When new visitors come across eduTrac SIS, they are excited as well as hoping that it is an alternative for systems such as OpenSIS, Fedena, EduSec and other open source student information systems. However, they quickly learn that it is not the case. Comparing eduTrac SIS with the other systems previously mentioned is like comparing an apple to an orange.
OpenSIS, Fedena, and EduSec are just some examples of simple systems. But what do we mean by the phrase “simple system.” Well, for one, it is not synonymous with “easy”. Instead, in this instance the phrase is being used to describe a system that allows for the rolling over or archiving of data and/or the option of deleting data or the complete wiping of a system with no care of keeping historical records.
For most small to medium schools looking for an inexpensive student information system, a simple system fits their immediate need. However, eduTrac SIS is not a simple system but instead falls more in line with systems such as Colleague and Banner by Ellucian, PeopleSoft by Oracle and Kuali by KualiCo. So then, one must ask the question, what makes eduTrac SIS so different that it’s not considered a simple system?
There are quite a few differences but only a few will be outlined below.
What makes historical data possible in eduTrac SIS is the existence of multi-valued data. This means that there could be several address records per person, several applications per person, several term records per student, several course section records per student, several student academic credit records per student, and so forth. With this information being fragmented (a term being used in a positive way) among several different relational tables, it makes it convenient to run statistical analysis as well as much more complicated ad-hoc reports. Colleague by Banner uses several different files (alternative term to database tables) in order to accomplish the same means.
SQL Terminal and Reporting
When eduTrac SIS was being built, it was important to figure out a way to allow schools to retrieve the data they want and need when they want or need it. The best way to do that was to allow an interface to the database in order to select the data that is required. Now granted, you need to know Structured Query Language (SQL), but it is quite easy to learn, and there are several schools that take full advantage of it. One developer of an open SIS system has seen the value in this and wrote a plugin that allows his system to offer the same for his user base.
After installing eduTrac SIS, you need to setup the system and the setup takes time and patience. Most people do not like to read manuals. They just dive right in and hope for the best. Well, you can’t do that with this system because you will quickly become frustrated when things are not working correctly. In order to get the most and best out of eduTrac SIS, you have to take your time in setting up the system. The Getting Started guide can help focus and steer you in the right direction.
You need dedicated IT support. If you are going to use a system like eduTrac SIS, then you need a person on staff that is proficient in PHP, MySQL and who can also understand the Handbook. One system does not meet everyone’s needs. Nevertheless, eduTrac SIS has action hooks and filters you can use to extend functionality, manipulate functionality, as well as use them to write plugins as well as your own routes without having to hack the core.
As you can see from above, eduTrac SIS is not for the faint of heart. It is not your typical open source system where you can go in blind and hope for the best. It is an intricate system, and you need to take the time to learn it. Therefore, if you are looking for an inexpensive system that will grow with your institution, that will allow you to create great reports, that allows for statistical analysis, and has a plethora of other ERP like features, then eduTrac SIS is what you need. Otherwise, if you need something quick and not so detailed, then one of the simple systems will best fit your need.