What would be better for your school system: a Student Information System or a School Management System? How’s about having both tools in one software package? In this installment, I’d like to introduce you to Gibbon, an open source suite that can be utilized to organize your facilities and to record and analyze data on students. In short, Gibbon is a SIS, a SMS and VLE functionality all in one place. If you are involved in your school district’s decision-making, you should really check this suite out before shopping for proprietary software.
The secret to Gibbon’s functionality is modules which can be added to make it do what you need it to do. There are a set of core modules that are installed by default. I’m going to take a look at some of those now. The first of these is Planner. Planner is a lesson planner that allows you to incorporate multimedia integration into your lessons. Because these lesson plans are stored on a server, they can be readily shared with parents and students. Homework can be assigned and collected online. These lesson plans can even be organized into units and used to generate curriculum maps. Assignments can be graded and the grades recorded. Other cool features include students being able to comment on peers’ work, guests being able to take classes and students being able to “like” lessons by awarding them gold stars.
Timetable allows for the creation of timetables for students and faculty alike. Resources is a database which allows users to catalog and share resources school-wide. Library empowers users with the capacity to catalog, lend and track items such as books, movies or even electronics. The Individual Needs module allows for the creation of lessons designed to meet the needs of individual learners. These can be archived as the student progresses and used to measure progress. Activities facilitates the creation and management of school activities, including Web-based notifications and registration as well as attendees lists. Markbook allows educators to record and track students academic progress. This data can, if so desired, be easily shared with students and parents. The Rubrics module not only allows teachers to create rubrics, but the rubrics are actually interactive via mouse-clicks.
There is one aspect of education that I haven’t addressed yet and it’s the most important component -people. Students is the SIS module. Student information from across the system can be accessed here. Academic, behavioral and medical alerts can be generated and accessed by those who need them. Students’ attendance history can be tracked in Attendance and behaviors, both positive and negative, can be tracked and analyzed using the Behavior module. Data Updater assures that the right people, parents for example, have current data on certain students. Other modules in this category can empower users with the ability to easily create groups of staff and students alike as well as to generate staff directories. Finance is a tool for the tracking of finances, for example in a fund-raiser. Messenger, an internal messaging system that can be used to set up groups of specific recipients and supports such formats as email, SMS and Message Wall. The last of the default modules addresses administration, both in terms of school and in terms of the system as well as user and timetable administration.
What could be better than having all of these components in one suite? Being able to add to them. There are far more expansion modules than I could possibly address here, but they include, and certainly are not limited to, assessment administration, query building, Moodle integration, an integrated Help Desk and Free Learning integration as well. There are also proprietary modules available, should the open source modules not meet your needs.
As an experienced educator, I can tell you that if your school or district is looking for a school platform, the search should begin, and will end, here.
Thanks to Ross Parker for permission to use the screenshots and for his work on this extremely worthwhile project.
Parker, R. (2011). Features – Gibbon. Retrieved from https://gibbonedu.org/features/.