PTC Wizard Negotiates Preferred Customer Pricing to Integrate with Blackbaud

For your cost-savings and convenience benefit, we are now an Integration Service Vendor (ISV) partner with Blackbaud, which enables us to best serve and streamline Blackbaud integration. As a result, we’ve been able to negotiate preferred customer pricing for integration. Effective immediately, PTC Wizard will handle any Blackbaud integration fees for $150 per year instead of Blackbaudcharging separatelyfor this service. We’ve also set up a one-step, convenient process for you to pay the fees directly to PTC Wizard and not Blackbaud.

In our new ISV role with Blackbaud, we bring you SKY API, which uses OAuth 2.0 protocol to authorize API requirements, thus allowing your application to access Blackbaud customer data without exposing any user credentials (username/password) to your application. Instead, users must provide consent to your application to access data on their behalf.

We welcome your comments or wish lists so that we may continue to futurize PTCwizard to meet the growing needs of technology-driven schools across the nation. Hope to talk with you soon.

Sincerly,

Shammai Ellman

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

7 Insider Tips to Becoming a Power User of PTCwizard

Learning new software is never easy. It is unique and different and takes time to become familiar and competent, let alone reach power user status. So, we’re dedicating some blogpost space to share some insider tips that we’ve learned to help you on your way.

1. Avoid scheduling conference registration to open after hours or during a weekend. 

If parents need assistance and call the school after hours or on the weekend, it is doubtful they’ll receive the assistance required.  Why frustrate parents unnecessarily? They could feel they missed out on an opportunity to schedule a time convenient to them.

2. Check your time breaks; view the printable version of the teacher schedules. 

Sometimes break times are not scheduled in advance, planned, or changed without checking. You don’t want a situation where parents book a time, and then you must tell them to change the appointment because the teacher isn’t available.  

3. Specify which teachers plan to be in attendance in the “Attendees” section during set up.

Do this before jumping to the modify schedules section. The modified schedules section shows only the teacher schedules already checked in on the attendees’ section.

4. Be aware team breaks and teacher breaks are not alike. 

While PTCwizard automatically synchronizes appointments between teacher and team schedules to prevent double booking or overlap, that is not the case for breaks.  An unavailable break mark on a teacher’s schedule does not carry over to a team schedule. Teams can have breaks while the individual teachers still meet with parents and vice versa.

5. Unavailable teachers can hide schedules.

Enable this hidden feature by emailing the support team. It is helpful to remove from parents’ access unavailable teachers due to packed schedules. Parents can see which teachers still have availability before proceeding to the third step of the PTCwizard. 

6. If your school does not integrate data, and allows parents to register themselves, they can update their own accounts. 

When parents add children, it only requires one child to continue. If a parent wants to add more children, go to account settings, to their profile in PTCwizard, and add more children before proceeding to book appointments.

7. Private conferences enable schools to make a conference invisible to all parents except those enabled explicitly for the conference. 

This tip helps teachers, who are also parents, book their meetings before any other parent. Teachers can block those meeting times off their schedules so other parents don’t book competing meetings. In this way, they can meet with their children’s teachers. 

Once complete, make the conference public again, and everyone can sign up as usual without ever knowing that some parents had early access.

We hope you’ll try a few of these tips to give you a vote of confidence that you can use PTCwizard to its full potential. It’s our favorite subject, next to being here for you, our valued users.

Expect more tips soon.

To Your Time-Savings Success,

 Shammai Ellman

President of PTC Wizard

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Four Proven Time Tips for Hard-Working Teachers

On average, teachers in the United States spend 1300 hours a year in student-teacher face-to-face time, more than most industrialized countries at 800 hours, and more than much-admired Finland at less than 700 hours.

Should teachers spend more or less time in front of students?

It’s easy to answer more. We want students to benefit from more time with their teachers.

If asked, few teachers would say they have more time to give.                                                      Let alone more time to give to themselves.

We understand. PTC Wizard is in the time business. We free up time for teachers and administrators with our online scheduling tools for parent-teacher conferences.

And, we care deeply about saving what time teachers do have during their busy workdays. Lesson planning, instruction, and grading papers alone make teachers are hard-pressed to catch their breaths during a school day.  

So, think of trying out these selected four tips for time management, part of a Capella University’s “10 Time Management Secrets from Teachers Who are Living Their Best Lives.”

  1. Capture and use unexpected chunks of free time

Think about the next time your students finish early, a meeting runs short, or an afternoon event cancels. Use the time to “knock out small projects.”  It works.

  1. Create new homework strategies

Instead of dragging home all those papers to grade over the weekend, what about an alternative? Set up one weekly homework option where all you need is the parents’ signature on a reading log.

  1. The word “no” holds extraordinary power

Try your best not to agree to take on all the projects asked of you. Planning field trips takes precious time. Just say “yes” to sharing. One university professor we know loves to take on projects for the administration, then suffers when grading theses at the end of class.

  1. Do priority work by mid-week

Many teachers run out of time at week’s end because there’s always something to add to the priority list. One teacher works well by getting all of her week’s priorities scheduled and complete by mid-week. Then, there’s a good chance some extra time pops up when you can best use it.

At 53.3 hours per week, the average teacher’s workday is ten hours and forty minutes a day, according to Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, the report released this month by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  What does that mean?

Time management is still a primary pain point for teachers. Since we’re in the time business, we’ll do all we can to unlock more free teacher and admin time.

To Your Time-Savings Success,

 Shammai Ellman
https://www.weareteachers.com/teacher-overtime/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PTC Wizard Integrates with Zoom

Only Parent-Teacher Conference Scheduler with Zoom Video Conferencing

Boca Raton, FL―April 16, 2021―PTC Wizard, developer of the PTC wizard platform, an online parent-teacher conference scheduler, announces full integration with Zoom video conferencing.

Now, it is possible for faculty at middle schools, junior highs, and high schools to enjoy the user experience of personalization and parental engagement. Schools offer benefits of face-to-face communication and the freedom to schedule their parent-teacher conferences without investing valuable time to organize individual Zoom meeting links for every meeting.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and restrictions linger, many schools are looking ahead for alternative ways to schedule and conduct their critical and numerous parent-teacher conferences, often done by a tedious manual process. By digitizing the process, PTC Wizard minimizes the administrative burden and helps teachers share more time in parent engagement.

“Educators deserve to have their preferred tools at their fingertips, without having to constantly move students across different platforms and sites. Integration has always been a request of schools, but in 2021, I suspect we’ll see more teachers insist that ed tech companies consider their workflow in a more intentional way,” said Liz Lee, director of online learning at the International Society for Technology in Education.

“The academic success of a child can depend on active adult engagement. Extensive research shows students achieve more when a parent is involved. Along with increased academic achievement, parental engagement stimulates a positive attitude in children toward lifelong learning,” says Shammai Ellman, PTC Wizard founder and president.

About PTC Wizard
PTC Wizard is the brainchild of its founder who, as a parent of six children, and a computer programming expert, was inspired to help their school find an easier and smarter way to schedule and track multiple parent-teacher conferences. PTC Wizard has served the educational community since 2011, addressing the scheduling needs of more than 500 U.S. schools. To date, PTC Wizard has scheduled more than 11,051,334 parent-teacher conferences across the United States.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Choose the Right Online Booking Software

Online booking has become an indispensable feature of a lot of businesses nowadays. In fact, according to BookedINs Online Appointment Booking Statistics, 350,190 bookings were made as of June 2018 with 53% done by online staff and 47% by the clients themselves. 

A good reason for the popularity of this technology is that it helps institutions thrive with limited budgets. It also provides customers convenience in booking whenever and wherever they are available.

 

Such an important tool should be deployed with a lot of careful planning. If you don’t know how to create an online booking system, it’s essential to determine your needs first and check out resources to have a better understanding of this solution. Read on to find out how to choose your online booking software to maximize the success of your business.

 

  1. Know what the team needs

The option “book appointment online” is now a staple in most businesses online. In fact, some schools have already resorted to using the best parent teacher conference scheduling system to cope with the complicated schedules of those involved in their schedules. 

But the popularity of the software should not be the only reason for acquiring it. Before getting one for your business, you need to communicate with your team and find out what they really need for their department. This is crucial to know how the online booking software would be able to assist them.

Once the aforementioned information is available, they should be classified as wants or needs. This shall help you determine the ones to address immediately and the ones to put in the back burner. Strategically speaking, it enables you to align the needs of the school with the capabilities of the software that you need. 

  1. Integrate the software with your existing systems

At this point, you are about to make an investment. With that, you need to get your money’s worth by making sure that it covers all the important points of your business. 

You have to find an easy-to-use software for your school and for your parents. Such simplicity shall create a satisfying experience for the parent that would ultimately improve the student success by increasing parental-involvement.  Complicated programs or programs with difficult to use interfaces can turn off parents from using the system. Don’t be one of them. 

So if you have decided to get a basic online booking software, you have to get one with a user-friendly interface, a cloud-based deployment, has different payment options for your customers, allows customers to do their booking in real-time, and provides customer support.

  1. Consider your budget wisely

Budgeting is important for modern businesses to survive. There have been some companies that were not able to cope with the new costs that they had to deal with which led to their demise. 

However, there are ways to them to thrive with limited budgets and one of them is to base your decisions on the value that your purchase shall give you. This should also be the mindset when buying your software. Don’t forget to factor in the other costs outside the purchase like the support fees that are bound to affect your budget. 

Annual subscriptions are ideal here, since it will give you the most savings and you don’t need to think about getting monthly approval during the school year budget.

  1. Make sure support is reliable

No customer deserves a very late response to any possible concerns. And that includes you. So before hitting-up that buy bottom, be sure to know how long it takes for the customer support of your online booking software to respond to your concerns. Looking up the reviews of your software can save you a lot of problems that could arise because of their late response to your needs.

 

Match and select the best one for you

Now that you are aware of the factors you need to consider when choosing the best online booking software, take the time to carefully identify the needs of  your school and make sure that they are met by the one you are going to choose. This tool is not just an investment for the present. It should be seen as a tool that will help your school reach its goals in the future. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The best parent teacher conference scheduling system.

When it comes to a good parent-teacher scheduling system, schools need a tool that not only allows parents to sign up online but also helps guide the parents to the correct teachers while protecting the data privacy.

PTC Wizard makes it easy to schedule meetings with multiple teachers and teams from one screen.

 

 

To read an independent review of PTC Wizard click here

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PTC Wizard Wins eSchool Media 2012 Readers’ Choice Award

Parent Teacher Conference Award This past fall eSchool News asked their readers and visitors – comprised of educators, administrators and technologists – to nominate Ed-tech product or service vendors that they have found to be indispensable in creating a successful educational program. With over 1,400 readers responding, hundreds of Ed-tech vendors were nominated, but only 50, including PTC Wizard, received sufficient nominations to be awarded as winners.

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/01/03/our-readers-top-ed-tech-picks-for-2012/5/?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Media and Teachers – Can You Tweet Like Everyone Else?

 

Imagine you just finished teaching your rowdy class of 7th graders.  It was a really bad day. None of the kids were participating and one student had to be sent out of the classroom for referring to you in the foulest of ways. Of course, to top it all off, your disciplinary measures caused your popularity rating to seriously slip.

 

You are officially in a bad mood.

 

Now aside from planning on how to better manage your classroom, you have several choices to relieve your immediate frustration and anger.

 

You can meditate – breathe deeply and visualize joyous and relaxing scenarios. You can hit the gym and get the endorphins pumping. Or maybe have a glass of wine and listen to some relaxing music.

 

But under no circumstances, should you be venting, even anonymously, on any online medium. Telling your friends and family on Facebook or Twitter about how your students are total jerks is almost certain to create trouble for your career as a teacher.

 

But why you might ask, are teachers any different than other citizens? Is there no freedom of speech for teachers?

 

These are fair questions. However, let’s take a look at several reasons that should give you pause before tweeting about your students.

 

Precedent for Dismissal or Suspension


A recent article in the New York Times discussed several cases where teachers were suspended for making negative comments about their students on their blogs, Facebook pages or on Twitter.

 

Of course, there are those that support these teachers. But until the dust settles and a precedent has been set in favor of teachers speaking out online, it would be prudent and pragmatic to avoid any potential controversy.

 

Public Profile for Professionals


There has been a major discussion about doctors and appropriate online behavior. Aside from legal issues surrounding the breach of patient privacy and what exactly constitutes a breach, there are several other factors to consider.

 

Imagine that an anonymous doctor tweets about treating a very embarrassing and private medical condition. They don’t mention the patient name or location, but they joke about the patient and their predicament.

 

Patients with similar conditions can now read what this doctor wrote and in the future, they are likely to feel uncomfortable with their own doctor as a result.

 

Doctors hold a venerated position in society. Mere mortals place their trust in them when it comes to healthcare. By speaking crudely and insensitively about patients (even if privacy is maintained), doctors harm their own professional standing in the eyes of the public. Additionally, patients might even withhold critical information, due to a fear of the doctor sharing that information with others.

 

Similarly, teachers have (or should have) an honored position in society. By acting inappropriately online, they demean themselves and their profession. Students and parents will not be sympathetic of a teacher’s inability to manage a classroom or their own emotions.

 

Additionally, students are extremely sensitive. If they feel the teacher has insulted them, they will be much less receptive to learning from that teacher and possibly others as well. In their mind, they might lump all educators together, as two-faced fakers who act professionally in the class, but don’t truly care about students, as evidenced by their online comments.

 

We know this is a hot topic, so although we have taken one side of the debate, we would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Please share real-life experiences so we call can gain insight from it.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Single Sign-On – It’s Easier to Setup Than You Think!

 

Most people I know are not interested in hassles, long waits on line, delays or any other type of complication in their lives.

 

Yet, as creatures of habit, we stick to the same old routines and patterns, which quite often are not the simplest or easiest way of doing things.

 

Sometimes, we will even turn down an opportunity to improve our lives, simply because learning new techniques or technologies seems like too much work and effort.

 

And so we stay stuck in our rut.

 

But when it comes to some things, like single sign-on (SSO), we can have our cake and eat it too!

 

If you are dealing with multiple student information systems for your school or district, not only will single sign-on make your work so much easier, it’s really not a big deal to integrate into your existing systems.

 

Life without Single Sign-On


Say you are a parent and you want to check out your child’s homework assignments or grades via the school’s online portal. Don’t forget your password!

After that pleasant experience, you want to make sure the cafeteria is doling out nutritious lunches – also via another one of the school’s online systems. Where’s that piece of paper with the list of usernames?!

Finally, you want to schedule an appointment (again online) for the upcoming parent-teacher conference so you can tell the teacher that the alfalfa sprouts served at the cafeteria are hurting your kid’s grades. Darn it! Someone cleared the cache and you need to re-enter usernames and passowords!

 

At this point, you probably will want to scream but will settle for complaining to the IT staff that signing-in to 3 or more student systems is a total pain.

 

This scenario plays itself out the same way, especially if you are on the school faculty side of things. As a teacher or principal, you don’t want to keep track of multiple usernames and passwords, let alone enter them every time you access a different system. And the list of systems is long with library, cafeteria, transportation, grades, attendance, and scheduling just some of the many SIS that schools use on a daily basis.

 

The Single Sign-On Life

 

With single sign-on, just one username and password gives you access to all the systems you need. Simply sign-in once and you can glide from attendance reports to viewing outstanding library books and more, all with just a few clicks.

 

Additionally, single sign significantly cuts IT costs, as people are able to remember their single username and password and as such don’t require IT help to access the system(s) after they forget their password(s).

 

Parent involvement is also improved by making it much easier for parents to access their children’s information and records.

 

In terms of security, if you only have one username and password, you will likely be able to keep it securely stored in your head – as opposed to a long list of multiple usernames you would have to store somewhere if not for SSO.

 

Implementation of Single Sign-On

 

Of course, you are probably thinking that all this is fine and good…but it will take too much work and effort to implement single sign-on.

 

The truth however, is that single sign-on is not only relatively straightforward to setup, all vendors should already be compatible, with minimum integration requirements.

 

In terms of next steps, definitely have a chat with your software providers and see what they suggest. It probably will be a piece of cake!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Four Ways Schools Can Thrive With Limited Budgets

 

With numerous states cutting back on education spending, schools and districts are finding themselves with serious deficits and limited spending ability.

 

As a result many valuable programs, such as full-day kindergarten, summer school, yellow bus transportation, education technology and projects that encourage parent involvement, are all being cut out nationwide.

 

Of course, parents and educators are protesting, and hopefully education budgets will not be slashed, but district superintendants and school principals need to be prepared for the worst and craft a cost-reduction plan to help save (or make) money.

 

Lets’ take a look at some ideas that might work for your school or district:

 

Go Green
With energy costs seemingly always on the rise, implementing some of the following ideas for energy efficiency might be a source for huge savings:

  • Outsource all data and server requirements to virtual server farms. By  eliminating in-house servers, you can seriously cut back on electricity spent running the servers 24/7 as well as on the requisite air conditioning that keeps server rooms cool.
  • Only buy energy efficient laptops, or use virtualized desktop computers.
  • Replace inkjet printers for individual teachers with shared network, laser printers with double-sided printing.
  • Use energy efficient lighting solutions (such as LED) for your school.

     

    Creating Student Data Efficiencies
    Using fully integrated student information systems eliminates hours of redundant data entry. Creating these efficiencies has far-reaching impact on unnecessary administrative costs.

     

    For example, instead of entering student information multiple times into multiple systems (library, cafeteria, transportation, etc.) an integrated SIS will automatically propagate all systems with a single entry.

     

    Another example is parent teacher conference scheduling. So much time (and paper) is wasted with forms being sent home, phone calls being made and endless schedule spreadsheets being prepared.

     

    However, with web-based scheduling solutions, districts and schools can significantly reduce the administrative cost and time spent typically associated with parent teacher conferences.

     

    Technology Fees
    Everyone wants their children to be well prepared to enter the workforce. In today’s Web 2.0 environment, that means providing cutting-edge technology education so when students graduate, they will be “digitally literate” and highly marketable.

     

    Asking parents to chip in with a $25 tech fee might be taking parent involvement to a new level – but it sure can go a long way in increasing school IT budgets.

     

    Although asking for money is never easy, in this case, the sales pitch is straightforward. If you want your kids to have access to costly tech tools that will enhance their education, you will need to participate financially.

     

    Buying Refurbished Goods
    Everyone likes getting brand-new stuff. But you can find refurbished products in excellent condition, for often less than half the price of the new version.

     

    Everything from laptops to chairs and more can be purchased in bulk with very significant savings.

     

    And if you are worried about buying junk, many computer resellers provide multi-year warranties, ensuring that schools don’t get stuck with lemons.

     

    Hopefully, some of these ideas will provide you with food for thought on how your school or district can thrive, even on a tight budget.

     

     

    Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment