As Director of Instructional Technology and Library Media at Orange County Public Schools in Florida, I led a team of technology and instruction enthusiasts always ready to explore new advances in technology, eager to find the best means for supporting teachers and students. That got us out of bed in the morning and yes, often kept us up at night.
Looking back, one of the best decisions we made was to select ClassLink, which we adopted in order to streamline access to all the apps, content, and resources our educators and scholars used every day. There are a few reasons why our team selected ClassLink among a robust group of platforms, including single sign-on technologies. Here are a few:
- The end-user experience was breathlessly easy. Nothing is so elegant as being able to intuitively know where you are and how to get where you’re going. ClassLink gave our teachers and students that experience.
- The initial setup took less than two hours, and required a minimal amount of time with one of our engineers. Having endured numerous implementation nightmares with other vendors, a famous quote from Arthur C. Clark came to mind: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
- The ClassLink team listened to the voice of the customer. Stan, the company CTO, was not only technically brilliant, he grasped what the pain points were for our team, our district, our teachers and students. And it was clear that he cared deeply, demonstrating a shared sense of commitment to our success. Most problems were resolved in hours, not days.
Selecting any product in a district the size of ours is always a risk. Many products that are successful in smaller districts crash and burn when subjected to a district with over 200,000 users. On paper, ClassLink was the clear choice for our team. The scalability and responsiveness of the company has shown that they are the up to the task, and it’s been reinforced each year as one of the best decisions we ever made. ClassLink is now part of the OCPS story, and it’s a good one.
Looking ahead, Upon retiring from OCPS, I was approached by several fine, reputable companies, including ClassLink, but for some of the reasons outlined below, I made the decision to join ClassLink as Chief Academic Officer. This was not part of my original post-retirement plan, but it sure is now. Here’s why:
- The underlying technology is magical. The development team has thought through the user experience for teacher, student, and administrator. Developing a clean, intuitive interface is not as easy as you might think.
- The problems that ClassLink solve are real; they are grounded in reality. Instructional Technology leaders need easy-to-use, simple to support technology they can bring their teachers. Teachers need to reclaim lost instructional time. Teachers tend to abandon technology if it is not simple, reliable, and intuitive.
- The commitment ClassLink has to education is genuine; from the top down and across the organization, I’m consistently finding that this is a group of authentic, caring individuals.
In order to select ClassLink for a second time, I needed to know that the technology was as strong on the inside as it was from my outside view. I needed to see that they were solving real problems; there’s no point in committing to a company unless we’re solving problems. And perhaps most importantly, I needed to feel that improving education was central to the mission of the organization.
Spending time with them outside the confines of vendor-buyer relationship, I found all of these things in ClassLink. More importantly, I could not advocate for a product that was “vaporware” or untested in real life. If I am to talk with school leaders about this product, I have to know that my reputation and integrity will remain intact, and that the company will perform as advertised. This is why I selected ClassLink. Again.
So that’s my story. It’s a new chapter and one I’m very excited about. And at this point, I’m not sure who is more excited about this new partnership, as together I feel we can truly impact education in a transformational way.
Who knows, maybe if you spend time with ClassLink, you’ll see how they can become part of your school district’s story. Just like I did.