I was approached by a friend and client several months ago who needed a solution for tracking his students. As we discussed the project, I learned that this was not a school in the traditional sense, and the requirements for the tool were going to need didn’t seem to fit a traditional school model.
Luckily, I found SchoolTool.
Matara is a Jewish residential treatment center and family based boarding school in Israel for Jewish boys and girls separately, ages 14 to 18. The Matara Therapeutic Boarding School is a scholastic program that addresses the needs children with unique challenges in school.
An immediate solution was needed to be able to register, log, track, and report on students in a non-traditional scholastic environment. The application needed to be flexible, easy to manage, easy to teach and easy to learn. It needed to require a minimum of culture change for teachers and other administrative staff to use it successfully.
My first responsibility was to evaluate as many school management platforms as possible, taking into account the base requirements of the client. Once I settled on the right management software, I needed to install it, configure it and begin to customize the system for the needs of the client. Then I needed to learn the system to the level where I would be able to provide the highest level of customer support possible.
SchoolTool, an open-source school management tool, was the favorite choice. Its flexibility and ease of use were outstanding. It is a mature platform in use throughout the world, with a focus on schools in developing countries. It provides mechanisms for tracking each student individually, as well as entire classes. SchoolTool provides calendar schedule views for teachers and students alike. It is tiered for permissions to permit or restrict access as needed. It allows teachers to provide different grading schema, write notes and comments, and export reports for teachers and administrators by student and by class. The only caveats are the nomenclature and the navigation to some of the reporting tools, but nothing that can’t be overcome with familiarity.
For my client, SchoolTool was a revelation. As I trained the trainer, the platform became easier to understand, even as the requirements became more detailed.