Although the Student Information System (SIS) is a means of facilitating education, the saturated ed-tech market often seems confusing, to the point where we can no longer understand just what these tools precisely do. So here are some back-to-basics explanations.
If you’re making the purchasing decisions for a faculty or any other educational institution, you’re probably wandering online for some useful SIS-related information. The trouble is that each vendor will likely emphasize their product’s features and deem them the essential ones.
Don’t be surprised, though. Education is rapidly embracing the ed-tech tools, causing the market to skyrocket. The E-learning market alone is forecast to surpass 243 billion U.S. dollars by 2022.
As a result, the competition between software providers increases, causing a real mess in academic and administrative staff heads.
What is the purpose of the Student Information System? Is it the same as the Student Management System? How do they compare to each other? And just what do they all actually do?
Here are the essential things every efficient SIS should be able to perform.
#1 Store and Manage Data
First and foremost, every well-designed SIS should be a tool for gathering and handling large databases. Modern educational institutions today need a centralized information system that can be accessed from multiple points and devices.
From that perspective, SIS is a piece of software that supports administrative tasks in educational institutions, be it a K-12 school, college, or university. More precisely, it stores and manages data such as:
- Student records (including health information, attendance keeping, behavioral notes, etc.)
- Library databases
- Admissions process information
- Course schedules
- Financial information
Essentially, every Student Information System on the market will provide this feature, one of its primary tasks. However, SISs will differ in the level this service is provided or whether they have a scalability option that can adjust the software to your needs.
#2 Automate Tasks
The Student Information System’s ability to automate tasks, whether administrative or educational, is somewhat in line with the previous functionality. This particular feature doesn’t require much explaining because it’s one of those “natural” things inherent to software as such – they are built to replace repetitive and manual workload.
In a school setting particularly, a well-equipped SIS should:
- Handle inquiries
- Send reminders
- Have a built-in notification system
- Manage scheduling
- Keep track of the financial flow
Again, even though automation functionality is the backbone of every SIS, individual realizations may offer different levels. Be sure to check if the software you’ve chosen corresponds with your needs.
Because educational institutions are obliged to conform with policies, standards, and procedures, a built-in reporting feature can often bring many benefits, such as time efficiency, cost reduction, and enhanced ability to spot problems.
In a real-world educational setting, this means that you’ll be able to track performance and trends related, but not limited to:
- Admission data
- Drop-out rates
- Financial operations
- Classroom achievement
- Teaching staff effectiveness
At the end of the day, reporting is so important for schools because it provides them with high-level insights that they can subsequently use to make strategic and data-driven decisions. In other words, the Student Information System offers a reporting tool to enhance the overall performance of an educational institution.
#4 Improve Communication Channels
Though communication is naturally occurring in every school ecosystem, even if SIS does not support it, centralizing communication channels increase inter-department connections and build more meaningful relationships between students, parents, administrators, and educators.
Simply put, an intelligent communication feature can turn separate participants in education into a single breathing organism. Some of the ways Student Information System does this are:
- Built-in messaging, including SMS, email, and instant messaging within the platform
- Smart alerting system
- Standardizing data formats
- Enhancing data transfer
- Allow easy and personalized access to centralized information
- Book and manage online meetings
The key benefit of the robust communication nurtured under the Student Information System is reducing the risk of misunderstanding and providing timely information to users. That way, the participants can avoid the confusion of multiple channels and the risk of important information being lost along the way.
#5 Support Classroom Activities
It goes without saying that every efficient Student Information System must organize a learning environment so that all educational data is easily accessible, well-organized, and easy to manage. In a word, SIS supports educational efforts by reducing the administrative burden from teachers and providing relevant and timely information to both students and educators.
Some of the SIS’s tools that are beneficial to classrooms are:
- Student record keeping
- Attendance tracking
- Behavioral records
- Assessment tracking
- Reporting performance
When properly used, these tools allow teachers to adjust their educational efforts to personalized needs within a classroom . Also, they are a means for students and parents to devise their unique learning curves and spot relevant performance indicators.
#6 Offer Secure Online Environment
Although the current trend of migrating SISs to the cloud environment and offering it as a SaaS solution (Software as a Service) can sound less secure than on-premise systems, it’s actually quite the opposite. This is because cloud-based systems are obliged to have thorough cybersecurity in place, especially when handling sensitive data such as student records.
Naturally, be sure to check if the chosen SIS complies with the related acts and policies, including HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
#7 Easy Integration With Other Software
In today’s rapidly evolving educational environment, perhaps the most crucial feature of Student Information Systems is the ability to adjust just as effectively. For example, if your school starts facing increased bullying rates, monitoring this negative trend can be critical. In other words, you’ll need an SIS that can be customizable effortlessly or that can easily integrate with other software.
So, when inspecting the SIS market, be sure to check if:
- The producer guarantees easy integration
- The system has customization options
- It’s flexible, scalable, and interoperable
Going deep into these questions can save your institution both time and money. Even if changing a selected SIS is as easy as unsubscribing and subscribing, there’s an issue of reeducating the users to accommodate a new SIS environment. It’s always easier to find a versatile system right from the start.
How to Choose a Perfect Student Information System?
In sum, every Student Information System should be able to perform relevant tasks in your setting. In most schools, colleges, and universities, this means supporting the administration, facilitating the teacher’s workload, and helping students.
To do all this, an SIS should be user-friendly and intuitive. There’s no benefit in having a perfect organizing tool that nobody can understand.
Here at Astria, we specialize in building educational software with a heavily engineered and compact set of tools that are handled in a matter of clicks. Structured but easy. Complex but straightforward.