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ABOVE: no technology has an impact on learning in its own right; impact depends on how it is used

PC, which provides the exact status of their lesson. It also illustrates other informative data, such as whether any web, application or printing restrictions are in play, and the objectives and expected outcomes of their session. It also provides access to a ‘Student Journal’ feature, which is a perfect revision aid, allowing teachers and students to copy important lesson information to .PDF format for later review.” Another crucial facet of managing classrooms and

personnel is robust, accurate timetabling. Advanced Computer Software Group, a leading UK software firm, offers a tailored suite of software solutions, including management information systems (MIS) and student experience management systems to help teachers flexibly control their classrooms. “We’re finding that student expectations of how

they interact with a college have changed from four of five years ago. If timetabling changes at short notice, or a teacher is sick, they don’t expect to go into a reception area and see a message indicating that a room has been moved,” says Dean Dickinson, Managing Director of Advanced’s Business Solutions Division. “They expect that they will receive a message on their telephone or portable device.” This service is offered via Advanced’s Progresso

product – a recently introduced cloud-based service, which allows various shareholders to view student records, and effectively manage them, amongst its various capabilities. Development of the platform has been funded by a £20m R&D investment, and, since its launch last year, it has been adopted by over 100 UK schools. Individual and bulk scheduling changes can

be implemented, and ad-hoc amendments made at short notice, with the changes disseminated to impacted parties. “Our timetabling services allow administrators to look at who can cover for them in

these circumstances, and reshuffle the timetable,” explains Dickinson. “Once a decision has been made, this solution can then be communicated to other staff and pupils via their chosen devices.” Proving especially popular amongst academy

chains and local government, Dickinson says that a key benefit of Progresso is that it consolidates several different functions (including finance, HR, procurement, atendance and grading records) and, moreover, can ensure engagement with the latest technologies. Relevant information can also be ‘pushed’ directly to members of staff throughout a school to ensure its dissemination. Whether this strategy can be implemented,

however, may depend on the existing infrastructure inherited by managers. “A number of legacy systems within a school’s IT department might be hosted on a client server,” elaborates Dickinson. “So, to allow remote access, the vendor would either need to write specific portals that allow the data to be inspected, or a CITRIX system will need to be deployed.” A key strength of Advanced’s offering, he says,

is that they can simultaneously offer software, consultancy and development solutions, which takes care of these considerations on behalf of educators. “For us, it’s a really exciting time,” comments Dickinson. “We’ve designed a system which can live in and interact with the cloud, and which takes advantage of mobile technology. A recent KABLE survey of schools shows that, over the next two to three years, over 80% of educational bodies will consider hosting applications in this way.” As this migration continues, implementing

IT procedures which balance security concerns with an awareness of opportunities for student innovation and connectivity may prove key to the performance of the digital classroom. iE

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