Reconnecting with our Customers: Rob Wilson, Edupoint

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Edupoint Educational Systems (www.edupoint.com) develops enterprise-level software to support U.S. school districts. The software manages everything from back-office activities and state reporting, to front-end portals for parents and students. The company’s solutions help schools and districts operate more effectively and provide stakeholders in the education process – teachers, administrators, parents and students – timely access to information. In the U.S. and other parts of the world, transparency and access to information as well as the focus on individualised education are strong educational trends, and Edupoint is at the forefront of delivering solutions to meet these needs.

Edupoint has worked with Aspose products since 2002. This makes the company one of our very first customers. As part of Aspose’s 10-year celebration, we reconnected with Rob Wilson, President at Edupoint, and asked him about the changes he has seen in the industry over the last 10 years.

Edupoint Celebrates 10 Years

Like Aspose, Edupoint started 10 years ago. At that point, client-server technologies were popular but .NET was making an impact. Over the years, Edupoint’s online solutions have grown steadily and in the last few years, the company has seen intense growth as the education industry has seen the benefits of enterprise level software.

Edupoint’s solutions support almost two million students today. This is a user base of six million users when counting all those that rely on Edupoint’s products on a daily basis – students, parents, teachers and school and district staff users.

Constant Access is Part of the Fabric of Life

The biggest change that Rob Wilson has seen is the shift from merely reporting data at a high level to being able to truly react to what the patterns of data are showing.

From the schools’ perspective, this means being able to react to student achievements, either to change the curriculum or to react to changes in performance markers such as attendance.

From the parents’ and students’ perspective, being able to access real-time data allows them to be more pro-active in the education process. Students can take ownership of their own education.

In the last 18 months, Edupoint has focused on making their services available on new devices. “We’re moving into a world where users expect full access all of the time,” commented Wilson. “Students, for example, expect access to their results not just through a PC but through their phone or tablet, whenever they need it. Immediate access to information has become part of the fabric of life.”

Aspose.Spell Still in Use

In the early days, Edupoint was looking for a spell checker. Back then, browsers did not have spell check abilities so they needed a different solution. The answer was Aspose.Spell, a component that Aspose has since discontinued.

The main reason that Edupoint used Aspose.Spell was that the technology stack perfectly matched what they needed. Edupoint works in a deployed environment. Many of Edupoints customers run their own services so the license model had to fit hosted and deployed software. A true OEM license was a great benefit. Edupoint still use Apsose.Spell in their applications today.

The direction that Aspose is taking – automating processes and focusing on tools – works well for Edupoint and the pricing model meets their needs.

Rob Wilson explained that back in the early 2000s, most component developers adopted a licensing model that tied licenses to CPUs. Aspose was one of the first companies to break from that model. Our simpler model, based on users, and with a true OEM license, is attractive to small and large companies, equally.

Since they first bought Aspose.Spell, Edupoint has added first Aspose.Chart and then Aspose.Total to their toolkit. Today, Edupoint still uses Aspose products:

  • Aspose.Words assists with mail merging and automation activities that Microsoft applications aren’t designed to do in a web environment.
  • Aspose.Network helps with automating and accessing emails in Edupoint’s integrated customer support platform.
  • Aspose.Cells is used for dynamically parsing spreadsheets.

A Paperless School

Education is still transitioning from the world of paper: paper textbooks are on their way out. Edupoint already sees a lot of activity in the classroom and beyond that is driven through their parent and student portals. Resources are held on the portals and assignments, marking and many other daily activities are handled through them. Assignment management and review can be handled electronically by teachers. Online assignment management doesn’t just save paper. More importantly, it allows students to check in assignments or projects, receive comments and make revisions under supervision of their teachers online where changes and actions are logged. It makes the process transparent. Parents can also get access to comments on their childrens’ work so that they can be actively involved.

Electronic books also offer schools new opportunities. Previously, textbooks sometimes had to last for years: the information they contained could go out of date. With electronic books, content can be updated and kept constantly current. Edupoint expects that the move to electronic books to be the next big change to the education environment. Content will start to originate from experts that are in schools, and the content will change dynamically, not just when the textbooks are re-issued annually.

Prediction and Individualisation

In the education industry, everything is focused on individual student achievement. Their customers want to:

  • Analyse longitudinal trends to help school districts make informed, data-driven decisions.
  • Anticipate and identify students that may be at risk for falling behind.
  • Individualise every aspect of a student’s education to ensure each child reaches his or her full potential.

Rob Wilson and Edupoint  are leading visionaries in the education data management area and will continue to innovate their solutions to power informed instruction with data and analysis in the years to come. Aspose is delighted to be part of their solution.