Bill MacKenty

  Home     Computing     Teaching     Bushcraft     Games     Writing     About  

Rolling your own in education

Posted in Educational Tech Design Support on 16 - December 2008 at 03:06 AM (15 years ago). 212 views.

Went to an interesting meeting today.  We are trying to create a system that will let our students register for their AP exams.  With over 500 students eligible to take the exam, the old “turn in a paper application” thing isn’t really working. We have billing, test assignment, and room assignment to think about. 

We hobbled a solution together last year, which involved using a web-based survey tool and then exporting the results to excel, where we were able to sort and sift through the data.  Still, though, registration is more “databasey than spreadsheety”, especially when we think about all the different ways we need to query the data (select all the kids who havent paid their bills and are taking more than 4 exams).  I suggested we use our school website CMS, Expression Engine. It is perfect for this, with a registration system, member tools, and good tools for building forms and input validation. It is built on a mySQL database, and allows for custom queries, so I thought it would be perfect.  I actually built a registration system for our school science fair using expression engine, and it works like a charm. 

My supervisor made an interesting point. “who is responsible for this system?” She asked.  I paused, and mentally ticking off the major projects I had, and realized that the most efficient system (building my own web-based app) wasn’t necessarily the best choice.  It would be fun, and it would would be an effective solution to the problem. But what about maintaining it? I am already stretched thin, and this project most likely would of been designed and made well, but the organization should spread technical projects around. 

We voted to give this project to our DBA, with some front-end help from me.  Interesting project, actually.