Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the name of the Student Information System?
The student information system (SIS) will be referred to as "Aspen" in the Yukon.
In November 2010 Pearson Canada Inc., purchased AAL (the supplier of the BCeSIS software), and announced that support for the product would be discontinued.
In the Spring of 2011, BC asked Gartner Consulting to review BCeSIS and recommend next steps. Gartner’s recommendations: “Replacing BCeSIS at this time with a new common SIS is an opportunity to address both ongoing operational needs and new requirements created by the Province’s commitment to personalized learning. Gartner also recommended that B.C. initiate a competitive procurement process to select a new student information system. This would include the development of a Request for Proposals (RFP).”
On July 31, 2012 the BC Ministry posted a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). Sixteen prospective vendors satisfied the Province’s Vendor Reference Check Review Policy and pre-qualified for inclusion in the RFP.
In January 2012, TAL began the process of meeting with SIS vendors, in anticipation of switching systems:
• Pearson PowerSchool: January 17th, 2012
The BC RFP was sent to all pre-qualified respondents on December 7, 2012. The closing date for proposal submissions was February 14, 2013.
July 24, 2013: The BC Ministry of Education announced that Follett’s Aspen SIS would replace the existing British Columbia enterprise Student Information System (BCeSIS). Together with Fujitsu, they are calling the service "MyEducationBC".
Fall 2013: Yukon New SIS Working Group formation. Demonstrations by Pearson, Follett, and openStudent (Note: openStudent has lost their funding for development).
January 2014: New SIS Working Group recommends Aspen as the new SIS choice.
August 2014: Yukon's Memorandum of Understanding with BC is signed, indicating that Yukon will use Aspen SIS.
Yes. Aspen is HTML5-based, not Java-based. It requires an Internet connection. Aspen (MyEducationBC) supports all current OS and browsers including Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome and Firefox. Aspen adjusts itself to the device that you are using (computer or mobile device); you can take attendance and access your grade book with a mobile device.
Recommended Workstation Configurations
Microsoft Windows (all versions, including Windows 7 and 8)
Macintosh OS X (all versions) Hardware: All processors supported, 1GB recommended
Chromebook Software: Chrome OS and browser
Linux Hardware: Pentium IV+, 1GB recommended
Mobile Device Requirements
Apple iOS OS version: 5.x, 6.x
Windows 8 RT Blackberry
Freezing was caused in YSIS when you lost your internet connection to the server. This is caused by the quality of your internet, and not by the SIS. FirstClass, for example, has the same problem if it loses connection to the server. As advantageous as it is to have a web-based system for accessibility, this can be a trade-off.
"Locking out" happened when you closed an active YSIS window. As you are connected to a server, it still thinks you are connected until it logs you out after being inactive for 30 minutes (security). You can then log back in. The other situation would be when you type your password in wrong, three times, and your account gets locked. In each case, you either have to wait out the specified time, or ask YSIS support to put in a "HEAT ticket" to get you in quicker (typically 3-5 minutes).
Aspen is a true Internet application and does not have the timeout problems that we ran into with YSIS/BCeSIS. Lockout periods for inactivity should be a thing of the past.
Yes. Aspen has live data for the past five years, and archived data for years before that (still accessible).
No, but it is closer than YSIS. As the SIS is a database and not a word processing document, it draws information from the main system. For example, in an IEP, student and parent demographic information comes from the main system, and you add in the goals and objectives. In a report card, the attendance summary and student information comes from the main system. This also allows all teachers of that student to work on the same report card. All the information from those teachers will come together when the report card is printed. Keep in mind that this is a student information system—not a teacher-oriented system. The report card is for a student, and may receive input from multiple teachers.
That being said, the construction of an IEP in Aspen is much more vertically-oriented than our current left-to-right tab system. Aspen has a built-in IEP writer for creating IEPs. These newer systems give a closer approximation to "what you see is what you get" when you are working and what you see when printing. Aspen allows for customization of the field names, which would allow a user to create an IEP that looks the way that they wanted.
Aspen has a wide range of reports, and allows for quite a bit of customization in reporting. This is in contrast with YSIS, which has a set number of reports with little customization. Information can come out of the system as a CSV file or a PDF.
Aspen includes a built-in ad hoc report writer as well as iReports which allows you to group data and prepare complex reports.
Aspen can interface with your email system to send out emails. The SIS does not have a mail server to send out email on its own. Both have a parent-student portal to allow communication with the parents if they log in. Similarly, text messaging is typically dealt with through a third-party solution.
Aspen allows data to be fed to other systems. Aspen allows for complete control of all code and processes. We currently use Follett's Destiny software for our Yukon school libraries, which would interface directly with Aspen.
Cross-enrolment is a basic requirement that was in the RFP. The underlying structure of Aspen supports cross-enrolment. The core configuration team and functional working groups are looking at the business processes and how they might be fine-tuned for BC/Yukon. Some extensions are being developed to make the process easier. These will be available when the application goes into production in April 2014.
One report card for a student, regardless of school. Courses will show on the report card, no matter where the course is taken.
Aspen has a powerful, visual scheduling tool with manual/automated functions.
All required functions are within Aspen. We will not implement all features at once.
The Parent Portal was an important item in choosing a new SIS in BC. Both companies are used to dealing with high volumes of users.
Follett/Fujitsu: Fujitsu has a new server farm that holds the data in Kelowna, along with a new high-speed network in BC. Aspen is used in the Miami-Dade school district in Florida, with approximately 400,000 students (not to mention teachers and parents on the Parent Portal).
Our current situation will apply, with the addition of another TAL staff member during the implementation phase. We will have a Yukon help desk, and access to Yukon trainers. Additionally, there will be a level 2 support that Yukon can call (the help desk for the help desk).
Aspen allows direct access to the database, which means that all data can be accessed. Yukon would not be relying on a set export of information.
Aspen supports continuous entry and exit—flexible learning models.
Both systems support these attendance models, and within a single school.
Aspen will include this. YSIS currently has the ability to include information regarding specialized programs, but those were not implemented due to lack of support resources. As programs are a BC requirement, we would need them to implement them.
Yes. For our French teachers, the entire interface can be switched to French, all input can be in French, and report cards can be printed in French.