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A tracking system was initially developed in the Leadership office using a Paradox database. When I joined the program in 1998, the Leadership web site included directory pages for each cohort and each regional group. There were 4 cohorts ahead of me and about 50 participants. The number of participants increased by 50% in 1998, and when I accepted the role of Webmaster for the Leadership website, I quickly found that it could become very time consuming and error prone trying to keep regional group memberships and email addresses current in the listservs and in participant directory pages.
This is when I began development of a Microsoft Access database. Initially, it held only the name, cohort, regional group, job title, and email address of participants, and I used it to automate creation of the web directory pages for leadership participants. Listservs were still maintained manually in the Leadership office. The source data was maintained in the Paradox database on a server in the School of Education, and I developed routines to synchronize additions and updates into my Access database.
When a new secretary came to work in the Leadership office, it seemed to be the right time to add to my Access application features that had been provided by the previous Paradox application, and train the secretary and graduate assistants in its use. This was done in time for registration in the Roundtable 2000 Leadership Conference. Considerable extensions have been added to the program, including:
The database has been developed in Microsoft Access, and resides on the School of Education Windows NT Server. The web interface is written in VBScript using Active Server Pages (ASP) and runs on the Microsoft IIS web server. The user interface for data entry, review, and reporting in the Leadership office is written in Microsoft Access, with tables linked to the data on the web server.
The system has provided significant benefits to the Leadership secretary. The Course Plan maintenance feature was provided in time to automate the calculation of semester credits from quarter credits. I loaded up each person's WordPerfect course plan document, ran some Word macros on the file, and imported the result into the Access database. Another benefit this provided to the Leadership office was that when students called to find out what courses they should be registering for, they were able to check their own course plan on the web.
The automated update of web and listserv information has also eliminated some of the tasks I used to do manually. As I worked on preparing user documentation for the system, there were still pieces that had to be done manually, such as editing the Participants index page and the page of WebCT Forum and Minutes links when a new cohort or regional group was added. Then I decided it would not be too difficult to automate that also. I would also like to simplify the process of posting minutes of Regional Group meetings to the web. The system is already programmed to display an index of minutes, sorted in reverse date order.
It has been an enjoyable learning experience for me, involving some web development and Windows programming that I had never tried before. I trust that it will continue to fill a valuable role in the Leadership office, and that it will provide reliable and convenient service.
Created: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 09:27 PM
Last Modified: Thursday, May 30, 2002 11:17 AM