issue reports once a term!

> The reporting schedule, of once per term as a written comment, will be
> an important module to build in to the system. Staff will need to be
> able to bring up a list of the children that they teach and be able to
> add or edit comments at any time with a simple collation system to
> generate reports automatically at the end of each term. Spell
> checking is important - these are teachers we are dealing with.

I'm catching up on this conversation a week late. Just read a number of
Simon's feature requests across the thread and all of them are performed
quite successfully by ClaSS already and FreeMIS does a good number as
well. But two year's on since the ClaSS/FreeMIS presentation at FLOSSIE
and the fact that I still can't look around and find a drop-in
replacement for SIMs tells you how big a task building a school
administration system from scratch is. Not surprising that source-forge
is littered with stalled ims projects that got little further than their
burst of enthusiasm. While its good to read the discussion on this list,
I'd echo what has already been said, take a hard look at the list of
projects that John posted and think which you can actively contribute
to. Either as a developer or by bringing your school on board as a user.
The projects in that list have survived, have happy user schools, and
all are already a minimum (correct me if I'm wrong!) of five years
further down the road than a project starting up now.

In other words, I think we've got healthy competition in the FLOSS open
ims arena already (and some healthy cooperation :-), what we all need
are healthier projects.

stuart

--
S T Johnson
s...@laex.org
http://www.laex.org/stuart/

Ian Tasker

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Apr 7, 2008, 10:05:45 AM4/7/08
to Schoolforge-UK MIAS
Hi All,

Here is a temp link to the wiki.

http://www.schoolsict.com.php5-7.websitetestlink.com

The dns setting are taking an age to up date.

Hopefull the www.schoolsict.com link will work tomorrow.

thanks

Ian


On 7 Apr, 14:17, Ian Tasker <ianwtas...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Miles,
>

Simon Elliott

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Apr 7, 2008, 11:23:53 AM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com
I agree Stuart but the international / independent market is simpler than state and would be a good starting point.

I built intellischool to do everything an independent school needed (other than finance) as well as satisfying the inspectors (we come under Ofsted standards now) for regulatory work.  That took 3 months of development time and three years of tweaking, mainly writing the reports that everyone needed.

The reporting element is comment-based reports termly and not just grades.  That is a jump for some schools.  You read the minister's comments - it was attendance and assessment data.  It doesn't matter whether parents log on hourly or monthly, the system must deliver that level of secure selective access.

If ClaSS, FreeMIS or even Moodle could be adapted, that would be better than starting from scratch.  The lesson that I learned was to make the database feel like the paper system that it replaced.  I haven't seen an attendance system that doesn't try to be a huge leap forward.  Everyone aims at classes and not registration groups.  A totally different thing.

Ideas?

Simon

Chris Puttick

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Apr 7, 2008, 11:43:24 AM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com
Ahh, there once was HOBARTE, but I never managed to extract the code
from the developers...

Firebird/PHP/Javascript, mixed up registration groups/classes/cohorts,
based on the timetable entered, the log-on time and the user: the
default view for the register was whichever was current in realtime,
other registers could be accessed as necessary. First thing in the
morning all children were marked absent by default to help catch
inadvertent submissions, class registrations defaulted to last entered
status so class teachers could know who to expect in their class and
have single click/key submission if everyone turned up. Standard view
was paper-like with data viewing enhancements and real-time (really
real-time ;) ) view of the data for all relevant people, including
social services etc.; notification of unauthorised absences was within
5 minutes of registration period ending, with default ordering on
unauthorised absence view being those with the most unauthorised
absences that term.

Learned the lessons of open source development on that one; ensure
developer egos do not prevent code actually being open. Even if it's
"not ready"!

Chris

Tom Hoffman

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Apr 7, 2008, 12:15:11 PM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com
If I had looked at all the current MIS projects and found them
wanting, here's what I'd do:

I would pick a popular, best of breed web framework like Django or
Ruby on Rails and first write and releasean application that handles
demographic and contact information for students and teachers. Make
it end user customizable, unicode and i18n aware, and fully testable.

Give the thing a simple, solid, student-centered core.

Then I'd add simple flow support, so users could create systems for
things like disciplinary reports.

Then I'd add courses, sections, etc. Then gradebook, attendance, etc.

That's how I'd do it.

--Tom

Stuart Johnson

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Apr 7, 2008, 12:16:11 PM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com

On Mon, 2008-04-07 at 16:23 +0100, Simon Elliott wrote:
> I agree Stuart but the international / independent market is simpler
> than state and would be a good starting point.

The thought of doing statutary returns! Or even just maintianing export
compliance with (apparently) abitary amendments to the CBDS is enough
to drain any project of its momentum. So, yes, for that reason the
independent sector is your best foothold in the UK. I don't think the
needs of the big independents are any simpler but they will give you the
space to allow the feature set to fill out.

> The lesson that I learned was to make the database feel like the paper
> system that it replaced. I haven't seen an attendance system that
> doesn't try to be a huge leap forward.

Agreeded again. The starting point for ClaSS was what I already did in
the classroom as a teacher, and that meant a markbook and a register.
I'd be interested to hear what you think of the ClaSS Register - take a
look on the demo-site if you haven't already
http://laex.org/class/demo.html - it follows a logic not too different
from the one Chris just described. Regsitration groups (not teaching
classes) for AM (or AM and PM) sessions then live attendance status in
the MarkBook for students in teaching classes and emails to the
responsibles for students who have gone awol.

Simon Elliott

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Apr 7, 2008, 1:09:21 PM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com
The register is nice but the more traditional week view with totals, to meet UK regulations, made me come up with:


Just to cope with the new coding system for absences (that apply to state and independent).

Simon

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Ian Tasker

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Apr 7, 2008, 1:28:33 PM4/7/08
to Schoolforge-UK MIAS
Hi All,

Now that the wiki is up and running, would it be best if we moved
ideas/features
framework options the wiki to continue the discussion?

Anyone is free to register.

Ian

On 7 Apr, 18:09, Simon Elliott <simon_elli...@mac.com> wrote:
> The register is nice but the more traditional week view with totals,
> to meet UK regulations, made me come up with:
>
> Just to cope with the new coding system for absences (that apply to
> state and independent).
>
> Simon
>
> On 7 Apr 2008, at 07/04/2008,17:16, Stuart Johnson wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Mon, 2008-04-07 at 16:23 +0100, Simon Elliott wrote:
> >> I agree Stuart but the international / independent market is simpler
> >> than state and would be a good starting point.
>
> > The thought of doing statutary returns! Or even just maintianing
> > export
> > compliance with (apparently) abitary amendments to the CBDS is enough
> > to drain any project of its momentum. So, yes, for that reason the
> > independent sector is your best foothold in the UK. I don't think the
> > needs of the big independents are any simpler but they will give you
> > the
> > space to allow the feature set to fill out.
>
> >> The lesson that I learned was to make the database feel like the
> >> paper
> >> system that it replaced. I haven't seen an attendance system that
> >> doesn't try to be a huge leap forward.
>
> > Agreeded again. The starting point for ClaSS was what I already did in
> > the classroom as a teacher, and that meant a markbook and a register.
> > I'd be interested to hear what you think of the ClaSS Register -
> > take a
> > look on the demo-site if you haven't already
> >http://laex.org/class/demo.html- it follows a logic not too different
> > from the one Chris just described. Regsitration groups (not teaching
> > classes) for AM (or AM and PM) sessions then live attendance status in
> > the MarkBook for students in teaching classes and emails to the
> > responsibles for students who have gone awol.
>
> > stuart
>
> > --
> > S T Johnson
> > s...@laex.org
> >http://www.laex.org/stuart/
>

Tom Hoffman

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Apr 7, 2008, 2:14:41 PM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com
On Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 1:28 PM, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi All,
>
> Now that the wiki is up and running, would it be best if we moved
> ideas/features
> framework options the wiki to continue the discussion?

My last word on this thread is to strongly encourage everyone to read
or re-read (at least) chapter one ("The Tar Pit") of Frederick Brooks'
The Mythical Man Month.

--Tom

Steve Lee

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Apr 7, 2008, 2:31:14 PM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com
On 07/04/2008, Tom Hoffman <tom.h...@gmail.com> wrote:
> My last word on this thread is to strongly encourage everyone to read
> or re-read (at least) chapter one ("The Tar Pit") of Frederick Brooks'
> The Mythical Man Month.

+1

You can even read it as the excerpt on Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0201835959/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link

Simon Elliott

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Apr 7, 2008, 3:28:38 PM4/7/08
to sf-uk...@googlegroups.com
I totally agree with the ideas in the book.  I have a complete system in filemaker, it works and is easy to use BUT

it is based on a proprietary infrastructure.
it does not scale up to the web well
to keep up with changes, we need software updates every couple of years at around £3K for the site

Schools need a small, cost-effective database that they know can be expanded as users want.

We had bought into the studywiz VLE and had them add some SIMS-like functionality but it was going  to cost thousands to get it the way we wanted.  Hence my suggestion about Moodle.

How can we avoid the "designed by committee" approach and make sure we don't end up with a Zune for student data?

Simon

Ian Tasker

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Apr 7, 2008, 4:41:51 PM4/7/08
to Schoolforge-UK MIAS
Hi Simon,

In your opinion which option would schools prefer?

1. on site install but no support (cost free)
2. on site install with support contract (support charge)
3. hosted version but no support (small hosting charge)
4. hosted version with support contract (support charge covering
hosting)

The hosted option would cover the biggest picture, a single install
with multi level/multi site access.

There wouldn't need to be ctf files between schools as the data would
never leave the system(if both schools had hosted version)
The cost would be minimal with the expansion of cloud computing.

This would be a good selling point if we ever get the project to the
end release.

Ian
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