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High School Leaps from Paper to Cloud for Student Registration
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A Chicago-area public high school with about 3,300 students has converted registration from a paper process to a digital form. Formerly, Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park would hand paper forms to new families at the start of the school year and then type the data from those forms into Skyward, the student information system (SIS). Now families fill out the new student pre-registration online using InfoSnap, a cloud service that provides admission and registration functionality for pre-K-12 schools.
The previous process would require the school to bring in temps for a few weeks to do the data entry. As a result of that manual process, said Data Systems Analyst Christopher Thieme, "Over the course of the school year, we'd stumble upon data entry mistakes and then spend valuable time correcting them."
Thieme hunted for an alternative, but several candidates "relied heavily" on staff to set up the new system. He said the school chose InfoSnap because it was "able to do a lot of the heavy lifting for us."
Oak Park scanned its paper forms and turned them into PDF files and sent those to InfoSnap. The company converted them into "smartforms," or digital forms filled out online.
The school uses SkyBuild, a custom import/export function in Skyward, to move data from the smartforms into the SIS.
"The fact that InfoSnap already had templates built for the SkyBuild component was impressive," noted Thieme. "We did not have to work with Skyward in order to craft something. We could take what was already there and tweak it. It saved a lot of effort in trying to figure out how to map certain fields because the general mapping was already done by InfoSnap."
Thieme also revamped the workflow for the registration process to ensure that school staff are approving records before they land in the SIS. For example, the system needs to ensure that student residency has been verified, a specification of the written policies that was tough to confirm previously. "We'd have paperwork but no residency information, residency information but no paperwork. Having this structured workflow in place has ensured that every family completes each step of the required process," he explained.
He estimated that since the adoption of InfoSnap, the school has quadrupled the amount of work that's being done in maintaining student records, with less expenditure of effort. The school now has a "100 percent" completion rate for student registration, he said. "I'm glad I went with InfoSnap because more weight would have been put on staff to get the work done had we chosen someone else."
InfoSnap services are also in use by Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 in Pennsylvania and DeSoto County School District in Mississippi, among others.
Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.