Process to ensure exclusive service stays that way
Let's face it: The marketplace is full of products trying to help school districts collect data. And although the Northeastern Regional Information Center enjoys many fruitful partnerships with private sector businesses, competition is natural, and inevitable. NERIC Connect is the most recent service creating a competitive buzz.
Quite simply, there is no other service quite like it currently available to school districts. Designed and built from the ground up by NERIC staff members on Microsoft's Sharepoint platform, NERIC Connect is a notably unique service because it draws upon the deep understandings of school district needs and nuances that only this organization possesses.
Carl Strang, deputy district superintendent and chief academic officer, said private vendors have definitely taken notice.
"Other companies have approached us, and would love to enjoy the advantages of this technology," Strang said.
For this reason, BOCES is in the process of securing patents and copyrights for NERIC Connect, to ensure the organization receives proper recognition, and possibly compensation, for this distinctive technology.
What does NERIC Connect do?
School districts must store data in a variety of data systems: student management, special education, and human resource management, to name a few. They are mandated to report the data in these systems to the state. As one can imagine, pulling, organizing and reporting data from different systems can take up a great deal of time that could otherwise be spent educating children. The NERIC Connect service performs these functions automatically through the use of data dashboards and reporting mechanisms, which are custom-designed for each district that signs on for the service. NERIC Connect brings together disparate sets of data, such as demographics, discipline, attendance, and achievement records, and presents them according to each district's specifications.
Teachers and administrators can simplify how they interact with, process, and ultimately apply this data to the mission of educating students — all from a browser window.
Why are outside companies interested?
School districts are entering an unprecedented era of reform at a time when resources are scarce. Convenient, reliable and robust access to data is especially crucial as school districts embark upon the adoption of Common Core Learning Standards and the implementation of Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) criteria. A service that can securely and reliably automate the intense data mining processes required to tackle such reforms will help save schools much-needed time and money — money that could be diverted back to the people who need it most: the students, Strang said. Further, more meaningful data mining was a key component in securing New York state's Race To The Top funding.
“It's only natural that private sector companies would want this state-of-the-art technology,” Strang said. “This service has been designed by educators, for educators, using Sharpoint, the industry leader in technology platforms.
"However, we bring unique advantages to the table," Strang continued. "We take pride in serving K-12 education. Those of us at NERIC who have had the privilege of working as educators have developed a good sense of what educators need to help them successfully improve student achievement. We also possess a first-hand understanding of how our districts operate. And just as important, we are a K-12 education cooperative. We are able to give school districts access to an unprecedented service like NERIC Connect in a very cost-effective manner."
Patenting NERIC Connect technology is also crucial now that the service is set to reach an international audience. The white paper written by Strang and Managing Coordinator of Emerging Technologies Ira Goldstein will be available to researchers when it makes its debut at the International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV), taking place Oct. 22 through 25 in Albany.
For more information about NERIC Connect, contact NERIC Connect Coordinator Susan Bell at 862-5346.