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Why not other approaches?

Business solutions and portals are a poor fit in K-12

Sometimes a school district will deploy solutions originally meant for business. Sometimes this is because the district’s IT professionals are used to deploying business solutions. Sometimes this is done because someone feels the district should “run more like a business.” Often these kind of deployments turn out poorly. These sorts of products are designed for businesses first and not for schools, teachers and students. They tend to be expensive, so districts end up paying far more for software, hardware, professional services and IT staff than they need to. They can’t meet the scalability needs of big districts. And they often require constant and expensive development.

Consumer solutions aren’t a viable alternative

The internet is full of free consumer-oriented services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google.  These are great social media tools, but none are suitable for use as the primary social learning or communications environment for a school district. Privacy is problematic. Controlling access is problematic. Enforcing policies is problematic. In consumer-style social media, everyone is a peer. A friend is a friend. But in the education world, there are very defined relationships. Teachers manage classes. Students are responsible to their parents. Principals run schools. Edsby understands the importance of these roles and ensures that appropriate safeguards, permissions and access controls are applied.

Home made solutions are high risk

Sometimes a school district will build a solution in-house because they have found (not surprisingly) that business solutions and consumer solutions don’t work for them. So they choose an open source framework or business framework and start building. But most school districts don’t find it cost-effective or consistent with their mandates to have teams of highly paid software developers on staff. Often, it’s easy to get something basic up and running, but it’s hard, and expensive, to build something complex and state-of-the-art and that will remain state-of-the-art for years to come. And outsourcing development is even more expensive.

“Free” education solutions can be problematic

So, why not choose a “free” education solution? On the surface they sound good. Unfortunately, companies need revenue to survive and continue development. So at some point “free” solutions can suddenly come at a cost. That may be through licensing fees, fees for upgrades, or service fees. Or perhaps it may be through advertising you may not want. If the solution provider doesn’t find some way to make money, they may end up out of business, and that can lead to even bigger headaches that cost even more to fix. Plus, free solutions are also typically free of any integration with your student information system, your identity management system, your attendance database, your report card system, your scheduling system… you get the idea. When you add up the number of hours it takes for teachers and administrators to manage a “free” system, suddenly it’s not so free any more.

Edsby is amazing.
Deborah McLean, Teacher / Algoma District School Board
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