EdReady is one solution out of a suite of tools and resources that the NROC Project brings to the table when collaboratively solving challenging academic problems with our members. We designed EdReady and all of our solutions to be adaptable and flexible so that they could be used effectively in many different institutional contexts and for many different target populations. In addition, we align and deliver an ever-growing collection of high-quality content from other providers, and we work to ensure that our tools can integrate with other products and solutions (such as learning-management systems) so as to minimize the technical barriers to access and effective implementation. We set priorities and pursue solutions based on guidance from our institutional members, and our metrics for success are less focused on product usage and more on outcomes achieved. As such, we do not strive to “outcompete” other products in the market but rather to support a network of professionals who are seeking to collaborate with their peers and the NROC Project to design and deploy more effective and sustainable solutions to long-standing challenges in education.
On the NROC Project website, it says, “It’s not a product you buy. It’s a movement you join.” This approach underscores the primary difference between the NROC Project (and EdReady) versus other market options. When thinking about how EdReady differs from other products, these are some of the key distinctions:
- The NROC Project is a non-profit organization. Our membership fee is only sufficient to recover our costs. Our “shareholders” are our institutional members, and the value of membership grows year over year as the collection of resources is improved and expanded.
- The membership fee does not change. The fee is roughly equated to the size of the population you serve, not the total amount of usage of NROC tools and resources, so you can count on the low cost and stability of the membership structure no matter how much your students and staff use our resources.
- We leverage member needs to acquire philanthropic support. The NROC Project has the editorial and product development expertise to build best-in-class solutions, and these efforts are funded by leading philanthropic foundations such as The William and Flora Hewlett and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Because of this foundation support, institutional members are only asked to help pay operational expenses toward long-term sustainability.
- We respond to member needs and outcomes continuously. While most companies will strive to improve their products, no other organization has such a fully developed “community-guided development” process. We are transparent about what does and does not meet expectations, and we work together to make improvements and support the most effective implementations. Our members benefit from each other at least as much as they benefit from the efforts of the NROC Project staff.
- There are no limits on the use of our supporting tools and resources. We encourage experimentation and risk-taking, and we co-discover the breadth of possibilities. We share what we learn among the membership and with the world.
- Our resources do not impose one specific pedagogical model. NROC resources compliment and support student learning within a range of implementations: flipped classrooms, emporium models, hybrid courses, independent study, credit recovery, competency-based, accelerated, corequisite... It is our goal to help our members “imagine the possibilities” without being overwhelmed.
- Our resources are “unbundled” by design. Members can use some resources and not others, or even subsets of resources and functionality, as required. Each institution has different needs, and our goal is to support solutions that work for each context, as opposed to expecting institutions to transform themselves before being able to effectively utilize the solutions we have.
- You are never “locked in” to only using NROC resources. EdReady can point to non-NROC resources by default, and the library of assessments and learning interventions can be customized for institution-specific preferences, including utilization of materials created locally or by other companies.
- We emphasize simplicity and efficiency. Customizing EdReady assessments, pathways, and operational elements is kept as simple as possible. Sometimes this simplicity means that EdReady will lack a certain feature or function that another product may have, but it also means that most teachers and administrators can get started using EdReady very quickly, and further adaptations and adjustments are also very simple to execute. Furthermore, we are constantly enhancing EdReady’s capabilities based on member feedback, so together we can resolve any perceived deficiencies compared to other products over the medium term.
- We know our resources work. EdReady, Hippocampus, NROC Algebra and Developmental Math, and more to come – these resources can be configured and adapted to work in many different situations, based on member efforts and experiments. Our outcomes, already strong, will only improve as we work together. There is no “gotcha” in NROC membership. No other product or organization offers the same opportunities to radically improve the system of educational publishing, technical innovation, and student success, all within the context of a supporting non-profit mission and a sustainable cost-structure.
In addition to these overarching benefits, there are many facets of EdReady’s design and functionality that set it apart from the field. These features and functions exist because they enhance EdReady’s effectiveness in helping us to achieve our mission: to improve access to quality education for everyone. The NROC Project did not design EdReady to explicitly match or stand apart from other products on the field, so we cannot say exactly how EdReady does or does not differ from other options. We welcome your own analysis and feedback to this effect, especially if it helps us to set priorities for further enhancements in the years to come.