Information Systems Essay Sample

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Information is the blood of organisations, the business information systems help pump it around. Therefore, these systems are integral to the ongoing success of any organisation.

As an ICT teacher and Head of Department for Sir John Cass Secondary School, I will provide you with the opportunity to investigate and gain an insight into an actual organisation, how we use information and the information systems used to help with decision-making.

I have been working in this school for 11 years now and I have seen a lot of changes and development throughout the years. You, the students, have also experienced changes as well. Instead of providing you with all the information about the school, I think it would nice for you to demonstrate your Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) and from your personal experience to provide a brief report on this school as an organisation.

I will provide you with various source documents such as:

Sixth Form absent Sheet,
School Purchase Order Form,
School Mission Statements,
Print screens of the school’s Curriculum Management Information Systems (CMIS), Scanned example of the catalogue the school uses to make orders, TMG, AS and A-level predicted grade

You will have to use these resources to help and support your explanation of how the school uses these sources of information, its purposes, the flow of information between different functional areas and the use of information system to meet its organisational objectives.

Background Information

The school has invested lot money in Information and Communication Technology, especially with the increase in the number of computers and now, using laptops (Wireless network) in new Sixth Form building.

We have CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing) for students to design their product to its exact specification using laser technology to cut it within the Design & Technology Department.

The Music Department is using Apple Macintosh computers with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and electronic keyboards to process sound. The Media Study Department uses digital cameras and camcorders with Multimedia Software to process and edit digital photographs and videos. Every classroom is equipped with an interactive whiteboard and data projector. This gives you some idea of the technology that is used in the operational side of this organisation.

Many students and even some teachers do not realise the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes (outside the classroom/lessons) to ensure the school as an organisation is running smoothly and effectively as possible. For example the premises staff (Caretakers and cleaners), Catering, SEN and EMAG, Learning Mentors and Assistant Teachers, Librarians, Admin and IT Technicians – ALL PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE in our organisation.

Senior Management Team

The Senior Management Team consists of the Deputy Heads and the Assistant Heads. The SMT in conjunction with the Head Teacher are responsible for maintaining and improving the school through different stages. There are different members of staff in charge of individual key stages. For example:

Ms Barnes is in charge of the Sixth Form (KS5)
Mr Swash is in charge of year 10-11 (KS4)
Mr Cameron is in charge of year 7-9 (KS3)
Ms Todd is in charge of Modern Foreign Languages and ICT
Mr Cloke is in charge of Finance, Admin and Timetabling

The SMT deals with the strategic and tactical side of the organisation. Spread sheets, presentation software and Management Information Systems are some of the ICT tools used to support them with decision-making.

The SMT also use external companies/organisation, e.g. CMIS by SERCO, NS OPTIUM (Networking) and ALIS (a Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre) to help support the school in processing information. At the same time, the SMT will be responsible for ensuring that information (especially, students’ personal details) used by the school are safe, secure and protected, especially information stored on computer systems.

Head of Years

The Head of Years main responsibility is to look after each year group dealing with attendance, punctuality, behaviour, social well-being and raising attainment across subjects.

The Head of Sixth Form (Year 12 and 13) is Ms Ali, who is support by two other members of staff, the Assistant Head of the Sixth Form Mr Shahid and the Deputy Head of Sixth Form Ms Cross. The following members of staff are responsible for individual year groups.

Mr Wallace is the Head of Year 11
Mr Spillane is the Head of Year 10
Ms Regan is the Head of Year 9
Mr Hoque is the Head of Year 8
Mr McDowell is the Head of Year 7

My Role (Head of department)

Finally, my role as Head of ICT (middle management team) is to manage and support all ICT staff to ensure that everyone in the department is following the National Curriculum at KS3, KS4 and Post-16. Basically, I deal with the curriculum side of ICT, e.g. writing Schemes of Work, choosing the most appropriate courses and units for the students in this school, to raise attainment and maintain the success of this school, which will then have to be documented in the School Evaluation Form (SEF) and School’s Department Development Plan. As Head of Department, a lot of paperwork, meetings and documentations are required to make sure that everyone in the department knows exactly what they have to do and achieve. I am given a budget each year to spend on resources for the department, e.g. stationary, textbooks, hardware and educational software, etc. Finally, in conjunction with my Line Manager (SMT) – Ms Todd, we have to manage the three ICT Technicians in the school.

Every subject will have a Head of Department, which have a similar role to me and have a member of the SMT as their Line Manager. Middle Managers (me) deal with the tactical and also operational (because we also teach a lot of classes as well) side of the organisation.

I hope I have given you a clear summary of how our school as an organisation works and some of the information it uses, some of the ICT tools (e.g. Information Systems) used to process the information to help and support every level of the organisation to help make effective decisions.

Task 1 – Data, Information and Information Systems

In this task I was required to create a PowerPoint presentation on what data, information and information systems are.

Slide 1 – Title

Slide 2 – Slide about Data

Slide 3- Slide about Information

Slide 4 – Slide about Information System

Slide 5 – Slide showing sources I used

Task 2 – Provide a profile of Sir John Cass and how we use information.

Staff Structure

The diagram above shows a typical staff structure in a school. This is a hieratical system. As you can see above, the board of directors have the most power. Then you see the business manager and head of school are the next highest authority. Then there’s the general staff. The classroom teachers are an example of general staff.

Ofsted report:

Sir John Cass Foundation and Redcoat School is an outstanding school. The head teacher together with his senior leadership team and governing body have very successfully created an inclusive community where students of diverse cultures and backgrounds are equally valued and reach high levels of achievement. Parents and carers are supportive of the school, especially appreciating the quality of education and care provided for their children. Good results are achieved through careful tracking of students’ progress, consistently good teaching, mentoring, as well as additional revision classes and strong parental support. Students enter the school with average levels of attainment.

Senior Management Team

The Senior Management Team consists of the Deputy Heads and the Assistant Heads. The SMT in conjunction with the Head Teacher are responsible for maintaining and improving the school through different stages. There are different members of staff in charge of individual key stages. For example:

Ms Barnes is in charge of the Sixth Form (KS5)
Mr Swash is in charge of year 10-11 (KS4)
Mr Cameron is in charge of year 7-9 (KS3)
Ms Todd is in charge of Modern Foreign Languages and ICT
Mr Cloke is in charge of Finance, Admin and Timetabling

The SMT also use external companies/organisation, e.g. CMIS by SERCO, NS OPTIUM (Networking) and ALIS (a Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre) to help support the school in processing information. At the same time, the SMT will be responsible for ensuring that information (especially, students’ personal details) used by the school are safe, secure and protected, especially information stored on computer systems.

The school uses CMIS (curriculum management information system) to track the student’s progress. It contains personal information, such as home telephone, mobile, e-mail and student photographs. This is why it can only be accessed by staff members, and they require a username and password to verify their identity (shown on figure 1). This is because of the Data Protection Act.

The CMIS also allows staff members to do an online register (shown on figure 2), see their daily timetable (shown on figure 3) and add or change a student’s grades, expected grades and attendance and punctuality (shown on figure 4).

Figure 1: to access the CMIS, the teacher requires a username and password. This is so the information is kept safe, and not seen by non-staff members.

Figure 2: the teacher has the ability to do their registers online.

Figure 3: the teacher can see their timetable.

Figure 4: teachers can enter a student’s exam results.
AB Tutor Control:

The school uses AB Tutor Control, which allows the teacher to monitor what the students are doing while on the computers. An advantage of this is that the teacher can see whether or not the student is on task. However, a disadvantage is that, if a student was to go onto it using a teacher’s computer, he/she would have access to all computers in the classroom.

Figure 5: the view from the teacher who is using AB Tutor Control

Figure 6: the teacher can initiate a chat with the students to ask things like what task their doing.

Task 3a – Explain how Sir John Cass School uses data and information.

Task 3b – Prepare a table showing different sources of information.

I will prepare a table showing different sources of internal and external information for this school showing whether the information is qualitative or quantitative, whether it is a primary or secondary source, and its characteristics. For the characteristics will consider the timeline, accuracy, sufficiency, accessibility and relevance (TASAR). I will also identify and describe two internal and two external sources. If possible I will include source documents to show real evidence of the source of information I am writing about.

Figure 7 – The first internal source I will be talking about is the Sixth Form absent sheet.

Internal data sources
Sixth Form Absent Sheet
Primary or Secondary
Secondary; because the information needed to fill the sheet in comes from a different source, this makes it secondary data. For example, Mr. Ly took the information from the CMIS register. Qualitative or Quantitative

Mostly Qualitative as most of the information is words and not numbers. However the period is in numbers therefore that section is quantitative. Timeline According to Mr. Ly, the time depends on the learning mentor who fills the “outcome of phone call”. Therefore, this can take from one hour to a week, and maybe even more. For example. When he did it during lesson, it took him 10 minutes just to fill the students names in. Accuracy

The sixth form absent sheet is accurate as the teacher and learning mentor write out the information themselves. However, as this is done manually, the teacher might miss-read the information on the register, and could put the wrong name, form or period. Sufficiency

This system is simple, and therefore very sufficient. However, in my opinion it isn’t very effective. This is because the learning mentor may not be able to get through to the students home or mobile, and therefore will not be able to provide a decent outcome. Accessibility

It can be found in the sixth form common folder. This is accessible by everyone in the sixth form. Relevance
It is relevant for the teachers as it can be used to show the parents proof that their child has been absent from lesson. Usefulness as information when processed

It is useful as it shows the name of the student, their form, the lesson which they were absent from and the outcome of the phone call home. This can be used by the teacher as proof, and a copy can be kept for later use. Effectiveness

The sixth form absent sheet is not very effective as it is not used by all the teachers and the outcome of the call is a bit useless. Also, the overall process is very time consuming as it can take weeks for the learning mentor to actually make the phone call.

Figure 8 – The next internal source I will be talking about is the Sixth Form Purchase Order Form.

Internal data sources
Sixth Form Purchase Order Form
Primary or Secondary
Secondary; because the information needed to fill the sheet in comes from a catalogue which is a different source of information, this makes it secondary data. Qualitative or Quantitative
Mostly Quantitative as most of the information is numbers and not words. However the name of the product is in words, which means it is partly qualitative. Timeline
According to Mr. Ly, the time depends on how long it takes to get the line managers and the head teacher’s signature. Also, after that they have to give the form to the finance officer, who processes the order, and faxes it to the company. Therefore, this can take from one hour to a week, and maybe even months. Accuracy

The sixth form purchase order form is accurate as the teacher writes out the information themselves. However, as this is done manually, the teacher might miss-read the information on the catalogue, and could put the wrong name, quantity or price. Sufficiency

This system is very time consuming, and therefore sufficient. However, in my opinion it isn’t very effective. This is because the teacher may not be able to get through to the head teacher to get his signature, or the order could be declined, and therefore will not be able to provide the department with the necessary products. Also, it is very time consuming and not very accurate. Accessibility

The form is accessible, however getting hold of the form is very time consuming for the teachers as they have to go to the main reception to get it and some teachers don’t have the time to go and get it. Relevance

It is relevant for the teachers as it can be used as proof of order, it can also be used to track the departments budget and spending. Usefulness as information when processed
It is useful as it shows the name of the product, its price and the quantity. This can be used by the teacher as proof, and a copy can be kept for later use. Effectiveness
The sixth form purchase order form is effective as it is used by all the teachers who require it. However, the overall process is very time consuming as it can take weeks for the order to go through and the delivery to come to the college.

Figure 9 – The external source I will be talking about is the catalogue used to order items (old catalogue)

Figure 10 – The external source I will be talking about is the catalogue used to order items (new online version)

External data sources
Catalogue Page
Primary or Secondary
Primary, as it is the company’s products and they provide the information to other people. Qualitative or Quantitative
This source is both qualitative and quantitative. The name of the product and the description are all qualitative; for example, “waterproof and fade resistant”. However the prices of each product are all quantitative; for example, “£5.11” Timeline

This catalogue can be outdated and no longer in use by the company. For example, Mr. Ly said that this specific catalogue is the old version (figure 3), and that they are now instructed to use the new online catalogue (figure 4). Accuracy

This catalogue is accurate, but only if it’s the updated prices. For example, figure 3 is the old version of the catalogue, whereas figure 4 is the new and updated online version. If the teachers are still using the old version, they could have invalid orders as the prices will be different. Sufficiency

The old version of the catalogue is not very sufficient as it is a huge book which the teachers can’t carry. However, the new online version is sufficient as it is accessible online by all teachers, so they don’t have to carry the catalogue, and it has the new products with the updated prices, and they can easily check if the prices are new or old. Accessibility

The old version of the catalogue is not very accessible as the teacher has to look for the paper version of the catalogue. However the new online version is accessible because it is online and the teachers can access it by logging into any computer. Relevance

The catalogue is relevant as it is required to order items which the sixth form requires. Without the catalogue, the teachers wont know the products information or price and will struggle to order items if needed. Usefulness as information when processed

Once processed, this catalogue is very useful as it has all the information required to order any items which the sixth form staff or student may require. Effectiveness
This catalogue is very effective as it has the name of the product and the information, and the prices and product codes. This will help the teachers when they go to order any items which the sixth form requires. Also, the online version has the ability to see new products which may not be available on the paper version.

Task 4 – Flow of information between different functional areas in an organization

Organizational Structure:
An organizational structure is a description of the types of coordination used to organize the actions of individuals and departments that contribute to achieving a common aim. Many organizations have hierarchical structures, but not all.

Organizations are a variant of clustered entities. An organization can be structured in many different ways, depending on their objectives. The structure of an organization will determine the modes in which it operates and performs.

Organizational structure allows the expressed allocation of responsibilities for different functions and processes to different entities such as the branch, department, workgroup and individual. Individuals in an organizational structure are normally hired under time-limited work contracts or work orders, or under permanent employment contracts or program orders.


Flat Organization:
Flat organization (also known as horizontal organization) refers to an organizational structure with few or no levels of intervening management between staff and managers. The idea is that well-trained workers will be more productive when they are more directly involved in the decision making process, rather than closely supervised by many layers of management.

This structure is generally possible only in smaller organizations or individual units within larger organizations. When they reach a critical size, organizations can retain a streamlined structure but cannot keep a completely flat manager-to-staff relationship without impacting productivity. Certain financial responsibilities may also require a more conventional structure. Some theorize that flat organizations become more traditionally hierarchical when they begin to be geared towards productivity.


Matrix Structure:
A Matrix structure organization contains teams of people created from various sections of the business. These teams will be created for the purposes of a specific project and will be led by a project manager. Often the team will only exist for the duration of the project and matrix structures are usually deployed to develop new products and services.

The advantages of a matrix include:
Individuals can be chosen according to the needs of the project. The use of a project team which is dynamic and able to view problems in a different way as specialists have been brought together in a new environment. Project managers are directly responsible for completing the project within a specific deadline and budget. Whilst the disadvantages include:

A conflict of loyalty between line managers and project managers over the allocation of resources. If teams have a lot of independence can be difficult to monitor. Costs can be increased if more managers (i.e. project managers) are created through the use of project teams. Source: Hieratical Structure:

In a hierarchical organization employees are ranked at various levels within the organization, each level is one above the other. At each stage in the chain, one person has a number of workers directly under them, within their span of control. A tall hierarchical organization has many levels and a flat hierarchical organization will only have a few.

The chain of command (i.e. the way authority is organized) is a typical pyramid shape.

Diagram: Hierarchical Organization:

Authority and responsibility are clearly defined
Clearly defined promotion path
There are specialists managers and the hieratical environment encourages the effective use of specialist managers Employees very loyal to their department within the organization

The organization can be bureaucratic and respond slowly to changing customer needs and the market within which the organization operates. Communication across various sections can be poor especially horizontal communication.

Source: Functional areas of a business:

Human Resources:
Human resources is also the name of the function within an organization charged with the overall responsibility for implementing strategies and policies relating to the management of individuals (i.e. the human resources). The department will do the following: Organize hiring employees (recruitment)

Set up policies and rules so the employees know how to conduct themselves Deal with the employees who do not stick to the rules
Help staff with training needs
Monitor the working conditions of the staff
Discuss important issues with representatives of the work force Ensure that health and safety considerations are enforced

Administration is a support function required by all businesses – and this does not mean just doing keyboarding or filing. At Sir John Cass, this department is mainly used to stay in contact with the students and in some cases their parents (e.g. sending letters home and calling parents) Administration functions: Collecting, distributing and dispatching the mail

Storing and retrieving paper and electronic records
Organising meetings and preparing meetings documents
Responding promptly to enquiries
Preparing documents using word processing, spreadsheet and presentation packages, such as PowerPoint Researching information
Sending and receiving messages by telephone, fax and email
Making arrangements for events and visitors

Marketing is all about identifying and meeting customer needs. Many businesses consider this so important that they are said to be marketing led. In this case, everyone in the organisation is trained to put the customer first. Sir John Cass sends out feedback forms to find out what students and parents expect from the college. They also promote the college via buses and averts in the local newspapers. Marketing functions: Carrying out market research to obtain feedback on potential and existing products/services Analysing market research responses and advising senior managers of the results Promoting products and services through a variety of advertising and promotional methods Obtaining and updating a profile of existing customers

Producing and distributing publicity materials
Most entrepreneurs consider this is the most important function in the business. This is because all businesses need a regular stream of income to pay the bills. Finance staff record all the money earned and spent so that the senior managers always know how much profit (or loss) is being made by each product or each part of the business and how much money is currently held by the business. At Sir John Cass, the head teacher is mainly responsible to look after all the money and he also decides what it’s spent on. Finance functions: Producing invoices, checking payments are received and chasing up overdue payments Recording money received

Checking and paying invoices received
Preparing the payroll and paying staff salaries
Monitoring departmental budgets to check managers are not overspending Issuing regular budget reports to all departmental managers
Producing cash flow forecasts and regular financial reports for senior managers Advising senior managers on sources of finance for capital expenditure Producing the statutory accounts each year

Customer Service:
Many businesses have customer service staff – or a customer service department – where trained staff handle enquiries and complaints positively and professionally. Sir John Cass deals with the queries of potential students and parents through the Admin department. Customer Service functions: Answering customer enquiries about products and services

Providing specialist information and advice to meet customer needs Solving customer problems
Providing after-sales service, including replacing damaged goods, arranging for repairs or for spare parts to be obtained and fitted Dealing with customer complaints according to company procedures Analysing records of customer complaints to resolve problem areas Using customer feedback to improve customer service and satisfaction

Research and Development:
This function is concerned with new product developments as well as improvements to existing products or product lines. In many industries, it also involves product design as well. Research and Development functions: In the pharmaceutical industry, scientists research and develop new medicines and drugs In the food industry, technologists work with chefs to prepare new products such as ready meals, sauces or flavorings. Electronic and IT companies concentrate on new technology products and software, such as HD televisions, the X-box 360 and iPod accessories In the aerospace and car industries, engineers focus on improving performance and safety whilst reducing emissions or noise. Designers concentrate on the shape and look, both internally and externally Production:

Production refers to the manufacture or assembly of goods. Production staff must ensure that goods are produced on time and are of the right quality. Quality requirements can vary considerably. Whilst an error of 0.5 mm would not matter much for a chair or table, for an iPod or DVD player it would be critical. Production functions: Ordering (often buying) stocks of raw materials from approved suppliers Planning production schedules to maximise machine capacity and staff levels Producing or assembling the finished product

Checking the quality of the product throughout the production process Checking production is on schedule and resolving delays or problems Scheduling routine machinery inspections and maintenance
Carrying out repairs to machinery and equipment as required

How data flows between functional areas of Sir John Cass:
It is vital for organisations to understand how information flows between the different departments in the organisation. For an organisation to operate, information must flow both internally and externally between departments and external bodies. Internal information can be divided on how information moves between the people identified in the organisation charts: upward flow, downward flow and lateral flow.

Upward flow starts at the bottom end of the organisation structure (e.g. staff) which is the pass up to the higher levels (management) Downward flow starts at the top (e.g. manager or head teacher). This information is then passed on to the lower levels of the organisation structure. Lateral flow goes across the organisation and stays at the same level but the information is passed on between the staff

Order Form:

The above diagram shows how the purchase order form is processed. Firstly, the head of department sends out a purchase order form to the line manager, who then reviews the order form, signs it and then gives it back to the head of department. The head of department then takes the purchase order form to the administration department who takes it to the head teacher (Mr. Evans) for his approval. Once the form is signed by the head teacher, the administration department sends off the purchase order form to the suppliers. Once this is done, the supplier sends the ordered items to the school’s administration department with a receipt and the goods are then passed onto the head of department.

Sixth Form absent sheet:

Firstly, the teacher takes the students details from the register and fills in the sixth form absent sheet. The teacher will then pass the absent sheet to a learning mentor who will call the students house and check why they were absent. If the learning mentor has solved the issue, they will give the sheet back to the teacher and the case will be closed. However, if the learning mentor does not solve the issue the details of the student will be passed onto Ms Barnes, the deputy head, who will then follow it up.

Decision making within an organisation:
The teacher to the learning mentor is downward flow, as the teacher has more power than the learning mentor. Also, the learning mentor to the deputy head is upward flow, as the learning mentor has less power than Ms Barnes. The teacher takes operational decisions as they are short-term decisions (e.g. filling in the sixth form absent sheet). The deputy head takes tactical decisions which are long-term decisions, for example, excluding the student from the college. Regular teachers do not have the power to take tactical decisions. Task 5 – The use of Management Information Systems (MIS) in this school

A management information system (MIS) is a system that provides information needed to manage organizations effectively. Management information systems are regarded to be a subset of the overall internal controls procedures in a business, which cover the application of people, documents, technologies, and procedures used by management accountants to solve business problems such as costing a product, service or a business-wide strategy. Source:

Sir John Cass uses CMIS by Serco in order to keep in track of students. All Sir John Cass Sixth Form staff have the ability access CMIS. CMIS gives teachers the ability to access personal details of all students. They are also given the ability to file reports on students who constantly misbehave in lessons. Teachers can also check how the students are doing in other subjects and if they are meeting their set targets. CMIS provides the teachers the ability to do an online register, where they can note down the students who are present, absent and late. The teachers can also see their own timetables along with the student’s timetables.

Examples of Management Information Systems (MIS):

Overview of Marketing Management Information System:

Overview of Human Resources Management Information System:

Overview of General Management Information System:

The current Management Information System Used in Sir John Cass:

Every teacher will be issue a username and password to access CMIS

Once logged on – teacher will be able to see their timetable for the day

Teacher can generate most update class list and/or lookup students’

Teachers have to do all their report writing using CMIS for Academic Review days and Parents Evening. Task 6 – How an organisation could improve the quality of its business information

At Sir John Cass, there are currently many things that need improving. Some are vital as other schools have already started taking part in these developments. This is already seen as a drawback as students will tend to study an institution with more technology.

Firstly, the school registration system is paper based. This is one of the main problems at Sir John Cass as this usually leads to more absences by students. A paper registration system has a lot of disadvantages. For example: Very time consuming

Easy to lose
Hard to bring up a record
Not easy to monitor

I would recommend that the school introduces and mainly uses an electronic registration system. This will not only allow the teachers to keep a record of the student’s attendance but it will also save a huge amount of time. Also with an electronic system, the teachers will have private access to it via usernames and passwords which will also help the problem of forging registers. Finally, if added, it will allow the teachers to spot the students who are at risk so they can easily take further action.

Secondly, when a department needs to order some supplies, they have to fill in the purchase order form, which is also paper-based. This is also as time-consuming as the register and it can cause a lot of problems if items are required quickly. Also the purchase order form can get lost after being filled in, which will cause problems. Therefore, I would recommend that Sir John Cass introduces a system where resources can be ordered online. In the contemporary world, online purchasing is now very common and is taking over paper based ordering.

Finally, every teacher at Sir John Cass currently communicates face to face. This is very frustrating as it can take a lot of time to find the teacher and to have the time to talk to them. Therefore, I would suggest that Sir John Cass introduces either a computer based e-mail system or some other system which will help the teachers communicate faster. Also, records will be kept online, or on the computer, which will save a lot of space and will make sure the records don’t get lost.

As the computing world is currently advancing very quickly, I would say that Sir John Cass needs to keep up with it as students will feel positive if they are using and around the latest stuff. Also it will help parents when they are selecting which college to send their children to. It will also help teachers when they need to find or print out paperwork. Recommendations:

Introduce electronic registers to help collect, process and use the data. It will also save a lot of time when doing the register and will be more convenient for teachers. For example, the school should invest in card swiping technology to remove the hassle of doing paper based registers. Such as, The biometric finger print terminals made by Introduce web orders so it will help to received all items quickly, because the current system takes weeks to process More use of e-mails as this will improve the communication in the college. So teachers can be found easily when needed. To make sure that all teachers monitor their student regularly and report any students those are not up to date.

Some teachers might need training if this system were to be introduced however I think it will be a lot better as it will save a lot of money. It will be a lot quicker every time therefore more effective. Assignment 2 (Brief)

The Legal Issues in ICT for Sir John Cass secondary school:

My (Mr Ly) motto – ‘Prevention is always better than cure’. That’s what I always tell the ICT Technicians and ICT staff because we are now so much
dependent on technology and so much vital/important information is now store in our computer systems. A lot of money and work have been put in to ensure that the information in our computer systems are safe (secure) and protected as much as possible.

I can remember when I first started teaching in this school 11 years ago; we only have 30 computers in two classrooms. Now, we have over a 1000 computers around the school. I can remember the stress it causes when the network kept going down because some students have hack into the school network computer and deleted files in the operating systems or infected the network with viruses. One student even hacked into the network and sent some rude messages to one member of staff (lucky the ICT technician was able to track who the student was and he got excluded).

The worst case was when student deleted a Year 11 coursework when the student was about to print it out and hand it in on deadline day. Now, our computer network is very secure because the ICT Technician has made so many restrictions and created different profiles for students, teachers, admin, and SMT. I remember one of the Beginner Teacher who came here on his second placement having been to another school said ‘Your school have so much security and restrictions than any school I have been to’. This is just the internal threats that exist within our school, what about the external threats? Obviously, our school will have firewall in place to prevent people from outside hacking and infecting our computer network.

Like every organisation, the school must ensure that the information (especially personal data/information) stored, processed and used on our computer systems are not vulnerable to internal and external threats.

Tools used to manage and process information to support decision making:

Traditionally, teaching and learning was mainly done by textbooks, OHP (Overhead Projector), white or black board, exercise books and line papers and pens, etc. I still believe some of the traditional methods are more useful than relying on technology for the sake of technology. Now a day, all classrooms are equipped with a Data projector and Interactive whiteboard and all computers are networked allowing students and teachers to assess their work anywhere within the school. As for the future of this school and with the Government push for Building Schools for the Future (BSF) – by 2012, all schools should be using VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Basically, education will go digital, with all subjects putting all their resources on the VLE, where students can be able to assess what they need to do anywhere and anytime. Students will be able to submit work using VLE. Teachers will have to do their marking and assessment using the VLE without having to carry and file lots of papers/folders, mostly importantly teachers can access students work anywhere and anytime.

The school, in particular the SMT are thinking about moving the school towards VLE with the introduction of CMIS (Curriculum Management Information System), where hopefully it would eventually be used to by all teachers to take register, record students’ marks and grade, provide feedback to students on their current process, to record any incidentals or commendations. Some key element of the CMIS have been implemented already, e.g. recording students’ events (e.g. incidents and commendations) and provide report writing for Academic Review Days and Parents Evenings. Managers in the school will use CMIS to identify and analyse trends, e.g. a particular student or class or whole year group, focusing especially on their TMG (Target Minimum Grade) and WAG (Working at Grade), then decide what strategies to use to raise attainments/achievements. Currently, the school have not fully automated CMIS, as we still relate on the use of mail-merge for report writing, spread sheets for tracking students grades and marks, etc. Task 1 – Explain the legal issues involved when using ICT

The Data Protection Act

The Data Protection Act 1984 was designed to protect individuals who have their personal information stored on a computer. The act obliged organizations holding personal data to register with the Data Protection Registrar and they must agree to abide by the principles of data protection outlined in the act. The 1998 Data Protection Act gave employees the right to access their personnel records. These principles include obtaining and processing data fairly, ensuring accuracy and relevance of information and finally taking effective measures to prevent unauthorized access to data. Individuals have the right to be told if a third party organization hold their information and require correction if necessary.

At Sir John Cass, every teacher is given a username and password to log into CMIS so the students cannot access it. Also, the link to CMIS is not visible by the students on their desktop, just in case they obtain a username and password somehow. Therefore, only teachers can locate it through their accounts and even then, a username and password is still needed. It is because of the Data Protection Act that the system needs to be secure and inaccessible by the students as it holds important personal information.

Health and Safety Act

The Health and Safety Act at work is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that as of 2008 defines the fundamental structure and authority for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement to help maintain a steady temperature in the rooms. All workers have a right to work in places where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Health and safety is about stopping you getting hurt at work or ill through work. Your employer is responsible for health and safety, but you must help.

As an organization, Sir John Cass has to reflect on the Health and Safety Act. Therefore, things such as decent chairs are needed to avoid back pains. There may be other problems such as wiring left on the floor. Finally, all classrooms in Sir John Cass are fitted with air conditioning systems to help maintain a steady room temperature.

Copyright Act

Introduced in 1989, this law makes it illegal to copy a file without permission from the owner or copyright holder. If you break this law you are risking an unlimited fine. This law is broken in three main ways: Using software without the proper license. So if you have a licence to use a word processor on one stand-alone computer, but you then install it on all the machines in a network, you are breaking the law. Downloading text or images from the Internet and using them without sourcing Copying a computer program you use at work and running it on a computer at home, without permission from the copyright holder.

Copyright at Sir John Cass is based on the use of their logo which they have and which is used within the school. They must make sure that the logo which they use is not the same or very similar to other organisation’s logos. If it does, they must make sure that they ask the owners permission before using it.

The Computer Misuse Act

Introduced in 1990, this law was introduced to cope with the problems of computer hackers and viruses. If convicted the offender faces an unlimited fine and a five-year prison sentence. The act made the following three things illegal: Unauthorised access to computer material (e.g. hacking). This includes viewing parts of a network you’re not permitted to see, and the illegal copying of programs. Gaining unauthorised access to a computer to carry out serious crimes like fraud. Unauthorised changing of files – including planting viruses, and deleting files.

Sir John Cass has made sure that any type of software, data and programmes that they don’t use within the school which is either downloaded, gathered and hacked, must be licensed or the school can get prosecuted and closed down for it.

Software License

A software license is a legal instrument governing the usage or redistribution of software. All software is copyright protected, except material in the public domain. Contractual confidentiality is another way of protecting software. A typical software license grants an end-user permission to use one or more copies of software in ways where such a use would otherwise constitute copyright infringement of the software owner’s exclusive rights under copyright law.

At Sir John Cass, every teacher uses CMIS (Curriculum Management Information System) by Serco and they have their own set of login details. This is because they have access to personal information which they are entitles to but others are not so therefore it must have a login. If this was breached by someone who wasn’t authorised, they would be breaking the Data Protection Act as the individual will be able to access all the personal details of everyone that was recorded on the system. Another way that Sir John Cass has protected CMIS is by hiding it from the student’s computers. CMIS can only be accessed if a teacher is logged onto the computer.

Task 2 – Explain tools used to manage & process information

Business information can be used to support users in decision making at all levels within an organisation. Operation decisions relate to day-to-day tasks and the mechanics of the organisation. This level of the organisation structure involves the majority of the workforce at sub-management levels. The tactical level represents middle management, including heads of department and assistant directors. Decisions at this stage are generally about project plans, resource issues and financing. The strategic level represents the highest levels of management. For example: the managing director, chief executive and other senior management staff. Decision making at this level consists of planning for the future, strategy decisions, such as mergers and takeovers; and forecasting marker trends.

Types of Business Decisions:
1. Programmed Decisions: These are standard decisions which always follow the same routine. As such, they can be written down into a series of fixed steps which anyone can follow. They could even be written as computer program 2. Non-Programmed Decisions: These are non-standard and non-routine. Each decision is not quite the same as any previous decision. 3. Strategic Decisions: These affect the long-term direction of the business e.g. whether to take over Company A or Company B 4. Tactical Decisions: These are medium-term decisions about how to implement strategy e.g. what kind of marketing to have, or how many extra staff to recruit 5. Operational Decisions: These are short-term decisions (also called administrative decisions) about how to implement the tactics e.g. which firm to use to make deliveries.

Decision Making For a BusinessDecision Making for Sir John Cass

Strategic Decisions:
Mr Evans and the Senior Management Team make all the strategic decisions for Sir John Cass. Since these decisions are for the long term, an example adding the new VLE block for the sixth formers. To aid him in these decisions he may ask students opinions through the suggestion box or through the student councillors as they are the voice of the students. He could also use feedback from the parents to aid in these decisions and he could use the opinions of the teachers.

Tactical Decisions:
Head of years have the right to decide which type of resources is needed within certain departments and they also have the right to decide whether or not a student should remain on a course or not. These are one of the tactical decisions. Using the purchase order form, the Head of Years also make tactical decisions here. They may also use CMIS to decide different options for a certain student. Therefore the tools that will be used for tactical decisions are a purchase order form and CMIS.

Operational Decisions:
Operational decisions are the day to day decisions. This can be an after school session will take place or even having to deal with early school closures for whatever reason it may be. These decisions will mainly made by the teachers. Tools such as CMIS and spreadsheets help teachers as they have access to registers and timetables.

Ability to process information to support effective decision making Tool
Environment and examples of use
Which level of Decision Making (e.g. Strategic and/or, Tactical and/or Operational) CMIS
Teachers use it in lessons for registers. Head of Years and SMT use it to track a student’s progress. Provides web access to online timetabling, event creation, registers. A powerful and flexible examination timetabling system. Managing the complexity of group and subgroup allocation through automatic timetable scheduling. The teachers only have access to a certain section as SMT have blocked off the rest of it. Also, there is a feature which allows students to use it; however, the school does not allow it. CMIS has features which allow Strategic, Tactical and Operational decisions. For example, the head of the school and SMT can use it for strategic decisions; the heads of departments use it for tactical decisions and the teachers use it for operational decisions. Kerboodle

Teachers use Kerboodle to set work and deadlines for students. Students use it to gain access to online books; online activities and they can also hand in their work via Kerboodle online. Kerboodle makes life easier for students and teachers. For example students don’t need to print out all work to show the teachers they can just send all the work through Kerboodle online. Where the teacher can mark it and annotate the work so students can make corrections. Some students may not have access to Kerboodle and some might not know how to use it. Also as it is accessed online, some people may find it slow due to their internet connection. All levels of decision making can access Kerboodle as long as they have the username, password and organisation code. Spreadsheet

The teachers use it as a register and as a marking sheet where they can keep a record of all the work the students have done and track their attendance. The advantage of a spreadsheet system is that teachers don’t have to log in every time to update the register. The disadvantage of spreadsheet is that any student can go on the teacher’s computer and can change the register to make it seem as if they have been in every lesson even if they haven’t. All levels of decision making can use the spreadsheet as long as they have access to it.

I recommend that every teacher is pressured into using CMIS and the current paper based system should be discarded. Using IT for registers is a lot faster and more effective than the paper based ones. Also if teachers say that they don’t know how to use it, the school should provide some sort of training for them so then they will use CMIS as it is much better than the paper based system. Also, when students come to enrol, the teachers have to manually calculate the mean GCSE score, which is also very time consuming and a waste of time. Therefore, I recommend that they introduce a spreadsheet which automatically calculates the mean score using formulas once the GCSE results are inputted. This will be a lot quicker and will also be accurate, as some teachers do make mistakes when calculating on paper.

Also, the current Sixth Form Absent system is useless. This is because it is paper based, time consuming and most, if not all of the teachers don’t use it. The current system makes the teacher fill out an absent sheet on paper after taking the register. They then have to take it one of the learning mentors who will call home and check the reason why the student was not in. this is very time consuming and sometimes may not even be checked by the learning mentors. Therefore, I would recommend that they introduce a VoIP system where the student receives a call or automated text as soon as they are marked absent. This is much more effective and it is a lot faster as the student will know that they have been marked absent within a few minutes of the register being marked, instead of having to wait for the learning mentors to call them.

Assignment 3 (Brief)

With the advancing technology and the increasing use of ICT, organisations are taking advantage of this, as Data collection is easily obtainable (e.g. customers details through online registration/subscription, credit and loyalty cards and even through your email, etc.). Organisations now have vast storage capacity (e.g. when I was at Barclays Capital for work shadowing experience they had globally 53 data centre storing 1.4 PB – petabyte (after terabyte, computer storage equal to one quadrillion bytes, or 1024 terabytes) equivalent to approximately over 1.6 million CD-ROMS). As for data transfer, at Barclays Capital – data is always transferred using two links (in case one breaks down) each link can transfer data between 1 GB and 2 GB. You can imagine the scale and size of their servers use for processing the data, I was told head of the Capacity and commodities Management at Barclay’s Capital that some of the floors in their server rooms cannot support the weight of its servers, therefore there need more servers’ rooms or look into server virtualisation (e.g. using virtual machine (this will be available on Microsoft Windows 2007 Operating System) that replaces the more expensive and space consuming physical server hardware).

Next, comes one of the real uses of customer data, a very expensive investment, as all business organisations aim to maximise profit by staying competitive or even to have a competitive edge over its competitors. That’s where Data Mining and Predictive Modelling become very useful. ‘Now that technology has caught up, e.g. with data warehouse, expert systems are the basis of analysis for large sets of data and this is called data mining.’ [Source: BTEC National IT Practitioners General, J. Lawson, Heinemann, page 308]. ‘Predictive Modelling uses applied reasoning to give predicted outcome or the probability of an outcome’.

The diagrams and caption below illustrate the concept of Data Mining and Predictive Modelling:

For this assignment you will attempt to explain the purpose and operation of data mining and predictive modelling at Sir Cass Secondary School. Task 1: Explain the purpose & operation of data mining and predictive modelling.

Where does a student’s TMG (Target Minimum Grade) come from? What’s the purpose of it and how is it used? I will be exploring this topic and answering these questions. Teachers have a lot of statistical data of individual students and one of the most important information is the student’s TMG as this gives the school the baseline data for particular students. At the end of each key stage years (KS3, KS4 and Post 16) the school analyses each student’s performance against their TMG. If the student’s do well and perform better every year the school gets positive point whereas if the student’s does not do well the school get negative points. When all the scores are added up that it give the school an indication of how well they are doing in each key stage. This is one of the most key indicators, used for sorting out the school league table.

The SMT (Senior Management Team) will look at each key stage result and point out to the teachers how each student is performing against the TMG and Point score. This is also used to see the school’s annual management review.

In the old days, it’s was much easier and simple because the school hardly had any technology or the school did not invest in all this technology, to generate all these statistics on individual students and teachers weren’t given 50 plus page of feedback, comments on individual subject’s performance broken down further to ethnicity, gender compared national average, compared with school averages, compared with departments.

Some people thought technology and ICT would make teaching lives easier, but in some cases it caused information overload, which expects more paperwork and documentations, and because of the statistical data of each students, departments, school and nationally. Teachers become more accountable and salary or promotions is based on these data. Furthermore all teachers should use this data to help raise teaching and learning by preparing appropriate resources and teaching materials to suit the needs of students.

Below are examples of the two companies that the school uses and the reports the school gets back from Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre, which the school refer to as ALIS (Advanced Level Information System):

At the beginning of the Post-16 courses, the school send students’ data (GCSE results) to the two companies, which then use their database to produce the output below relating to results at A level and Applied A level:

As you can see, these charts and graph are generated by the ALIS database from the student data that the school had provided. The school, especially SMT, Head of Year and Head of Department use this information for Strategic and Tactical operational decision-making.

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