It is entirely web based and can run from a centrally located division wide server or a single computer in a school. It is designed to support an entire division on one or more central computers but can also work just fine for a single school. Currently several school divisions use this approach and have 15+ schools on a single central server. This is because it is designed to be lightweight both in server resource requirements and in communication bandwidth.
It currently has the following features:
Demographics - It stores student and family information that can be viewed and printed in a variety of ways. The student demographics are extensible; you can add your own additional fields to store important information about students in your school(s). This is made possible by the use of templating in several functions.
Attendance - Attendance can be entered either by secretaries in the school office or by teachers in the classroom. It features the ability to do different numbers of periods per day for elementary grades vs high school and middle years. This will allow elementary classes to have 2 classes per day (AM/PM) with a homeroom teacher while higher grades can have attendance done on a per subject period basis (and be subject based). Attendance reports are integrated with report cards/progress reports. A variety of attendance reports are available. A variety of attendance entry methods are available for use by teachers and/or secretaries to allow it to integrate with normal school practice.
Discipline - A simple discipline module to track student discipline events and track outcomes, etc. Behaviours may be categorized and statistical reports may be printed.
Report Card System - a flexible reporting system with per subject objectives (up to 20), integrated attendance reporting, etc. All report cards are printed as PDF reports and may include a school logo. All subjects may have unlimited length text comments, and can have any desired ordering. Attendance reporting will now do days open, days enrolled, days absent, and times late as standard.
Online Gradebook to allow teachers to enter marks and assessments onine from school or home. It can group and weight assessment items and post directly into the report card system. Students and parents may view these results, if desired. It can also post directly into the report card system.
A Transcript System to print student transcripts, including GPA calculations and full support for student progress on the transcript (which are also PDF based for excellent print quality).
A Fees System (along with Lunch program) to allow charging of student fees, printing of invoices, payments, invoices and export summary transactions to external accounting programs.
Parent/Student Viewing scripts to allow parents to view attendance, gradebook(where allowed), and report card marks. This is easily integrated into existing school sites.
IEP (Special Needs) Site that is integrated at the division level that allows special needs teachers to tailor individual student programs that can be viewed from each school's teacher site. This includes the ability to add student medical history, testing done, student teams (and responsibilities), and objectives chosen from lists of thousands, categorized in a variety of ways. There can be up to 32 objectives per subject and each 'subject' is specific to that particular child. His/her program would consist of a variety of subjects in areas such as fine motor control, etc.
This system can generate progress reports (for use with the report card system) as well as a comprehensive IEP report containing the yearly plan for the child. This IEP can also viewed from the teacher site, to ensure compliance throughout the year.
Export/Import Modules - to allow students to easily transfer schools within divisions without re-entry of demographic information. Export of data to other programs. Export of data to Provincial authorities via an automated XML based transfer mechanism.
Saskatchewan SDS support for direct XML transfers of student demographic, subject and enrollment marks to provincial authorities.
An Online Daybook to allow teachers to plan and view their lessons/days. Currently, only a very rudimentary function.
Upcoming: A Single site SSL installation to allow a school to run OA securely on a single website.
It is built entirely with freely available open source tools and comes with complete source code. The entire application is written in Perl and stores information in a MySQL SQL or PostgreSQL database. The perl programs, being interpreted, are readily accessible and can easily be changed to suit a school's needs. They are also quite small and designed to be changed if necessary
Printed output is of very high quality since OA generates all PDF output using the TeX/LaTeX typesetting system.
It has been extensively tested on several different Linux distributions (which by default have all required software installed except for additional perl modules). All required software is freely available. The software is very low maintenance and multiple servers can be centrally managed. It has also been run on a MS-Windows server (since the main tools are also available on this platform), but this requires extra work (and expense) to maintain.
It is designed for use in both Public and Catholic schools. It contains fields and reports for reporting on religion, confirmation, baptism, etc. if necessary.
It is designed for use in Band / First Nations Schools with fields for band, ethnic background, reserve residency, etc. It also reports on these fields.
Adobe Acrobat PDF Reports are generated dynamically from the database to give excellent quality printed output.
It is in use in several school divisions and international schools and is under active development by them. It has been in normal use since the 2002-2003 school year. (Trialed in 2001-2002)