Parent Involvement and the Evolution of 3rd Party Education Technologies

 

When we think about a successful school, we usually envision students who are well adjusted and achieving academic excellence. We imagine a faculty dedicated to the highest standards of education and the development of their student’s innate abilities.

 

What we don’t always pay attention to, is the fact that parent involvement is the real key to a school’s success. Students will reflect their parent’s values. If the parents are not involved and don’t care about school, it’s highly likely that their children will feel the same.

 

In that scenario, even the most talented teachers will face an uphill educational battle.

As such, schools need to make an effort to increase parent involvement by making parent teacher communication as easy as possible. Parents, like most people, are busy and not interested in exerting too much effort for any given task.

 

At the same time, constant innovation and technology development is making everything faster and easier – with the result that both parents and schools are demanding ed tech that does the same.

 

To better understand and prepare for where school technology is headed, let’s take a look at how student information systems and 3rd party technologies have evolved recently.

 

Stand-Alone Systems

Student information systems allow schools to store student and faculty data. Usually, a system will support a few features like class enrollment and scheduling, recording of exams and grades, or attendance tracking.

 

However, if schools want to use information systems to manage things like library or cafeteria use, they generally need to implement additional 3rd party software. A familiar example of this is parent-teacher scheduling systems. In a stand-alone setup, there is relatively little work to be done by the school administration. They just upload faculty info and schedules, and all that’s left if for the parents to login and setup meetings with teachers. The only catch here is that parents need to know which classes/teachers their children have. If they don’t know, this can cause mix-ups and some extra legwork to get things ironed out.

 

Stand-alone systems, while very helpful, are really just the first stage of leveraging technology in the school setting.

 

Import/Export Options

As 3rd party applications for schools proliferate, administrators are realizing that there is too much redundant data entry for too many disparate systems. Librarians need to enter student details and cafeteria managers the same. So the IT team creates custom patches and hooks to import/export data from one system to the next.  While this allows students and parents to access everything they need without hassle, the import/export method is fraught with problems.

 

Creating custom software and manipulating data to match different SIS formats is very time-consuming and susceptible to human error. Additionally, the entire process needs to be repeated for each individual application. To top it all off, the process must be repeated several times a year, as student and faculty information changes.

As such, import/export is not sustainable as schools increasingly rely on more 3rd party applications to get work done.

 

Full Integration

Currently, the best option for schools with multiple student information systems and applications is full integration. Once the different systems are integrated, all data is shared and synchronized automatically. Any changes or updates will be reflected across all the systems, with zero room for error – and no need for redundant data entry.  This clearly reduces the workload for administration and IT as they no longer need to deal with multiple import/exports or manual data entry and manipulation.

 

It also caters to parents as it allows them to easily login and access different applications such as online report cards, homework, or parent-teacher conference scheduling. When dealing with integration on a district level, parents with children in different schools (say elementary and high school) can login once to access information for all their children.

The key to this full integration is creating open standards that allow different applications to share information with one another.

 

The SIF Association is a leading example of ed tech integration standards. Their open-source platform allows full integration for many student information systems.

 

PTC Wizard and Full Integration

Recognizing the need for full integration, PTC Wizard is fully compatible with all SIF certified education information systems. Combined with its “single sign-on” API, the PTC Wizard online scheduling platform seamlessly integrates with any SIF compliant student information system.  This feature eliminates the need for multiple passwords for multiple systems.

 

PTC Wizard is also compatible with several smaller integration platforms, and is currently working with additional vendors to even further broaden compatibility.

 

For more information, please contact PTC Wizard to check available integration options.

 

 

 

 

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