SMS SOS

Let's develop a community of educators and others who can help design and implement student management systems that really make a difference for teachers, kids and schools.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

SMS early adopters

As part of the plan to make the implementation more of a shared and owned experience, we've adopted an approach to have SMS 'early adopters'. The idea is to have one person in each teaching team who is the point of contact for the administrator of the system, plus for staff for day to day things.

The intention is that this will not be loads of extra work and that early adopters will just be 'ahead of the game' in terms of knowing how to use the system. The role of the early adopters is to:

  1. Get people interested in using the SMS to improve assessment practices across the school and in your team.

  2. Give more people the opportunity to have input into the design of the system (early adopters become 'researchers' helping team leaders and others).

  3. Set up some scaffolding to help others when they get stuck.



Initially the time comittment involves:
Term 2: Focus is getting going
Term 3: Pulling out useful data and making plans to personalise the system in Term 4 and beyond.

Friday, March 31, 2006

An 'SMS Divide'?

I was reading a New York Times article this morning about the supposed closing of the 'digital divide' in the US due to technology proliferating and becoming more inexpensive. This is apparently closing the gap between the haves and the have nots- especially minority groups. I wonder when this will happen in NZ?

I was lucky enough to meet a number of people involved in the Marlborough ICT Cluster this week, and coupled with what some of the principals were saying and this article I also wonder if there is an emerging digital divide with regards to schools who have the capabilities to decide upon a Student Management System, and those who do not for whatever reason?

I believe that there is already a rather glaring digital divide between schools in terms of staff usage/integration of ICTs into learning and those who can not/will not, but this may just be natural selection. Plus added to this there is a plethora of writing done on the subject revolving around the idea of inclusion/etc.- is this just a couple of people seeking opportunities to make money?

I'd be interested in other viewpoints and ideas about this issue- particularly in the SMS arena.

Here's are some links for further reading:
http://www.digitaldivide.org/
http://www.ed.gov/Technology/digdiv.html

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Conducting a needs analysis

I recently completed Fendalton School's SMS Needs Analysis (excel spreadsheet)... well, kind of- it will never really be completely finished. BUT this is a starting point. Feel free to download this spreadsheet and change/adapt it for your own needs in your school.

Once you find out what your school needs you can then prioritise each item and sort using the spreadsheet- that way you can simmer it down to the things your school can't live without- easy huh? Email me if you have any questions: rob.clarke@fendalton.school.nz

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Prioritising SMS Features

After finishing reports tonight (yes.... tonight!) I finally got round to creating the document to help schools prioritise the features they want/need in an SMS. I hope people find it useful and would welcome suggestions of other ways people find of helping their school determine which features they can't live without.

This document is a word document and clicking the link will automatically download it. I will be putting up other documents to help schools do the research required to get to this stage soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

SMS SOS: "Assessment technology" becoming "the technology of assessment" and associated dangers

"Assessment technology" becoming "the technology of assessment" and associated dangers

Here's an interesting article on the learning media site: http://www.learningmedia.co.nz/aboutus/mediareleases/rsrelease

Idea for conducting a needs analysis

My Principal Cheryl Doig and I had a really helpful discussion the other day with Ian Munroe from the MOE about the SMS Project.

One of the challenges faced by schools is that they don't necessarily have the expertise or know-how with which to make a good decision about which SMS system to go for, plus they may not even care (although I guess that's their problem if they don't care huh?).

While discussing a range of ideas with Ian, I had an idea for helping a school determine what it wants and needs with regards to a new SMS system and will make a download in the next few days describing this. Basically it's just a donut shape on a whiteboard where you put all the features you've brainstormed on to- then move them around. I think you should only do this once you've got a comprehensive list of all the features you need/want grouped into categories.

Then get staff to move them around on the whiteboard, with features towards the middle of the donut signifying more essential features of the SMS system. I'm going to try this at Fendalton to figure out what the priorities are, and then the next challenge will be to match these with an SMS. Pretty simple idea really, any comments or other ideas out there I wonder?

Friday, November 11, 2005

"Assessment technology" becoming "the technology of assessment" and associated dangers

This is an idea that came from a book called "Assessment for Learning" by an assessment expert Ruth Sutton.... still in draft form but up there for you to consider...

A couple of interesting links about Ruth Sutton's work:
Media release on the Learning Media site...
Ruth Sutton's web site...

Web hosted or not and the affect of poor interface design

What are the trade offs between choosing a web hosted solution and one that isn't online. The vendors all seem to think that their solution is best.... if you have a web hosted solution you don't have (supposedly) backup/security/maintenace issues that you would with a solution that is locally hosted.

Yet what happens if the internet goes down? Or the vendor's backup regime fails or they get hacked in to? Is that just our fear talking? If you have a locally hosted (ie. on your computer/network) then you are safe if the web goes down and aren't likely to be a victim of bandwidth (Telecom surely have to answer to this...).

Of the vendors I've spoken to, many don't actually mention the trade offs between web or locally hosted in terms of usability of the system. I'm talking here about user interface design and how easily people can navigate- check the title link to an article about usability in the UK's Guardian.

I'm looking at two systems for Fendalton School, both of which are web hosted. Compare these systems to those that are hosted locally, or on your computer/network, and really their user interface is terrible in comparison... how does this affect our decision? What are the costs to learning of a poorly designed user interface for an SMS system?

I wonder if there is anywhere or anyone who has a rubric or some sort of judging criteria for rating how easily used a particular SMS system might be? That would make the decision-making process much easier.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Demo CDs

Hi Rob

Thanks for the invite to this blog. Here are a couple of useful tips for people who are looking. Integris now have a demo CD they will send you. It is a full working version which you can play with. My brief look at it tells me a significant amount of training would still be required to get the most out of it. eMinerva are soon releasing a demo CD in the same vein. eTap have a demo website they will allow you to log into and play with. Their response via email and over the phone was fantastic and I spent over an hour talking to Bruce while he talked me through the site. There has to be a market for one of these software companies to steal all the good ideas from the others and put them into one package??? I know dreams are free.

SchoolMaster SMS demo @ Fendalton

You are all invited to the SchoolMaster SMS demo today at Fendalton School starting at 12.30. It will go for about 1.5-2 hours depending on questions. There are about six other schools attending.

If you are unsure about attending at this busy time, my adivce is that we should try to go in terms of looking at the features that this SMS offers
in relation to what we want for Fendalton School.

Hi there!

Hi Rob

Glad to be part of this discussion group
This is a really curly one! Schools have invested a huge amount of time and energy into making their various systems work. Some are unwilling to change to a better SMS just for this reason. I will watch this with interest.

Take care

It's got to be easier than this

There are some real implementation issues with the Ministry of Education's SMS Project. Now how's THAT for a starting statement!!! There is no one place where educators can share ideas, issues, challenges and thoughts about how to go about deciding on a new SMS system for their school.

Where can educators go for ideas where they can compare SMS systems with schools of similar interest/size/need/etc.? How do they decide on the system that best fits the needs of their school?

Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a place to share ideas that creates an archive of shared knowledge which others can access and learn from?

That is why I've created this blog...