Friday, 13 June 2008

developing school software

I am in the process of going through and developing a project document for our school. We want to move the subject options from students wandering around to teachers and getting forms signed to a more electronic form. This has been asked for, for a number of years now, but now with a change of management and knowledge it is being implemented.

I have been in the process of talking to a number of stakeholders about what they think the system should do and getting information about the current system from the information that we already have, to what we can export from the SMS and what we need to import to the SMS.
Talking to the stakeholders they can see a number of benefits of the new system, however, timeframe and availability have not been discussed. If we are to get all senior students to enter their subject choices, howe is this going to be carried out Do we take a compulsory class and do it with them, who will support the students in logging in, how are the students going to login to the system. Or do we make workstations available around the school so students can go to the page, enter their information and select their subjects, think web koisk.

I am looking at using my favourites, php and mySQL. Just doing some basic database development today I think I can get it down to two tables.
One is subjects, where all the subjects are listed containing details of codes, name, restricted entry, content, assessments.
The other one is the student, details, password, current subjects, proposed next years subjects, comments.

This has provided me with a blueprint on what information I can pull out of our SMS, which is all subjects, plus a hell of a lot of errors, there are students doing languages, year 9 courses, Gateway, and all students have form class. It has required some replace development in excel which will possibly need to be moved to being a macro so if i leave someone else can do it.

I don't want it to be complicated,

After a meeting today with a manger, he has said that he is to be involved, which is good, though he keeps asking why we can't develop this in Microsoft Access. I basically told him that noone using access anymore, they are more likely to use php and mySQL. He then went forward to talk about using Filemaker Pro, which now has a web interface. It would be nice to use, however there will be a learning curve which is required to do this. My comment back was why don't we use, microsoft SQL server installed on a Microsoft Server 2008 running sharepoint. Sorry I had to use something from the meetup last night.

One of the problems that I didn't see coming was that they want to change the way that the information is collected, yes they are doing it online, but in the past they have selected option lines for certain subjects to go into. Now they want the students to select the subjects that they want and then they will let our SMS shuffle it into a timetable that we can use next year. if there are too many clashes they will go back to those students.

I am starting to use a backup of the information kept in my google documents. it seems to be running ok. Though I am starting to wonder if I keep a copy of my .csv or .sql file in there as well as this would be a useful way of managing work from home and home to work as development backups.

Once a student selects a subject there needs to be a check on whether they have taken a subject before or have the required NCEA credits to take the subject. If I was to include this information in the database I feel that I would get lost and have a large problem. To get around this I propose to have boxes come up with the required information that they have to click "yes" or "no", yes means they can move on, no means that the subject will be removed from the selection.

Other problems are the main streamed students that have to take a required course through there provider, do we tag these students? or do they select and have an subject removed at a later stage.

Also required in the project is if they are coming back to school or not, if not what is happening. Possible Career needs also to be entered, this was on the old paper form, it might do well to be included on this.

Access, do we make it available to deans, SLT, other personal so they can see what students are choosing. Other reports would need to be made to help report live what is happening with the classes and selections. If we select a option it gives us who is taking that option.

I think I can do all that is required, though it also need to be able to look professional. If I develop this right there will be opportunity to use css and html.

Do we make this available out on the internet, so parents can get involved in their sons/daughters subject choice?
someelse on the internt is asking if this has been developed before, see

Until next time

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