The school holidays are now here, but before the summer break started, we launched the latest update to SIMS, containing a number of new features and functions.
The end of the school year always gives us a firm focus point for completing pieces of work, or alternatively for identifying new tasks and projects to get stuck into over the summer in time for the new term.
In this blog we’ll take a look at some of the latest changes that we’ve incorporated and a couple of projects on the agenda that we would like to share at this time.
Latest change requests
Ahead of the spring release of SIMS we received a huge number of change requests from users and we were delighted to action over 20 of them into updates.
This time around, we’ve looked to continue that level of momentum and we’ve managed to develop 16 into live updates for the summer release. For full details on all the updates, users can log in to My Account and check out the SIMS 2018 summer release notification page. Alternatively, our Product Manager Paul Featherstone has posted a series of blogs containing short videos demonstrating the updated functionality – you can find volume 1, volume 2 and volume 3 via these links.
Among the changes that we’ve made this time around are functionality to support data retention requirements that have come around as part of the new GDPR regulations, specifically around the bulk deletion of data. If you have a login in for MyAccount, you can find full details – including a short demonstration video – via this notification page.
The feedback we receive from our users that helps inform the change request and update programme remains incredibly valuable to us as we look to ensure that our customers’ needs are met. Having delivered large numbers of change requests now as part of two consecutive updates, we hope this helps to showcase our approach to taking that feedback on board and acting upon it.
Putting Exams to the test
One project which is now well underway is an exciting piece of work to develop our next generation Exams module.
We’ve recently completed an extensive programme of gathering feedback on our existing Exams functionality with a view to incorporating users’ thoughts as much as possible. As a result, we’ve already engaged our development team and created proofs of concept and wireframes for the new Exams module, which we’ve designed to work with the existing version of SIMS and the next generation of SIMS.
As the new Exams will work with both the existing SIMS and the new version of SIMS, we’ve been able to take advantage of our learnings from the recently released SIMS Options, which also offers functionality across both interfaces.
Our aim is to be in a position to share some of those designs with our customers, so make sure you re-visit our blog and MyAccount to find out more.
Aligning Assessment and MS OneNote
Back in June, my colleague Rachael Marshman published an exciting blog on the new integration between SIMS Assessment and Microsoft OneNote.
In that blog, Rachael detailed how teachers can now streamline their recording of assessment marks to SIMS with a direct link from Microsoft OneNote, which we know is an extremely popular classroom tool.
What makes this development most exciting is the potential it brings for the future – now that we have this kind of global mechanism in place, we have the ability to work with a huge variety of partners via web APIs.
It will be extremely interesting to see where this development takes us in the future and how we can grow our support for schools, facilitating the tools they currently use in new and ever-advancing ways.
Doing your Homework
Our school engagement solution continues to develop as we strive to provide a single platform for a wide variety of day-to-day school activities and interactions.
Most recently, our work has focused on our homework offering, building out our solution within SIMS Parent and SIMS Student based on extensive feedback from customers on our existing platform.
At the centre of our homework module will be the ability for teachers to attach resources and distribute them out to students, with the ability to include parents so that they have sight of what’s being set.
This will give teachers more flexibility in terms of how and when they deliver homework tasks to their pupils, save on printing costs and provide parents and pupils with a purpose-built mechanism for managing homework tasks and accompanying resources.
We’ll be sharing more on this in the coming months so make sure you re-visit our blog and MyAccount to find out more.
We’re constantly looking to make SIMS the best it can be for our customers, so we’re always keen to hear about improvements that you’d like to see implemented. If you’ve got any ideas about how to make SIMS work better for your school, please post any comments below or in the My Account Support forums.