Open Source School Management Solutions – A Comparison


There are several school management solutions available in the market, however, it’s still a challenge for schools to shift from the manual i.e. book keeping system to the digital system. Awareness, cost and support services are some of the main reasons why schools are still managed manually.

Luckily there are several school management software solutions out of which I have selected a few and have provided pros and cons for each. 

1. School Tool:

School Tool is built specifically to meet the needs of New York State (NYS) or NYS certified schools in the United States.

http://book.schooltool.org/screenshots.html

Pros:

School Tool is a web based school management system, which makes it easy for administrators, faculty, and staff to navigate, to record and report information faster and easier.

School Tool has a handful of features that include but are not limited to:

  • Easy-to-use advanced search
  • Track, monitor, and report on faculty and students
  • View students attendance class performance history
  • Communicate with school and district personnel
  • Mobile access to critical information
  • Easily change student schedules with drag-and-drop tools
  • Generate report cards and transcripts
  • Manage graduation requirements and students’ course history
  • Complex searches, grade search, and assessment tracking
  • Online help for all users

Cons: 

School Tool is not a full fledged school management system; which means schools have to find tools for departments such as human resource management and financial management. It’s a cloud based system which might not fit the criteria for some schools especially in developing countries. Last but not the least, School Tool is developed based on the needs of NYS schools; customization for other schools might add up to the over all cost of the system.



2. Fedena:

Fedena is a free open source school management solution that was initially developed by a group of developers from Foradian Technologies, it’s now being managed by the open source community.

https://bitnami.com/stack/fedena

Pros:

Fedena is developed in Ruby on Rails, the community version source code is available for free customization. Features offered through Fedena include but are not limited to:

  • Unlimited administration and student logins to use their system
  • Unlimited courses and batches
  • The system includes human resources
  • Calendar and financial management
  • Examination management and student/parent logins

Cons: 

Fedana’s proprietary version is available under the same name; comparing the two versions makes it clear that the community version lacks some features while the proprietary version costs higher.

3. OpenSIS Community:

OpenSIS is an open source solution for private and public K-12 schools. It is published by OS4ED, a full life cycle software development company headquartered in the USA.

http://marktplatz.asperado.de/service/opensis

Pros:

OpenSIS has both free and proprietary versions available. OpenSIS boasts a 4.8/5 star rating on SourceForge.The open community version offers a list features that includes:

  • Transcripts
  • Health records
  • Attendance
  • Demographic information
  • Scheduling
  • Gradebooks
  • Custom reports

Cons:

To take full advantage of OpenSIS Community, the developers will have to be familiar with PostgreSQL. The free version has some limitations for example, it does not offer discipline, class portals and billing.

There are other open source solutions available such as FeKaraSchool Time and TS School, all of these free options have their limitations in how much they can help schools.

JS Consultancy Services implemented Fedena at Turquoise Mountain Institute and at National Institute Management and Administration (NIMA) which had excellent outcomes in past two years. Not only it increased efficiency but also it saved a lot of paper and time to both institutes.

 

Please leave your thoughts and comments about any other free school management software that were not listed above.

 

References: 

1. http://www.schooltool.com

2. http://www.projectfedena.org

3. http://www.fedena.com

4. http://www.opensis.com

5. http://sourceforge.net/projects/opensis-ce/reviews/