Its been a year since I wrote about the state of the MIS market – after the Capita Annual Event, where we assessed what Academies and Free Schools had done to the market. We took an overhead view on the “cloud” notion, after Serco (now ALS) released Progresso and other vendors made steps into the UK market – such as Aspen. We also considered the growth of the wider ecosystem – with a myriad of “plugin” products, all web-based – all feeding from and expanding the core MIS.
So, were next? Whats happened since?
As expected, and like Phil indicated – Capita have expanded their School Improvement Service… which is not about training how to use the software (as many think it is); instead, it is about how to use software to understand the data that you have. This is bid to stop Schools “wasting” money on ancillary services and software – or worse, dumping it all in Excel to analyse it. The growth and investment in tools like Discover (which is picking up a shed load of features and extra views), and new tools like MultiView show this commitment.
Phil told me is all about having data in the hands of the right people in a timely manner to enable “interventions”, whether that be to highlight “achievement” or flag causes for concern. This can then be used in the classroom to “raise the bar” or with “Parental engagement”. Following the reinvigoration of the SLG project – its now being complimented by a native “App”.
SLG Enhanced by App
Originally – SLG was all about parental engagement, all about how the School should (according to the defunct BECTA) keep parents up to date real-time. Well , years down the line – SLG found itself a new userbase – and development now has to consider the classroom. The “SIMS Lite” user, if you like – for registration, assessment and reporting. Those users will be pleased with what is coming, usability enhancements to make it less “listy”, and more rich. Take a look at some of the Parent Side work – News, Contact Forms etc.
The App already features Attendance, timetable, behaviour, and Student details. Im hoping to add a video here soon – or at least some screen shots. Its all about security though – no data will be on the client. It will all just be identifiers, which cannot on their own give any personal details. Not surprising that this has been so carefully thought out really.
The best bit… the title gives it away a bit! Its part of SLG, ie you have SLG and you will get the Apps!
For those technically minded, read on – and you might get a hint of how the service is provided :).
One key point though – those who do the full processes will always use the full client.
Whats really changed recently is the growth in collaborations between Academies, new Trusts, Co-Operatives and Federations. This brings in a new need – the dashboard, the comparisons…
This is where “Multiview” comes in – and it will be for both SIMS and FMS. Its all about gathering data from individual schools, comparing it – a la Discover, and using it to inform decisions. The SIMS version, which is ready, contains “Dashboards”, and supports the setting of targets. So why this kind of development? It’s a direct response to need, there are now over 400 Academy Trusts!
The MIS market is becoming consumer market – these new products (also including Agora) have to look friendly, have to be easy to use as they are for a different kind of customer. These customers are end users, not familiar with SIMS – but they are familiar with all the visually pleasing Apps for Smart Phones, Windows 8 (whatever you think of it) and other graphical websites. Capita have already committed to this, with a new development team concentrating solely on the user experience. They are all about “blue sky thinking”, and “how do we expect people to use it, not what do we expect it to do”… changes afoot!