Added attendance report to USO-AutoText

Anyone using AutoText to notify pupil contacts of unauthorised absences now has an additional report available to use. The new “Absent for pm session but present for am” option allows you to send alerts to contacts of pupils who were marked “present” for the morning session but then marked “absent” for the afternoon session.

This option presumes that all pupils marked “absent” during the morning session have already had notifications sent to their contacts and therefore filters them out to produce a list of those pupils who are absent in the afternoon only.

This will mean that pupils’ contacts will not receive two absence notifications on the same day if this is not desirable.

This option is different from the “PM absences” one in that the “PM absences” report shows all pupils absent in the afternoon, regardless of whether they were absent or present at morning registration.

A full explanation of all the options can be found here.

USO Mail list services

New for 2011: “USO-Mail List” from Atomwide offers enhancements to LGfL 2.0 StaffMail & LondonMail/SafeMail services now, with other regions to follow.

In response to the emerging need for ever-more sophisticated mailing list functionality in the email services supported by Atomwide, enhancements have now been developed that will initially offer schools in London the following benefits:

1. In Microsoft Exchange-based systems integrated with Unified Sign On, and hence specifically LGfL StaffMail, distribution lists can now appear in the main address book for each school rather than in the Public Folders. This makes them easier to find, and hence much easier to use. When enabled for the school, the mailing list service uses USO profile data to create the most frequently requested distribution lists. These include a list for all students, one for all staff, one for each year group and one for each class group (assuming in all cases that the school is exporting the relevant information from its MIS via USO-AutoUpdate).  In addition, it remains possible for individual users to create a personal, manually-maintained distribution list that still benefits from the other features listed below.

2. The list of users within a distribution group is dynamically updated from the USO database at the time an email is sent. This will help ensure there are no out-of-date addresses in the list and, therefore, few bounced or incorrectly addressed emails. This relies on each school keeping its USO user data up-to-date, which is typically achieved by exporting that data regularly from the school’s MIS into USO using USO-AutoUpdate.  In exceptional circumstances, manual account updates in USO may still be appropriate, and the distribution lists will respond to those updates accordingly.  As already stated, manually-maintained lists will not be updated.

3. Distribution lists containing more than 100 recipients (e.g. year groups) can now be used successfully to send an email to all recipients. This effectively removes the restriction that previously existed whereby only the first 100 recipients could be sent an email, and so particularly benefits LAs and schools using USO with StaffMail, LondonMail, SafeMail and LA SurgeMail systems.

4. To protect the individual recipients’ identities, when a distribution group is selected in the “To” field of an email, all recipients will see just the distribution list name when the email is received. The list cannot be expanded to reveal the names and email addresses of other individual recipients.

5. In order to limit access to distribution lists, those users wishing to send an email to a distribution group must have a profile option called “Distribution list poster” added to their USO account profile. This profile option can be added to a user’s account by a Nominated Contact in the school, or an LA Power or Super User.

Schools wishing to use the service, which is initially released for use by schools using LGfL StaffMail, are invited to raise a support case with the Atomwide LGfL Service Desk to request it to be enabled.

Further developments, including support for other regions’ mail services, and the ability to create custom automated mailing lists from USO data (i.e. subject groups, staff role, etc.), are planned for the future.

USO-AutoUpdate and RM Integris G2

AutoUpdate can now be used with RM Integris G2 MIS products to export data to the USO database.

Schools do not need to install any software at their end. Instead, they will need to fill out a form and send it to RM who will then provide the school with instructions on how to create a G2 web service user.

The school’s Head will also need to enable the reports for export via the AutoUpdate settings page in the support site.

Full instructions on what needs to be done can be found in the user guide.

Our phone numbers have changed!

Our phone numbers are in the process of changing over to local Orpington numbers. Please start using these new numbers at the earliest opportunity.

Main office number
01689 814 700

Main office fax number
01689 814 701

Support line for non-London LAs
01689 814 777

London LAs should continue to call
020 8255 5555

Support fax number for everyone
01689 814 778

This should help reduce the price of your calls in these cost-conscious times.

Creating Nominated Contacts

A new bit of long-awaited functionality is now available! Head Teachers who have registered OTP tags now have the ability to create new Nominated Contacts within their schools via the support site.

There will no longer be any need to collect signatures and fax forms to the service desk, thus eliminating delays and excess paperwork. A Head will need to use the Nominated Contact management page found under User Accounts to grant Contact status to a staff member (with or without a request being made by that staff member). The Head will need to enter their OTP code each time an action needs to be performed even after having logged in to the support site to ensure security is always strictly maintained.

Staff members will also be able to access this page in the support site but only to submit a request to become a Nominated Contact and to see who the other Contacts are.

A maximum quota of Nominated Contacts allowed per school will be enforced under this system. The quota will be determined by the LAs who will need to let Atomwide know of their requirements. It is possible to have different quotas for primary, secondary schools, etc.

As already stated, although the page will be visible to all, the functionality will ONLY be available to those schools whose Heads have a registered OTP tag.

For full details on using the Nominated Contacts management page please see the relevant page of our user guide.

New functionality in USO-FX

USO-FX now offers a secure way to for you to receive a file from anyone – regardless of whether or not they have a USO account!

This person wanting to receive a file must “invite” the relevant individual to upload it through the newly implemented “Invite a file” feature of USO-FX. The person sending out the invitation must do so through the support site but the invitation can be sent to anyone with an email address.

You would need to ensure the other person knows your USO username as they will have no way of finding it if they don’t have access to the support site. The person you invite will receive an email with a link to a secure interface where they need to enter your username and then upload the file that’s been requested. You will get an alert from the support site when something is available for you to download.

For full details on how this works see the support site User Guide.

AutoText prices for schools

With the current uncertain financial climate affecting both schools and LAs the Atomwide USO-AutoText school level pricing has been reduced. This will make the service more accessible and cost-effective for individual schools whilst still ensuring that an aggregating LA purchase of the service remains the best value for money option.

The new pricing is as follows:

Secondary Schools: £300 per year (Includes 1000 Message Credits)

Primary Schools: £200 per year (Includes 1000 Message Credits)

Message Credits: 6p per message

More detailed service and pricing information can be found at http://www.atomwide.com/products.html

Digital Signage solutions

The popularity of Atomwide’s Digital Signage system continues to grow with over 100 display screens now installed across London and South East schools and 15 screens across LA buildings such as CLCs, Children’s Centres, LA offices etc.

Unlike other Digital Signage packages, the Atomwide system is designed specifically for use in educational establishments and has saved a great deal of time and money for the schools already using it.

In addition to the service now being an LGfL branded solution, 8 LAs have also produced own-branded promotional service flyers recommending it to their schools. The solution is totally bespoke and packages tend to start around £1899 for a reception area setup that includes Digital Signage hardware, dedicated display screen and installation.

Examples of Atomwide School Digital Signage:

For more information please contact nick@atomwide.com or visit the Digital Signage section of the Atomwide site http://www.atomwide.com/signage

Secure password storage

The support site offers all users a place to securely store usernames and passwords for all the various websites they may need to access.

My Account >> USO Password Vault provides a page where anyone with a USO account can keep a record of any personal or work-related passwords that they are not meant to write down on bits of paper that can get into the wrong hands. Full details can be found here.

Choice of OTP tags

An increasing number of LAs are buying OTP tags for Head Teachers and Nominated Contacts and recommending making second-factor authentication a requirement for users who can access sensitive data. As a result, we are now offering a choice of two new OTP tags in addition to the existing ones.

small screen tag

One option is a new look tag which is similar to the current ones but offers a better-defined button and a plastic-protected serial number on the back that can’t be rubbed off. These come in the standard synchronous and a time-based version. The synchronous tag works in the same way as the existing tags. Time-based ones produce a new code every 60 seconds and have the advantage of not being able to get out of sync.

grey

The other version of the tag also provides a time-based authentication code and also has a much larger and clearer display which should help anyone who has trouble reading the numbers on the tags currently in use. This one is also unable to become out of sync.

Both time-based authentication tags cost £2 more than the current (synchronous) OTP per unit with no change in the price of support. Availability is generally 6-8 weeks from the time an order is placed. For more information contact sales@atomwide.com

More functionality in AutoText

Two new features have been added to AutoText.

1.       The option to group pupil contacts by House has been added. This grouping will only apply to and be selectable by schools that use the House system. Schools that don’t group pupils by House will see the option but will not be able to select it. The grouping relies on pupils being grouped correctly in the school’s MIS.

2.       You can now send messages to specific groups of pupil contacts that have been defined in SIMS. Groups of pupil contacts can be exported via the Atomwide Student User Defined Groups report, provided that this report has been enabled. The predefined groups would then be available to the SMS Sender  when accessing AutoText >> Send SMS or Send Email page. This function is found under the Predefined Contact List tab. Instructions can be found here.

Systems access for pupils after removal from school MIS

You can now allow pupils who have been removed from a school’s MIS to continue, for a specified period of time, to be associated with the school. This gives them continued access to the full range of available services, including email. This provides a temporary grace period for those pupils who would ordinarily become unallocated when they leave a school.

Pupils who are removed from the MIS between 1 June and 30 September of the same year can continue to access their school email accounts and other services until 30 September, should this be necessary. You can decide which year groups to restrict this to and enable it only for schools that need it.

You must be a Power or Super User to access this functionality via the support site. Simply go to User Accounts, Whole school bulk results and select Email grace period configuration from the dropdown menu. Full instructions can be found here.

New feature in OpenCheck

School OpenCheck status can now be updated by text.

Schools that subscribe to AutoText and have message credits available can now update their OpenCheck status by text message.

The person making the change needs to have a mobile phone registered to their USO account and must also have the appropriate permissions enabled in their account profile. Users that meet these criteria can then simply text the school’s status message to the specified number. If the status change is successful, a confirmation message gets sent to the sender’s mobile. This costs one credit. If the status change fails no charge is made.

Full details of how this works can be found here.