Just like with everything else nowadays, schools need to have a tangible online presence to fully function. From simple features like managing your teachers and their classes to giving insight into all the grades with a few clicks to holding online courses, everything is done on the web.
If anything, the last couple of years has taught us that it’s also extremely efficient to transfer these “classic”, in-person features online. While there are some undeniable benefits to doing all the work that goes on behind the scenes at school it simply isn’t required anymore. Calendars on the notice board, class prep written on paper, grades in an old school directory – these are all a thing of the past, replaced with websites and apps that are accessible anytime, anywhere.
You can mix and match your classes around the calendar at night, after dinner, when it’s all calm, not in the short periods between classes, where most of your work will suffer from a lack of concentration and time. Reach out to parents or let them reach out to you instantly via one of many messaging or video call services, instead of standing guard for hours until the parent-teacher conference finally begins. The reasons to go digital are endless and they all aim to lighten your load, making your tasks easier and faster to complete.
The only potential downside is getting the hang of the software you and your associates will be required to use. It goes without saying that not everyone is equally equipped to handle the switch. It’s therefore crucial to find the optimal software that will get the job done. At the same time, it needs to be robust enough to provide all the necessary features and simple enough to use, so that everyone works with it.
Since WordPress is the premier entry-level web management platform it should be the first choice upon which to build your site. Once that’s done, you’ll want to integrate plugins to provide all those features we’ve mentioned. To make life easier, here’s a list of five plugins that will get the job done and finally allow you to go digital.
1. School Management
When talking about school management plugins, it’s only fitting that we start with the aptly named “School Management”. It’s an all-in-one plugin that aims to provide you with everything you’ll need across the board. One of the key features that emphasize the scope you’ll be able to work with is the ability to manage multiple schools from the same place. Within those, you’ll manage faculty, classes, students, exams, attendance, etc. all from the same place.
There are great opportunities for interaction with both the students and the parents with a convenient notice board accessible to the former and front-end login for the latter, where the parents can always check up on how their kids are doing. Giving this type of access minimizes the need for you to handle parents daily, outside of designated parent-teacher conferences.
School Management works even if you’re running an online school or course since communication is available through Zoom. You can deliver online classes, provide information to parents, or handle testing – everything’s online. The plugin supports Nexmo and Twilio as additional communication methods if that’s your preferred style.
Ekselen started as a desktop school management software, and one of the better ones at that. With everything moving online it was reimagined as a WordPress plugin making it much more accessible to a wider audience. Because of this specific and extensive background, it’s finely tuned to make your school run at its optimum capacity. The gathered experience, over time, has made Ekselen one of the plugins with the most features since they’ve been adding them to the “base build” for quite some time.
You’ll be able to manage classes and classrooms, which is important if you’re keeping the attendees in the same classroom and the teachers come to them. This is usual for smaller schools that don’t have enough space for specialized classrooms for subjects (like chemistry or physics). Directly connecting to that is the timetable schedule which encompasses both the teachers and the students.
Aside from teachers, you’ll get to manage all your other staff, as well as fee payments (if you’re charging for classes), student enrolment and attendance, etc. If you plan on organizing events outside of your regular classes, there’s a whole section dedicated to it, something like an event manager that’s independent of your everyday activities.
It’s worth also noting the overall accessibility, which was a point of emphasis for the devs, evident in the abundance of design options for the front along with voice command support.
3. School Management System
The School Management System plugin is another example of an all-in-one solution for schools and online courses. On the administrative end i.e. your end, you’ll have significant options in assigning roles and access to all the other users. These can include your staff, most prominently, teachers (you can have other admins among them), or outside users – students and teachers. Enabling and limiting access to each role is essential for a school to function. It will make life much easier for everyone because they won’t have to sift through the clutter to get to the content they need.
The plugin features all the usual school management features like managing classes, teachers, students, schedules, etc. There are even additional tools present that enable users to complete their tasks easier. You’ll have access to a library module which is very convenient for researching, or completing reading assignments, class syllabus management for teachers, grading solutions, etc.
You can see from the highlighted features the School Management System plugin is geared primarily towards creating a comfortable environment for teaching and teachers. Add to everything else a dashboard that’s easy to use and you’ll have the basis of a very good system you can implement in virtually any educational institution.
Schoex is a plugin that looks to simplify the most hated part of a teacher’s job – paperwork. It has multiple tools like standardized forms and form fillers designed to minimize the amount of input required from the teachers to prepare for or follow up on their classes.
While this feature makes life easier for teachers there’s also the bulk messaging solution which is used for notifying students of all the events, or other important announcements regarding their school. Think of it as a virtual message board that comes to you.
Aside from the mandatory functions that include scheduling, class, teacher, and student monitoring, etc., there’s also a robust, customizable reporting system in place. It can be used for every type of user, most importantly, those that hold classes and those who attend them, and those that oversee the attendees (read: parents). You can use one of several templates or create a report of your own, so everyone is always kept well informed.
Much like every other plugin we’ve mentioned SakolaWP is a plugin that encompasses the whole administration aspect of running a school. As such, some things are present by default like segmenting your site by the roles that are assigned to users (teacher, parents, students, etc.), handling classes, grades, and attendances, etc.
SakolaWP goes a step further with added accessibility for students by offering them a unique feature of an online homework function that aims to standardize the way tasks are completed at home. There are two primary benefits to this. It’s much easier for students to complete said tasks if they have the same underlying framework for every class – you know what’s requested of you and how things need to be done. Additionally, it makes it much easier for the teachers to proof and grade the student’s work if there’s a clear baseline to follow – open interpretation is boiled down to a minimum.
Just like the online homework feature, you’ll be able to give standardized online exams which have all the same benefits. Because of these features, it’s very easy to see how this plugin can work wonders for someone who wants to run an online course business since everything can be accessed and handled online.
Every school or course provider can’t function without the core features these plugins provide. A decade ago you’d be doing all of this offline, through some desktop software at best, or on paper at worst. Nowadays, you’re almost expecting to have this kind of access online, at your fingertips 24/7.
The nature of these plugins lends itself to being geared towards online classes and courses, simply because there are some benefits to going to school that can’t be overstated. Emphasizing the fact is the payment options each of them has implemented. However, while you’ll have one of the plugins as the crux of your online endeavor, they also represent an invaluable support tool for “regular” schools which isn’t the thing everything revolves around but is simply there for some quality of life improvements for everyone involved.
All of the solutions we’ve selected for the list have much more in common than they have differences, with a couple of unique features sprinkled in each case. It’s therefore safe to say you can’t really go wrong no matter your choice.