Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Contacts Dropped, Emergency Contacts / Employer Added

  • Live Date October 27, 2014
  • Emergency Contacts, Employer added to Student Profile
  • Contacts Section Dropped, Contacts copied over to custom fields
  • Configuration Options Consolidated

One goal of these latest changes to ampEducator are to bring focus to the core sections (Prospects, Students, Courses and Programs) and remove, simplify or better integrate everything else.. With this is mind we've decided to integrate contacts directly into Students by adding Emergency Contacts and Employer info fields. Once incorporated we will drop the Contacts section altogether and copy and information from Contacts into the profile (if applicable) or into new custom fields.

Lastly all the configuration options have been consolidated into a single module. Hour Clocks, Mailing Labels, PDF Templates, Roles and Transcript Templates can all be accessed under the Configuration menu.

How will these changes affect us?
For the most part the only difference you should notice are the absence of the Contacts section and new fields for Emergency Contacts and Employer under Prospect and Student profiles. If you had contacts assigned to Students previously and they don't fall under Emergency or Employer then a new custom field will be created and the contact information will be copied over.

What benefits will we see?
Better integration of contact will mean that information will be easier to access. One less section will make the application easier to learn. Consolidation of the configuration options will also make setup and maintenance easier as well.

What will happen to the Contacts we've already defined?
If you've defined Emergency or Employer contacts those will be copied over to the appropriate fields into the Student profile. If you have other types of Contacts (e.g. Parents) a custom field will be created and the information will be copied over to the student's profile.

We're using the read-only database to generate reports, what changes do we have to make?
The Contacts table and related tables (ContactNotes, StudentContacts, StaffContacts) will all be dropped so any reports depending on those will no longer work. The reports will have to be adjusted to work with the new columns in the Student stable.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns please contact us support@amperea.com.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Current & Permanent Address

  • Live Date September 29, 2014
  • Prospect & Student profiles will now include Current & Permanent address
  • Support for additional address types will be removed
  • Existing additional address types will be copied to custom fields
  • External reports using read-only database will be affected
Currently prospect and student information and addresses are stored separately in ampEducator. This gives institutions the flexibility to define custom address types and store as many addresses per prospect / student as they like. After reviewing it's use however we've found that most institutions use this to store the current mailing address and the permanent address. To remove a layer of complexity which isn't required we've decided to add mailing and permanent addresses directly in the prospect and student profiles. 
How will this affect us?
For the most part nothing will change except in the prospect and student profile there will now be fields for the current and permanent address. The data from existing addresses will be copied over. If you have reports uploaded into ampEducator they will automatically be updated. If you have reports running on our read-only db you will need to update them (see below).
What benefits will we see?
It will make the application a little simpler and more intuitive and natural to use. As a side effect it will give you access to prospect / student address columns when displaying tables.
What will happen to additional address types we've defined?
Some schools have used the address types to define 'Emergency' contacts or 'Parent' contacts. In order to maintain this data custom fields will be added to Prospect and Student records and this information will be copied into those fields. In upcoming changes we will be adding 'Emergency' contacts directly into the student profile.
We are using the read-only database to generate reports. What changes are required?
The following changes will be made to the database schema.
  1. Address fields for current and permanent address will be added to Prospective and Student tables.
  2. Phone fields and email will be added to Prospective and Student tables.
  3. CurrentEmail, CurrentPhone and CurrentPhoneUnformatted will be dropped from Prospective and Student tables. 
  4. ProspectiveStudentAddresses will be dropped.
  5. StudentAddresses will be dropped.
You should also be aware that in a future build (most likely following this one) the Prospective tables will be merged into the Student tables. Since they will have identical schemas you will only have to update the tables referenced in your reports (i.e PropectiveStudents -> Students and ProspectiveStudentNotes -> StudentNotes etc...).
If you have any comments, questions or concerns please contact us support@amperea.com.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

User Interface Changes

  • Live on Monday, September 22
  • Sidebar Menu Removed
  • Prospects, Students, Courses, Programs have permanent tabs
  • Other sections under 'More...' tab
  • Config & Support options move to tabs
  • No more pop-up windows

In response to feedback we've been adjusting the user interface for ampEducator to make it simpler and easier to use. For those who have been on the system for a while will remember that before the sidebar menu you would have to go back to the dashboard in order to jump into a different section. It worked but it could take multiple clicks and multiple page loads before you ended up in the right section. The sidebar menu changed all that and it allowed you to quickly jump between sections. However it can still take 2 clicks to get between the core sections of the application.

Current UI

We decided that the core sections - Prospects, Students, Courses and Programs - should be accessible in a single click and therefore have given them their own permanent tabs. In order to completely get rid of the sidebar menu, less commonly used sections have been put into a 'More..' dropdown tab. Finally the configuration menu which was in top small menu and the support menu on the right hand side have also received their own tabs for consistency.

New UI Beta
We believe that this makes the application much more user friendly in terms of usability and simplicity. Making this change also gave us back screen real estate which we are planning to use in future improvements. For students, the sidebar menu has been replaced with the same menu but in tab form.

Lastly as I noted in the last blog posting, we will slowly be removing all the pop up windows from the application. While useful the same (and possibly better) can be accomplished by right-clicking on a link and opening in a new tab or window.

Please email us at support@amperea.com for any questions, comments or concerns.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Student Updates

  • User Interface Improvements
  • Student Schedule View / Print
  • Contact Portal Removed
There was a minor update to the student's section as well as the student portal section. The update was mostly cosmetic. All the tables in the section were updated to utilize more of the screen real estate and actions which were represented by small icons were replaced with clear buttons. All cancel / back actions were also emphasized to make them stand out.
A new on-scree schedule view was added allowing staff and students to view their student schedule online and to generate a PDF version for printing.
Lastly we've removed the Contact portal. This was a feature which allowed third-parties (like parents) to login, review and update student information. Unfortunately the feature was never used and we decided to put the resources in maintaining to continue to improve ampEducator.
Note that this is part of our larger user interface updates including the removal of the pop-up windows which are created, for example, when a student record is selected. This functionality has become available in browsers through the right-click 'New Tab / Window' option.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Course Updates

  • Finer Control for Faculty Access
  • Students, Gradebook and Attendance split
  • Better Gradebook and Attendance views
  • Simpler Course Events
There were some update made to the Courses section. The initial purpose was to expand faculty access to courses which they are assigned to but other changes were made as well.

When assigning an educator you now have the option to give them management access to some or all parts of the course including course details, grading schema, events, students, gradebook, attendance, announcements and documents. This allows you to do things like assign one faculty for attendance only and another one to gradebook.

In order to allow this type of control we had to split the previous 'Students, Grades & Attendance' into separate Students, Gradebook and Attendance modules. While this was being done we also took the time to update their views to populate the entire width of the screen.

Lastly event tags and titles were removed from Course events. We found that in nearly all cases there was no need to label or tag the course events and it was just an unnecessary extra step.

If you are experiencing any issues or problems or have any comments (good or bad!) please email us at support@amperea.com.