Information Systems Management


Week One
Our students love computers. My problem is many want to do their own thing, and not what I want and need them to do. The Digital Disconnect (Levin and Arafeh, 2002) reveals information that made me think, "duh." Some of the information we already know but I guess we needed research to prove. The first thing the article pointed out is "Using the Internet is a norm for today's youth." This is true even for youth as young as two years old and maybe less. My grandchildren know how to play games on the Internet. They learned to recognize their names on the computer even before they went to school because the games require each player to have a unique identity. When they were very young the games used pictures, as they got older, the games required a first name. I agree with all points made in the article regarding Internet-savvy students. These students really know their stuff; they need us to help show them the correct way to do things that may baffle them. I have a 10th grade student who taught himself how to make a movie with Adobe After Effects. I had him post it to his blog so that his classmates could see it. Students know a lot and want us to help them perfect their knowledge. I also agree that Internet-savvy students are very successful in their endeavors. They know how to use the Internet to their advantage. I also agree that many Internet-savvy students try to help their peers when they can. In most cases they are far more advanced than their counterparts.

Levin, D., & Arafeh, S. (2002). The digital disconnect. The widening gap between internet-savvy students and their schools. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from

Week Two
"The functions of data are to provide the building materials to construct a clear and accurate picture of the school, its students and their performance, and its relationships with other institutions and the community. Student learning outcomes are affected and influenced by a complex range of factors, not only those attaining to the individual, but also factors arising from the individual’s personal and institutional experience and environment (Tolley and Shulruf, 2009)." I sometimes wonder, does data driven instruction help students in real life situations? I realize that the answer is affirmative. Teachers need data to design lessons for student success. For instance, I hate math; but I love the challenge of answering difficult mathematical equations. If I were in school today, my math teacher would have to design a lesson that is geared to strengthen areas where I am weak. Math teachers must use data gained from formal and informal assessments to prepare all students, including me if I were a student, for high stakes testing. When I taught 6th grade reading, I was constantly giving students various types of assessments to help me get them ready for TAKS. Many of my assessments were informal; the district's mock tests were also used to help gauge student strengths and weaknesses. The picture the data paints of inner city schools is sometimes very grim and not always accurate. The data may say our school is rated as "acceptable," but misses the complex range of factors, including real human factors, that students face everyday.

Tolley, H., & Shulruf, B. (2009). From data to knowledge: The interaction between data management systems in educational institutions and the delivery of quality education.

Week Three
"Four key ideas continually surface when it comes to making the most of the SIS technology: leadership, communication, training and more training (Sausner, 2003)."

Student data is what pays the bills, plain and simple. We have to get this right for everything else to be right. Leadership is definitely key in the area of optimization of existing technology. Our district moved from SASI to Gradespeed this school year. Technology leaders in the district listened to the complains of faculty and staff about SASI. Teachers, PEIMS and attendance clerks, and administrators communicated the need for a change from SASI and its sister product, Integrade Pro. For one thing, we could not work on the teacher-side product, Integrade Pro, at home; if too many teachers were on the system, it simply would not work. The counselors, administrators, and PEIMS and attendance clerks used SASI. We had to get off of SASI so that they could update attendance and we had better be off before the end of the day so that they could run their data! We still have student information in SASI that needs to be moved over to Gradespeed. Technology leaders gave us rush and learn training for Gradespeed with training modules available on the district's website. Gradespeed does have many advantages, the first being that it is Web-based. This means we can work on it at home. Also, it is expandable. I know that in addition to the usual users, our cafeteria also uses the program. Also, the referral process is a lot simpler in that we can create it in Gradespeed and send it to students' assigned administrator or just create it as a teacher referral. I also use it to log parental contacts. Students love that they can log into Gradespeed to see assignments. The used to be able to see grades, but some students printed fake progress reports for their parents, so this has been disabled :). I agree with Sausner that there needs to be lots of training on new technology, especially where student data is concerned. It is better to err on the side of overwhelming us with training so that there are no mistakes. We have a very diverse population. This means that we have many students, literally, with the same name. This can be a problem for the registrar when it is time to order diplomas. She has to painstakingly verify every bit of student data, some of which was entered in the system incorrectly when a student was enrolled as a 4 or 5 year old. The paperwork is fulfilling when every piece of data is correct.

Sausner, R. (2003, November). Making paperwork fulfilling. District Administrator. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from: Retrieved from Lamar University Epic site.

Week Four
"One might expect that the current crop of high school students -- kids who learned to read even as they learned to click a mouse and hit Enter -- wouldn't think twice about keeping track of their classes online. But the experience at San Ramon's California High School suggests that not everyone in the wired generation is an eager early adopter.

The real success of such products rests with the teachers. If they don't update the system at the back end with grades and assignments, the whole exercise becomes pointless. And there is a measure of ambivalence among teachers about Web-based technologies that dissolve traditional boundaries between the living room and the classroom (Gronke, 2009)."

My grandchildren are among the wired generation. They are in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten; and yes, they have learned to read as they click a mouse and hit Enter. I found that comment amusingly true. Many high achieving students at my high school like the idea of keeping track of their grades and classes online. But, there are those who are not interested in grades or anything else, for that matter. Gronke is correct that teachers must keep information updated. Many students quiz me about their grades and want to know when I will get around to updating them! This keeps me on my toes. They understand my system; I try not to give zeroes for missing work, I will usually give a 70 which means students have time to work on assignments and a 69 if the assignment is not turned in. So, when it progress report or report card time, students who care about their averages harass me to get the grade changed. I think that parents and students like the ease and convenience of monitoring grades online. As teacher, I need to be more vigilant in posting grades weekly. That way students and parents will know exactly what needs to be completed each week. Also, when parents check their child's grade, I have to make sure that grades are truly accurate. I do not want students to be unjustly accused of not doing an assignment because I have not posted a new grade for the assignment. I agree with Gronke's assessment that parents can use the information in the system to help their child plan ahead and manage their time.

Gronke, A. (2009, February). Student information systems monitor kids’ grades. Edutopia. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from

Week Five
Both articles had very good information about filtering. Both also gave legitimate reasons for having powerful filtering in place on campus and district computers. I have a problem with students accessing blocked sites using proxies. I have had several computers with viruses because of these sites. This happens despite the fact that I am watching and warning about these sites. Our latest threat has come from music sharing sites. I do allow students to listen to music while they are working if they have headphones. At first, the viruses were coming with them from home on their flash drives. We had a major problem with a virus called "silly something (can not think of the name because I have not seen it since the first part of the year). This virus reconfigured files by adding its name to the beginning of the file name and creating a shortcut to the file that did not work. We finally figured out how to open files, but not before it infected many computer ports. Our district uses a virus scan program that is a joke. It is like having a big, ferocious looking dog that will do nothing but lick the hand of an intruder! Basically, it is just on the computer to look like it is going to do something important; it does not block viruses. As a matter of fact, the virus overtakes the virus scan program and hijacks the computers! The article, The Filtering Challenge, points out, "As with anything in life, you get what you pay for. A cheap filter will lack the sophistication to discern between subtle variants of Web sites. It will also quickly become out-of-date. To remain effective, a Web filter's site database must constantly be maintained (Careless, 2007)." I do not know if the filtering purchased by the district can be considered cheap, but it is definitely ineffective.

Careless, J. (2007). The filtering challenge. Tech & Learning, Retrieved May 12, 2011 from