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cooldaze

OCR Scanning and FMP/FM Mobile??

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We (Right Moves For Youth) run Boys and Girls clubs in many of our local public schools. I'm trying to develop a system where we keep track of the activities of each club member at each club meeting (typically 1/week) so that we can rate their level of progress/participation in our program.

I've developed an Excel form for use by the club leader in which all members (along with student ID#s) are listed vertically on the left-hand side. Columns for eight club meetings are provided horizontally across the top. For each member, the club leader would then indicate (under the appropriate column) the specific activity performed by the student using a numbered legend which we would show on the form (e.g., "1"=study hall, "2"=Field Trip, "3"=Community Service, etc.).

Periodically, we would collect the forms and determine the frequency of each activity for each member. Point values would then be assigned to each activity occurrence and total points for each member then calculated. We would then have a way to show our funding agencies which specific activities the clubs are doing and specifically how each member is benefiting.

Since we have over 100 clubs, I would like to find an efficient way to get all this activity information into our local FileMaker database (preferably without a lot of data entry by me!). I do have a Handspring Visor as well as FM Mobile 2.0. I've looked at Handspring's modules, but I wouldn't be doing "bar-coding" in this scenario, per se. Rather, I suppose I need something that will scan the data sheets (either in the field or back in the office), do OCR and convert this to numbers, which I can then import into our local FM database to do further tabulation/calculations.

Is all this wishful thinking? crazy.gif Anyone have any ideas how this process might work efficiently?

TIA for your consideration!

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Pretty much. It's much easier to envision a solution using FM Mobile where you enter the date, member#, and activity from values lists as one record. Use a separate record for each activity for the same member and date. Forget the idea of a spreadsheet, it will just cause you to organize your database data in a way that makes it hard to summarize. I think you want each record to be a member/date/activity. It's much easier to summarize data than to try and break it up (i.e. multiple activities in one record).

-bd

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Point taken, LiveOak. However, the idea of the excel form was that it would stay with the Club Leaders at their school and serve as a "Log" (on which they would record) for each member's activities over several weeks/meetings. I can't see them taking the time to re-list the member names and SIDs (in addition to activities) for each meeting. Or am I misunderstanding you?

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So you have no computer resources at the locations and are stuck using paper between data collections? The OCR idea may work or some sort of mark sense approach, but I've never seen OCR done with FM. It would take some pretty cleaver programming to register the scanned image and pick out the data.

Mark sense input is possible, but the people still doing this do it mostly for schools and testing as a VERY expensive service. It requires the use of custom printed forms and I believe tabulation is part of the service. I don't think the companies sell the equipment or software. It would probably be cheaper to purchase each location a used Palm or Handspring on Ebay and go with the FM Mobile approach.

-bd

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