Inspiration

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. Henry Ford

We weren't inspired by some life-changing experience, or by a vision to be the greatest in all of history.

As students, we wanted more from our grade data. So we created the first solution.


How it works

The best way to experiment is through daily utility -- so that's exactly how we've setup our first version.

The first version of The Gradebook is built as an extension of the learning information platform Infinite Campus. In setting our application up this way, we can access existing student data, building up our platform on a system that our own school uses to store grade data.

When a student signs into their school portal, we use the existing API to download all of their grade data, then we reorganize it in a way that makes it more visually pleasing, easier to understand, and more navigable.


Functionality

Theoretical Grading: Your grading platform should extend beyond the present -- we make that happen. With theoretical grading, you can add in future grades to see how it would affect your existing grade. Don't get blindsided by critical grade dumps that change your grade.

Built-In Notifications: When you open the application, you're presented with any new updates to your grades. Click on any notification to immediately scroll to that class.

Beautiful User Interface: Our user interface minimizes convolution while focusing on what matters most. The app is just a frame, your grades are the real content.

Faster Refresh Rates: Because we solely focus on grades, we can grab your data faster. As soon as we have all of your raw grade data, we cut off the stream, minimizing data usage and maximizing download times. No extra student information is downloaded, giving us an edge over traditional platforms.

Extreme Ubiquity: Our app is available on iOS and Android, with user interfaces specific to each platform. Download it at grdbk.com


Challenges

Since there aren't any other products in our market, we had to pave our own path.

Information Learning System The world of student gradebook data is a battle of the big companies: Powerschool, Infinite Campus, and many other solutions are going to head-to-head with claims over parts of the American education system. That level of fragmentation made it hard to determine where to start. Since our school, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, uses Infinite Campus, we started with that.

Initial Role Our end goal is to provide broad-variety analytics to both students and teachers regarding overall trends in classes based on the teacher, the school, and pretty much any other possible filter. But that's a bit macroscopic -- so we started small.

We decided to start off by just helping students make sense of where their grades are, and where they could be heading. Therefore we built a system that can grab student data and then provide theoretical grading.

Student Privacy Student data has to be handled extremely responsibly, so we've done our best not to overstep. All data is solely stored locally and all calculations are done on the device in real-time. We want to shift over to a server (in beta), but we want more help and to invest more time into developing a secure server-client infrastructure first.

Bug Fixes We have a small team of 3 active students, balancing our coding lives with all of our extracurriculars and academics. We often find ourselves staying up late trying to solve bugs only to find out there are more that have been discovered. Everyone is in extremely unique grading situations, and we often find ourselves tweaking our code to deal with unanticipated situations.

Demographics Though our market is the entire student population in America, we can't reach them all at once. For now, we've limited our marketing and setup to our school community: Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois. We want to continue to expand outside of our community, and to move onto different information learning systems so we can access people who don't use Infinite Campus as well.


Accomplishments

  • Created the first real student analytic platform
  • Completed our application & pushed it to the market in under 6 months
  • Followed up the iOS version with an Android version in under 3 months
  • Used by 50% of potential demographic (local school population of 4000+)
  • News coverage in local school paper with interview

Lessons Learned

  • Before pushing to market, the beta process is extremely important
  • Design the UI carefully, changing it radically post-release disturbs user comfort
  • When someone asks for a feature, adding it makes them a loyal user
    • Consistent updates keep users happy
    • Loyal/happy users recommend your software to friends
  • Unorganized code inhibits code scalability

Up Next

The Gradebook is still in its infancy. We have a couple of short term and long term goals that drive our process.

Short Term

  • Expand to the greater Chicago area
  • Build a server to allow cross-user analytics

Long Term

  • Support other information learning systems (i.e Pearson's PowerSchool) or work with PowerSchool/Infinite Campus to bring our features to their native platforms

  • Provide advanced analytics

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