About Student Information Systems (SIS)
Student Information System (SIS) is a web-based application software designed to introduce a conducive and structured information exchange environment for integrating students, parents, teachers and the administration of a school or college. Some of the other software packages available for this purpose include Student Management System (SMS), Student Information Management System (SIMS) and Student Records System (SRS). These software systems enable educational institutions to supervise student-related activities such as keeping records of tests or examinations conducted, attendance, appraisal on performance including details of marks scored, particulars of everyday school attendance, and all other institution-related activities; in short, they provide a complete student records system. They are designed with diverse application potentials ranging from simple management of students’ records at school to management of all student-related functions as well as administrative functions of a university or a chain of educational establishments.
Much of the software used in erstwhile student information systems and school administration worked on an outdated code base and had a curious mix of presentation, business sense, and data accessibility. It was impossible and often expensive to modify these systems to cater to future demands.
Some of the early initiative software programs such as WebCT, SCT Campus Pipeline, Jetspeed, and Blackboard merely enabled interactions between students and teachers for academic purposes and served only as a student information system. The advantage of having a student management system was missing as it was not possible to integrate any of the campus-based activities within these systems. Most often, student data were kept strewn in multiple locations, making it difficult to construe and project.
Educational institutions were looking for a web-based solution such as a student information management system or an intelligent student information system with an inbuilt mechanism to meet the requirements of student-related information management as well as to serve the purpose of a school management system. Furthermore, they were looking forward to a complete package on student information management system from a single vendor.
Objectives of Student Information Systems
Student information systems must meet the following objectives:
·Enable self-service for students to perform basic administrative functions and tasks in a “one-stop” service and access environment.
·Integrate data sources and process them through a single function that supports one-time entry of student data.
·Support the retention and recruitment of students and encourage a strong and positive relationship with the university, alumni, donors, and other constituencies.
·Integrate and support new learning and teaching opportunities and technologies for students and faculty.
·Support open interfaces and integration with other campus applications and database systems.
·Ensure data integrity, privacy, and security in an open-access environment.
·Support faculty and staff who perform both basic and complex functions through simplified work processes and procedures.
·Enable ongoing, flexible reconfiguration of the application to extend its life cycle and to meet the changing business processes of the university.
·Include implementation and support services that meet university needs.
Features of Students Information Systems
·Admission of students to the institution
Using an auto reply feature and a standard format, a student information system replies all the admission-related queries of students who may want to apply. Similarly, during the admission, the created database is used for sending admission letters or regret letters to the prospective students. During the enrolment of students the system stores all the main subject and optional subject details. This information is further used for automatic creation of subject classes and assignments to teachers. The details of students who seek hostel facilities are stored separately for allocating rooms and also providing boarding information to the hostel wardens.
·Availability of information from a single source
Most of the student information systems are created with an objective to store details of quality information and make them available as an integrated system. Use of such online administrative and student information systems increases the functional efficiency of an institution and improves timely decision-making processes at all levels. Availability of a student records system containing all information details at a single source enables easy percolation of the right information.
·Centralised information sourcing and management
Although the very objective of this intelligent student information management system is to tackle various issues related to students, administration and teachers, it offers a wider perspective by providing a complete information management solution. The centralised e-Advising offered by the current intelligent student information systems allows the students to send a pre-registration email to register. The web link included in the reply mail enables them to access a complete academic planning network which includes a gamut of information about various programmes, courses, fee structure, further progress, and other employment openings. Thus, students can compare the programmes and facilities available in various other institutions and make a choice on preferences. Current student information systems are designed in such a way as to provide all the comprehensive information in not more than three screen levels with customised applications and a single log in. This student information management system efficiently integrates all the information management functions of an institution right from the students’ level up to the level of the Registrar’s office. It even enables institutional study and forecast.
·Centralised accounting and billing procedures
An intelligent student information system enables all accounting and billing functions while simultaneously managing the academic requirements of the students and the administration. The inbuilt accounting capabilities of the system’s software enable the running of all accounting and billing procedures without duplicating the efforts, such as having a parallel manual system. The available accounting modules include functions like maintaining a general ledger, billing for students, all payable and receivable details, and project funding and accounting details. The inbuilt automated contact management mailing in the system enables systematic, regular mails with details about any fee paid or to be paid by the students. The integrated shared database provides details of college, hostel, or any other fee receivable from a single source for easy follow-up and future auditing.
·Monitoring student-related activities
A complete record of students’ attendance and leave details is stored in the system. The reminder option in the system informs the institution management about the irregularities in the attendance or leave details for further action. This system offers a complete follow-up on all the discipline records of the students. With appropriate inputs, it offers an easy follow-up on bad elements to maintain institutional discipline. The student information system facilitates recording of all communication details with the students for regular follow-up and future use.
·Easy-to-use streamlined process
The computerized student information system enables compiling of all the data at a single source, especially that of students and teachers. This electronic storing of records cuts down the use of paper at all levels. Such an availability of all the required information in the electronic form facilitates easy retrieval, and also speeds up approval formalities. It is possible to store all student-related activities such as attendance, test performance, and exam schedules in the system and share these with the parents and other faculties. Integrating the student record systems with the inbuilt word processor or spreadsheet facilities allows merging of address details while sending postal communications to the students.
·Easy scheduling of examinations
Scheduling of examination dates can be easily handled by a student information system. It correlates all details such as availability of teachers and completion of book syllabus fixed for the term before announcing the examination dates. Details about records of all written examinations, appraisals on the papers, marks or grades offered, and educational headway made by the students can be recorded for easy retrieval.
·Integrating parents, teachers and administrators
Student information systems are integrated with the parents’ portal for regular update of student-related information and feedback. The advanced systems enable creation of a user name and password for protected access to such information. The real-time availability of all student-related information such as attendance, marks or grades obtained in term examinations, and class and examination timetables enables parents, teachers and administrators to interact using the web interface for improving the performance of students.
·Arranging of financial aid
Currently, computerised student information systems play a vital role in helping deserving students to apply for financial aid for continuing education. With all the compiled details such as various financial aid opportunities, total fund availability, budget allocation, received applications with eligibility criteria, the system module can verify the applications and allot aid in a shorter duration. On the basis of the fed details the system even arranges for periodic and timely distribution of financial aid.
·Managing placement services
The student information management systems keep track of all the eligible students for part-time placement services to supplement educational expenses. The institutional payroll department identifies the positions available within the university and encourages students to apply for them. Similarly, while arranging placement services for final-year students, the available comprehensive details in the student record systems are sent to prospective employers who offer campus placement services.
Capabilities of Student Information Systems
The web-based student information systems have the following features:
·Offer an easy-to-use interface for any normal user. Since all the applications are predefined, details only need to be filled in the required fields of information; multiple screen inputs are avoided for ease of working.
·Designed to support large amounts of data and simultaneous access by a number of users.
·All the required details such as admission, course and syllabus, account or fee are indexed and classified for easy access.
·Easy-to-decipher reporting functions for individuals as well as departments, and facilitate the generation of real-time reports and customised reports.
·Flexible to operate in multiple ways with easy-to-change operating or processing setups, in tune with current requirements.
·Easy integration with the other modules that already exist; also offer ingenuity during integration.
·Capability to support all types of requests for approvals, and designed to generate proper notifications for all sanctions; also support all forms of electronic signatures for the validity of documents.
·Easy uploading of information to the system, supporting even batch-type uploads from various sections to keep the system up-to-date with current information; such uploads can be made even by desktop users.
·User preferences allow users to permit printing of a document or to keep it in electronic format; users also have the facility to update their system preferences, while the system keeps a track of all such changes administered for the records.
·The scaleable feature allows easy reconfiguring of the system permitting expansion in data sourcing as well as introduction of more users.
·Can store scanned images and digital photographs for use.
·The dependable security system allows only designated users to access all the system capabilities; it offers various levels of security to restrict access to undefined users, and the received information from other sources is subjected to security scans.
Typical computer architecture of a multifunctional student information system shall include a conveniently located Data Base Server that uses either UNIX or Window-based Operating System; an Application Server to run all the applications; Filer Servers to maintain all the stored files and respond with application servers; Web Servers to provide web interface to the applications; and Desktop Computers to input details either from the student or from the administrative end.
The availability of a computerized student information system offers a perceptivity that provides for practical education involvement and new levels of attainment.
It is always prudent to opt for a student information system that is designed using modern system architecture to cope with changing requirements. This system should encompass very solid information coding and distinctly outlined business applications, separating the presentation of details and methods of support.
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