Product Blog

December 13, 2018 / John Condon

Welcome to the last product blog of the current year from the team here at Bromcom. Let me take the opportunity to wish you all a merry christmas, a happy new year, feliz navidad, season’s greetings, happy holidays and all that stuff.
In the vein of looking forwards as the year comes to a close I am going to be delivering some detail on new developments and very briefly touching on what is likely to come next.

Revision and merge of the teacher pages of the MIS

As part of our ongoing drive to improve the user experience of our MIS product we are reviewing how the teacher interface is presented.
The Registration pages have been in use for a significant period of time and we feel that we can do more to improve the user experience in this area. These details underline our desired direction and are by no means an exact presentation of what we hope to deliver.
We are expecting to deliver a separate tranche of changes for Secondary and Primary phases.
Secondaries (and Primaries who wish to continue to use them) will see a merging of the existing Attendance, Behaviour, Assessment and Homework pages and these pages will be easily switched between without having to worry about load or page refresh.
Primaries will see the addition of a new simplified Registration panel which merges the most used and easy to action processes into a single interface (we will be delivering a presentation of the development of this area on the 13th December, look for the video of that session in the usual places).

Register panel

In all our proposed changes we are aiming to make better use of the space on the screen. Some of our previous deliveries have been quite “left” panel fixated with broad swathes of white space on the right of the screen. With the new registration panel we aim to make use of all the space:

  • Combined page – The first page will allow teachers to register the current lesson, log behaviour and record assessment for the current data collection.
  • Easy switching between groups – A class / group selector will be present on screen to assist quick management of groups.
  • Student Context information automatically included – Common student data (Pupil premium, Free School meals etc.) will be present whether you have set up a UDF or not.
  • Attendance headlines – Number of lates, number of absence. Full attendance history will still be available but distilled figures will initially provide the means to indicate attendance concerns.
  • Student side panel – Keeping this but with added content, revised data and potential for more features (send SMS & email is mentioned). Also I’d like to see this as a collapsible panel, I have hopes that the developers can deliver this.
  • The icons will be refreshed and amended (the ones in the mockups are just placeholders). We will be removing some icons that see little if any use, such as the cursor movement icons. The existing icons to open Behaviour, Assessment, Homework and Dinner will be removed as their navigation is managed elsewhere. Other icons are adjusted and clear titles added to aid in understanding.
    The floppy disc icon is still a clear standard for the concept of “save” but as the workforce demographic drifts inexorably towards the younger end, fewer and fewer people have ever seen a floppy disc, so some additional clarity is needed.
    Across the top of the main data area are a sequence of Tabs that will allow the user to switch from the Register panel into Attendance, Behaviour, Assessment and Homework for the currently selected group. Each of these panels delivers the “full” experience of that data area.

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    Attendance panel

    A single click on the appropriate tab and the teacher is taken to the full attendance view. The centre panel information refreshes to show the classic herringbone of current, past and future attendance. Changes to the attendance panel include:

  • Larger screen elements – A significant number of users have given us feedback that some of the registration screens are hard to read due to the small fonts used and that detail can be lost amongst the sea of /\. The new screens will all feature “larger” and “clearer” details. Let me know if you’d prefer colour coded attendance as well!
  • Attendance benchmark – as you can see in of all the mockups the addition of an immediately apparent Attendance Percentage is included. This data would be hidden with the continuing use of the projector mode and will represent the students Attendance year to date. Initially for all classes but I envision a means to switch this between statutory and current class as well.
  • Clearer indication of weeks – Early feedback indicated that when the history view was being used it wasn’t always clear where one day ended and another one started. Bolder bordering on these transition points will make it clearer.
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    Assessment panel

    The Assessment page is accessed by clicking the Assessment tab, again only the centre panel content will change.
    If only one tracking template is assigned to the class then this content will occupy the centre panel. If multiple templates are detected for the selected class then the user will get a prompt to select from a quick list and then the selected template will be opened.
    Otherwise the Assessment tracking templates will work in the same way that they currently do.

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    Homework Entry and Administration

    Lastly, we have the homework panel, for those of you that are using the Bromcom VLE and homework elements. I never really liked the way you had to leave the register, navigate through your group assets and then drill further in order to get to the homework set for a given class. The new panel pulls that interaction up into the main teacher interface.
    Homework set for the currently selected class will be shown, with the option to switch to other items if they are available, and the current state of the homework return is shown for each student alongside the score/grade if one has been awarded.

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    Well, that is all I can provide on the registration pages for now, please send me any comments or feedback that you have on the content and we look forward to hearing from all of you.
    In other developments, look for the following over the course of the new year
    Finance module – With pathfinder sites going live in the early part of the year
    Continued Professional Development – Expansion of the CPD sections of the staff record
    School Clubs and trips – Greatly enhancing the components already delivered within Online payments to streamline the process of managing all that extra-curricular activity
    Assessment and Analysis enhancements – Improvements and response to usage feedback will see major improvements in this area.
    I think that is enough to mull over for the festive break. Have a great holiday and we’ll see you all back fresh and refreshed for 2019! Happy New Year!!