Schools offered remote SMS service

Ministry will select from the accredited student management systems

The Ministry of Education plans to provide a remote Student Management System, or e-SMS, as an option for schools left without an accredited SMS on site. The remote system will be chosen from one of the seven the Ministry accredited earlier this month.

“The Ministry will select one web hosted service from one of the recently accredited vendors to meet the needs of schools currently without an SMS,” says a brochure made available to schools last week.

“This does not preclude these schools from moving to any other accredited SMS.”

“The e-SMS will be easy to use, like TradeMe or internet banking” the Ministry promises, and it will provide advantages characteristic of online operation, such as “anytime, anywhere access.and reduced training requirements.

“Two of the accredited SMS are web hosted or online, meaning that the application runs on a managed server, usually in a datacentre, and the school accesses the application via the internet using a browser,” says Ministry SMS project manager Paul Seiler.

“The e-SMS will be delivered by one of the accredited vendors and is an online SMS where the service offering will be tailored to meet the needs of the school currently without an SMS.”

The brochure, available in hard-copy form or on the Ministry website, includes charts of the successful and failed candidates’ scores in 13 categories. Some of the failed candidates appear far from complete and only register a score at all in a few of the columns.

Many of the accredited packages still clock up low scores against some of the criteria, with shortcomings appearing most often in “software development management” and “future directions”.

The software development management category evaluates “development methodology, peer review, user and technical documentation/specifications, testing methodology, fault tracking, project planning, fallback recovery, version control and post implementation procedures.”

The future directions category tests “technology roadmaps” for future development, along with “flexibility to adapt, software architecture and design compatibility to the e-Government Interoperability Framework, data integrity and transaction handling philosophies, flexibility, maintainability and extensibility of the SMS application, and the vendor's perceptiveness of trends in the New Zealand education sector.”

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