Little SIS: Hatching Big Changes

Since 2016, Amplified Labs has helped more than 800 districts automate their management of Google Classroom and increase its adoption with Little SIS for Classroom.

The robust sync features of Little SIS give IT and instructional admins the ability to create Google Classroom classes and automatically maintain rosters throughout the year from local SIS data, saving valuable class time for both teachers and students. Little SIS can also optionally sync guardian email data to Google Classroom to allow teachers to make better use of Guardian Summaries. In addition to syncing Classrooms and Guardians, Little SIS provides admins the ability to perform powerful course management tasks and gain insights into Google Classroom usage within the Classroom Explorer.

The downsides? In the current model, sync logs, as well as these awesome insights and management powers require access via a remote desktop session into a district-hosted Windows server, typically by an IT administrator, and they offer up unrestricted access to ALL Classroom classes on the domain.  

The good news? We’re excited to announce that these limitations will be going away this spring.

Rethinking and expanding on the current Classroom Explorer functionality, this Spring Amplified Labs is re-releasing Little SIS for Classroom as a web application to help more district users gain adoption insights and support teachers and students using Google Classroom. We believe the Classroom Explorer and reporting functionality of Little SIS can unlock value for many more users through a web-based, delegated access model.  

By bringing a completely re-engineered Classroom Explorer to the web, Little SIS will make it possible for school principals, instructional coaches, IT admins, and district leadership to leverage Google Classroom a bit more like a full-featured LMS. Rebuilt from top-to-bottom, the web-based experience will also offer major speed and performance improvements across thousands of classes, even for the largest of districts.

How will this new offering be made available?  

Starting this spring, the current, locally-hosted SIS sync features of Little SIS will be sold as a separate product, called the Little SIS Sync Agent, allowing us to offer the Little SIS (v2) web-based experience as either a stand-alone solution or as a solution that is bundled with the sync agent or our Managed Sync service. This also means that districts who have implemented other third party roster sync solutions can still gain the insight and management powers of Little SIS for their users.

User stories and pain-point solutions for school principals and coaches, district IT administrators, and district stakeholders: 

School principals and instructional coaches

Instructional supervisors and coaches are tasked with implementing and supporting district initiatives at the school level. The better armed they are with the data and tools they need to get teachers up and running, the more impact these supervisory and support staff can have in advancing your district’s initiatives.  

That said, Google Classroom currently offers no visibility or control to school-level leadership beyond high level, domain-wide user reports in the Google Admin console. In a multi-school district, there’s no native way for administrators to interact with classes, or to disaggregate information about Classroom classes to the school level, which is where most of the action needs to happen when it comes to teacher coaching and supervision and student support services.

SOLUTION: Moving the Classroom Explorer from the hosted sync agent and into a web app, Little SIS for Classroom will now support custom admin roles. With Roles, you can invite specific to view Classroom data on sets of classes, and principals and coaches to manage changes to Classrooms at their school site. Tags will allow you to flag Classrooms that belong to each of your school sites or divisions, and their academic year. You can also set custom tags, like subject area, independent study, Special Education, etc., to allow for even more granular access to Classroom data.

Utilizing roles and tags in Little SIS, school-level supervisors and coaches can gain granular access to key Classroom usage data or manage classes for the schools or teachers that they support.

In Little SIS, they can see usage data, and they can also have the ability to archive Classrooms, add co-teachers, or enter the Classroom to help a teacher troubleshoot issues. At the site level, access to this Classroom information can help your coaches hone and monitor the effectiveness of their training initiatives, better support teachers on a day-to-day basis, and easily identify outliers who may require more individualized coaching.   

For instructional supervisors, it could mean everything from reviewing lesson materials prior to classroom observations to managing SPED co-teacher caseloads or taking action to ensure students have continuous instruction during long term teachers absences.

District IT administrators

Supporting a district’s technical initiatives, IT admins are often charged with implementing solutions that impact students and teachers across the district. Finding the best way to not only deploy instructional tools but to support them across the entire district takes time and effort. Little SIS for Classroom has provided a robust app for provisioning and syncing Google Classrooms for districts of all sizes, and with insight from our customer base, we’re making it even easier to manage and support Google Classroom at the district level.  

Bulk actions, like archiving old classes and deleting provisioned or declined classes, are currently available in Little SIS, and we are adding the ability to add co-teachers to individual classes, or in bulk.

In addition, we’re giving Little SIS admins the ability to add themselves or another user to a Google Classroom as either a teacher or a student, indefinitely or for a set period of time. This can allow IT and instructional support staff the ability to quickly support teachers and students using Google Classroom.

Stakeholders at the district level

As school districts move further along their Google journey, we’re finding more and more schools are adopting Google Classroom, either as an alternative to a traditional LMS or in addition to other platforms that they have in place. As with any other instructional tool, district leadership often looks for ways to measure adoption of Google Classroom, and for correlation between Classroom adoption and other key district initiatives, like a Chromebook rollout.

It is currently difficult to gather data on Google Classroom, and even more challenging to analyze usage trends and to spot outliers.

Little SIS for Classroom’s Classroom Explorer allows districts to spot high-leverage insights, gain impactful data points, like which school sites have the most teachers actively using Classroom, which teachers are posting the most assignments, and just as importantly, which teachers are not finding success with Classroom.

With up-to-date usage dashboards, the new Little SIS for Classroom will help district stakeholders get an overall picture of their Classroom adoption, which they can use to measure the effectiveness of larger initiatives like device rollouts and training initiatives.

What’s next?

Join us on February 27 as we explore the features of Little SIS for Classroom, highlighting the how Little SIS supports district’s Google Classroom adoption plan.

Register for Live Stream

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  • Melanie Long
    Customer Success Manager

  • About the Author:

    Melanie lives in Virginia and is based in Amplified IT’s home office located in Norfolk. One of the first members to join the Amplified IT team, Melanie has worn many hats at the company. She most enjoys interfacing with customers and helping them implement tools that solve common pain points and frustrations. Today she leads the onboarding and interfacing with Labs tool clients, making lives easier and breezier one implementation at a time.