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. If you can't find answers to your questions here, simply give us a call or drop us an e-mail.
The eSembler gradebook 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. Some of those systems include Pearson Digital Learning SASIxp, Pearson School Systems CIMS, SUNGARD Pentamation, Skyward SMS, Chancery SMS, CrossPointe TERMS, C Innovation Zangle, and Century Consultants Star Base.
There are two automated methods available for integrating eSembler with any Student Information System (SIS). In one method, information is securely shared by eSembler and the SIS through Microsoft’s Data Transformation Services (DTS). Through DTS, districts are provided an automated mechanism whereby data can be extracted, transformed, and loaded using fixed width, comma delimited, or tab delimited text files. In the second method, information is securely transferred back and forth between eSembler and the SIS directly--using ODBC connections made between the SIS and eSembler’s intermediary tables.
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.
eSembler license pricing is based on the total number of students in a district. There are no extra 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 $2.80 per student.
After years of extensive load testing and experience with current district clients, eSembler engineers have determined optimal server configurations based on evaluation of actual teacher usage patterns. eSembler program files reside on one or more application servers (based on district size). Data files reside on a single database server. These servers are physically located within each district's data center. Premio believes that this configuration provides for a secure and robust system model that cannot yet be realized by Application Service Provider (ASP) solutions.
"We've been extremely satisfied with eSembler,
its broad set of features and reporting, and most importantly, in Premio’s
outstanding product support."
Supervisor, Data Support Services
District School Board of Pasco County
Premio recommends that districts acquire hardware using the aggressive assumption
that up to 50% of all teachers will login simultaneously. This value was set
based on statistical evidence that shows that no more than 45% of all teachers
have ever simultaneously accessed our software in any client district. In
fact, in most of our districts, eSembler servers rarely see higher than 30%
concurrency, even during peak periods. A second assumption calls for an expectation
that each user, on average, will make a server request every 25 seconds. This
average has been calculated using actual data established from the heaviest
usage patterns, usually seen during the final days of grade submission timeframes—in
districts both large and small. However, during the course of an entire school
year, districts will rarely experience more than a few minutes of utilization
higher than a single server request per user once every 35 seconds.
Working with these assumptions, each application server should be configured with a single 3.8GHz processor for every 325 teachers, while each database server can support up to 1350 teachers per processor. If these usage parameters are exceeded, each server can support more teachers than those listed above; however, teachers may experience software performance degradation as utilization increases.
The recommended operating system for both the application and database server is Microsoft® Windows 2003 Server. There are no seat licenses required for the application server. The database server requires Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition. Licensing for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 requires a license for each processor used for database processing.
"If there were any recommendation I could give,
it would be that we have been through several vendors who could offer a lot
of vision and dreams. It is nice to find one that delivers."
Director of Technology
Appleton Area School District
For Windows-based systems, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5+, Mozilla 1.0+, Firefox 1.0+, and Netscape 6.0+ support all eSembler functionality. For Macintosh systems, Apple Safari 1.3+, Firefox 1.0+, and Mozilla 1.0+ support all eSembler functionality. The eSembler user interface is identical across all platforms and all supported browsers. Browser plug-ins like Active X and Macromedia Flash are not required. Upgrading to the latest browser version available is recommended for best performance. For the optimal user experience, Premio recommends Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0+ for Windows-based systems, Apple Safari 1.3+ for Macintosh OS X systems, and Mozilla 1.2.1 for OS 9 Systems.
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.
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.
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 2005. Third-party applications like Crystal Reports® or custom tools may be used to generate any number of reports using this information.
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. Free onsite training is available for districts larger than 30,000 students.
The Support Agreement includes unlimited helpdesk services for a designated district representative. eSembler helpdesk personnel are available through eSembler's toll free number and via e-mail from 6:00AM 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.
There are many factors to consider including your own district's scheduling needs, but the working elements of the installation are generally completed in under 60 days. Our most rapid implementation was completed from start to finish in 28 days (for a district of 48,000 students).
eSembler for Education is the brand name of Premio's software for the education market.