This showcase originally published in our customer magazine, the LANSA Review Issue 27, 2003.
Education is an industry sector to which we can all personally relate. This article showcases how schools, colleges, universities, districts, study boards, ministries of education and educational publishers use LANSA in very demanding environments.
For over 15 years educational organizations have automated their back-office student administration and accounting with LANSA, but more recently they have also introduced Web self-service access to students, parents and teachers. Online student registration, progress, grade and attendance tracking, and application for study grants are just a few solution examples.
If you ever wonder whether LANSA stands up in a high volume transaction environment, read how over 63,000 Australian high-school students access their final year examination results every year over the Web within minutes of availability, or how a Visual LANSA-based school lunch program processes 21,000 meal orders every lunch hour.
- Schools, Colleges and Universities
- Government Organizations
- Publishers of Educational Materials
Schools, Colleges and Universities
The Weber School District (WSD) in Utah is committed to providing students and staff with access to technology and resources that provide the most effective educational experiences possible. WSD has over 40 schools and almost 28,000 students in its district. WSD has used LANSA since 1998 to enhance the school administration system.
WSD offers a LANSA-based Web solution that allows parents, students and school administrators to view student information such as grades, attendance, demographics and lunch account balances.
The site also allows students to register for classes. Parents can enter their email address and elect to receive email notifications regarding grades, absence / tardy information and other exceptions or warnings.
WSD's Visual LANSA-based school lunch system processes approximately 21,000 transactions each school day. The lunch orders are processed by 100 PCs spread over 40 schools, of which 80 PCs have a barcode scanner attached. Lunch transactions are kept in WSD's central DB2/400 database on an iSeries model S20 (the server model of the 820). Over 30,500 student and staff lunch account holders can access their lunch account over the Web to view their account balances and transactions. The lunch program handles over 1.23 million transactions and 1.28 million dollars revenue per quarter.
Other recent Visual LANSA projects include a program that allows teachers to view student information and send an email to students or their parents and a Discipline Tracker that allows teachers, administrators and district office staff to track and analyze discipline problems. The Discipline Tracker will eventually interface with the State's Safe School database to share information.
Blayne Christensen, Senior Business Analyst at WSD, said, "I enjoy developing applications in LANSA. It is easy to develop code for the Web, Windows and iSeries in one place and in one language. I feel that LANSA is worth the money that we paid for it. It is a great development tool. LANSA is the tool that allows us to bridge the gap from green-screen applications to the graphical user interfaces that can be provided by a browser or a Windows application."
The Rockwood School District in Missouri is a nationally recognized, diverse community of learners serving a district with four high schools, six middle schools and 18 elementary schools. Rockwood is energized by more than 2,500 employees and countless volunteers serving more than 21,800 students and their families.
Rockwood has implemented a secure Web-based student record system that staff can maintain from anywhere. Soon the system will be expanded to allow access by parents to get instant up-to-date information about grades, attendance, assignments and other school updates on the progress of their children. Rockwood has also implemented LANSA Reporter to report over its voluminous database.
The School District of Osceola County, Florida implemented a LANSA browser-based system for the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department. The solution replaces an error-prone and time-consuming system that used hand written forms. The accuracy and timeliness of ESE data has improved and the system has proven a big success to ESE teachers and specialists who work with over 5,000 handicapped and gifted students in the district.
The Phoenixville Area School District (PASD) has a kindergarten center, four elementary schools, a middle school and a high school, with a total enrolment of 3,300 students. PASD needed a secure Web extension to their iSeries and RPG-based school administration system. LANSA business partner Weidenhammer provided training and project assistance to PASD.
Now PASD administrators and staff can access student demographic, contact, and health related information at any time, from anywhere. The application requires an authenticated login ID and, based on the user's authority, will allow update or inquiry.
A growing number of Australian schools, including early adopters Mowbray College, St Mary Star of the Sea and The Southport School have implemented Quad, an integrated schools administration solution from LANSA business partner Sundata.
Quad, developed with LANSA eBiz Accelerator, gives school staff, teachers, students and parents efficient Web access to information.
All Quad users agree, "Quad gives us a single database and consolidated overview. Whether we look at the school from an accounting point of view, or whether we look at timetabling, attendance marking or student assessments, everything is managed from a single database and single server."
John Hutson, director at Sundata, says, "With LANSA eBiz Accelerator we have turbocharged Web development. We finished our initial release of Quad in eight months, a third of the time we had originally estimated. Our customers love the user interface, because it offers the same productivity as a native Windows application, but with a zero-install browser and fast XML-based architecture. Also, because LANSA is multi-platform, we have enlarged our customer base."
The College of New Rochelle (CNR) in New York, USA, has seven campuses with over 6,000 students. CNR runs its administration in an ASP scenario with easy browser access to the College Administrative Processing System (CAPS) from LANSA business partner DB Systems Corporation.
Nancy Girling, director of information systems at the College of New Rochelle, says, "Online access to personal account information, class schedules and grades is a big advantage, especially for our part-time and commuting students who make up over 80 percent of our community. The browser interface is also very attractive from an IT point of view as we don't have to install or maintain any client software."
"The ASP arrangement means that we don't have to worry about hardware, software or hiring programmers. The solution allows us to budget accurately and run the college administration for 6,000 students and 800 PCs with only four IT and network staff."
The Swinburne University of Technology, in Melbourne, Australia, has a strong reputation as a provider of career-orientated education and as a university with a commitment to research. The University maintains a strong technology base and important links with industry, complemented by a number of innovative specialist research centers which attract a great deal of international interest.
When the Australian Government implemented the Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN), the Swinburne University of Technology used LANSA-based Web services to comply with the legislated requirements within the given time frame.
CHESSN is a unique identifier allocated to each eligible Commonwealth assisted student at tertiary educational institutions. The identifier remains linked to the student for the remainder of their academic life for the management of their entitlements, scholarships and other financial support programs, including the provision of data to the Australian Taxation Office.
The CHESSN interface between the Higher Education Information Management System (HEIMS) in the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) and higher education providers is based on Web services and allows for a two-way flow of data between these parties. HEIMS provides several Web service actions, including the allocation of a CHESSN to the student, where the applicant's personal data is matched against existing HEIMS data. HEIMS also allows for a batch CHESSN allocation-request report.
Swinburne has implemented its LANSA-based Web Services solution on the same IBM iSeries platform as their core LANSA-based student administration system. Keeping the core solution and Web services on the same platform avoids the need for data duplication and allows Swinburne IT staff to manage the solution with their existing skill set.
Ontario Student Loans (OSAP), an initiative of the Ministry of Education in Canada, offers a multilingual Web site http://osap.gov.on.ca where a LANSA for the Web application allows students to apply online for loans and grants and check the status of their application. Students had been anticipating the site for a while and nearly 1,000 OSAP applications were processed on its first day of going live. OSAP has recently extended the site with LANSA Integrator to use Web signatures for secure PDF downloads.
The New South Wales Office of the Board of Studies is responsible for the content, distribution and logistics of syllabus materials and the School Certificate (Year 10) and Higher School Certificate (Year 12) examinations for NSW, the most populous state in Australia.
LANSA has been at the heart of the Board's IT infrastructure since 1989. Since 1999, the Board has been extending its iSeries and LANSA-based examination system with LANSA-based Web solutions for a growing number of its interactions with students, schools, teachers and other parties. These include the online collection of over 1.2 million grades and assessments from teachers each year for each of the courses taken by Year 10 to Year 12 students.
On the day the yearly High School exam results are made available, about 65,000 students access the Board's highly secure site to find out their results, typically within minutes of the results becoming available. As well as student results, school results with graphs and charts in PDF format are also available for download from the Board's iSeries. Over 650 principals download their results before noon on the day the results become available.
The Board of Studies is now extending its browser-based services with Web services, using LANSA Integrator, taking away the need for data entry by schools and other organization. For example, the Board uses SOAP messaging, via LANSA Integrator, to reconcile student information with TAFE NSW. TAFE NSW is Australia's largest Technical And Further Educational institution and among the largest in the world, offering more than 1200 courses at over 130 locations. There is a large overlap in the clientele of The Board and TAFE, the students, and a huge amount of information has to be exchanged and reconciled using mostly manual procedures. Using Web services, data exchange is seamless and automatic. The Board is also using LANSA Integrator to access the Web services of Westpac's, Credit Card authorization and processing. Westpac is one of Australia's major banks.
Dr John Bennett, general manager and chief executive at the Board of Studies, said, "We have a small in-house team but a customer base that includes every student in the entire NSW school system. LANSA provides us with a language in which to rapidly develop and modify applications to suit our policy and educational needs."
Muir Mathieson, senior IT consultant at the Board of Studies, said, "The Web solution builds further on our use of LANSA that was already behind our applications. In effect, we are using the same skills that we already had. LANSA provides rapid application development. We can develop a complex interactive browser application in about half a day. Without LANSA we would not be anywhere near this far advanced."
The HEART Trust, Jamaica's National Training Agency, trains 30,000 people each year. HEART's LANSA based Training Information Management System (TIMS) handles hundreds of thousands of training related transactions daily and makes trainee and management information available to HEART's network of 60 offices and training centers across the island from a single AS/400. The system has been expanded to the Web to provide companies with self service recruitment and trainees with an online registration facility.
Enos Brown, chief information officer at the HEART Trust, said, "The single LANSA skill set means that I can expand our iSeries solution to the Web and client server with the same five developers who have years of expertise with the business functionality of our information systems."
Publishers of Educational Materials
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., headquartered in New York, is a global publisher of print and electronic products of educational and nonfiction titles, with publishing, marketing, and distribution centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. Wiley has more than 11,000 active book titles, 400 journals/subscriptions, and publishes about 1,500 new titles in a variety of formats every year. Wiley's customers include thousands of college bookstores, public bookstores, libraries, corporations and end-consumers. Wiley has extended its Synon-based core applications with LANSA to provide Web-based order entry and inquiry to its customers.
"We are impressed with the LANSA product and its ability to develop Internet solutions," says Stephen Foster, associate director of systems development.
"The online system gives better service to our customers. Bookstore staff can now obtain shipment status at any time of day. With our shopping cart system, an order will be filled immediately and we will ship without delay. On top of that, we expect significant long-term savings within our Customer Service department."
John Wiley & Sons Australia (JWA), a wholly owned subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons Inc of New York, is a leading publisher of educational and non-fiction titles in the Asia Pacific region. JWA offers eCatalogue, a B2C site that provides students and teachers with a complete online catalog with in-depth title information. You can search by subject area, year/level and by new/upcoming titles or all titles. eCatalogue runs on iSeries and draws information from iSeries and Linux Servers using LANSA Integrator and internally developed Java.
Richard Ciechanowski, John Wiley Australia's manager information technology, says, "LANSA fits in our layered platform approach that allows for scalability. We have our iSeries and LANSA based eBusiness systems at the top. Beneath that, we have Linux machines that contain book cover images, publications and other rich content that is likely to rapidly increase in volume as the nature of publication evolves." "LANSA Integrator seamlessly joins our iSeries business system together with whatever box we may be using for our publications and rich content."
Scholastic Canada, a leading publisher and distributor of fiction and non-fiction books for children in Canada, has been using LANSA for the Web since 1997 to let teachers place school book club orders over the Internet. Scholastic was one of the first companies in the world to use an iSeries (AS/400) for an integrated Web solution.
Frank Deme, director of MIS at Scholastic, said, "LANSA was clearly the solution. We could use our existing AS/400. We could use our existing skills. We did not have to replicate our data and the Web order entry could be fully integrated with our existing order processing system."
DEMCO Inc, a direct marketer of supplies, equipment and furniture to the library and schools market in the U.S. and U.K., uses LANSA for its core operational system and for the online catalog Web sites of several companies, including www.demco.com, www.demco.nl & www.gresswell.co.uk. These sites are used by consumers and have additional functionality for registered libraries and schools.
Mark Anderson, vice president of information services at DEMCO, says, "Of the hundreds of technology decisions made in the '90s, I feel our best decision was LANSA, followed closely by the AS/400." "For over 10 years now the LANSA tool set has served as the key platform that allows us to turn out reliable, top-quality business applications while preserving our systems investment by adapting to new technologies. LANSA, the people and the tools, have become trusted partners in our continual evolution."
The move to provide parents, teachers and students with Web access to information is easy for organizations that use LANSA. LANSA has been strong in the educational industry for over 15 years and, because LANSA keeps evolving, we will continue to be strong for generations to come.