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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Internet Technology That Works For ALL Schools

 

Recent headlines in leading publications for K12 educators and administrators have been heavily focused on Web 2.0 issues. Additional attention has also been paid to budgetary concerns and ways to increase technology usage with limited funds.

 

For example, educators and administrators across the US are debating the widely prevalent restrictions of social networks like Facebook, in a school setting.

 

Opponents of opening schools to increased internet access, claim that protecting students from harmful content can only be accomplished by blocking Facebook and similar sites.

 

However, proponents of increased web usage, argue that the only way to truly protect students from pernicious internet content is by teaching them how to use the internet responsibly.

 

As a result, Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) are being formed by many districts to deal specifically with internet and mobile communication issues – with some districts taking stricter stances on the subject, and others formulating more progressive rules.

 

On the budgetary side of things, governmental cuts and decreased private funding, has made it more difficult for many schools to actually implement any meaningful education technology programs. Well-equipped computer labs or wireless classrooms are the dream of many school principals and district administrators.

 

In this challenging environment, schools and districts are hard-pressed to leverage technology in the effort to improve education and administration.

 

At the same time, parents, students and school boards are expecting principals and administrators to champion the use of technology. Whether by incorporating it in the educational curriculum, or by streamlining school information systems, schools can make or break their reputation as being tech-savvy and efficient, or…not.

 

Fortunately, there is a way for all schools, no matter where they fall on the Web 2.0 AUP spectrum, to simultaneously benefit from internet technology while saving money and manpower.

 

PTC Wizard provides very affordable solutions for parent-teacher conference scheduling. The web-based system eliminates the need for administration and faculty to spend hours (sometime working overtime) to arrange appointments between teachers and parents.

 

The saved hours translate into saved dollars, which of course, can then be used for that new computer lab. But best of all, school staff and parents have something that they can rave about – a hassle-free parent teacher conference.

 

To discover how PTC Wizard transforms parent teacher conference scheduling, contact PTC Wizard for a quick and free webinar.

 

 

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Team Scheduling for Parent Teacher Conferences

 

Any district administrator or school principal can testify that parent teacher conferences are generally a logistical headache. Coordinating teacher and parent itineraries takes hours of time for secretaries and office managers. Sometimes, teachers and other faculty need to get involved to ensure that scheduling conflicts are resolved and everyone receives a convenient time slot.

 

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