Creating an application for running a school

JowGaWolf

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Nice to see your response, Jow Ga.

If you can get Joomla stood up, configured, and extended then you're in great shape, but this is where the PHP comes in. Literally anything is possible with MySQL and PHP from there, but you either need to have or aquire those skills or you need help from someone who has them.
I guess it comes really easy to me since I'm always working with Joomla.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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Nice to see your response, Jow Ga.

If you can get Joomla stood up, configured, and extended then you're in great shape, but this is where the PHP comes in. Literally anything is possible with MySQL and PHP from there, but you either need to have or aquire those skills or you need help from someone who has them.
Yep. I suspect investigating a future version of this might get me digging into PHP. There are other tools I could use, but PHP/MySQL is right there.
 
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Gerry Seymour

Gerry Seymour

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So true. This is where many of those companies give people the "gotcha" moment. 3 years with a company and the customer wants to go to a cheaper service or a better service with another company only to find out that they can't download the data in a format that can be used in another system.
Yes, this is something I even find I have to help clients watch for in contracts with large hosted-solution companies.

If the LMS has a "path to certification" where a student has to pass one course (group of skill sets, techniques, belt). My guess is that it should be possible to track the individual techniques by students. It may look something like
Lesson #1(Chapter 1):
  • technique 1 (test or satisfactory approval)
  • technique 2 (must past technique 1 test before technique 2 is available, or not)
  • technique 3
Once the techniques are done to your liking then they can get access to Lesson #2. The other option would be to have Lesson 1 without any technique requirements, but the techniques won't be marked as complete until the student is able to to it. That way they student can still move forward with the understanding that there are some previous techniques that need to be addressed. This would allow students to learn techniques at a different pace, some techniques I do better than others. For me some basic techniques are more difficult than some advance techniques. Sometimes I can do a technique better on my non-dominant side better than I can do on my dominant side.
That would probably work. If nothing else, I need to look at how that flows in some LMS to see what works well. The whole LMS option, oddly, didn't occur to me, even when I was searching for database examples.

A good membership plugin will allow you to do this. My guess is that you'll end up with Access doing somethings and a plugin will do something different. I can see where Access will be good for dealing with dealing with some of the membership aspects, but then be a nightmare for payment gateways, because at that point, it becomes a security of data issue especially if they are paying with credit cards. I do both offline and online payments. Offline security = me not getting mugged on the way to may car. Online security = PayPal can deal with that. This way if something goes bad with the online transaction, then PayPal has to deal with the legal issues related to that transaction.
That's why I'm looking for an interface with one of the gateways. I'd let them (in my case, Square) handle the credit cards and payments, but I'd like to be able to feed the amounts into them from Access if I can work that out. You're right, if I go the route of having folks handle the payments via a membership plugin, I can avoid all this, but I lose some flexibility. Right now, I have students who travel a lot for business. They have two payment options: monthly or weekly. I let them decide each payment period which they want to do, based upon their expected attendance. I don't think I've seen a membership plugin with that kind of flexibility, but I can build that (and the tracking functionality to still know who's paid up) in Access fairly easily. It's not something I'd originally planned to do, but it was a good fix since literally all of my first 6 students needed that flexibility, or they'd have just skipped an entire month at a time (which often results in a student vanishing).

I'll give you some insight on this from a perspective of working with registrations in that past for government organizations.
Thanks for that PM. Good thoughts.
 

JowGaWolf

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They have two payment options: monthly or weekly. I let them decide each payment period which they want to do, based upon their expected attendance. I don't think I've seen a membership plugin with that kind of flexibility, but I can build that (and the tracking functionality to still know who's paid up) in Access fairly easily. It's not something I'd originally planned to do, but it was a good fix since literally all of my first 6 students needed that flexibility, or they'd have just skipped an entire month at a time (which often results in a student vanishing).
My web site uses a membership subscription extension that does this. I can determine the length of the membership. I can make it weekly or monthly. I don't know about WordPress, but I would think that there would be a membership subscription plugin that would do something similar. I think if you just search for membership then you won't find what you need. Try member subscription to see if that will yield better results in your WP search.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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My web site uses a membership subscription extension that does this. I can determine the length of the membership. I can make it weekly or monthly. I don't know about WordPress, but I would think that there would be a membership subscription plugin that would do something similar. I think if you just search for membership then you won't find what you need. Try member subscription to see if that will yield better results in your WP search.
Does it let them select weekly or monthly at each payment interval?
 

JowGaWolf

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Does it let them select weekly or monthly at each payment interval?
yes. I can set it up where a student is paying weekly but now wants to pay monthly. The monthly option would be considered as an upgraded membership plan. If the student wants to return to the weekly payment plan after a month then they will be given the option to do so as a renewal option. With the extension the owner decides what memberships look like. There is no predefined length of time.

From what I can tell, most of the membership plugins are based on online memberships which doesn't translate well into offline memberships needs of small groups like Martial Arts schools and certain clubs type organizations.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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yes. I can set it up where a student is paying weekly but now wants to pay monthly. The monthly option would be considered as an upgraded membership plan. If the student wants to return to the weekly payment plan after a month then they will be given the option to do so as a renewal option. With the extension the owner decides what memberships look like. There is no predefined length of time.

From what I can tell, most of the membership plugins are based on online memberships which doesn't translate well into offline memberships needs of small groups like Martial Arts schools and certain clubs type organizations.
Ah, I see that I wasn't clear on how those payment changes work. Let's say a student is traveling for the first two weeks in January. He would pay for December as a monthly payment, and then not pay again until he comes in mid-January. At that point, if he is going to have to travel again the first week of February, he'll probably opt to pay for two weeks on the weekly plan, then when he comes back the second week in February, he might resume the Monthly plan. It's those periods in between that seem problematic with a renewal setup. I suppose some of the plugins might allow for manual renewal (rather than automatic), so they could just not renew until they are coming back to class. I'll need to dabble a bit.
 

Andrew Green

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Ah, I see that I wasn't clear on how those payment changes work. Let's say a student is traveling for the first two weeks in January. He would pay for December as a monthly payment, and then not pay again until he comes in mid-January. At that point, if he is going to have to travel again the first week of February, he'll probably opt to pay for two weeks on the weekly plan, then when he comes back the second week in February, he might resume the Monthly plan. It's those periods in between that seem problematic with a renewal setup. I suppose some of the plugins might allow for manual renewal (rather than automatic), so they could just not renew until they are coming back to class. I'll need to dabble a bit.

I don't think any software is likely to be set up quite like that, as to be honest it's a bad idea for a membership based business to work like that.

The closest you would find that gets a similar sort of result would be offering monthly rates and "punch card" rates, where someone buys a 10 or 20 class pass at a time.

To do what you do here would I believe be a legal no-no. If they re prepaying for a service there should be a "contract" that says what they are paying for, regardless of whether it is a week or a year, there should be something in writing saying how much for what service. I suspect that would mean paper work every time they pay the way you are handling fees.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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I don't think any software is likely to be set up quite like that, as to be honest it's a bad idea for a membership based business to work like that.

The closest you would find that gets a similar sort of result would be offering monthly rates and "punch card" rates, where someone buys a 10 or 20 class pass at a time.

To do what you do here would I believe be a legal no-no. If they re prepaying for a service there should be a "contract" that says what they are paying for, regardless of whether it is a week or a year, there should be something in writing saying how much for what service. I suspect that would mean paper work every time they pay the way you are handling fees.
No, they get those periodic fees in their initial Payment Policy disclosures, which is sufficient for legal purposes. There's no need to re-disclose the periodic fees every time someone re-ups, even if they choose to use a different period. And I don't really see any significant legal risk in this setup. Sure someone could make a spurious claim, and I'd refund their payment and ask them to leave.
 

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For all the accounting/inventory/bill paying stuff, we use Quickbooks. I can't imagine trying to run the school without it.

I use Martial Arts Navigator for the student stuff. It's oriented towards ATA schools, but can be configured to run just about any style.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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For all the accounting/inventory/bill paying stuff, we use Quickbooks. I can't imagine trying to run the school without it.

I use Martial Arts Navigator for the student stuff. It's oriented towards ATA schools, but can be configured to run just about any style.
Quickbooks is the accounting side. I'm working on something for the instructor's (my) daily use - especially where that instructor is farming out the accounting. If I dig into the payment side of it (last phase, if I go there), the idea will be to feed QB with entries from the application.

I'll take a look at MA Navigator. I'll be curious to see if it will handle the detailed curriculum tracking I'm looking for, as that was a major part of what sent me down this path. I track at the technique level (currently in Excel), and want to integrate that into the rest of the information (rank, attendance, etc.).
 

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Quickbooks is the accounting side. I'm working on something for the instructor's (my) daily use - especially where that instructor is farming out the accounting. If I dig into the payment side of it (last phase, if I go there), the idea will be to feed QB with entries from the application.

I'll take a look at MA Navigator. I'll be curious to see if it will handle the detailed curriculum tracking I'm looking for, as that was a major part of what sent me down this path. I track at the technique level (currently in Excel), and want to integrate that into the rest of the information (rank, attendance, etc.).
To be honest, MAN has gotten a little long in the tooth. The developer has asked me to help with an upgrade, and that is in process. But I can't put in full time on it, so it will be a while.
 

Xue Sheng

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My first thought was "use Access" and as I rad I see you are. My 2nd thought was a SQL backend... and I see you are there too.

However there is something to consider with Microsoft Access as a web application (thinking the multiple locations and students ability to log in) , unless Microsoft has fixed this issue, if greater than 30 people attempt to access your database at the same time it crashes and loses all data that is saved in Access and generally that is non-recoverable. That is where your SQL backend comes in real handy.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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My first thought was "use Access" and as I rad I see you are. My 2nd thought was a SQL backend... and I see you are there too.

However there is something to consider with Microsoft Access as a web application (thinking the multiple locations and students ability to log in) , unless Microsoft has fixed this issue, if greater than 30 people attempt to access your database at the same time it crashes and loses all data that is saved in Access and generally that is non-recoverable. That is where your SQL backend comes in real handy.
I'm with you on both of those. I haven't had an excuse to build on a SQL backend before (have built full applications in Access, but using native engine), so I'm looking forward to that. It would also solve the problem of security, since MS removed the (rather weak) user-level security that once existed in Access.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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To be honest, MAN has gotten a little long in the tooth. The developer has asked me to help with an upgrade, and that is in process. But I can't put in full time on it, so it will be a while.
I'll still take a look at it. I was concerned because some wording on the site (which also needs and update :p) made it sound like there would be no further updates.
 
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