Does your existing student information systems (SIS) help you to meet the needs of your school? If not, it’s time to invest in a new student information system. Upgraded version can offer you many advanced features which empower your school to function at its best with integrated management, teaching and learning tools.
But, how can you find the best software for your school?
Here are some questions you should ask when choosing a new student information system.
1. What are the needs of your school?
One of the primary things you should do when moving to a new SIS is to identify the needs of your school. When identifying the needs of your school you should include your staff in the process. They can give you some valuable suggestions on the requirements and which will positively impact the selection and implementation phases of the new software.
Identify the requirements needed for each department in your school
Each department in your school needs different modules to perform their tasks easily and effectively. For instance, the administrative department has to manage and observe the entire activities of the school. So, the new SIS should be one which includes advanced and user – friendly features to assist the administrative department.
Similarly, students, teachers, parents, library staff and other staff in your school need different modules to use the new software effectively. You can ask their suggestions as well to find the perfect system for your school.
2. Is the system user- friendly?
Before selecting a new SIS you should make sure how the software works if it is installed at your school. You can check for online video tutorials, demos to get an understanding about the software. Usually online tutorials or demos show how different tasks are being performed with this software. The demo may include how it helps in printing report cards, how it helps schools at the beginning of an academic year, etc.
Accessibility is another feature you should look for to determine user- friendliness of the system. For instance, check if the system is 100 per cent cloud- based. Do not hire the service if the system requires desktop software installation for some features or if it is a local server.
Another important aspect you should think about is its storage features. Make sure you don’t have to re-enter student data every academic year as it’s time –consuming. Some SaaS providers have fixed storage limit and never store student data year to year.
3. How does the SIS improve parent communication?
A new system should be good enough to simplify the communication between parents, teachers, students and other school staff. Selecting a cloud-based SIS will make the process easier and feasible.
When it comes to private school sphere, effective communication between school and parents is vital to maintain good academic standards. So, your new school software should have advanced communication features to help you in creating successful learning environment. For instance, it should notify parents in the event of attendance shortage or low grades, or parents should have access to the system that may help them find out student improvement.
Some other features to include are:
Mobile app access-This feature provides easy access to parents, teachers and school staff.
Email blasts – Helps in bulk posting when there is need to inform key events to a large group.
Web pages for parents and teachers – Create opportunities to share views, suggestions, feedback, etc.
Text messaging – To alert parents on exam dates, fee dues, etc.
4. What about system support?
When you use student information system there will always be need for technical assistance in some form. So, when you select a new system ask your service provider if there is enough technical support.
Some service providers offer only limited support. For instance, some systems require an additional payment for technical assistance. While some system vendors limit their service to normal business hours. On the other hand, there are service providers who assist only via phone or email.
You can also check for customer reviews on different SIS providers. Reviews may help you to get an idea about technical assistance provided by service providers. Also, consider contacting SIS technical support team to ask questions and note their response to your queries.
5. What features should we pay for?
When moving to a new student information system, it’s important to have a clear idea about the required expenses. First of all, you should know about the features offered by the system. Also, enquire about the features which need additional payment. Sometimes you require an additional investment to set up a system that has all the features as you expect.
Make an estimate of total costs for all features that you wanted to use. Make sure no hidden charges will pop up during the onboarding process.
6. Is it future-proof?
Does it have features that can be depended on for the next couple of years at the minimum and do they roll out updates that add more value to the existing system.
7. Does it provide useful reports and in what format?
It’s obvious that schools generate large amount of data. But, it won’t be useful if you can’t retrieve data out of your system in the exact format you need. Choose a system which helps you convert data into actionable knowledge.
Suppose you have to generate report for a state submission and you need to display data in visual charts. A SIS which offers multi reporting capabilities can help you generate different type of reports according to your need.
An effective system should offer a library of pre-stored reports that be run instantly. This will be helpful for creating useful reports such as GPA, discipline summaries, report cards, etc.
8. Does the system allow multimedia learning materials to be shared with students?
Introducing multimedia learning materials can generate a greater amount of interest in students. It would be great if the SIS can provide features for sharing multimedia learning materials with students.
Advantages of using multimedia learning materials
• As everything can be visualized students will get a clear idea about their lessons
• When compared to text, visuals and audio are more interesting and engaging
• As it acts as a flexible teaching medium, teachers can deliver the curriculum content in an effective manner
9. Does the system include customization features for special education needs?
You should consider the educational needs of special needs students as well while choosing new SIS. To meet the educational needs of special needs students, teachers and staff should have quick access to data of such students. This will help them to make effective decisions. Advanced SIS should have customized technology to address the special education needs of students. It should be good enough to generate Individualized Education Programs (IEP).
Having these tools can help manage special education needs:
• Track student data with demographics
• Special education meeting schedulers for teachers and staff
• Customized report generating tools
• User friendly web forms to fill out and file
We hope these questions will help you to make a better decision when you upgrade to a new student information system. So, try these steps and share your feedback in the comment section.