Wednesday 2 December 2009

Prize winners and their prize winners.

We love getting feedback from you guys! We had this little gem sent through to us from Coromandel Area School, one of the winners from out 'Paint it Green' competition. The prize money was awarded to top students in their chosen subjects.


Top photo: Coromandel Lions Club president Lynda Spicer, Head Girl 2009 Aimee Edmonds, Head Boy 2009 Matthew Congdon, Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie, Coromandel Area School Principal Asha Peppiatt.

Second Photo: Board of Trustees member Angus Robertson, to sporting students Jordan Olliff and Michelle Attwood.

Thursday 5 November 2009

The original Teacher's Pet

I started drag racing in the mid-late nineties and, as a teacher, it made perfect sense to drive under the Teacher’s Pet banner. The kids at the race tracks loved it and being used to kids, I’d often let them sit in the car and talk to them about racing.

This car was campaigned in Christchurch at Ruapuna Raceway, Teretonga in Invercargil and at Meremere near Auckland. I also raced at a few local club road race tracks as well. I have won National Championships and National Titles and happened to win the North Island series much to my competitiors disgust…..a South Islander for a start and then a woman as well!!! I currently still hold a New Zealand record in my class of 153 m.p.h. in 8.9 sec. Fastest Principal around!! Haven’t raced for a few years now as the business my husband and I run cuts into summer racing time, but as you can see, we’ve still go the car and take it out every once and a while.

So, I’m glad you have met the ‘original’ Teacher’s Pet and I hope you enjoy the story and the pictures.

Dianne Prendergast
Lauriston School

Monday 2 November 2009

Lip Luggage

It's that time of the year again where some of the boys from MUSAC are warming their top lips with some lip luggage - Movember is upon us!

Whilst the hairy slugs are a good source of amusement around the office, it is also in support of a good cause: men's health, specifically prostate cancer and mental health. If you would like to contribute to the cause or just show your support of the astounding hair-growing abilities of the MOSAC men, click here and search for the 'Mosac 2009' team.

Photos of the best, dodgiest, hairiest and most fantastic Mo's are sure to follow during the month...

Thursday 15 October 2009

They're wearing our t-shirts here ...

In exchange for the highly sort after Teachers' Pet tee, Nawa promised to send us a pic of her on tour ...

Monday 12 October 2009

And the Winners are..

We had an amazing response from schools all over the country. Judging the 'Paint it Green Competition' this year - Paul Hansen, an art teacher here at the Massey University College of Education, Also, Leanne and Tina - Graphic designers for the College, who work on everything from print material and brochures through to website design. Judges were blown away by the high level of competition this year, photos were judged on at the most innovative use of green and how involved the school was.


Also, some of our highly commended mentions go to: Rosebank Primary, Lauriston School, New Brighton School and Hampstead School (trust me - you guys really gave the judges are hard time)

Congratulations to everyone involved.

The MUSAC Team.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Paint it Green.

The MUSAC hallway is brimming with the hundreds of photos sent in for our 'Paint it Green' competition this year, and its great to see staff and students getting involved and dressing up in our favorite color.

Winners will be announced on Monday, we wish everyone the best of luck.

The MUSAC team.

Friday 25 September 2009

It IS easy being green

Its the Last day to enter our Paint it Green Comp!!! You have been warned!

Hampstead School

Coromandel Area School

Manakau School

View the rest of the entries so here on our Flickr.

Thursday 17 September 2009

MUSAC at the KnowledgeNET conference

Dataview, the company that produces KnowledgeNET are having a conference at Takapuna Grammar school tomorrow and Saturday. MUSAC has had a long standing relationship with Dataview and have worked together on a data exchange pilot with a number of North Shore schools. The resulting interoperability schema is now operating in a number of other schools around New Zealand.

Interoperability is not straight forward, however, Dataview and MUSAC have worked pragmatically to get over many issues to give schools a workable solution. Part of what MUSAC learned during the pilot and subsequently has also driven our strategy which we anticipate should result in interoperability with KnowledgeNET even easier in the future.

Dataview has a neat product and have been in the market with schools for a good few years now. Worth a look.

Fibre and Broadband

The two announcements from the Government in the last few days about broadband and school networks is very pleasing. From a selfish perspective it helps us in our overall strategy of providing better services to schools. From the nations perspective - it's about time!

One of the comments made on the news last night was also very significant for me - the $1.5 billion dollar initiative was not about Telecom and what it was or was not doing - it was about New Zealand's strategy for getting the necessary fibre optic broadband infrastructure this country so desperately needs. We seemed to have been fixated with what Telecom is or is not doing - nice to see an end to that.

Yes it is not going to be here tomorrow and no not everyone is on the roadmap, but we're (NZ) not sitting on our hands and we're not trying to legislate Telecom into or out of something. Thumbs up from me.

The challenge now for schools is to understand the timing and the possibilities and risks associated with such capability. It is a good time to sit down and start thinking about ICT strategy. It's here that we must be very careful. Teaching and learning must drive the school ICT strategy - not the other way around. All too often in ICT the tail wags the dog.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Software Support Readiness for 2010

Following a record number of calls to software support during February and March 2009, we're getting prepared in advance of 2010 by training up a batch of additional people to help out at this high pressure time at school.

In recent times you may have heard new names at the end of the phone when calling MUSAC software support - names like Roy, Bruce, Kelly and Amber (although Amber has been here previously).

We're taking the opportunity at a quieter time of the year for the newbies to get their software support drivers license well in advance of crunch time. We appreciate your patience as they get up to speed and assure you Jackie, Rebecca, Phil, Phil and Alister are right here in the background helping them out and ready for referrals if they get stuck.

Friday 11 September 2009

Painting it Green already!

Already after one day, we have entries to our Paint it Green Competition!!

See all our entries so far, here on our Twitter and on our flickr photostream so keep an eye out! And get your entries in before the 25th of September.

Kavanagh College

Ardmore School

Also an update on the rules, A couple of schools have asked us 'pretty please can we submit more than one photo?' We thought, sure, why not? the more photos the better! We do however plan to keep the one prize per school rule.

Also, just a quick clarification - Schools with primary and secondary students will be put in the 'secondary category'

We look forward to seeing some more of your photos!

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Paint it MUSAC Green

Every year a number of you write to us requesting donations for school prize giving in which students are recognised for achievement, service and diligence. This year we thought we'd make it a little more fun and turn it into a competition for the funds.

We're offering 3 lots of $500 for secondary schools and 5 lots of $200 for primary schools. Maximum 1 prize per school.

The theme is "Paint it MUSAC Green" - figuratively speaking, although if you want to literally get painting that's cool too - students ask your teachers first!

The rules, which I'm sure you'll all bend:
  • The entry must be a photo in jpg format no bigger than 2mb email to: including your school name and contact person
  • Entries close 5pm 25 September 2009
  • Winners announced 12 October 2009
  • Payments will be made to the school, not individuals
  • All monies should go towards student prize or prizes
  • MUSAC may use the photo in it's marketing and promotional material and the school transfers all rights to the photo to MUSAC
  • In submitting the entry the school will have ensured the permission of all people in it has been granted - including caregiver permission
  • 1 prize per school
  • If the winner is a MUSAC school or signed up for 2010, we'll add 20% to the prize!
  • MUSAC reserves the right to award any, all or none of the prizes
  • Judges decision will be final, no correspondence will be entered into
Bonus points will be awarded for:
  • Originality
  • Incorporation of MUSAC green marketing collateral e.g. t-shirts, mugs, logo, brochure, software
  • Use of the MUSAC green colour
  • General coolness
  • Demonstration of service, excellence, achievement or diligence

MUSAC at NASDAP in Hastings

It was our pleasure to sponsor the biennial NASDAP conference held in Hastings at the Opera House last week. The venue and conference management was fantastic. We were able to access wireless broadband from the iMac on the MUSAC stand and Mal exploited the opportunity to do a few impromptu demonstrations of our web product. Seemed to be plenty of nodding from those circled around the computer.

We had plenty of give-aways - watch this space for an upcoming competition where you can use some of them to win your school some cash for end-of-year prize giving!

Furnware hosted everyone on Wednesday night with a tour of the factory and a few quiet drinks with Ian Smith - former New Zealand wicket keeper and now commentator with Sky Sport - yep, Ian now has a t-shirt too. Great team at Furnware and a fantastic New Zealand manufactured product. Thanks Furnware!

One couldn't visit the Bay without a trip around a few wineries. We visited Mission Estate, Matariki and Unison wineries. Got the low-down on the Gimblett gravels and superb tastings. Most credit cards took a hammering! Rude not to really.

Thursday was conference dinner night. Good meal and danced the night away to a great local band The Naked Gun.

We had a great time catching up with customers and hope to be able to sponsor a few local NASDAP conferences next year. Otago team have us lined up for Cromwell 9-10 September 2010. See you there!

Tuesday 11 August 2009

MUSAC Fans Spotted at School


These three were caught with MUSAC t-shirts at school. They certainly stand out or are they just outstanding!

Thursday 30 July 2009

MUSAC Shares vision with Ministry

MUSAC was given the opportunity to share our vision with a cross section of Ministry staff in Wellington on Tuesday. They were a tough audience (I even suggested as such!) but there was time for questions and further discussion about the ramifications and impact of our approach.

This meeting marks a significant milestone for MUSAC. It wasn't too many years ago that there were rather public tensions between MUSAC and the Ministry. And while any Ministry must always maintain an even hand with the commercial sector we are heartened that the conversations and discussions have been and continue to be productive with many common goals.

While a long way from a public-private partnership, the respect and trust being built is very positive.

Thank you to the Ministry people for taking the time out of your day for us.

Catholic Schools Convention

MUSAC has had the privilege of exhibiting at the Catholic Schools Convention at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington this week. A big occasion for the Catholic schools of New Zealand with over 1000 people in attendance.

It has been particularly well organised with the programme out to all well in advance.

As is often the case in educational conferences and conventions, politicians are invited to address the attendees. What was noticeable was the positive way the Minister of Education was welcomed, questioned and thanked. It is so easy to identify issues to divide when there are so many issues that unite. Well done to the Minister, the Catholic Education Office (led by Br Pat) and the convention attendees for taking such a positive and productive approach to build an enduring relationship with so many important and common goals.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Beta Schools

As we venture down the path to full release, MUSAC has been meeting with a number of schools about the possibility of taking on the software as a beta school.

It has been a fun process of working through the various factors that would make the "ideal" candidate. The ideal candidate in this case hasn't been difficult to find. There are some functionality criteria - all the practical stuff - including internet bandwidth and connectivity in classrooms. Thereafter, I've continued the voyage of discovery that I am on understanding the special individual character of many schools. The two schools we'll be inviting to join in our pilot/beta programme have some similarities, but also have major differences to do with their special characters.

Significantly, is that both schools don't see themselves as leading edge in technology and in some ways want to take steps forward. Not all the admin and teaching staff are computer whizzes. These are the attributes which make them ideal. Real schools, real people providing real feedback about MUSAC's new software. Ideal.

Monday 20 July 2009

MUSAC at the SEO Conference

SEO conferences are always great conferences. Well organised, attended ... and they have fun.

Hosted by the Cantab's this year, 2009 was another great conference. Held at the Convention Centre in Christchurch the fun included a visit to the Antarctica Centre and somewhat surprisingly - speed knitting. This is not an event I'd expect to see in the Olympics in the short term, but it did result in a number of protests, inquiries and a lot of laughs.

As we've found in all other conferences this year, the "green theme" is working well and the t-shirt supply wiped out again. MUSAC was well supported by Solutions and Services with Ann, Sandy, Brian, Christine and Cheryl all helping out and catching up with MUSAC and SolServ customers.

The Conference Dinner was exceptional - well catered and Mister Mena (a band with a number of members of the police) kept us dancing until midnight.

Living in the Manawatu, I took the opportunity to stay the weekend, visiting the Art gallery, museum, botanical gardens, Akaroa and a punt down the Avon. Continuing the quantum theme from Nelson, couldn't help but visit Rutherford's Den.

Thank you SEO's for a great week - already looking forward to next year's event in Auckland at the Langham Hotel.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

101 ways to use an Apple

Being non-conformists and creative types, the MUSAC team took advantage of the apples we had for the NZPF conference and did a bake-off. Apple pi was the winner on the day!

The winning entry (on a fair and un-biased judging system) 'Apple Pi'. See more photos on our Flickr

Monday 6 July 2009

Another Successful NZPF Conference

The annual NZPF conference finished in absolute style with the best conference dinner I've been to. Pre-dinner drinks, a great singer over entrees and mains with the band firing up as we all got into desserts. Wife and I sat with an Australian group who were typical of NZ Principal's we meet throughout the week - friendly and engaging.

I listened to the Minister address the conference Friday morning during which she reiterated overall Government aims - including the topical National Standards policy. My take on the latter re-asserts my frustration of the SMS vendors being left on the sideline while Ministry officials discuss how National Standards are to be implemented. It is very clear to me that a number of the NZPF concerns can be alleviated by leveraging the schools Student Management System rather than some central collection point in Wellington - of which the latter concept generates concerns over how the data will be used. By engaging the vendors early on to understand what deficiencies and possibilities there are we could feasible have the back of this thing broken (from an administration perspective) for the start of 2010. It is going to be a big job for some schools to implement the changes without the problem of potentially not have the administrative side ready. Despite the frustration, MUSAC and Agents have already mocked up a number of documents in ClassRoom Manager based on the material released for consultation.

Back to food. I was most heartened that the conference dinner was so very good so as to leave the visitors with a positive Palmy experience - particularly after a couple of below par experiences earlier in the week. On the Thursday evening the MUSAC green shirts joined a group of Principal's on a cafe crawl. I mentioned in a previous post that Palmy has good cafes - well on Thursday night we were not up to the mark in 2 out of 3 that we visited. The organisers had pre-booked and there were really no excuses. Thankfully we got it right in the last. Well done Bethany's!

Already looking forward to NZPF in Queenstown 2010.

Friday 3 July 2009

MUSAC to my ears

Friday night saw the staff from MUSAC take over the local Karaoke bar, hidden talents were found, while other hidden talents thankfully stayed hidden

And the winner is.....

Thanks everyone for your awesome ideas. We drew the winner for the MUSAC naming competition randomly from a hat, and the winner was...

Reefton Area School.

We are now working with a marketing company to finalize the final name of our new web based product, using inspiration and ideas from all the entries that were sent in.


Tuesday 30 June 2009


NZPF 2009 promises to be another great conference. Located this year in Palmerston North, the conference organisers have put together an excellent programme including a crawl around Palmy's many cafes (Palmy has one of the highest cafe per capita ratios in the country!)

There is a tour through Ezibuy and the rugby museum ... and of course there are workshops, outstanding educational speakers and an address from Anne Tolley.

One of the privileges of being a sponsor and supporter of NZPF is the opportunity to have an exhibit at the conference. This year Phil (Client Services) and Di (quality) will be joined by our agents on the stand - stop by for a chat. We're also joining in some of the fun on the Cafe Crawl.

If you come to the stand and complete a short questionnaire, you will go into a daily draw for spot prizes. Phil has lined up 10 cool prizes each day.

See you there!

Thursday 18 June 2009

Been through the desert on a product with no name.


Our naming competition was due to close Monday 22nd of June, but for some crazy reason we have decided to extend our Naming Competition till the 26th of June! Already the MUSAC whiteboard is brimming with names sent in from all over the country, and a few thermal mugs are already on the way to some of our favorite entrants.

This is a seriously cool macbook we have up for grabs, and for a chance to win it, email us some of your ideas, on what we should call our brand new web based product. Enter as many times as you like - Just make sure you do so before 5pm on the 26th of June.

Our new product will redefine school administration software. We have developed this web application from the ground up to meet the needs of key users within the school community. Our web application can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection, by the people that need it, whenever they want it.

Inspiration you say? Here are some of our favourite names sent in so far..


We will be letting go of the macbook on the 3rd of July, when we announce the winners here on the MUSAC blog. So get in for a chance to win!

Tuesday 16 June 2009

What's in a V???

With H1N1 threading its way through our fair land giving some of our budding academics an unexpected time out, we thought it prudent to query the MoE as to what code should be entered into AB6 if some students were advised by the school or MoH to stay at home.

After due consultation the answer came back .. V .. study leave. Not quite what we expected but at least V(irus) relates nicely to the cause of the problem.

If the school is closed however, the relevant rows in the calendar need to be removed.

Hopefully the use of V's will vanish as quickly as they have arrived.

Monday 15 June 2009

The Returns of July

Somehow nearly half the school year has gone by, but we can't wave the students goodbye until the MoE July Returns are done and dusted. Checking your data early is the key and there are a few must do's on and around July 1:
- Teachers must mark a class roll each day of the last week of term.
- The rolls must be signed and collected on the Friday.
- Print the rolls from SM>MoE Returns>Print MoE Audit Lists or for option rolls, Quickfind>Teacher Information>Rolls
- On July 1 print a full school audit list.

Detailed notes on preparing your data using Student Manager are available from our website.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Protons, Protein and Presentations

Had an overnight visit to Nelson. We were put up in the Rutherford Hotel (which seemed appropriate given my quantum background, although Ern would be disappointed about the Chemistry aspect) and were treated to a meal at Hopgoods restaurant and bar on Trafalgar St with timetabling legends John and Christine. Smoked duck, venison, lamb and creme brulee for the MUSAC boys washed down with local Chardonnay. The conversation ranged widely but we couldn't help but vision some more with new ideas, new problems and tremendous insights being shared. Solved a few of the worlds other major problems also. Food was fantastic and the many awards won by the chef there were clearly well deserved.

Thursday was back to work with a sharing of the MUSAC vision and progress with a group from the Nelson region. As was highlighted in the previous focus group, there are a couple of areas for us to think harder about. The philosophy and fundamentals of our approach seemed to meet with general agreement and it was great to debate those areas which form part of the paradigm shift. Really appreciated the time made available for us by all attending. We gain a lot from these sessions and look forward to delivering that value back to customers - current and future.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Blenheim Focus Group

Well we did it. We finally put the new product in front of real people. Had a more intimate group and decided the people and the time was right to give them a logon and have a go. We kept the exercise simple using a subset of functions. The two "guinea pigs" completed the tasks with relative ease and no fuss. We then got into a great discussion about the meaning of links, linked functions and navigation. Heaps more ideas and concepts. 

Had some discussion around the cloud and associated risks. Some legitimate concerns we need to assess.

Overall a reassurance that the vision we have is sound.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Christchurch focus group

What a great day in Christchurch! Team was challenging, vocal and thought provoking. Had lots of ideas, thoughts and feedback which makes the trip really enjoyable. Thanks all - really appreciated your time away from school and especially your willingness to embrace new ideas and share with us. We've got a lot to process and incorporate into the next development iterations.

To top the day off we were invited to join the Solutions and Services team for their annual dinner. This year at Pedro's on Wincester Street. Great meal. 

SolServ - a great business providing real service to New Zealand schools and a long time and trusted friend of MUSAC. Really appreciated being invited to share in their special annual event.

A lot of demand for the new green t-shirts.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

What is in a name? Prizes, thats what.

With our new web-based student management product coming out soon, the time is rapidly approaching for us to come up with something witty and original. And that's where we need your help.

Our new product will redefine school administration software. We have developed this web application from the ground up to meet the needs of key users within the school community. Our web application can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection, by the people that need it, whenever they want it.

Email Us a cool, original name for our new product by the 22nd of June. It could be the name of your pet rock, your great-grandma’s middle name, or perhaps a brand new word you made up that is ready for the world.

You can enter as many times as you like, - and heck, if we like one of them, not only will you win your self a brand spanking macbook but your idea will be the name of our new product.

Winners will be announced here on the MUSAC blog on the 25th of June, and see what other ideas were sent to us by following us on our twitter

Rural and Teaching Principals' Conference

Had a great time with the rural and teaching Principals in Rotorua. The karaoke at the dinner highlighted a few hidden talents and we had huge demand for our cool "Teachers' Pet" t-shirts and MUSAC thermal mugs. Perhaps we should sell them on our website?

Even better were the large numbers of schools wanting to move to MUSAC and get rid of their old SMS.

Rotorua put on great weather and I got to eat the biggest bowl of ribs I've ever seen!

Friday 29 May 2009

Are you following MUSAC on Twitter?

Are you following MUSAC on twitter? It's fun so far, but the real question will be how many followings we get and what value it adds.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Truancy and Early Notification

One of the projects over the last year has been the introduction of early notification to parents of truant students via txt message generated by the absences software. Thinking back to my college days and the odd bunk that may have occurred - had cellphone technology been around I think there may have been a bit of a rethink by the perpetrator if the primary caregiver got a txt messages minutes after the roll identified one as missing from class. What I'm looking forward to next is recieving a message from my kids school when an assembly or sports event is cancelled. Back on topic - any hard evidence that early notification is having impact on truancy?

The need for an Apostrophe?

We've been working on some new advertisements, posters and other marketing material and struck an interesting grammatical situation - the future relevance of the apostrophe? Our neighbours here in the College of Education at Massey engaged us in a literacy lesson or two about the missing apostrophe from our poster but then drew our attention to debate on the necessity of the apostrophe. Yikes! Are we ahead of our time? Unsure about which tense?

Check out these links:
The independent
The telegraph

Monday 9 March 2009

Adjustments to layout

Not being fluent in CSS, my attempts to create a blog design that looks anything near professional are not good.