A look at the Future…


The Brighton Teacher Center is very excited to announce the “soft launch” of Avatar. We want to introduce the software to you so you can register for breakout sessions on the March 14th Superintendent’s Conference Day.

This may be the first time many of you are hearing of Avatar. Well, what is it and why are we using it? To answer that, let me quickly explain the problems with our current registration system.

To date we have been using an Access database to store teacher’s professional development transcripts and to register teachers for classes. One major problem with this system is that it is not web-based. Only a very few people—myself and my secretary—can see what is in the database. We can only use the database when we are physically in the Teacher Center. This makes not only limits the time we can register people, but it also makes for a lot of complicated communications to and from our office.

For example, when we enter a class into the database, no one outside the Teacher Center can see the class. How do you register for a class that you don’t know about? This is why we have had to publish our paper “course catalog booklets”. This has some very serious drawbacks.

· We have to “input” data twice. Once into the database, and then again into the paper course booklet.

· We only “publish” a book a few times a year but classes are popping up all the time. Should I now e-mail you every time we add a class or should I wait for the next publication cycle of the booklet?

· We are killing a lot of trees.

· We still haven’t solved all the communication problems. Now you may know what the classes are, but you still have to register for them.

As it is now, if you want to register for a class you have to call or e-mail the Teacher Center. I, or my secretary, will take your request and enter it into our professional development database. Again, we are the only ones who have access to this database, and since it is not web-based, we only have access to it while we are physically in the Teacher Center. Once we enter your request we then must e-mail you back confirming your request. So, two e-mails generated for each request.

Now, lets consider an event such as the March 14th Superintendent’s Conference Day. We are going to need to register about 350 teachers and administrators. That would mean this office would need to handle approximately 700 e-mails for this one event alone. And that is assuming everything works out perfectly and everyone is able to get his or her first choice of classes.

Well what happens if a class has a ceiling or maximum number of participants? Under the current system, you—the user—have no way of knowing if a class has “maxed out” because you can’t see the database. If you unknowingly register for a class that has been closed out, we’ll have to contact you to let you know, and we begin the whole registration process over again.

Obviously there has to be a better way. AVATAR!

Avatar is a web-based professional development management system. You will now be able to connect to our database anytime and anywhere you have access to a computer with an internet connection.

If you want to register for a class at night after you’ve put your kids to bed…register!

If you have your laptop with you by the pool at the hotel in Florida…register for a class!

It its 4:28 am and you can’t fall back to sleep…register for a class!

I, for example, created all the classes for the Superintendent’s Conference Day from home. It was very nice not to be stuck in the office. I was able to do my work, but still hang out with my family and get household chores done.

You will now be able to see the descriptions of the classes that are offered.

You will be able to see how many people have registered for a class and if its closed or not.

You will be able to look at your own professional development transcript and confirm it is up to date.

Best of all, you will receive immediate feedback if your registration is accepted or not.

The system automatically generates confirmation e-mails and reminder e-mails for the classes you registered for.

We are introducing this software to you at this time to facilitate registering for the March 14th workshop day. We are calling this a “soft launch” because we are only scratching the surface of what Avatar can do. Consider it an introduction to the future.

A few thoughts on registering for the March 14th Superintendent’s Conference Day…I highly recommend you register your choices as soon as possible for two reasons.

1) You’ll be more likely to get your first choice of class if you are one of the first to register.

2) This will help us plan the facilities needed to accommodate all the class offerings.

I will let you all know when we are ready for a “hard launch”—when we are ready to completely switch over all registrations to the new system. You will be registering for late spring and summer classes using the new system. There will be more extensive training in how to use it.

For now though, I hope you enjoy a glimpse of our future.


One Response

  1. My center was in the same exact boat-paper and pencil registrations,closed system, personal reminders-(talk about a drain on staffing time!) We are slowly entering the 21st century with our system- it may not have all of the bells and whistles that Avatar does, but at least we are jumping into the pool, so to speak. It will be interesting to see how the staff responds as we roll it out. Keep me posted on your findings! -K

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