One seamless experience
Tyndale Christian School, in Adelaide, South Australia, was established over 30 years ago by Christian parents wanting their children educated in an environment that would support their family values and faith.
Independent, co-educational and inter-denominational, the school has three campuses housing 2,000 students across their early learning, junior, middle and senior schools. Initially starting as a junior school with 137 students and 10 staff members, Tyndale has grown with the acquisition of the building facilities of the former University of South Australia’s Salisbury Campus on the school’s western boundary and more recently joined by two new South Australian locations in Strathalbyn and Murray Bridge.
Typical of many schools that have grown over time, the school’s IT infrastructure has grown ‘organically’ in response, creating challenges from time to time. The library system was essentially a solid mature system, however, because of some of the legacy issues, it was running several releases behind.
Integration between the library and other school systems was a real challenge, and from a user’s perspective, the library system had a dated user interface that did little to encourage student engagement. It was a pretty underwhelming experience.
The school also faced increasing challenges with support. They needed a system that the school was better able to manage, as Tyndale’s Learning Innovation Facilitator John Haynes put it, “to control our own destiny”.
A big vision
The team at Tyndale had a big vision – transformation of the school’s IT infrastructure into a single coherent enterprise-wide network that delivered a seamless experience for all types of users, from teachers, students, system administrators and others. They began by developing an IT Strategic Plan and setting up a governance structure to manage and prioritize a roadmap of school system reviews and improvements.
John’s view is that technology is a tool that shouldn’t get in the way of the learning or the task a user is wanting to do. “The philosophy of a user interface has changed significantly over recent years. While integration and function are vital, an intuitive, clean and concise user interface is equally important,” says John.
As a Microsoft shop, he also wanted single sign-on (SSO) access to cloud applications using Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory – a critical aspect to enabling a standardized cloud-hosted service.
Hard questions and straight-up answers
Armed with a clear vision, Tyndale started the process of finding a new library system that would meet the school’s current and future needs. Having made a shortlist of three library systems, a tight review team of key users was set up – Director of eLearning Josh Martin, Resource Centre Manager Tara Burton and John.
The team defined their wishlist of requirements then invited vendors to the school for product demonstrations. They also talked to other schools in the area already using one of the shortlisted systems and visited these schools to see first-hand the library system in operation.
“This gave us the chance to talk directly with people who knew and had lived with the system. We got to ask a lot of the hard questions and get straight-up answers,” says John.
From there, they evaluated their shortlist against their wishlist, now armed with a greater understanding and invaluable input from Resource Centre Manager Tara Burton’s many discussions within her professional network of school librarians and resource managers.
One clear choice
Accessit Library came out as the clear choice. Throughout the discovery process, the Accessit solution almost sold itself. The review team was really impressed when they saw the system in action. “We liked the way it opened straight away. We liked its intuitiveness and how easy it was to use. It has a dashboard that looks and feels great, and we certainly liked what we had heard from other customers,” says John.
But no significant IT change is without risk, and the Tyndale team felt confident that the Accessit team had a good process for managing and mitigating any migration and installation risks. “Tyndale was the first school that Accessit had set up using Microsoft’s Azure SSO authentication. Enabling the solution took some significant system development by Accessit, but it proved to be no problem.”
For Tyndale, Accessit has more than lived up to expectations, and the system has delivered on what it promised in every way. John feels that it has been a very positive experience. “The on-boarding process was well managed, the development team was knowledgeable, professional and positive to work with and we have received great support from everyone at Accessit,” he says.