School Portal and School Management Systems (SMS) are two terms that are very closely related and often used interchangeably. You may have encountered a situation where you couldn’t seem to decide the best option for your School because you just couldn’t figure out how each actually works.
School Management Software SMS is often called a School ERP (ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning) or sometimes just a School Software. A School Portal on the other hand sometimes goes by “Education Portal” or “Student Portal” and oddly enough, “School Portal Management System”.
That being said, I’ve found that although both School Portal & School Management Software may share similar interfaces, function to improve communication & provide quick and easy access to key information, there are a few differences worth knowing, especially if your School is considering acquiring one or both options.
What a School Portal Is and A School Management Software(SMS) Isn’t
- The Portal’s function is quite narrow. It primarily serves as an online hub or community for sharing information regarding all school activities including academics, research, seminars, conferences and other events. This is made accessible to current/prospective students, staff and alumni as well as the public.
- It’s your gateway to Learning Management System. A portal provides a web-based environment for delivering online courses, and managing virtual learning communities. Moreover, it gives instructors the ability to create and share content to increase engagement, like social course activities (social media, blogs, wikis, forums, chats).
- Let’s not forget the E-Library Integration. A portal provides remote access to licensed resources often restricted to current faculty, students and staff to cater to their learning needs. Resources include E-books, E-Images, E-Journals and Library Tools. Most e-libraries allow for a search option (or finder) depending on what type of material you are looking for (journal articles or monographs? citations, abstracts, or full-text?) or whether you are looking for a known item (known citation, particular journal title) or you want to search for whatever information might be available.
What a School Management Software (SMS) Is and a School Portal Isn’t
- The word “Management” part clearly stands out. SMS enables control of all the different facets of the educational establishment including admission, fee management, transport management,inventory, payroll, etc…The list is endless.It functions to increase productivity and performance. A portal is not versatile in that regard (Read point #1).
- It’s all about the Reports. An efficient SMS is equipped with a reporting module that allows for generating lots of reports to meet the needs of the different users of the system. These reports are very comprehensive and provide analytics that can help administrators to learn more about how the school is performing and help them to create plans for the future. With an increased automation, paperwork is almost eliminated from the day-to-day work process.
- Detailed Result Analysis: Yes, on a portal students can log in and access their results. The same results can be viewed by teachers and administrators to assess students’ performance. But that’s where it pretty much stops. What an SMS offers is a comprehensive look into how each student is performing against their peers. Students’ results are computed in real time and include granular information needed for assessment such as the average score in class or the highest score in class from the previous term.
- It ensures the School has the records it needs when they are needed. Remember the reporting module I mentioned earlier in point #5? Well an SMS compiles past/ current reports and makes them readily available to administrators and relevant stakeholders for making informed decisions. Again, a portal does not provide this feature.
- And then there’s the instant notification feature. Information is not just made available to view on a platform like how it is on a portal, an SMS has the capacity to also improve how parents are involved in the student’s life as well as the School’s community by sending them instant academic and attendance updates so they can easily see what’s happening with their child’s education. Not to mention, they also get notified of emergencies or other important events happening in the School.Also, teachers benefit from the notification feature, for example, a subject teacher is notified if he/she is assigned as a subject teacher, the Class Teacher is notified if he/she is assigned as class teacher, staff is notified if he is assigned as the Exam Officer and several other notifications….you get the picture.
In my opinion, having both a School Portal and School Management Systems (SMS) in your School is a smart idea as each functions differently to meet your School needs. However, if you significantly want to see an increase in engagement, communication, productivity and simplify all other School processes, then a School Management Software (SMS) is the best way to start out.
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