Built For Teachers By Teachers
BYOC has a unique story of how the product came about. The co-founders, Chris and John tell the story in their own words.
We often refer to BuildYourOwnCurriculum as an “accidental” product. BYOC was never intended to be for sale. It began as a piece of software designed to help a frustrated school district in Wisconsin. The district had not redesigned their curriculum in almost 10 years and needed to do extensive curriculum work. However, they did not want to do it on paper. They knew there had to be a better way.
After a year evaluating every product on the market, they were disappointed. They felt that everything was designed for administrators … not teachers. They believed that for any curriculum tool to be successful, it must deliver value directly to the teacher. So, they decided to design their own solution, which is where we came in. As software development consultants, our team was hired to create a custom solution.
To gain insight, we were locked in a room with 12 teachers for three months. This experience was vital to the success of the project. The team of teachers was strategically assembled to help with development. To ensure the software would be user-friendly and intuitive, the district chose “computer challenged” teachers for the design team. And to ensure we wouldn’t create another administrative system similar to what they encountered in their product search, the administrators stepped away from the development process. Knowing they could easily influence meetings, administrators attended only the kick-off meeting and final presentation of the finished product. As a result, BYOC truly was designed by teachers for teachers. It may sound cliché, but in this case, it’s true.
At the completion of the project, like any good consulting company, we left the district. Then the unexpected happened. Our phone started ringing, and kept ringing for the next three years. Other districts saw what we created and wanted to replicate it in their schools.
Today, School Software Group has a full team of programmers, dedicated customer support staff, and sales coverage across the country. But, we remain true to our roots—never wavering from our efforts to help more school districts around the country with their curriculum and assessment management needs.
School Software Group
School Software Group
On the first day meeting with the teachers who helped design BYOC, the district handed Chris a list of their basic beliefs about curriculum. This list drove the development of the product, and these beliefs still serve as the foundation and guiding principles as we continue to develop our product.
- Curriculum must be a living tool for learning. It cannot be created/revised every five years and then placed upon a shelf never to be seen again for another five years.
- Curriculum must be standards-based (district, state, national) and this alignment between the standards and curriculum must be easily verified.
- Curriculum must serve as a foundation for building collaborative culture.
- We must overcome the tradition of teacher isolation. The focus of teachers must go beyond their classroom.
- Teachers are not always good at sharing ideas and activities. We need to find a way to allow teachers to easily share with other teachers.
- Curriculum must be easily developed, easily accessible, and time friendly.
- Curriculum must be of value to all audiences (students, parents/community, teachers, administrators, and school board), and able to enhance classroom instruction, improve student learning, and serve as the catalyst for addressing the needs of all students.