Howe ISD returns to Schoolwires
Not all education companies are equal when it comes to the support they provide to clients,
as Howe ISD, a mid-sized school district in Texas, found out the hard way. After filing the form 470 for e-rate funding in the 2009-2010 school year, Howe ISD was surprised to hear from several companies pitching easy-to-use products
with a focus on Web 2.0 tools. Although the district had been a Schoolwires client for three years,
it soon became obvious that “Filing the 470 was much like sending out an RFP.”
Having listened to a number of pitches, the client decided to learn more about other products on the market and compare them to Centricity. Since the district had limited technical experience on campus, it needed a product with tools and capabilities that teachers, parents, and students could easily use without the need for extensive training. Web 2.0 tools that could handle wikis, podcasts, videos and slide shows were essential, along with the ability to easily and quickly update content. The client also wanted to maintain a consistent look and feel across all websites in the district and have access to a library of engaging images that could be used on school landing pages. And all sites needed to be easy to maintain and update with minimal technical resources and knowledge.
The client explored various products at conferences and via online demos and webinars, then purchased a competitor product that seemed to be more “Moodle-like” in its features and functions. Our competitor promised that the district’s existing content on the Centricity platform would easily migrate to its new platform, and that integration with the district’s SIS system would be simple.
Unfortunately, the district found that there was no tool or program to facilitate migration. It took months to pull over content from Schoolwires using a manual cut-and-paste process. And as for integration with the district’s SIS? Our competitor was unable to deliver, and the client had to pull the information from the district’s SIS and push it to the new platform. The client did enjoy a number of new features in the competitor product, but in the end, both platforms were essentially equal in functionality with Web 2.0 tools. Service and support, however, began to weigh more heavily.
Service, support, and a return to Schoolwires
Having grown accustomed to the level of support Schoolwires had provided in the past, the client was extremely disappointed with the support our competitor offered. Automated replies made it difficult for the district to get the live, expert help it needed to resolve issues, such as domain name configuration and LDAP assitance. With Schoolwires, whenever the client called, someone was always on the other end, prepared to offer assistance.
“Actually talking to a support person who knows what they’re doing or can get you to an expert resource within a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks, is extremely important and comforting,” the client said. “We don’t have time to be on the phone all day trying to find someone to help us with an issue. Schoolwires typically returns a call within two hours.”
For Howe ISD, like so many other school districts with limited technical knowledge, resources and time, service and support have become key differentiators when choosing a Web management solution. That’s what makes Schoolwires the company of choice for districts that need help to implement and maintain their systems. And it’s why this Texas client has since returned to Schoolwires.
“I feel that Schoolwires is always there to provide support, and that’s very important to our teachers and to us.”