It’s a sad reality that schools, the source of all our future leaders and innovators, are still shockingly low down the financial food chain.
School administrators are fully aware of how much it costs to maintain good education, from student resources to building management to teacher salaries.
It’s an industry in which budget management is absolutely key.
On top of this, one of the more difficult tasks in running a school is the administration of students, staff and institutional records.
No matter how great your school is, education is a numbers game that requires solid paperwork and demonstrable data, and you can’t have that without good administration.
Administration software takes a lot of the hassle out of staff and student record management and allows educators to focus on the more important task of educating.
Thankfully, some designers have taken it upon themselves to develop school administration software that is both free and open-source, so schools can adapt it to suit their particular needs.
Fedena is a paid school administration software focused on record handling that also comes in a free, open-source version.
While there are a number of features only available in the full-price format, the free version still offers unlimited student logins, courses and batches, so it is still a useful tool for schools.
Both versions feature course, calendar and exam management along with attendance tracking and student and employee information logs.
They are designed to provide an exhaustive set of features, hoping to be the only software you’d need, but Fedena also easily integrates with the existing, external tools you may already use for communication, like texting or emailing parents in the event of a snow day or truancy.
But at this time, it’s Videoconference collaboration plugin comes in handy.
Coming in with even more features than Fedena is Gibbon, a truly free software that provides both administration and teaching tools.
Mark Watson, a tech blogger at Academized.com, reviewed the software by saying:
“Gibbon is really versatile and can provide a huge amount of resources from finance, payroll and scheduling tools to grade books, lesson planner functionality, and assessment. It even provides access to parents to view assessment results. That being said, it’s not the most lay-friendly system, as it requires some knowledge of coding to take full advantage of.”
Gibbon provides info in the form of online text guides but has no in-person customer service.
Their website boasts of how the platform was created by actual teachers, and how therefore the features should suit real teachers.
And they do have a lot of intuitive-sounding features, like a standard timetable, making it easy to track people down, a library, for all items that can be lent to students, not just books, a student behavior recording section, a form group section and a planner that can “cut your planning time in half” using Gibbon’s Smart Blocks.
But this software has a steep learning curve for less PC literate
3. OpenSIS Open Source
Best for small or medium-sized K-12 schools, OpenSIS provides you with the tools to keep detailed records on students and staff.
This covers everything from transcripts to health records and even demographic information.
If your school has a competent IT staff you can get the most out of OpenSIS, as it can be integrated with Moodle LMS and there’s a community feature to engage with through PostgreSQL.
OpenSIS aims to address the “pain points” of existing student administration software, emulating existing teachers’ resources like repot cards, medical records, gradebooks, attendance and schedules, but also brings modern features like messaging between guardians and teachers and a parents’ portal to the table.
For even smaller groups, feKara provides clean and attractive administration interfaces.
It covers all the usual record management as well as internal messaging between staff and comes as a mobile app for students and staff alike.
Their free version covers 50 students, with the option to upgrade at a cost of $0.20 per student, or unlimited students for a one-off $350 fee.
With both versions, the self-enrolment, attendance, timetable, messaging, SMS integration and course material and notes features are all available.
Both versions are also available to be used multi-lingually, with Google sign-on. You really get a lot of bang for your buck with feKara.
5. School Time
Another system for small schools, this system is designed for elementary or preschool administration and similarly comes in a free and paid format.
The free version allows for 50 students or fewer and includes grading systems, library and exam management, and can help track transportation, attendance, and dormitory occupation.
Developed by a company named STPL Global, this software no longer appears to be in development, but with so many great existing features, this doesn’t matter. School Time can be downloaded from Cnet.
A great tool for teachers, notwithstanding limited administration functionality.
SchoolTool is packed full of features regarding assessment, attendance, journals and calendar management, which make it a great tool for lesson organization.
However, when it comes to administration above the classroom, you’ll need to refer to other systems; this doesn’t have any functionality to manage staff records, finances or reporting.
Last updated in 2015, this Linux software, bundled with EduBuntu appears to be based online, so don’t click on any dubious download links.
However, the developer’s website and the software’s website are no longer functioning.
Many schools still use this invaluable system, though.
This software could pair well with SchoolTool, as it’s all about school administration and less involved with teacher tools.
It comes packaged with 300 modules and is available in 65 languages, making it popular around the world for its student and faculty management features.
Over on OpenEduCat’s very professional website, they detail a page worth of information about their around eighty features, grouped under tabs like management, communication and technical.
OpenEduCat refers to their application, payment, class room, time table, attendance and assignment features as their essential features, that are worked into every price plan they offer.
But, if you wanted to go for a communcation oriented version of OpenEduCat, for example, you could choose this version, complete with forum, survey, discussion, news portal, poll and blog features.
Or you could pick the management edition, with campus, canteen, transportation, facility, placement and parent login features.
This completely free open-source tool is one of the more flexible and features a lot of external functionality.
Along with all the regular staff and student administration features, there are teacher tools for assignment creation that allow for embedded YouTube videos and attachable Word and Excel documents.
It also comes in mobile and tablet formats.
RosarioSIS has been fully translated to the French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Khmer and Bulgarian languages.
It will also integrate well with your school’s existing Moodle.
It lets you set up multiple schools, with multiple sets of information and calendars. It also allows you to set up and edit your students, with information about their address, demographic and health.
You can then easily print this information, with a professional layout already set up.
As well, you can set up all sorts of users, like teachers and parents, with the ability to notify the parents who have never logged in.
You can set schedules too.
Beatrix Potter works as a blogger at UK Writings. Beatrix writes about news, events and technological advancements in the open-source world. She is also a part-time educator and online proofreader.
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