The Challenge

We built the previous intranet in-house using an open source CMS. It basically functioned as a platform for posting notices and storing limited PDFs for students and staff to read. There was no support for online calendars or timetables.

We brought on a lot of new best of breed systems including Accessit Library, Synergetic Management and Canvas LMS. We looked at investing in a new CMS that could integrate with and pull the data and resources out of third-party systems and put it front and centre on new solution. Then if users require further information, they have a shortcut back into that system with single sign-on (SSO) enabled.

We also wanted to introduce a parent portal to let parents access a summary of everything relating to their daughter(s) including grades, calendars, timetables, reports and statements. Previously, the only way to communicate with them was through newsletters and emails.

The Elcom team certainly met my expectations - they’re approachable, flexible and easy to work with. The staff are experts in their area and worked closely with me to get it right when we requested a change. We’ve already seen the return of the financial outlay within the first 3 or 4 months of launching. Peter Milburn, ICT Manager
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Bentleigh

OLSH College Bentleigh Responsive School Portal

The Solution

We explored solutions supported in the education market. It was important the vendor knew the market that we were in. We looked at their ability to integrate to SSO, Active Directory and the other systems we were already running in our school.

Elcom stood out to us. They were the only vendor that had already built integration into Synergetic and Canvas. With both being such complex systems, the proven development work and design, was a big plus. They could also custom build models for me and pull data out of other systems down the track. For example, integrating to our library system to show a list of books students have loaned out.

With the thorough development process and the backend support provided, we knew Elcom was the right choice for us. We were constantly asking for changes and nothing was ever too much for them. Every deadline for a deliverable was met and we were impressed with the level of site testing they did.

We now have a school portal for staff, parents and students. As a first point of call, users log onto the portal, Ametur, and it gives them a snapshot of their school related information. We also have SSO to other systems, so users don’t have to keep inputting their credentials again.

Notices is the big one for us. Staff don’t have the ability to send emails to all staff or students, so notices is the only way to communicate with everyone. Notices submitted by staff go through an automated approval process and can be published for everyone or selected groups.

We've never had an online school calendar or timetable before. Now teachers and students can see what their timetable is wherever they are, on any device. If there's a change, we simply update the calendar or timetable and publish a notice to notify relevant users.

Currently we pull the timetable out of Synergetic onto the portal in real-time. As a second phase, we’ll pull through the student reports and the reports staff regularly use, as well as students’ birthdays and a list of extras or yard duties staff have for the day. Parents will also have the ability to mark their daughter absent from school, notify us if their child is arriving late and update medical information.

With the Canvas integration, we can show students any tasks due and feedback from assignments they’ve handed in or had graded. Parents can see this along with the current grades for their daughter(s). The Canvas product for parents is quite confusing especially if they have more than one child. Now they can easily select a daughter on the portal and view a summary of information from Canvas.

We use the online forms and workflows to manage applications. For leave requests, the person requesting the leave and finance are notified. We will also be looking at integrating this with Synergetic in the staff records section.

The Benefits

  • We’ve already seen the return of the financial outlay within the first three or four months of launching.
  • We launched phase one successfully and met our target go-live date. We created documents to show staff how to create notices. Otherwise, our end users simply started using the portal unassisted. It was a welcome change for them. We’ve given them access to extra content and data in a nice user-friendly design and layout.

  • It was quite easy for publishers to get started. Non-IT roles can easily manage the content, such as the College Organiser, who is primarily responsible for creating and approving the notices from other staff.

  • We run across both an external hosted system and an internal database system, as well as a cloud instance for Canvas. With the CMS integrating with these systems, we were worried about the load time and site performance. However, everything’s run smoothly, which is impressive.

  • The biggest benefit for us is the integration of data from our existing systems into one easily accessible place. We now have a central location for the flow of information. For example, previously outside of the college, no one had access to view the timetable at all. Now staff can easily see what classes they’ve got on the next day, or if they’re trying to track down a student, they can view their timetable as well, from the portal on any device.

  • Phase two is now in motion. We’ll make changes to the design and layout after feedback from our leadership team. Being able to drag and drop the modules on templates, gives us the flexibility to change the templates without being dependent on the Elcom team. We’ll also be showing more data to staff, students and parents from other systems including Synergetic and a new integration to Accessit. It will always be an evolving portal and we are glad to have chosen to work with the Elcom team and their CMS.

 

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