Wilcox’s Website Woes

As Aeries enters use in our school, reception is mixed. Courtesy of Aeries: Portals

As Aeries enters use in our school, reception is mixed. Courtesy of Aeries: Portals

Megan Breslin

With the passing of the winter holidays and the completion of 2022, Wilcox highschool also finished its first semester of grades submitted through the new website, Aeries. Unfortunately, the 2022 semester also served to highlight a series of issues with the website’s performance and layout. These problems left many staff and students wondering why the school switched to Aeries in the first place.

The best benefit provided by the new website is Aeries’ ability to carry out multiple tasks which were previously performed by a number of different websites. In previous years, Wilcox staff and students would upload and view their grades in School Loop, but other features, such as class registration, required additional websites or different methods. Now, Aeries is capable of recording students’ grades, charting a four year plan, and registering enrollment for the school. Aeries also has the new ability to record grades straight from Google Classroom, so that it is a one-stop-shop for teachers inputting their students’ grades. 

Despite this localization of features, however, Aeries is still lacking abilities that the previous website, School Loop, had. One such feature is the ability to communicate with teachers within the website through the School Loop email service.

Kristin Farnham, a parent at Wilcox high school, explained, “After so many years of filling out enrollment forms in triplicate, I appreciate being able to do this on Aeries. Other than that, I don’t use it much. It would be nice if there was one site for communication, enrollment and grades. It’s cumbersome to have ParentSquare, Aeries and Schoolloop.”

The principal issue with Aries is the trouble that teachers face trying to actually input and upload the grades for their classes. Many teachers tried to take advantage of the link between Aeries and Google Classroom, only to find themselves unable to upload grades smoothly, or in some cases at all. The website has a number of glitches that teachers have to now learn to navigate, in addition to learning the format of a new website in the first place. 

Mark Ooka, an english teacher at Wilcox expressed, “It’s been a nightmare because we have to learn all this stuff, and then there’s all these glitches, and then we have to learn that.” He explained that he had avoided using Google Classroom and Aeries in tandem, in an attempt to avoid the horror stories of his colleagues. He added, however, that this method has its own problems, calling the process “laborious.” 

Ooka continued, “I’ve heard about so many glitches, that I’ll just do it separately, so I have it, but it’s not linked with google. I have to put in all my scores by hand… It’s just that it’s laborious. It seems like there’s a couple extra steps to do everything here from schoolloop in comparison.”

Another issue with the site is the confusing layout of the home page. The first screen to load, after a student logs in, is the student dashboard. From the dashboard there are six other main pages which students can go to, with fifteen other links on the drop down menus for these pages.

 Many of these links are redundant, confusing, and unnecessary. For example, there are two separate pages for “grades” and “gradebook”, and three separate pages that all feature a record of a students’ past grades. For many students who were familiar with School Loop’s format, switching to Aeries has made viewing and keeping up with their grades more difficult. 

Sophomore Belen LeRay agreed with this, saying “School Loop was nine times easier than Aeries. Especially because I could see what my grade was on a specific day, so I could see what day my grade dropped or improved.”

For better or for worse, it seems Aeries is here to stay at Wilcox. However, despite certain processes being made easier for the school, the confusion caused by switching websites and the many problems inherent in the website’s design have left many members of the school doubting that the switch was worth it.