Edlink is thrilled to have a new integration partner in SchoolMint.
Since we were founded last year, we’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible clients, all dedicated to the mission of improving the way students learn. Along the way, they partnered with us to integrate their platforms with the schools they serve.
We had the opportunity to (virtually) sit down with one of our earliest clients, Schoolrunner, and learn more about how they feel about us, from the initial introduction to over fifty integrations later.
Click here for a downloadable PDF about Schoolrunner's experience partnering with Edlink.
We're also glad to share our interview with Ethan Martin, Product Owner and School Support Coordinator of Schoolrunner.
For some more context, Schoolrunner is a comprehensive management system that simplifies teachers, administrators, parents, and students’ day-to-day with straightforward, powerful, and actionable data. Supporting thousands of students in the most progressive schools across the United States, Schoolrunner will empower your school to connect with data to analyze, track, and improve student achievement.
They came to us initially wanting an integration with Canvas, but soon learned that they could integrate with every major learning management system through Edlink. Since then, they’ve integrated with Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams for Education, and Schoology, enabling them to serve nine school districts and over fifty schools using our unified API.
Scroll down and skip to 0:55 to jump straight in. We'll also include some time stamps below, if there are specific questions you want to check out.
- 0:55 - Can you tell us a little bit about Schoolrunner and your role there?
- 2:25 - Why were you originally interested in integrations with schools?
- 3:26 - Before working with Edlink, what challenges were you experiencing?
- 4:12 - After our sales team reached out to you, what made you want to learn more about us?
- 5:20 - What sealed the deal for us? What features of Edlink were the most appealing?
- 5:56 - Can you tell us how long it took Schoolrunner to get up and running with Edlink?
- 6:33 - From that point to when it took you to onboard your first school, is there a sense of that timeline or how long that took?
- 7:28 - When Schoolrunner started onboarding schools, how did the process go overall and how did it affect your schools?
- 8:28 - Did administrators ever compare it to previous experiences they've had with other applications?
- 9:23 - Along the way with your journey Edlink, did anything surprise you?
Can you tell us a little bit about Schoolrunner and your role there?
Sure! Schoolrunner is a data collection tool that schools use. Teachers use it on a daily basis to log attendance grades and behaviors and communications home and all sorts of things like that. And all that data kind of goes into the collective pool. And deans, administrators, principles, etc. then can get a big, wide, deep look at their school to see student information across grade levels and cultural information, academic information, etc. It's a big product with a whole bunch of features inside of it to give both a broad and a deep view of student and school performance.
I have two titles: I'm the School Support Coordinator and the Product Owner. So on the School Support Coordinator side, I talk with our clients, I help resolve issues, I manage our support, I make sure that we're providing them the best information and kind of issue resolutions that we can.
And on the Product Owner side of things, I take a lot of their feedback and I figure out how we can best improve scores. So what are the big things that the market needs and what are the things that our schools are asking for? How can we put those together? What are the highest priorities? How can we best improve Schoolrunner with the sort of time and resources that we have?
Why were you originally interested in integrations for schools?
Well, despite all the things that Schoolrunner does, it can't do everything and it doesn't do everything. So, there are definitely tools out there that are great that are just kind of in a different world than us. So for example, we aren't going to try to compete with LMSs like Canvas, Google Classroom, etc. They do something totally different but it doesn't mean that their information can't still be really useful. So, schools are still using them, [and] they're using us. The whole idea behind Schoolrunner is that lots of things come together into one place. So, it's just natural for us to provide integrations with other popular tools.
That was kind of the big impetus for us connecting with Edlink. You already have a bunch of great integrations. So if we can build one integration for you, you have all the integrations already. And so that's a great thing for us [and] a great thing for our clients as well.
“[Edlink] already has a bunch of great integrations. So if we can build one integration for [Edlink], you have all the integrations already. And so that's a great thing for us [and] a great thing for our clients as well.”
Before working with Edlink, what challenges were you experiencing?
Before working with Edlink, the challenges were largely around which integrations do we do if any. These are often a lot of work and we know that many of them are very valuable. But can we do any of them? Can we do all of them? Which ones do we choose? You know if we were to do them all sort of in-house, that means we're learning the sort of data structures of all these different systems and trying to translate those all into ours. It's just a lot of work. The biggest challenge was what can we do, how much can we do, and how well can we do it?
We actually went back and took a look at the history of how you first came to be introduced to Edlink, and we know that you received an email from our teammate Amanda [Goodson] pitching us. What made you respond and book the time on Amanda's calendar to learn more?
Let's see. It was a while back now but I think we saw the need for an integration, I think maybe with Canvas. But we saw a need for an integration and we're kind of thinking about, “Oh, this is gonna be a lot of work. How do we do this? Where do we start?”
We had built an integration previously with Google Classroom and it worked really well. And so we're thinking about, “We can kind of do that but we need all this information from Canvas and we need people to help us look in the right places.” I think we just kind of remembered the email and saw what Amanda had sent us and thought, “Wait a minute, it sounds like they have already done this and can just provide us an easy solution. So if that's true, we're going to be very happy.” So we reached back out and that was great. I’m glad we did!
What sealed the deal for us? What features of Edlink were the most appealing?
In a nutshell, it was “we build one integration with you because you already have a whole bunch of integrations with some great LMSs.” So it was the limited work on our ends for the almost disproportionately large benefit that we and our clients in turn get. So that I think is the main value proposition for us.
“...it was the limited work on our ends for the almost disproportionately large benefit that we and our clients in turn get.”
Can you tell us how long it took Schoolrunner to get up and running with Edlink?
I don't honestly remember. I do recall it was very quick - I know that Charlie [Founder and CEO of Schoolrunner] and Dakota [Co-Founder and CEO of Edlink] were working together and they're both really smart people, so I can't tell you exactly how long it took, but I know it was very quick and very seamless. And I know Charlie and Dakota were both able to sort of learn about the respective data models and how things work and make a really smooth connection.
Note: We asked Charlie how long it took Schoolrunner to get up and running, and he said this: "Edlink has been such a time-saver! They had us up and running in hours for what would've taken us weeks otherwise. Plus they've been incredibly helpful when it comes to any questions or challenges we've run into with the APIs."
From that point to when it took you to onboard your first school, is there a sense of that timeline or how long that took?
I believe that was pretty quick as well. I think we had one of our larger clients really, really wanting canvas, so we got them involved early on, and as we were still kind of finalizing things we got them to test it out to make sure that “yes, this is easy for us to sign up, and yes our scores are coming in this way,” and “oh we're expecting to see this thing,” so we were able to tweak that. I don't know if that was just Charlie, or just Dakota, or both, but we got them involved early in the process. They were really happy and really excited, so that was all pretty smooth compared to a lot of other integrations and projects and products that I've worked on.
When Schoolrunner started onboarding schools, how did the process go overall and how did it affect your schools?
When we first started onboarding schools, the process was, again, pretty seamless. I think our clients all really appreciated that it was more or less a one-time admin setup and that teachers didn't have to worry about doing anything, pretty much. It was really just us connecting with our lead at the school and saying, “hey let's jump on a call.” Dakota was also involved in some of these. Some of the schools did them on their own based on instructions we provided them. But it's basically, “let's get on a call real quick, pull up this page, that's the thing you need, put it here, press a button,” and within 15-20 minutes it was done.
So that process was very smooth. And again, I think our schools really appreciated that because it was a one-time setup that teachers and most users just didn't have to worry about at all.
Did administrators ever compare it to previous experiences they've had with other applications?
I'm sure they did. I don't remember any specific comments unfortunately - I do remember many people commenting, “Oh that was it? That's easy, that's quick.” So I know they had, if not specific experiences in their mind, the sort of impressions left over from lots of much much more painful processes in the past.
Along the way with your journey Edlink, did anything surprise you?
I’ve been most surprised by how supportive and available and responsive you and your team have been. It's been really great - you know I do a lot of support, so I know what it's like. So now we're asking for support and we get that when we need it, which is really appreciated. And just how easy the application side of the Edlink dashboard is - it's very helpful for me to go in and see who we’re connected to, what’s all the data that we're looking at, so that part's really great.
Again, also the ease of the actual client onboarding - really, really smooth. It’s just a couple keys, a couple buttons, a couple copies and pastes, and you're all good. So I was really surprised and impressed at how streamlined that process is, and I feel like ultimately that's probably the most important one: that impression you make to the end user - the final customer.
“I was really surprised and impressed at how streamlined that process is, and I feel like ultimately that's probably the most important one: that impression you make to the end user - the final customer.”
-Ethan, talking about Edlink’s onboarding process for school admins
It sounds like the admins reacted positively to the process throughout.
Yeah, I don't think anyone ever had any problems. I don't think people were ever really confused, and I don't think you had to ever follow up and be like, “oh let's re-do this part or that part” or anything like that. So yeah, very very smooth.
You know, we have school contacts that have varying degrees of technical expertise. So again, we just sent some instructions to those with more of it and they were able to do it on their own. They're like, “Cool, I don't need any of your time, I did this all.” But even the ones that don't have as much technical experience - 15 minutes on the zoom and they're done with it. So that was very impressive and definitely a memorable part of the onboarding experience from my point of view.
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