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Alma Launches Free Hybrid Learning Management and Student Information System

Alma has launched a free cloud-based student information system and learning management system. Availability of Alma in 2014 is limited to the first 500 schools to sign up.

According to the company, Alma consolidates student information, learning management and curriculum and lesson planning into a single cloud-based interface. The free service includes more than 100 core SIS/LMS features, and specialized add-on features are also available for a "nominal fee." According to information on the company's site, Alma works on virtually any device with a Web browser, including Windows and Mac computers, iPads and Android tablets.

Ten schools in New York, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia and Oregon tested the software during its prototype phase, and they have all signed up for the service now that it has launched. James Lafferty-Furphy, director of operations for Creative Minds International Public Charter School in Washington, DC, said Alma's proficiency-based reporting feature was critical for his school. "Since we use the International Primary Curriculum and incorporate project-based learning, we need a system that will enable us to report students' level of mastery on projects and coursework that touch on multiple standards and content areas at one time," he said in a prepared statement.

Alma uses SSL encryption and double firewalls to secure data and provides each school with its own separate database on Alma's servers. According to information on the company's site, "Alma is fully compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)."

Free core features of Alma include:

  • Student information;
  • Traditional, standards-based and proficiency-based gradebooks;
  • Report cards;
  • Attendance tracking and reporting;
  • Parent and student portals;
  • Integrated school calendar;
  • Messaging and emergency notifications;
  • Standards tracking;
  • Curriculum and lesson planning;
  • Data migration through an Excel template; and
  • E-mail and phone support.

Add-on features include:

  • Advanced messaging;
  • Customized report cards;
  • Data migration services; and
  • On-site training.

The company reported it will add new features every month or two based on feedback and the needs of schools.

Further information about Alma can be found on the company's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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