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Friday, April 26, 2013

EDLD 5362-Week 3-Student Information Systems: TEAMS

Areas To Address
Your Findings and Evaluation
Total Cost of Software Ownership (including reoccurring and ongoing costs)
TEAMS was implemented one module at a time over the course of several years, therefore, the initial costs were not available.  This is something the business office could provide but would take some leg work on their part since most of the personnel from that department have changed since the initial implementation.  Last September the yearly maintenance fee for all of the implemented modules was $248,750.00.  The one-time cost of the computer hardware which runs the system was approximately $45,000.00.  This includes 5 servers, a load balancer, Crystal Reports software, and a DB2 database license.  The district is considering moving to a hosted solution which will cost about $20,000.00 more per year but will do away with license costs as well as remove the burden of backing up and maintaining the hardware and software.  It will also offer complete disaster recovery as well as full redundancy by being hosted and mirrored across multiple data centers in geographically dispersed parts of the country.
Software Features Set
TEAMS handles almost all student and business functions related to the operation of a school district.  On the student side it handles, basic student management, scheduling, grading, attendance, discipline, teacher grade book, as well as parent and student information access.  On the business side it handles, human resources, payroll, purchasing, and fixed assests.
Texas-specific Functionality
TEAMS is the product of a company named Prologic which is based in Austin, Texas. To date, all of the clients of Prologic are Texas-based school districts.  Prologic works directly with the state on all data transmissions including PEIMS reporting, PID Enrollment Tracking (PET), Texas Records Exchange (TREx), pre-coding for standardized tests, as well as the new Texas Student Data System (TSDS) which is in the early stages of deployment.
Ease of Use and Reporting
The system is accessed through a secure web page and is available from any device which has a web browser as well as access to the internet.  The security is integrated with the district’s internal LDAP servers.  The user interface is very intuitive and can be customized based upon the role of the person and the required functions of their position.  There is no duplication of data entry required by TEAMS.
Customer Support and Experience of the Support Staff
Prologic utilizes a web-based ticketing system whereby any end-user can initiate a trouble ticket which will then either be handled via e-mail communication or if necessary through phone conversation.  Prologic is very quick to respond to issues and attempts to resolve all issues in a timely fashion.  In most cases the internal school district support staff attempts to handle user issues before involving Prologic.
Thorough User Training in the Software System
Training is available from the vendor as well as through the district.  In most cases, the vendor trains key district personnel who in turn train necessary staff.  On-line help manuals and “how-to” videos are maintained on the intranet portal for all staff to access.  These files are updated on a regular basis.  A users group was formed several years ago by school districts who utilize this software.  The group meets for a yearly conference where training is provided as well as enhancements are discussed and prioritized.  Sub-groups of the main group have webinars monthly to discuss issues relating to specific modules.  The vendor always provides on-line webinars when enhancements are added or updates are taking place.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

EDLD 5362-Week 1 Assignment: Interview

The Internet Effect with Ms. Diana Mitchell
Joseph L. Cantu
Lamar University

Abstract
            The rapid growth of the internet has created a discussion in regards to the way educators should teach their students. Due to the fact that educators must now consider the various types of learning style each student possesses, it is highly recommended that they use outside resources besides the traditional lecture style type of teaching. By interviewing Ms. Diana Mitchell, who has been teaching more than 20 years, information will be gathered in order to compare and contrast the effect of the internet prior to its popularity and now when it is at its peak moment.

            Imagine being a first year teacher without any pedagogical experience besides what’s in the textbooks. Now add to that the start of your M.Ed. in Educational Technology with a plethora of experienced teachers. This is exactly how overwhelmed I felt. Trying to adjust to your students and vice versa, while at the same time managing your own studies, can be quite stressful and frustrating. However, the first teacher to approach me while I was preparing my classroom for the start of class back in August of 2013 was Ms. Diana Mitchell. From then on, it was Ms. Mitchell whom I would go to in order to seek advice from and receive suggestions in regards to the classroom. It is she who I have decided to interview for this assignment.
Ms. Mitchell was born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1954. She became a graduate of Lamar University in 1977 with a B.S. in Mathematics. She later pursued the teaching career and obtained her teaching certification. She started teaching in 1977 and has been teaching since then. During her teaching career, she decided to further her education and return to Lamar University for her M.Ed. in Educational Technology which she obtained in August of 2011. The following year, she took her principal’s certification in order to be totally certified (Mitchell, 2013).
The interview was a very nostalgic moment for Ms. Mitchell because, as she said, “I was there prior, during, and after”  (Mitchell, 2013) the boom of the internet. I explained to her my lack of knowledge on the history of the internet and referred to some of the videos assigned from week 1 such as History of the Internet and Learning to Change, Changing to Learn. To add humor to the first video we observed, she clearly remembers when she used the big floppy disks and booting up the computer with DOS. She did stress that, just like everything, the internet as its pros and cons. For example, prior to the extensive use of the internet, students were obliged to actually learn their math facts, formulas, and problem solving steps. With technology and the use of the internet heavily increasing, it has hindered students from learning the above mentioned and thus affecting their progress within their educational career. On the other hand, she completely agrees with Amanda Lenhart, Maya Simon, and Mike Graziano in that the “internet’s ability [can] help [students] with their schoolwork.” Nowadays, every teacher has to consider the type of students they have and accommodate their teaching methods to fit their needs. For example, there exist students that are tactile learners, audio learners, visual learners, and kinesthetic learners. As professional educators, Ms. Mitchell states that it is our responsibility that our students receive the level of education they need by reaching out to their style of learning. This is done so by the use of technology and internet by providing online videos, online games and even songs. In addition, according to Douglas Levin and Sousan Arafeh, the internet has multiple types of uses for education. For example, Ms. Mitchell provides various projects inspired from YouTube videos, provides various notes (PowerPoint presentations) online for students to refer back to, and even creates sample tests and quizzes for students to take online in order to prepare for her tests.
 Prior to the internet boom, teachers only taught one way and one way only.  Ms. Mitchell definitely agrees with Mr. Keith Krueger, Consortium for School Networking, in Learning to Change, Changing to Learn in that our district policies are too antiquated with the banning of electronic devices on many campuses. Ms. Mitchell believes that we must allow our students to use electronic devices, with proper monitoring, to further enhance their education.
Administrative wise, technology and internet use has alleviated a lot of long enduring hours teachers faced after every grading period and academic school year. She mentions the transition from bubble sheets and having to set aside almost a whole day to bubble students’ grades to the digital way of typing it in on the computer. In addition, taking attendance has now become a simple task rather going through each roll sheet for the entire school.
Overall, Ms. Mitchell sees the effects of internet and technology in our society and how it affects the education system. She is a firm supporter of adapting to it and being able to manipulate it by monitoring how extensively students can use them.

References
1.      Biglil, M. (Director). (2009). History of the Internet. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hIQjrMHTv4
2.      Graziano, M., Lenhart, A., & Simon, M. (2001, September 1). The internet and education: Findings of the pew internet and American life project. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from http://pewinternet.org/~/media/Files/Reports/2001/PIP_Schools_Report.pdf.pdf
3.      Krueger, K. (n.d.). (R. Traynham, Interviewer)
4.      Levin, D., & Arafeh, S. (2002). The digital disconnect: The widening gap between internet-savvy students and their schools. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from http://pewinternet.org/~/media/Files/Reports/2002/PIP_Schools_Internet_Report.pdf.pdf
5.      Mitchell, D. (2013, April 8). (J. L. Cantu, Interviewer)