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So You Say Your School Or District Can’t Afford to Automate?

Many school districts are embracing the Age of Information by using Student Information Sysytems (SIS) and Timetalbe Software to provide staff, faculty, students/guardians and parents with a Web-based means of communicating and tracking student progress. Such applications can be very expensive and this makes them seem unattainable to districts that stuggle financially. This article introduces three pieces of software that can make the integration of this technology possible. All of the applications discussed here are open source and free to use.

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Moodle in action (thanks to moodle.org for the screenshot).
Moodle. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a Course Management System. Simply put, Moodle can be utilized to design and deliver courses of instructiion. The target audience can range from thousands of students to just a handful of learners. The secret to this flexibility is the fact that Moodle can be installed on a Web server on the site or within the district where it is to be employed. Plug-ins and modules are available to enhance its value, allowing users to monitor student progress, collect and organize data and even set up learner forums. Because it is Web-based, Moodle allows educators to collaborate on course development. This collaboration can occur on a variety of levels, ranging from within a school or district to working with educators in other countries.

Web site: https://moodle.org/

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A sample SchoolTool session (Thanks to schooltool.org for the screenshot).
SchoolTool. SchoolTool is a Global Student Information System. Like Moodle, SchoolTool is Web-based, thus allowing multiple users to access data simultaneously. Districts can track faculty and student demographics. Additionally, a contact management tool is integrated to provide contact information for faculty, students and student parents or guardians. A gradebook is included so that faculty as well as students and their parents or guardians can track student performance. SchoolTool can be utlized to organize and administer assessments as well as reporting grades using the aforementioned contact tool. School-wide data can be collected and report cards generated. Web-based calendars can be created for schools, groups and even individuals. Finally, SchoolTool can be used to track and manage student interventions, which would prove useful to educators, parents/guardians and guidance counselors alike.

Web site: http://www.schooltool.org/

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FET Timetable Management Application (Thanks to the people at FET for permisssion to use this screenshot).
FET. FET is Timetable Management software specifically designed for use in academic institutions of all levels. FET is Web-based and can be employed to organize academic activities ranging from college courses to individual workshops or seminars. Scheduling modules can be created for students in groups, subgroups and even individually. FET also provides a way to allocate specific rooms for specific times. To get an idea as to FET’s capacity for organizing instructional activities, look at these numbers:

  • 6000 instructors
  • 6000 subjects
  • 6000 buildings
  • 30,000 students

FET’s Web site states that these are default numbers and that FET can be modified to meet the need for larger numbers if desired.

Web site: http://lalescu.ro/liviu/fet/

Here I have presented three open source and FREE applications that can be readily deployed in your school or district. Arguably the only expense is time needed to learn the software and to train others. There are other applications available, but you have to take the time to do a little research to find them. Who knows? Your school or district just might be automated by next year.