We are often asked many questions about eSembler when we visit education conferences and district clients. The following is a list of common questions and answers about our gradebook software.
Can you integrate with our Student Information System?
eSembler software can be integrated seamlessly with any Student Information System (SIS) to perform a wide variety of tasks, including: transfer grades from the teacher gradebook to district or school information systems; add, remove, and manage system users; identify student/teacher associations to build class rosters; import course and section information to dynamically populate teacher and student schedules; and manage additions and drops from course schedules. This means that whether you are using CIMS, Pentamation, SASIxp, Skyward, or a district customized SIS, eSembler can work in your district.
How is integration with our Student Information System accomplished?
There are two options available for integrating eSembler gradebook and attendance software with your district Student Information System (SIS). Using the first option, student, teacher, schedule, and class information is transferred securely in a flat text file format (e.g. comma delimited) from a central FTP server within the district network. Periodically, eSembler checks for new information on the FTP server and imports the data into the gradebook. When grade or attendance data is submitted by teachers from within the gradebook, eSembler transfers that information to the FTP server whereupon the Student Information System may then import the appropriate data. The second option allows the eSembler gradebook and the Student Information System to transfer data directly by populating ODBC compliant databases like SQL Server. Table structures and rules surrounding this transfer are defined during the implementation lifecycle by the eSembler Implementation Team and individual district requirements.
Student data is highly sensitive. What if we have a policy that prevents the release of student data outside our district?
We understand the importance and sensitivity of student information. Therefore, eSembler gradebook software and all student data is hosted on servers located on district property, usually in the district’s data center. The eSembler gradebook software can also be hosted on Amazon Web Services.
How much does eSembler cost?
eSembler license pricing is based on the total number of students in a district. There are no “modules” to buy or hidden fees; all eSembler features are available with any license purchase. Districts with larger student populations realize significant savings. In some districts, the one time eSembler license can cost as little as $1.50 per student.
What issues should be considered when preparing a gradebook RFP?
The eSembler team understands the daunting task of developing Requests for Proposals (RFP) or Requests for Information (RFI). To assist districts in this onerous duty, we have created a document template to help you get started. Districts who wish to develop gradebook RFPs or RFIs may contact us for this documentation by calling or sending requests here with “RFP Information Request” in the subject line.
Hardware recommendations vary according to the total number of teachers using eSembler, but installations generally require a two-server configuration. eSembler’s application files usually reside on a single server; this application server will function as eSembler’s district Web server. The eSembler application server should be configured to include a minimum of 4 processor cores per 1,500 teachers. In situations where more than 3,000 teachers should be supported, Windows 2008 Advanced Server or later may be used to implement clustering; a server farm may also be created to allow for splitting of campus locations (only in the largest installations). All of eSembler’s data files reside on the district database server(s). The database server requires a minimum of 4 processor cores for every 1,500 teachers. For most implementations, we recommend Intel Xeon processors with hyperthreading technology and at least 12GB of memory per server.
What software is required on the eSembler servers?
The application server should be configured with Windows 2008 Server or later and IIS 7 or later, while the database server should include Windows 2008 Server or later and SQL Server 2008 or later with processor-based licensing.
What software is needed for teacher or administrator gradebook access?
Teachers and administrators only need a modern Web browser to access the gradebook.
How long does it take for a teacher to set up a class?
Teachers are never required to set up classes. As soon as a teacher logs into eSembler, they can create and grade assignments right away. By integrating the district’s Student Information System, all course, student, schedule, roster, and teacher information is automatically imported into eSembler and updated regularly.
How is login security managed?
eSembler supports user authentication in Novell and Microsoft networks through LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and Active Directory services. This allows district network administrators to maintain a single account, with a single username and password for each of their school or district users, while maintaining the highest levels of security available.
Can the data stored in eSembler be used by other software systems?
To assist districts in extracting database information directly, eSembler engineers have created a series of documented summary tables. This documentation establishes the published applications programming interface (API) for obtaining system information from the eSembler database-SQL Server. Third-party applications like Crystal Reports® or custom tools may be used to generate any number of reports using this information.
What type of training is available?
eSembler’s Train the Trainer services are offered free of charge with every eSembler installation. This free training is provided through remote WebEx presentation of class materials. A single three-hour class session is available for every twenty (20) campus locations in a district. Up to three campus locations can join a single class session.
What type of support do you provide?
The Support Agreement includes unlimited helpdesk services for a designated district representative. eSembler helpdesk personnel are available through phone and via e-mail from 8:00AM to 6:00PM PST, Monday through Friday. Extended, critical issue support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by contacting the eSembler Project Manager assigned to the district. eSembler engineers guarantee they will respond to the initial support request within four working hours with an answer, solution, or an estimate of when a solution might be available. The Support Agreement also includes software patch sets and minor upgrades that may be made available from time to time. Patch sets improve program functionality and fix known bugs, but can sometimes also include additional features.
Do you offer end-user support?
eSembler’s standard support agreement does not include end-user support. However, end-user support contracts are available for purchase at additional cost. eSembler end user helpdesk personnel are available through phone and via e-mail from 4:00AM to 4:00PM PST, Monday through Friday. Please note that the purchase of End User Support is not required. In fact, it is not commonly selected by districts. Most districts choose to manage end user helpdesk services in-house.
Do you offer on-site support?
Onsite support and technical database administration training is also available, but rarely required except in cases where a district client feels most comfortable with on-site installation of the software (which is not required). However, these services are not included as part of the standard Support Agreement. For onsite support, one or more senior eSembler engineers can provide support for eSembler on all levels including application functionality, templates, and data integration with the district Student Information System.
How soon can eSembler be installed in our district?
There are many factors to consider, but the working elements of the installation are generally completed in under 60 days.
What is eSembler’s relationship to Premio Computer?
eSembler for Education is the brand name of Premio’s software for the education market.