A student management system (also known as a student information system or SIS) helps a university manage data, communications, and scheduling. A university system generates and uses a large amount of data. This data must be properly communicated to students and faculty. A student management system helps schools store, manage and distribute this information.
Some student management systems are designed to meet all the data management needs of a school’s students. Other student management systems are specialized. These specialized solutions target specific needs, such as university applications or student behavior tracking.
Why Use a Student Management System
Nowadays everything is online. Students will want to browse their courses on their website, delve into the details of each and, after deciding whether to commit to a course, go through the entire enrollment process, which ends with an electronic signature. This will include both enrollment and payment, which can be in the form of an initial credit card deposit combined with a payment plan.
Student management systems provide many benefits to educational institutions, mainly derived from centralized data management and accessibility. Teachers can more easily enter, manage and access student data. Compliance with state standards and other regulatory requirements are also much easier to meet.
All of this could be done on paper, but it would be a waste of valuable resources. Instead, an SMS should take care of all aspects of enrollment, including marketing courses on your company’s website and creating a personalized enrollment form that collects the exact information you need. As students enroll, the system collects their information, where a workflow kicks in and notifies the sales and finance teams, before sending the student their next training program. With an SMS, the enrollment process should require little manual work on the part of the staff.
Student management versus university management systems
The educational technology (EdTech) space has become more crowded, with products increasingly overlapping on different educational needs. For example, university management systems and student management systems are often confused and have many overlapping capabilities. However, some important distinctions must be taken into account.
Student management systems focus on the management of student data and base their data structures on the individual level of students. This is distinct from university management, which encompasses more factors such as facilities management, cafeteria procurement processes, and more university-specific accounting functions.
Some EdTech providers have leaned towards the all-in-one approach to university management that includes student management, as well as all other aspects of university administration and data management. However, these platform offerings may be excessive for some organizations and may not offer the best capabilities in specific areas. These trade-offs make standalone student management systems attractive to organizations that need the best student management capabilities and portals specifically tailored to student data.
Modern Pillars of the Student Management System
With technology and urbanization, modern needs are growing rapidly. In order to keep software performance streamlined according to growing needs, it’s always best to keep adding new features to your technology stack. Below are the three new comprehensive features of the day that must be embedded in the Student Management System:
Cloud-based software has significant advantages compared to its locally hosted counterparts. With the cloud system, there is a minimal need for IT support, hardware maintenance, and software updates. Therefore, it makes it significantly more accessible for the IT division to operate multiple systems.
Data is the most critical and confidential aspect for all industries, including schools and universities. Therefore, they must be safe, and there must be proper management to back up this data. Because university systems management software also handles a number of sensitive information, so they need to have a layer of security to safeguard it from illegitimate hackers or unknown users.
Integrations ensure that the data stored within your software is consistent and accurate across all databases in the software system.
Characteristics and capabilities of student management systems
Student management systems can encompass a number of features depending on the scope of a particular product. However, leading products must have most or all of the following feature areas:
Tracking student attendance
Student Health Information
Information about the student’s background: data about family, age and behavior
Management of academic records
Student and Faculty Management
Integration with third-party educational technology
Online registration management
District communications, such as messages and alerts
Student Data Security
Reports at the state and national levels
Supporting regulatory compliance
Mobile app for teachers
Critical Areas of Student Management Systems
The features of a student management system should cover a number of critical areas, which are listed below.
Accredited training is heavily regulated, which helps to maintain an excellent level of education, making our country one of the most popular places in the world to study. To continue to comply with the regulations, accredited training organizations must make an annual report, to demonstrate the consistency and accuracy of their data.
Being one of the most complicated compliance tasks, an SMS should offer an intuitive reporting tool to facilitate the process, including the ability to validate errors and fix them before sending the data. This feature is absolutely essential for RTOs to remain compliant.
In addition to the reports, they should periodically send student engagement surveys to their students, to identify areas for improvement in their training. To meet the requirements of quality indicators, an SMS must include a survey tool that allows you to create and distribute these surveys to your students, as well as create objectives and tasks from the feedback: concrete actions for the improvement of the organization of training.
In addition, there is the possibility of being audited, which bases its audits on five key areas of a training organization, requiring you to demonstrate the effectiveness of your company in various ways. To maintain a high level of demand, your SMS must provide powerful reports, comprehensive monitoring features, the ability to create and manage goals/tasks, document storage, audit trails, and much more.
Another vital tool for regulatory compliance is the one that manages the competencies of trainers, which helps to keep their trainers fully qualified and compliant with the standards. It should be easy to see which trainers have completed which competencies, and which competencies are about to expire, with the system reminding trainers to complete them before the expiry date arrives. Trainers should be able to upload proficiency tests directly to the system, which administrators can review, comment on and pass.
National Evaluation Criteria
Most non-compliance issues are related to assessment, making it another vital area for simplifying student management systems. Each assessment has to meet the criteria specified by the government, and each question addresses a unique training component of training.gov.au. To continue to comply with the regulations, the questions in an assessment must correspond to one or more of these components, demonstrating compliance with government criteria for each question, and demonstrating that the student understands the subject.
Before SMS appeared, people performed this task in spreadsheets. Today, SMS streamlines the process by allowing you to easily assign questions to training components, visualize assignment relationships, and make quick changes to remain compliant.
Before the components can be assigned, the evaluation must be created with an authoring tool, to include the various necessary evaluation modes – questionnaires, checklists, short or long answers, etc. – with customizable grading methods, such as numerical scoring, scales, percentages, etc. Students should be able to complete assessments online, receiving the results immediately, or once the trainer has marked the assessment, which they should be able to do en bloc.
Assessments are rarely independent, often combined with other assessments in a training course, making the creation of custom assessment plans a necessary feature of an SMS. This includes creating plans for students, who are automatically notified of key dates, such as the publication of assessment summary information, start date, due date, and results date. A powerful SMS will automate much of this for you, allowing you to have countless hours to focus on the most important professionals in the company.
Courses and registrations
Course creation is an obvious feature of an SMS: being able to set courses of varying lengths, from full qualifications to short courses. Each course is broken down into units and assessments, and must meet specific units of competence, allow for the recording and tracking of student attendance, completion of the unit and course, and accreditation granted in the form of custom brand certificates. Course administrators need an intuitive overview of each course and should be able to make changes to courses or change students as needed.
Calendar and schedule
With so many courses, qualifications, units, students, trainers and rooms to manage, an exceptional scheduling tool is essential to a student management system.
As courses are created, the system should automatically create events for each component of the course and send invitations to students. Events should include vital information such as dates and times, places, assets (e.g., a television), guests, and descriptions. The system should also be smart enough to highlight scheduling conflicts (a date, a coach, a room, or anything else), offering alternative solutions to fix them. In theory, you should be able to organize all your courses using the calendar function, with each course comfortably located within its date range, without any conflict. In addition to student and course management, the calendar system is ideal for organizing internal company meetings.
Events should be viewable in a traditional calendar layout, with day, week, and month views, and options to filter information as needed. You should be able to see all the scheduled courses and appointments at a glance.
Receiving and tracking payments is another time-consuming exercise for RTOs, with deposits, payment plans, personalized funding agreements, and international students complicating the process.
The financial functions of an SMS should include the generation of invoices, credit notes and refunds with the brand, with options to send them to individual students or entire classes. One-time payments can be made during enrollment or as one-time transactions when needed. For longer and more expensive courses, payment plans are essential, including the ability to customize billing dates and amounts, and to automatically take regular payments throughout the year. For its part, to manage complex financing agreements, the system must include a function that allows the creation of financial models, with options for establishing concessions and variations based on rules.
To stay on top of your finances, pre-configured reports, such as overdue receivables and reconciliations, are a must, and a financial summary should allow you to see each student’s status, digging into unique bills and seeing what’s owed.
Many of an organization’s processes are repeated, and where there is repetition, there is an opportunity to automate. This was one of the main reasons for the invention of computers: to achieve a goal by following a series of pre-programmed actions.
An SMS should allow you to create automated workflows that take care of the repetitive and laborious tasks that devour your time like insatiable monsters. It can be sending information about the course to students after they have enrolled (by email or text message), attendance notices if they miss classes or quality improvement surveys when they have finished the training.
You can also send invoices automatically, save reports, or export data to your accounting system. If the workflow automation tool is worthwhile and allows the creation of customizable rules, conditions, and results, you should be able to automate all repetitive tasks and save thousands of hours. The usual tasks of training organizations should be set up for you, which you can quickly activate to start saving time.
A student management system should have a basic CRM to capture contacts such as students, trainers and customers, with vital business information recorded in each of them, such as addresses, registrations, notes, communication and invoices. Since there are already full CRMs (HubSpot, Salesforce, etc.) on the market, SMS should integrate with one of those popular systems, extracting valuable customer data and merging it with your own records.
Training organizations have a lot of documentation to manage, from the multitude of training-related materials for courses, to student identification, company policies, training and evaluation strategies, and anything else that needs to be documented and controlled by versions. Having a place to store all this information is essential, including the ability to categorize, track changes, set review dates, etc.
Learning on the job
Work-based learning (WBL) is an effective way for students to gain knowledge on the job, applying what they have learned in the classroom in a real-world company. Work-based learning takes the form of jobs, apprenticeships, internships and professional development, and all of them require careful logistical planning to succeed.
A student completing a WBL program needs quick mobile access to their course details, progress, attendance, and location of where they are going to work. You need to be able to communicate with trainers, employers, and course administrators to resolve any issues. Trainers will need the same access and more, as well as being able to capture the student’s work, while they are at it. Outdated organizations would use paper for this, which then has to be manually entered into the SMS, wasting precious time. But a modern SMS should include a feature to capture the student’s work as they do it, in the form of photos, videos and notes, all taken from a mobile phone app, and saved in the system as proof of the student’s competence.
Naturally, a student management system can’t do it all. There will always be other software companies that are experts in their fields, with resources to constantly improve their applications. For this reason, it is important that an SMS is integrated with popular applications that can manage critical business operations, such as accounting (Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks), payments (eWay, Ezypay), LMS (Canvas, Moodle) and CRM (Hubspot). Integration with these quality applications allows a training organization to continue to benefit from them, extracting valuable data into their SMS.
Comparison of Student Management Systems
When comparing different student management systems, keep the following in mind:
Student Management vs. Student Management University management
Does the organization need a system specifically to manage student data, or also other university functions? Consider the scope of the use case in question to determine whether a point solution or a broader platform is better.
Does each SMS integrate with the other existing EdTech systems the organization uses? Avoiding data silos is crucial for long-term management and scalability, so buyers need to ensure that data can easily flow from the SMS product to the other systems in their technology stack, and vice versa.
Is the organization a primary and secondary school, a higher education institution, or a professional development/certification organization? Many student management systems fit into one of these three groups, although some products may serve more than one group.
Advantages of using a student management system
Improves overall student performance
One of the mantras to improve academic performance is to constantly track your pace. Therefore, with the help of university management software, students spend their time on studies and all other tasks, as opposed to keeping track of their performance; Keeping records are all handled by SMS software.
Helps streamline all tasks
Previously it was too difficult for teachers to keep track of all the activities and tasks assigned to each student, and it is sometimes overlooked. But life has become easy with university management software. Thanks to its efficient dashboard, teachers can easily maintain, monitor and track each student’s performance and eventually take appropriate steps to complete it.
During a physical run, when a teacher teaches any lesson, it is likely that some students do not grasp the lesson perfectly and have their doubts. But with that strength, students find it impossible to clarify their problems.
In addition, some students are introverted by nature and may feel shy to ask questions in front of class. SMS has been designed in such a way that it can cater to the above issues. Most programs have built-in discussion portals that allow students to communicate with their professors and clarify their doubts.
Well-organized management and organization of programs
The schedule of a class is organized by the administration department of the university and transmitted to the professors and students. Despite being committed to their responsibility, it never relates, and there is always a class clash. With this software, the administration department freezes the schedule online, avoiding all matching errors. In addition, all parties, including students and teachers, can easily access it.
Helps keep track of all students
Not only academics, the university monitors the preparation of the personality in general, including sports, music, dance, etc. The Software Management System maintains proper monitoring and documentation of extracurricular activities, ensuring that each student’s record is intact.
Reduction of labour, paperwork and workload
The cost and time invested in hiring staff to direct all the day-to-day events of the university is an additional cost that could easily be reduced with the implementation of this new open source administrative management technology. It also decreases the use of written material, human errors and the workload of staff.
Provide built-in library management
The student management system has a built-in library management system within itself that helps students and faculty keep track of the book management process and issues the entire operation, unlike the return, book penalty, issue date, the date of return, etc.
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Maciek Fibrich, 2018, The Compliance Risk Putting your RTO in Jeopardy.
Lavin, S.; S. Del Solar; M. Fisher and J.C. Ibarra (2002): La Propuesta CIGA: Gestión de Calidad para Instituciones Educativas, LOM Ediciones, Chile.
Namo de Mello, Guiomar (1999): Nuevas propuestas para la gestión educativa, Ed. SEP, Library for teacher update, Mexico.
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