Why You Shouldn’t Just Rely on your SIS or LMS to Manage Extracurricular

“Why don’t we just use our SIS or LMS to manage extracurricular?”

This is probably the most common question we get asked here at Clipboard.

And it’s a completely understandable one - the less systems, the better (but, as you’ll read below, using your SIS or LMS to manage extracurricular doesn’t result in less systems being used).

Let us answer the question in three parts below.

(TL;DR - you should use an EMS)

1. Extracurricular is Really Important

Now, more than ever, people are realising how important extracurricular activities are for students. Participation in activities beyond the classroom helps to build skills and experiences that contribute to a more fulfilling and well-rounded education.

In Australia, a great example is the Australian National University (ANU) who, from 2020, introduced a new mandatory co-curricular or service requirement in their admissions process. This requirement acknowledges that students are much more than just an ATAR mark, and must demonstrate skills acquired outside of the traditional classroom setting.

Needless to say, a number of studies - like this one from the University of Southern Mississippi - have linked extracurricular participation to higher grades and lower rates of absenteeism.

This is to say that because extracurricular is so important, it justifies a dedicated system to make sure students get the most out of it.

2. Extracurricular Programs are Complex

A lot of people not involved in extracurricular activities (ECAs) often unfairly diminish what extracurricular is.

Extracurricular isn’t “just sport”. It’s every single activity beyond the classroom for students.

It’s music lessons, sport, drama, coding clubs, debating, chess, choir, band, and the list goes on... In fact, Clipboard schools run more than 200 different types of activities.

Many of these activities have unique and nuanced requirements, beyond that of a school class. For example, rugby teams need their positions tracked, student lists in music ensembles often need to be ordered in orchestral order and many activities are conducted out in the field, away from a computer.

Extracurricular programs are large and complex, with unique needs that transcend the classroom.

3. One Platform Can’t Do Everything Well

There’s a reason why your doctor isn’t also your lawyer and your plumber… It’s because we know that one person simply cannot do a good job of everything.

The same applies to EdTech systems. A lot of systems sell themselves with an ever-growing laundry list of functionality which leads to frustrating user experiences, significant limitations and failed IT projects.

Student information systems (SISes) and learning management systems (LMSes) already do a lot, and it’s simply not possible for them to also cater effectively to the full breadth of extracurricular requirements.

These systems fall short in managing the full range of extracurricular administration, meaning staff end up double-handling data with other systems, like paper and spreadsheets. This means there is still no “single source of truth” for extracurricular processes and management.

Why an EMS Makes Sense

An Extracurricular Management System (EMS) is a system that specialises in managing extracurricular activities.

An EMS makes the daily processes and data management that come with extracurricular easy, providing functionality in nuanced areas, like:

• Catering easily for external coaches

• Personalised student and parent communication about sport and activities

• Mobile-first functionality (important when you’re not at a computer in a classroom)

• In-depth reporting and insights across every single activity at the school

• Team and group management (including the ability to assign student positions or instruments)

An EMS also should integrate with your SIS and other important systems, like your school portal or app, so that double-handling is reduced. Most of the time, introducing an EMS at your school actually reduces the number of systems and different processes being used.

Clipboard is an industry-leading EMS which provides a single platform to improve the extracurricular experience for students, parents and staff. Book a demo today to see how Clipboard can help your school manage extracurricular activities more effectively.

Ed Colyer
Head of Product