Like I said in my last post, one of the best parts of my job is getting to hear from clients who have had success using software in their school districts. Here’s another story, well, two actually, from two school districts who decided to replace their traditional Student Information System staff training programs with e-learning.
Both of these districts are located in Texas, both are Tyler SIS clients, but there is a major difference between the two. The first district serves a student population of more than 16,000 at 24 schools, while second has a student population of only 3000, at 5 schools. With vastly different resources, they each turned to the new eLearning training program to get their staff up-to-speed with their SIS.
The larger district implemented e-learning because their IT staff was overwhelmed by the physical job of training new teachers to use the SIS every year. With so many campuses, so many teachers and so much to teach, it had become impractical to drive to each individual school to offer 24 separate training classes – not to mention exhausting! The whole start of the school year was spent in training and taking support calls. The IT staff knew that their valuable time could be better spent.
When they heard about the new SIS e-learning training program available to them, they jumped at the chance to use it. For those who may not know, e-learning is a tool that allows teachers to learn at their convenience and at their own pace through web-based training. It supplements traditional SIS teacher training sessions by providing a means to reinforce and practice recently acquired skills. Each e-learning course consists of multiple interactive e-lessons. Users can complete e-lessons throughout the day as time permits and can repeat sessions as desired.
For the 2012-2013 school year, the district made it mandatory for all new teachers to complete the entire SIS e-learning program before the start of the school year, and highly recommended it to returning teachers. The district’s IT Administrator told me this when I spoke with him: “E-learning really helped our department with support calls from teachers, with the issues that we were having in the past with teachers not being familiar with the SIS. It minimized the number of calls. This year we’ve barely had any. We’re going to keep it mandatory for all new teachers so that they become familiar with the system quickly and they are able to use the system on a daily basis when they start teaching.”
At the smaller district, the IT department was equally overwhelmed by the need to train new teachers to use their SIS – but not because of the number of campuses. They were overwhelmed by the number of people in their department, or really because of the lack thereof. They have a staff of exactly two dedicated employees who run, support, and do training for their district’s SIS. With such limited resources, even a small amount of time spent on unnecessary training and support calls can make life in the IT department nearly impossible.
This district also replaced their traditional training program with e-learning, and also saw great results. They rolled out e-learning before the start of the school year and asked both new and returning teachers to complete the e-lessons. Initially, their plan was to have the SIS support team do their usual on-campus training shortly after the start of the new school year. But as the year began, they found that very few support calls or questions were coming their way. Their SIS Coordinator told me, “The reason e-learning is successful is because usually all of the assistance calls would come to us, and this year we’ve had very few of those. The videos support them enough to get the job done. Usually, our phones would be lit up at the beginning of the school year supporting the teachers and that just didn’t happen this year.” The decision was made to cancel all on-site training, and to continue in the future training entirely through the Tyler SIS e-learning program.
There you have it, another great story about software making lives easier in school districts across the country. It’s wonderful to know that, at these districts, teachers take full advantage of the features of their SIS solution from day one, leading to improved communication with parents, and to cleaner, more useful SIS data. At districts large and small every minute spent by the IT team is a precious commodity; by replacing in-person training with e-learning, those minutes can be more efficiently spent.