We’re so excited about this year’s first big upgrade!
After 8 years of working with schools and gathering feedback about how we can help streamline the selection process, we’re launching the new version of SSO.
There’s a lot of great things, but here are a few key areas to whet your appetite.
Simplified Set-Up Process
We know that spreadsheets are rarely a joyous part of anyone’s working day. Naturally, we need to get information into SSO, but we found better ways to UPLOAD your students, results, and fellow staff. Drag and drop your spreadsheets in, make necessary connections on the fly, and push the data into the system.
We’ve renamed the columns so that you don’t have to figure out what the codes mean, and SSO now automatically reads the first sheet in any .xls, .xlsx, or .csv spreadsheet.
One of the best things we’ve done is to make the selection process setup mapped out on the website – no more spreadsheets! Rather than entering your selection process into a spreadsheet, uploading it, and hoping for the best, you can now see the selection process as you create it. The sections (related themes), instructions (information or directions) and selections (choices available) can be expanded, so that you’ve got a clear view of the selection process. Click any of these items, and the specific options for that item will appear across the top of the page. You can add pictures, tables, HTML links, and all of your text formatting is available in easy and familiar buttons. You can set all of your minimums, maximums, pre-requisite settings, pre-selected courses, and the usual settings, as well as some new features, like further response requirements, and drag and drop for ordered preferences.
Each year level gets its own checklist for set up – all you have to do is work your way down the list, and mark each item as completed when you’re happy with it. This also means that student access dates are now set up separately for each year level. When the cohort have finished selections and you’ve extracted the data you need, you can archive their selection information. Once archived, the courses you’ve uploaded and the selection process will remain in the system, allowing you to tweak the offerings as necessary, and upload the new cohort’s data when it rolls around to selection time in the following year.
We’ve augmented the capacity management functionality, so that you can have combinations of individually- and collectively-calcuated capacity limits. In conjunction with this, waitlisted selections can now automatically clear and advise students when space becomes available. Global rules are really easy to set up – set the details of what you need, click which selections are included, and save. Doesn’t get any simpler!
Get your team involved!
There’s always one person who ends up shouldering all of the responsibility for subject selections at the school – and this makes us sad! We know that there’s more than one staff member who is involved in the process, and we’ve designed SSO so that everyone is empowered to be involved. Rather than lumping all staff into one category, we’ve created three additional roles with access to certain parts of the process:
Home Teachers are able to check the overview of how students are progressing with their selections, and can reset PINs for their assigned students.
Course Counsellors are able to look at and assist with the selection process of their assigned students, and make recommendations specific to their career aspirations.
HoLAs are able to review who is eligible to choose the courses they are responsible for based on pre-requisite requirements, and review override requests to these. Much like Course Counsellors, they can make recommendations, but from the perspective of academic aptitude.
If you’ve got staff who have blends of the roles above – no problems. It will show the relevant access and abilities, without giving them more information or ability than they need.
SSO Co-ordinators are still responsible for overseeing the general setup and flow, however these additional roles mean their workload can be significantly lightened.
Student Experience Advanced
The improvements to the student experience begin right on the login page. Most prevalent will be the background image when students are logging in – you get to decide what picture is displayed. It could be anything you’d proudly like to display – a great picture of the school grounds, the smiling faces of the school community, or even an artwork created by one of the students! You can also choose whether the branding of your school is a logo or a banner. In addition to jpeg files, you can also now use png files, allowing for a clear background – perhaps to show off the artwork on the login screen. We highly recommend you upload the email addresses from your students – the first benefit will be that students can set their own PIN (and that also extends to resetting a PIN if they lose it).
Once the students are logged in, there are three areas to the page. Navigation through each section is on the left, the full selection process is in the centre, and the chosen selections on the right. On a mobile device (yes – it works on a mobile!) the sections and chosen selections are condensed into dropdowns to best utilise the screen space. No app is required for SSO on a mobile device – it will work through the standard internet browser.
There’s some simple indicators for students to see what selections they can choose, based on their pre-requisite results. Radio, checkbox and dropdown are outlined in green if they can go ahead and choose a selection, orange if they don’t have the required results but you’re allowing them to request on override, and red if they don’t have the marks and can’t request it. If the student has already chosen an option for a section, and you don’t want it being selected more than once, it will be greyed out.
We’ve continued with the colour theme throughout the whole student experience. Its really simple for students to see what they have to do. If a section on the left is red, there’s something that still needs to be done there. Next to the instructions, a red circle with an exclamation mark shows exactly which instruction hasn’t yet been completed. The red exclamation mark changes to a green tick once they’ve completed the minimum requirements.
Every school has shining stars, so what better way to show recommended choices for a student? A little gold star appears next to selections, when you think a student should consider choosing a selection on offer.
While the colours and layout have a natural flow to help students make the correct selections, they can hover over items that require their attention, and a pop-up will give them more information.
We’ve had great feedback from schools about our integration with BPoint, which allows schools to collect payments for selections within the selection process. It even remembers how much has already been paid by the student, and will deduct the payments already made from the total remaining. We’re looking to add some administrative reporting functionality to this in the future, so stay tuned.
There are so many more little packets of ‘coolness’ that we’ve added, but there’s too many for one blog entry!
If you would like to find out more about the enhancements we’ve made to SSO (or even if you’re a first-timer), contact us today on 02 4304 3000.