I just wanted to say thank you to everyone at NetworkSi for inviting me to a conference they held today at their offices in Birmingham.
The Morning went very well and I found the day to be very productive indeed, the main focus at the conference was "Parental Access" and this is one of the main things that Secondary Schools need to make sure they have in place by September 2010.
NetworkSi and Novotronix are building a partnership to deliver SharePoint solutions to the Education and Business. With NetworkSi's Advanced Project Management skills and Novotronix Advanced SharePoint knowledge this seems like it is going to be very successful indeed and already they have helped many schools around the UK implement a SharePoint solution(s).
As I say the main focus on the event was Parental Access, we had a presentation from Alex Pearce (MVP) about what people should be doing when planning to build a SharePoint Portal but also the best way to go about providing parental access.
One point that was made is that people should not be thinking that parental access means just giving parents access to their students grades etc it should also be to get them involved with the school provide them with information.. Courses the school may off and any services in the local area but to also provide parents with information about their children throughout the year through reports. If schools report on students and the parents can view this content then they will be able to work with the school to sort out any problems if they should arise but to also help the parents encourage their students throughout the academic year there is no point providing the parents with this information at the end of the school year @ parents evenings because it has already been done and it could possibly be too late.
Also, allot of schools are finding it difficult to make the students/parents be aware of events... news etc how do they know a certain page has been updated... what if they just dont check the area on a regular basis maybe because they work long hours and do not find the time to check the portal often they want just like us as IT Pro's to be able to get the information where ever they go weather this to be a Mobile or Portable Handheld Device etc so one way alex did say that we should be looking into is RSS feeds as we all know these are very powerfull! But will easily keep parents/students up to date (as long as they subscribe to them of course) without them having to check the portal every single day of the week.
Another thing is you want to engage students and allow them to be happy to get involved, what students do when they go home after school?... they go to their facebook maybe.. or there twitter page any social networking site these days.. so maybe create your school a group or twitter page and allow updates to be sent via this.. (this is not telling every school they should open up facebook etc inside the school network) but you are just keeping with the modern ways of communication.. you know what they are going to do when they go home so use that to your advantage rather than a weakness! (*I know allot of people may have different thoughts on this, and quite so.. but I personally did not think of this and think it is a great way to make people aware*)
Planning was also something that was talked about quite allot at the conference and this is very important especially if you are just thinking about implementing a solution. Alex had 2 useful slides that I really liked and I recommend everyone has a look at them some print screens can be found here: Content for the Learning Gateway - Alex Pearce's Learning Gateway Blog - Learning Gateway User Group as he previously mentioned it at an event he spoke at. but this are very useful if you want a great way to plan where content is going to be published.
Novotronix did give us a demo on some webparts they have created to extract reports out of your MIS system... if you are a Data Manager or someone who has to extract and manipulate reports and get fed up of doing it every 5 minutes because not everyone knows how to do this then i would highly recommend you take a look at there webparts they have available.. i am sure if you contact them or networksi they will be able to give you more information on that! worth a look if anything.. will save alot of time!
I do not have the slide deck as of yet but I should have this in the next day or so and I will happily post it on here for people to take a look at.
I hope I have not rambled on too much there, but I just wanted to pass over some information to the community as some valid points were made during the day and it is something that everyone needs to think about.
On another note:
As for all of you who did attend the conference, I am very pleased to hear your great feedback about Edugeek and your thoughts on the new features that have been implemented.. these have been passed back to the boss himself
Oh! and by the way the 30 pizzas did go down very nicely! and I think the NetworkSi Employee's had a great end of day meal with them! (god there were loads)
Once again thank you for inviting me to the conference, I had a great time and I am glad to see the hard work pay off, thank you to all the speakers/presenters throughout the day you did a grand job and a big thank you to all the NetworkSi Staff who helped out you did a grand job and I am probably not the only one that felt welcomed (you have a nice building btw)