Open Letter to Private Schools: What does it mean to be a connected school?

February 24, 2015 Travis Warren

It’s no secret that parents, students, teachers, and school administrators expect more from the online school experience. We’re all living very satisfying online experiences in other parts of our lives from buying books and music to depositing checks with our mobile devices. Why would we expect anything different when it comes to interacting with our schools?

Many schools have tried to meet this need by piecing together a mosaic of solutions relying on multiple vendors with loose, file based integrations (think import/export). It’s a great idea, but it falls short on delivery.

Consider the different user interfaces—the number of passwords each person needs to keep track of and the difficulty in maintaining accurate data across multiple systems. It’s easy to see how a disjointed and confusing experience can set in for your school’s community.

Let’s take a look at some common examples.

Parents are trying to stay up-to-date with their child’s education and day-to-day lives. Teachers are managing classrooms, grades, dorm life, after-school activities, and more. Administrators keep the school running smoothly from fundraising and billing to admissions and scheduling.

Trying to elegantly solve these challenges by using a variety of companies makes for a disconnected and frustrating experience. And let’s not forget the cost.

The reality has been that many technology vendors fall into two buckets. They either focus on a specific niche (like admissions) or claim they have a single solution, but it’s missing key pieces in addressing the needs of all your school’s core offices: admissions, academics, registrar’s, business, alumni/development (sometimes called advancement) and communications/IT.

That is until now.

We’re in a unique position. We are the only company to provide private schools with a whole school connected software platform that meets the needs of your community and all of the core offices on your campus.

How does this work? Let me share some examples.

A teacher enters student information, whether it’s attendance, assignments, grades, or comments about a student. The information then syncs with the student’s report card and transcript. This sends a message to the student’s parents, coaches, and advisors to let them know how well he or she is doing in class. Parents can log in to see notes from teachers, get notifications that practice changed, and see that the student’s recommendations for his or her online application have been submitted. The development office makes a note about the student’s success to use in future campaigns to his or her parents.

Plus, we all know that a lot of online interactions happen on phones or tablets. Today that’s just a given. For us, it means that every piece of web-based software we build must be responsive by default. In 2015, you can’t risk not providing a responsive web experience.

So where do we stand today?

Already thousands of parents, students, and teachers are connecting in this way through the “on” products. And for example, using our new Connect Raiser’s Edge plugin, development offices can stay synced with the key demographic data that’s being entered into any of the “on” products every single day. But, that’s just the start!

With the upcoming release of Raiser’s Edge NXT and Financial Edge NXT, we’ll offer tight web API integrations that will allow information to be shared in real time across a single platform. Change an address in onRecord and immediately see it updated in Raiser’s Edge NXT. It’ll be that smooth and efficient.

This will allow all of us to meet the ultimate objective that schools have wanted for years—one system, one login, one experience.

This is an exciting time, and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Your feedback is critical to everything we do moving forward.

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