The world right now is in a state of relentless technological progress. Over the last 20 years, almost every aspect of our lives was changed by the emergence of the digital media. It quickly expanded into the fields previously dominated by paper. Everything from newspapers to tax reports moved to the digital field. The schooling systems in the US eagerly accepted the benefits offered by computer software and the internet.
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Electronic libraries allow access to the vast academic databases from the comfort of one’s home. Digital lessons and presentations are becoming more and more widespread. Some theorists speculate that even writing itself would soon become obsolete. Teachers nowadays are expected to be able to adapt to the ever-changing technologies and operate a variety of specialized educational software. This paper is going to assess the curriculum software used in Katy Independent School District.
The district is located within the city limits of Houston, Texas, and serves over 65000 students yearly. It has around 60 schools under its jurisdiction (Katy ISD, 2013). In accordance with the National Educational Technology Plan, the district has been allocating resources into modernization and creation of electronic libraries, as well as the extensive implementation of learning software (National Education, 2016).
It has successfully implemented and a curriculum software used for managing student data and creating a more transparent and easily accessed system. Their choice product is eSchoolPLUS. It is a student information system created by Sungard K-12.
This curriculum software can be used for a variety of purposes, which include:
- Management of the Curriculum Program, which includes Curriculum Mapping, analysis, and exemplars.
- Calendar-based Lesson planning.
- Tracking Tools for student progress.
- Deep Performance Analysis.
- Cross-section and longitudinal performance assessments.
- Creation and implementation of personal learning plans.
- Access to numerous standardized files and materials via a built-in Library (K-12 Assessment, 2016).
Teachers and professional support personnel noted that the software’s performance managed to meet their requirements. They have also noted the rapid introduction and deployment of the technology in their schooling system, wholesome and adequate technical support and a variety of tools that allow flexibility with the managing of the curriculum. As a 100% Web-based software, eSchoolPLUS features extensive backups with the use of a cloud server in order to store data.
Information could be easily restored should a technical failure occur. The program can be accessed using a conventional computer or a smartphone. This creates new opportunities for students and parents to monitor and assess their progress (K-12 Assessment, 2016).
There is practically no information related to any shortcomings of this particular application. The program uses a system that allows locating and eliminating simple errors within the program, which eliminates many possible complaints. One major shortcoming of the system is that it is not optimized to work with Google Chrome, which is a popular browser. There are isolated complaints about the program’s underperformance, such as incorrect calculations and tediousness of the three-step system used to complete most tasks. However, those are isolated cases likely caused by poor program handling (eSchoolPLUS, 2015).
Other shortcomings of the eSchoolPLUS system are universal to all curriculum software out there and are explained through the very nature of electronic devices. Due to being a web software, the program is potentially vulnerable to hacking. It is possible to hack into web-based curriculum systems and change their or other students’ grades. While there are no records of eSchoolPLUS being hacked, there were hacking attempts involving similar systems (Cergol, 2015).
The other disadvantage that eSchoolPLUS and other systems like it have is the fact that it requires certain implementation expenses. The software and hardware of a school have to be adequate in order to run it, which could create difficulties for smaller or underfunded facilities. In addition, the personnel has to be trained to use the program properly. This could create certain difficulties during the transition period (Ramey, 2012).
Nevertheless, these shortcomings have proven themselves negligible. Kerri Rampelli, the director of enterprise applications for the Katy Independent School District, noted that the SunGard K-12 had offered them everything they needed to replace the disparate software system with a unified curriculum software (Katy ISD, 2013). The company also provided excellent training and educational materials to smoothen the transition from various old systems towards the new one.
The teachers were trained to use the curriculum software throughout the summer, two times a week, to make sure they are ready before September (Katy ISD, 2013). The program is in implementation since 1 June 2013, and ever since then it can be found on all 58 campuses, allowing full coverage of the Katy ISD.
The assessment concludes that the implementation of eSchoolPLUS was a complete success. Innovation is a positive process and a top priority for all school districts in Texas and the US. Judging by how well the system was implemented in the Katy ISD, it is safe to recommend its use in other districts that have yet to undergo a switch towards a unified curriculum software.
Cergol, G. (2015). 3 Students Charged After High School Computer System Hacked, Grades Changed. NBC New York. Web.
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eSchoolPLUS. (2015). Web.
K-12 Assessment & Curriculum Management. (2016). Web.
Katy ISD Employs Best Practices in Selecting, Implementing eSchoolPLUS. (2013). Web.
National Education Technology Plan. (2016). Web.
Ramey, K. Advantages and Disadvantages of Information Technology. (2012). Web.