Our Views: Janesville School District steers logical course on information highway

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Monday, June 23, 2014

The time is right for Infinite Campus, the Janesville School District's move to a comprehensive, computerized student information system.

After all, more and more families rely on technology for information and communications. For the wide majority of kids, computer gadgets are a way of life and their constant communications companions.

Infinite Campus is due to go online July 1 and be introduced to parents Aug. 11. Parents will receive letters explaining the change the week of Aug. 4.

As reporter Nick Crow detailed in a Gazette story last week, Infinite Campus will integrate all information into one cloud-based system that is backed up constantly through a Minneapolis data center.

With so many students living in two-household families, it will help the district keep track of names, addresses and phone numbers. No matter where they live, a child's parents will be able to check grades, assignments and attendance. Grades will be posted as soon as teachers finish reviewing work. Parents can sign up to get emergency alerts and other messages by whatever method they prefer—text, voice mail or email.

If a student can’t remember when that science quiz is, he or she will be able to look it up. If parents want to see whether their child is up to date with fees and lunch payments, those will be available, as well. Even student registration will be part of Infinite Campus.

Robert Smiley, the district's chief information officer, said teachers and district officials have been training for months and are excited about the system, as they should be. With a goal of raising achievement, having as much information as possible at their fingertips can only help students succeed.

Infinite Campus is a browser-based system designed to work no matter what technological device a family prefers—iPhone or Android smartphone, tablet or traditional desktop computer, Mac or Windows system.

“A lot had smartphones but not necessarily a computer, and that held them back in the past,” Smiley said of students and families.

As an added bonus, because Infinite Campus will do away with multiple information systems, Smiley projects this integrated system will actually save money over time.

Paper grade books are a thing of the past. Of course, not every family is tapped into technology. For those who aren't, the district has computers available to the public at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St., from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Any parent who needs access during a school day can also ask the school secretary.

“We want every parent to have the information about their son or daughter, even if they don't have access to technology,” Smiley told us Monday.

Besides, Smiley said the district will continue to send home paper report cards, progress reports and letters concerning attendance problems.

 Given that, Infinite Campus will bring nothing but positives. As with any new computer system, expect a learning curve and a few bugs. Patience can help staffers and families overcome these snags.

Gazette editorials express the views of the newspaper's editorial board. Readers are encouraged to comment on editorials through letters to the editor.


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