Any enterprise system relies on a robust and multi-part infrastructure to support flexibility while still providing needed functions. Class Climate is no different. At its heart, it relies on tightly integrated elements that ensure you get a full-featured evaluation system that is easy to implement, configure, and maintain.
Class Climate’s central server relies on three major components:
- Database (MySQL or MS-SQL)
- Web server (IIS or Apache)
- VividForms Reader (for scanning)
The database stores all the components you need to create and distribute evaluations, like student rosters, faculty lists, question libraries, questionnaire forms, and much more.
The web server hosts the interface the evaluation team members work in to load rosters and lists, create questionnaires, deliver the questionnaires to mobile, online, and paper participants, collect responses from mobile/online participants, and provide reports to stakeholders. Using a browser to access the web server, active users (such as the evaluation coordinator, the report creator and the data entry assistant) can work with Class Climate. Browser connections use high-quality encryption to protect student privacy.
Scanning stations are connected online to the network and send image documents from the scanned survey batches to the document capture process. The document capture tool interprets the images and stores the scanned raw and analyzed data in the database, alongside the online responses. Among other things, this ensures that all responses are gathered into a single location where they can be analyzed as a unit, regardless of the response method used.
Planning Scan Stations
Manual data analysis is cumbersome and results in too long a time between when data is captured and when you can deliver reports to the instructors. Without an automated system, this can consume the entire term break. Under these circumstances, there is little chance that instructors will or even can give their course evaluation feedback the desired attention. Instructors must receive their feedback as soon as possible—instantly would be best—while they are still involved in the course or once grades are posted. Rapidly delivered results allow instructors to reflect on the results and make changes in their instruction.
If you are using paper forms (either by themselves or alongside online questionnaires), you can set up scan stations where they are needed—even when there are a number of university campuses or locations. In these scanning hubs, you can deploy scanners of varying performance characteristics (e.g., single page vs. 30 to 300 pages feeder capacity) as required.
TIP: When locations are far apart, FTP or HTTPS protocols are also available for image transfer.
User Roles in Class Climate
Class Climate distinguishes between active and passive user accounts:
- Passive users are instructors or deans who simply receive emailed reports and raw data. The optional instructor questions are the only exception as passive users are able to use a web browser to add important content for the questionnaire.
- Active users log in to the Class Climate server and use the web interface. This type of user includes (but is not limited to):
- central evaluation coordinators (administrators, including subunit administrators)
- report creators, who can create summary and department reports and norm reference data pools
- data entry assistants
- active survey account owners, who carry out surveys independently from the central evaluation
If you are an active user, you can develop your own questionnaires. Once developed, you can distribute questionnaires online (to mobile devices, browsers, or the university’s learning management system). If you prefer paper forms or want a combination of mobile, online, and paper distribution, you can download questionnaires in PDF format, then print them out and administer them. Active Survey Accounts enjoy special protection in Class Climate—the data “belongs” to the survey account owner.
Deans can be given access to central quality management (QM) views, which enables them to filter hundreds of surveys for responses fulfilling certain criteria, for example, whether a type of course exceeds or fails to meet certain minimum quality standards (QM guidelines). This enables deans to spot those courses needing their attention quickly.
Data entry assistants can read and categorize handwritten student comments from paper forms, where desired. This optional function protects students’ privacy in small classes where the instructor could recognize their handwriting and can lead to greater candor in their comments. At the same time possibly offensive comments or those that might violate data security can be removed, which serves to protect the instructors.
Verifiers are able to review questionable paper form checkmarks based on image snippets which are extracted from the scanned questionnaires. This is especially important if the data requires a high degree of accuracy. However, the verification process requires labor time which may not be needed for other empirical data.
Since email communication and reporting in Class Climate is based on translatable text modules, Class Climate supports multilingual environments. This multilingual support can be very convenient for organizations that operate internationally, as well as for organizations who aim to be attractive for employees, students or customers with intercultural backgrounds. The user interface is available in English and other languages upon request.
Each user can work with the system in his or her preferred language. Participants in online surveys can access a translated version of the questionnaires that also contains internationalized interface elements
Scantron knows many institutions rely on an LMS to provide student support, so we created a variety of predefined LTI connectors to commonly-used Learning Management Systems, including Blackboard®, Canvas®, and Moodle™. These connectors help increase response rates for online evaluations by making sure students know which courses they need to evaluate.
SOAP Application Programming Interface (API)
If you need customization beyond connecting to an LMS, Class Climate provides a SOAP-based API to support connecting data processing systems that are conducting surveys interactively. Using the API, you can incorporate (“show”) Class Climate functions (e.g. creating surveys, access to online surveys or recalling results reports) in other systems.
A variety of integration options are available. See the Product Training, Implementation, and Professional Services brochure for a complete list of the services we can provide.