Protection of Data in Flight – Attendance Writeback

For selected MIS products Messenger v5 can allow authorised users to update attendance marks for students.  For example if a teacher records an Unknown Absence in the MIS during electronic registration the school may then text the parental contacts to investigate further; during the process a parent may reply that the student is ill and has gone to the doctors.  As a matter of convenience, Messenger v5 allows authorised users to then read such responses and record attendance mark changes within Messenger v5 to reflect the actual absence reason.  In this example an authorised user in Messenger v5 may elect to update the Unknown Absence mark to an Illness mark, and this would then be updated in the MIS for historic record and for extraction by any other system that reads MIS data.

This functionality is supported only on selected MIS products; specific products that Messenger v5 can write back to are listed in the sub-sections below.

The right to update attendance is individually assigned to users within Messenger v5 and any organisation may choose to assign, or not to assign, that right to any or all of their users in accordance with that organisations own operating policies.

Writeback of changed attendance marks – Cloud hosted MIS products

For selected cloud-based MIS products Messenger v5 writes directly back to the MIS using the same secure and authenticated cloud-to-cloud transfer method as used to obtain the school data initially.

Currently this feature is not supported on any cloud-based MIS products.

Writeback of changed attendance marks – school hosted MIS products

For selected school-based MIS products Messenger v5 queues a writeback request in Messenger v5 and then sends notification to the school Xporter using a separate platform called Groupcall Dashboard.  The Groupcall Dashboard platform is used to monitor and manage Xporter installations globally and to send them repair instructions.  The writeback notification is then picked up by the school Xporter installation typically within 5 – 10 minutes of being queued. The details of what to write back are not passed via the Groupcall Dashboard platform, just that there is something to do.

The Xporter installation then connects to the Messenger v5 platform using SSL to pick up details of the writeback records waiting, identifying itself with its API Key.  A typical writeback request will consist of non-personal information, such as:

  • The School MIS record ID for the learner
  • The mark to be written back
  • The time-point of the mark, e.g. Date and Session

The Groupcall Dashboard platform is deployed into the Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud Platform in the same fashion as Messenger v5 and is hence subject to the same stringent security considerations.

Currently this feature is supported on the following school-based MIS products:

  • Capita SIMS .net

Writeback of changed attendance marks – SIF-enabled data sources

Messenger v5 transmits SIF_Update events to the ZIS using the same SSL protection mechanisms as for SIF_Request messages.  These update events contain:

  • SIF identifiers for the learner and for the attendance period/session
  • The mark to be written back, encoded into the SIF schema
  • The time-point of the mark, e.g. Date and Session or Date and Time.

The ACL configuration at the ZIS will allow or disallow the SIF update event to be transmitted back to the source agent.