By Sean Richards

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2015 marked the biggest and most successful Schoolbox meetup we’ve ever held. It was a terrific day and we wanted to share some of the moments and insights. This was the fourth annual community meetup and in traditional style, our entire company was present.

We chose Queensland to hold this year’s event, due in part to the rapid growth we’ve experienced across QLD over the last twelve months, plus the need for sunshine to help all the vitamin D deficient attendees from less sunny states get a healthy dose of sunshine.

We were astounded by the number of our customers who invested in sending representatives to the event. Over 150 attendees, representing over 50 schools made an appearance. Given that the majority of these people had to fly in to attend, this was an incredible effort by everyone.

Head over to our Facebook page if you are interested to see some of the photos taken on the day.

Our host, Somerset College, were so gracious and facilitated the smoothest event to date. Headmaster Craig Bassingthwaighte, opened the event , summarising the speed at which their school is moving to embrace technology and some kind words about their success to date on the Schoolbox platform.

Presentations

A short opening from Schoolbox Co-founder Sean Richards highlighted the recent success of Schoolbox since the last meetup, which included:

  • New partners and integrations:
    • Rubicon Atlas
    • Netbox Blue
    • Human Edge
    • PC School
    • iSAMS
  • 30% growth in staff
  • New office for the Schoolbox team

Sean quickly handed over to Co-founder James Leckie, the original creator of Schoolbox.

Version 15.0

James kicked off with a summary of the v15.5 major release that went live in April and covered many of the major features that were released including:

  • Tiles and the great success that Schoolbox customers are experiencing using tiles to create great user experiences
  • Cloud storage, live Office 365, and Google Apps integrations
  • Native mobile application partner, Digistorm Education’s new School App for Schoolbox
  • Improvements to ‘Courses’ and the future direction to integrate with Rubicon Atlas for curriculum design
  • Synergetic markbook integration
  • Learning Analytics
  • Support for animated GIFs
  • First iteration of curriculum mapping
  • Inline recording
  • Customisable grade scales

New Schoolbox Help

Co-founder Matt Sambell, and Schoolbox Teacher, Anna Hindson, delivered an update on the ongoing evolution of the Schoolbox Help Center, which came with a huge twist. Schoolbox has now launched a complete new community portal and help area, built entirely on the Schoolbox platform! Users now have access to courses in Schoolbox, all mapped to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Schoolbox Help will also offer users a new best practice area, where they can go for Schoolbox inspiration, as well as user groups, and lots more. Stay tuned for more info!

Version 15.5 and Future Roadmap

James then moved on to share the hard work that the Schoolbox product and development teams have been working on for the highly anticipated version 15.5 major release. James hinted that this would be generally available for live systems sometime in November 2015.
The audience burst into applause when James demonstrated the new responsive user interface.

“We believe this drives us into the future, and positions Schoolbox as the world’s leading product for school LMS and community portals”.

The audience was then asked to test it out themselves. We provided login credentials for everyone to login and test a pre-alpha instance of the v15.5 platform. The reaction was highly positive, creating ongoing chatter amongst the attendees throughout the event.

Skin Builder

James presented the new skin builder, which schools will be able to use to tailor the look and feel to their school’s unique branding. The new responsive interface will see dramatic enhancements to our customers’ user interfaces, and was another topic of interest to everyone.

Roadmap Ahead

The roadmap ahead for the platform was presented, noting the following were key features to look out for over the next major release cycles:

  • Engagement report
  • Upgraded content editor
  • Better embedded content
  • Improved rubrics
  • Sports Fixtures – a hot-to-have feature based on the feedback in the auditorium

Customer Break Out Sessions and Open Q&A

After a delicious lunch on the Somerset College lawns and some further networking, we jumped back into the collaborative learning and sharing session, breaking into role based groups and then opening up a Q&A session with some of the key team members. This was a great part of the day where our users had direct access to the product managers and company directors to participate in a transparent, honest conversation about what matters to our customers.

Customer Pechu Kucha Presentations

The meetup then transitioned into our customer presentations that were amazing. We won’t spoil the topics yet as we’re going to have these up on our YouTube channel very soon. Suffice to say, this was the most popular part of the Meetup, with an overall response of “We want lots more of this type of session to learn best practice from others.”

Wrap Up

The night ended with some of our fondest customers and our team celebrating the great day at the Burleigh Heads Life-Saving Club late into the night.

Videos Available Soon!

We are working very hard to get all of the presentation videos up to our YouTube channel as soon as possible. We will be notifying everyone once these are live so that those that attended can re-live the memories, and any one that missed the day can catch up on what they missed.

Thanks a million to everyone who attended and helped to make this the best ever Schoolbox Meetup. We can hardly wait for next year’s event!