Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Power of Aspen for Trusts

We know that a school’s MIS is at the heart of the key daily functions that ensure the smooth running of their school and that their MIS has an increasingly important role in supporting pedagogy and decision-making. A challenge for Trusts is how to bring all data from their schools together to gain a meaningful and coherent picture across the ‘estate’. For this, a Trust would require a global view of all their schools’ data. Whether drilling down into an individual school or comparing data across schools, a Trust would require an MIS that provides joined up data.

In the UK, MIS development has been piecemeal, with the original early systems adding modules to cope with the increasingly complex requirements. Some of these modules have even been developed in a difference code base from the core system, adding to the challenge of integrating modules within the system and getting the data to flow easily. Modules that struggle to communicate can create additional challenges when wanting ‘clean’ data, not least because it is difficult to drive meaningful reports. These modular systems were born as a result of the challenges MIS providers faced after years of adding new features to systems.
To keep data ‘clean’, you enter data once into the system and it can be used many times. For this, the system would ideally have a single architecture for its one data set. This would provide real flexibility in reporting and creating efficiencies. For example, a well designed non-modular system would alert you when entering the same or similar data. In such a system, you might enter in the surname ‘Smith’ and the system would be able to tell you that there are already five ‘Smiths’ and ask if one is a sibling. If a link exists, the relationship and address can be automatically linked, where appropriate, avoiding duplicated data. This would be just one advantage of a well-designed non-modular system.

Building an MIS System

If you were building a MIS from scratch for the UK, you would look to build it as one instance with no modules (so for example, timetabling, parent and pupils portals would be part of the core, built to ensure data was properly linked). You would also want to ensure data was held in one place.

The most technically efficient approach would be one that provides a single database for the Trust, where all the data sits and where individual schools can see their data from their view. The school would also need the freedom to configure their MIS for their school’s needs. This then would effectively look like a stand alone MIS with all elements built-in (no modules) but would give the Trust management the power to view individual school and group data; and this is exactly what that Aspen MIS team has achieved.

Aspen MIS architecture

Aspen’s proven and unique architecture is built around that single data set and gives each school within any group their own interface ensuring that each school’s MIS has its own look and feel.  This unique approach allows any number of schools, such as those in a growing Trust, to be added to the group ensuring that the management team can view key pupil and staff data across the group.
We will continue to update our weekly blog with more of the unique features of Aspen that are specifically designed to chime with Trust / school groups needs. In the meantime if you would like to see Aspen in action please contact us for a demonstration. We can provide your introduction to Aspen MIS online or face to face.
Telephone:  01962 832 632
Novatia PLC, 1 Winnall Valley Road, Winchester, SO23 0LD.



Aspen MIS gives you your own built in Pages for sharing resources, ideas, diaries, notices and learning.
Aspen customers recognise that much of the functionality they have in their Learning Platform is over specified and under used. Aspen Pages offer a free alternative for sharing and delivering resources whilst supporting learners
Aspen Pages can be created by staff or pupils and are great for supporting homework, sharing curriculum themes, setting up staff noticeboards, after school club promotion, governor’s pages and generally communicating.
Pages are easy created and only require rich text input, so if you use software such as Word, you can create and edit your Pages with ease.
Each Page is made up of a choice of ‘widgets’, which are essentially windows to show different information.
Included widgets are:
ü  Announcements
ü  Group Resources
ü  Links
ü  Diary
ü  Survey
ü  Reports
ü  Websites
ü  Forum
ü  Blogs
Customers can even develop their own! Using a combination of the widgets, users can quickly set up a Page to promote and support learning and activities. As Aspen is cloud based, all Pages and the associated resources are easily accessible, so no VPN or awkward firewalls.
Aspen is a permissions based system; the school decides who can create the Pages and once created, the author can decide who sees them. Pages are a great way to assist parents in supporting their children. Curriculum themes, homework details and resources can be made available and after school clubs and be promoted and celebrated.
Aspen is unique in offering this inclusively in the MIS. Why not find out more and request a demonstration. 
Telephone:  01962 832 632
Novatia PLC, 1 Winnall Valley Road, Winchester, SO23 0LD