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Here is where EdTech specialists Software2 steps in with their revolutionary solution, AppsAnywhere. Built for Higher Ed from the ground-up, AppsAnywhere helps universities, community colleges, and other academic institutions deliver course-related software to every student, regardless of the kind of computer they use. It helps make all academic software available in a consistent way and transform students’ performance.
The company was founded after observing the difference in the availability of professional-grade software tools between the corporate and student sectors. For corporate, all the machines are specific throughout, while at colleges and universities, the use of certain machines (Chromebooks, Linux, Macs) is subject to the student’s preference. The most common alternative is to use an open-access machine in a large university, which would need to house hundreds of software pieces for thousands of users from multiple disciplines. Students would then need to go and use that machine physically. This, coupled with strict deadlines and restricted movement inside and outside campus, makes the whole situation cumbersome.
In discussion with CIOApplications, Software2's CEO, Nick Johnson, tells us how his company helps students achieve these outcomes and brings about a tech revolution.
What are some of the trends or changes you've been in the industry, and how have you kept pace with those changes?
BYOD has become a significant trend on campus. Unfortunately, this has also brought a certain set of challenges along with it. With the amount of tuition fees that students pay their schools, their expectations have increased dramatically. On the IT front, this means that students need their course software to run on their own devices, be it a Mac, a Linux, or a Chromebook or whatever OS they use. The innate perception of being a customer, rather than a student, means that universities need to step up their game and invest in technology to provide students' software resources.
And therefore, we often see students carrying their device on campus, frustrated that their course software is incompatible. Students should no longer need to spend their nights waiting to access the school machine, go to the library, and access the university software.
We believe that users these days are so used to the app store experience from their phones that we've brought the same to all of their devices with that consistency
Let’s talk about your particular offering's features and functionalities and how they're helping deliver all the software and applications required by the students and the staff.
AppsAnywhere provides a consistent experience for students and staff to access software wherever they are—be it their campus, at home—and on whatever device they're on. It can even be whitelabelled and be branded to the university depending on how they want to deploy it. Students will no longer have to use a university lab machine. AppsAnywhere has been designed to resolve any limitations that students previously faced concerning compatibility and accessibility. So everything for a student or staff member becomes click and go. They can simply go to the Software2 portal, AppsAnywhere, access the software store, and click on a launch button to use it.
All the questions like:
“Do I need to get to this room? Do I need to go to this web page? Do I enter the start menu with desktop shortcut?” Everything is just in one. We believe that users these days are so used to the app store experience from their phones that we've brought the same to all of their devices with that consistency. So it doesn't matter where or on what devices they are, or what they're doing, we give them a consistent experience. Traditionally, it is very difficult to access these resources even on campus, but now they can do it even more easily from home.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the market as far as college edu-software is concerned?
The pandemic has put us in a dynamic environment, both in establishing a remote campus and ensuring students' uninterrupted study. We've onboarded so many customers in the last few weeks, probably last year, which isn't a surprise. We help universities on and off-campus. There's pressure on universities to ensure that students can start learning as soon as they can, irrespective of their location.
Consequently, delivering their course-related software is critical as a part of that service. So we think we’ve answered the right call, and the changes we’ve made to be more of a rapid, deliberate, and remote platform are significant. Historically we like to go on-site, chat to people, get to know them, and deliver that personal service. And we hope that we'll return at some stage, but it's also forced us to look at how we deliver our services.
It has also forced universities to consider how they had operated, especially when it came to students’ access to IT and related software resources. Many colleges are slow to adopt new technologies, but are being forced to develop or change the value of their offerings at an accelerated pace. What used to take two or three years, universities are forced to update technologies and resources in weeks to adapt to their students’ needs. We have followed up on this need to ensure that they can deliver that service to their students.
What does the future look like for Software2?
We are making sure that we are continually improving our software to meet our customer's needs and adjusting to any environment/situation that campuses might come to see in the coming semester/year. Whether it be at open or hybrid campuses or schools having to do a total shutdown, we want to be a long term committed partner to our customers. We will continue to develop the products around our customers' needs. We will continue to lead our product with our customers' lead, roadmap, and product development. And again, when we meet with customers, we show them everything we do around AppsAnywhere and help them see how it is all centered on our customers. So if you have a good idea, it will be there.