About Open Admin for Schools
Open Admin for Schools is a state-of-the-art "School System Database." As this term implies, it is a comprehensive tool that enables the management of all "administrative" aspects of a school including student enrollment and teacher rosters with course assignments for both groups. Building on that information, it facilitates normal school processes such as daily attendance (done by the teacher or the "office"), scheduling, a daybook for teacher-family communication, an advanced teacher's gradebook, and, of course, report card-making. [Feature-List]
Furthermore it gives administrators the ability to build reports on all of the above for given time periods. For example, a principal might want to see a list of new students from the last month, or look at the latest attendance facts, or see which students come from a particular locality. Open Admin will show them that. And unlike many tools that may look great, it has two advantages: OA honestly saves you time by doing the calculating and formatting for you, and it's tried and true.
Open Admin Restores the Good Name of Computers
Remember when we were so excited about how computers would save us time in schools? Well, somehow many of us ended up doing more and more instead of less and less. That's why "Les" Richardson, a Canadian Physics Teacher and an advanced programmer, got to work on a system that took over the drudgery of formatting reports and computing attendance and grades. Using his experience as a teacher, he understood that teachers did not need to spend more time on reporting. Using his knowledge as a programmer, he designed a tool that met their needs.
Open Admin Saves Time
All the teacher has to do to make report cards using OA is input the grades and comments in a single Web page per class. Save the page and be finished with it. The computer does the rest using advanced printing industry standard software behind the scenes to format an exceptionally professional-looking report card at the end of every term. There is no complex formatting or set-up of reporting. Report cards are created as beautiful PDF's that can either be printed by the school or sent to parents via the Internet. OA restores our trust in computers as "computing" tools by relieving us of the time-consuming drudgery of making the same decisions again and again -- every term.
Open Admin is Tried and True
Despite being a cutting-edge tool, OA was not developed in isolation. Its creation was inspired by a genuine need to make reporting more efficient and effective for all involved, and its development has been and continues to be driven by the needs of teachers, parents and students. Currently, OA is in active use in hundreds of schools around the world. On average, a new school downloads OA every day. Moreover, Les Richardson, is in close contact with numerous schools working to make OA even better. Thus the pace of development is fast averaging two or three major updates a year since 2003.
Open Admin is Powerful, Flexible and Extendable
Since Open Admin can be configured for multiple schools as, for example, a district-wide database, it is ready to be used by large as well as small schools. Its up-to-date design and advanced capabilities make it a contender for any school's management system -- whether your school is a brand new or already advanced member of the educational technology club. See the list of features to get more information on what it can do. And if it doesn't do it yet, your school can get what it needs and help others without the means by commissioning new developments in Open Admin.
Open Admin Levels the Playing Field
Of course, another amazing thing about Open Admin is that Les licensed it under the General Public License (GPL) which means that schools have access to this tool for free. That means that a small, rural school with a few students can have access to the same up-to-date, powerful reporting technology that a large, relatively wealthy school might have. OA is part of the "answer" to how to level the playing field for all schools and their students. Interested schools can go to the Open Admin Site and download the entire package for free. There is also an installation manual and a user's manual. So, why not give it a try?
How is it Supported?
In his own words, Les Richardson says that he "just wants to help." As we all know, however, even someone as generous as Les needs to make a living. So, Les charges for his time when making adjustments and additions to Open Admin. Working with Les is one way in which a school can "give back" to Les for this incredible gift he has given them. You can find details about hiring Les at http://richtech.ca/openadmin/commercial.html.
Making Installation and Set-up Easier
Les Richardson has never tired of responding to schools' needs. He has worked continuously on improving the installation method for Open Admin. However, as with all powerful tools, Open Admin is a complex creation. Because the file you download requires a special environment and numerous setting-adjustments, setting up Open Admin can be a little daunting to the average, busy school teacher. That said, Les strongly encourages those who are interested to give it a try. After all, everyone in a school needs to keep his or her learning muscles in shape. However, in the interest of helping out those who just don't have time for this learning experience, Les has been working on two alternative installation paths and an easier configuration method.
The Server Image
In 2010, Les Richardson developed a school administrator's dream: a freely downloadable CD image (iso) of a complete server with Open Admin pre-installed. That way, any school with an available computer and the know-how to make a cd from the iso file could set up their own server with Open Admin on it.
Now The Hosted OA Solution -- the easiest way to get Open Admin yet
Early in 2011 Les agreed to work with Open Source Schools to make yet another solution: one that required neither a dedicated server nor the Internet connection to support it -- a hosted installation requiring no maintenance or upgrades because they would both be taken care of on a remote server. The great thing about it is that you still get complete control over your data and you still have the opportunity to hire Les to make improvements. But your sleepless nights worrying about whether the server will be working tomorrow are gone. Those are the worries of OpenSourceSchools.org, who are working with Les to provide a home for this new, easy installation method for Open Admin. OpenSourceSchools.org and Les Richardson invite old and new users of Open Admin for Schools to join this site, contribute to the forums and to try one of these great solutions.
Of course, choosing to use the new on-line installation or to hire Les to make adjustments for your installation, whether it's here or on your own server, keeps this effort going. So, we look forward to working with you as we all do what we can to make a better tool for school management: Open Admin for Schools.