2014 UK Mobile & App Design Awards

Groupcall Emerge for Schools [DRAFT]







Project Overview

In 2011, Groupcall Emerge launched the first mobile app designed for smart phones, tablets, Apple iOS, Android and later Windows 8.1 devices, allowing the school’s MIS (Management Information System) data to be available to view instantly and securely in both online and offline modes and permitting some data items to be written directly back to the MIS. Specifically, Emerge answers the long-standing issue of how to take electronic registration quickly and effectively anywhere within a school campus, regardless of connectivity, and how to ensure information remains available in the event of a total system failure.


Groupcall Limited


Project/Creative Team:

Lawrence Royston
The idea for Emerge was originally thought of by Lawrence Royston the MD of Groupcall who was instrumental in the creation and delivery of the first version of Emerge. Lawrence created Groupcall and continues to innovate new ideas and products at a fast rate.

Alex Felton
Alex, also a founder of Groupcall, is the lead developer and provider of the framework that drives Emerge. Emerge is entirely data driven to allow the user interface to change and be updated without the need to constantly update the app via the various application stores ( iOS Appstore / Google play or Microsoft Windows Store). This allows for far more rapid development and updates than would otherwise be possible.

Martin Thirkell
Having worked developing software for the education sector for over 20 years, Martin works closely with Alex to ensure and streamline application that works across iOS, Android and Windows 8.1. platforms.

Nick Gradwell
Nick has over 15 years experience working in product management for the software industry. He works as the product manager for all of Groupcall’s products and is responsible for making sure that Emerge continues to evolve and deliver real value, quality and innovation.

Tim Verlander
Tim manages the Groupcall development team and is responsible for making sure that robust software is delivered on time and on specification. With a keen eye for detail Tim is critical to ensuring that all our software delivers the efficiencies and cost savings anticipated in the initial design.

External Design
The Groupcall team technical appreciate that sometimes it is necessary to use specialist organisations to ensure usability is as effective as possible.

Groupcall work very closely with a number of design companies to makes sure that interfaces are both intuitive and good looking.

Project Brief

Emerge at a glance:
Reporting in Emerge: Analytical information on key school attributes to senior management and teachers are automatically updated daily.

Swift and convenient registration: Schools tell us that electronic registration in a classroom takes up to eight minutes; Emerge can reduce this to around 35 seconds.

Instant MIS access: Emerge integrates with most major UK MIS systems. It provides staff at primary/secondary schools instant access to the schools MIS data.

All information at your fingertips: Staff can quickly access learner information including timetables, assessment, absence notes, medical records, behavioural and achievement data on a device in the palm of their hand.

Record behaviour and achievement with embedded media: Teachers can record photographic and video evidence in real-time that can be written back to SIMs.

Offline Mode: Emerge works offline allowing data to be viewed and modified on the device which synchronises once back within the school’s Wi-Fi range.

Remote Mode: Emerge can securely retrieve and update MIS information even when outside school Wi-Fi.

Multiple levels of security: Emerge ensures the security of data using two-factor authentication and on-device encryption. A user is required to be authorised on the device as well as requiring a username/password. Data is encrypted using the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and requires access using a four-digit PIN. If a device is lost, data can be wiped remotely.

Emerge runs on Apple iOS, Android and Windows 8.1 devices.

Project Need

Emerge provides educators with access to their school’s MIS information on a mobile device wherever they are, dramatically increasing their overall efficiencies.

Schools are legally required to complete statutory registration twice a day, a time-consuming task for many schools especially when taking lesson by lesson registration. The ability to take registration via a handheld device is ideal for taking registration wherever you are.

When teachers are faced with any kind of incident they can access all the student’s records immediately and have the ability to take photographic or video footage as positive or negative evidence which can be directly written back to SIMs, saving time and great for sharing information on parents’ evenings.

Equipping teachers with Emerge means that they can instantly identify where a student is at any given time and is especially good in an emergency situation when the school system is down.

The reporting feature allows headteachers and senior leadership teams to have an overview of key metrics within their school at a glance every day.

Emerge also helps eradicate bullying as photographic and video evidence can be taken in real-time and written back to the pupil's profile in SIMs, it is a major deterrent for acts of bullying.

User Experience

Emerge was driven through two fundamental needs:
The first was to ensure mission critical data was always available, even in the event of a major IT system failure.

The second, was a need expressed by schools to provide a 'less clunky' and more portable way to take attendance online. In particular more mobile teachers e.g. P.E. teachers were struggling to meet their obligation to take attendance. Working closely with teachers Groupcall developed the Emerge attendance taking interface to provide a simple solution to this problem.

The direct relationship with teachers in schools continues and has led to the more recent innovations including the ability to record behaviour and achievement events (with supporting media) and providing real-time school metrics and the imminent release of our parental app.

We have build a community of schools that provide regular feedback and make suggestions for improvement to the user interface and product in general. Development of Emerge is truly driven by senior leaders and teachers in schools.

Training is delivered to the customer remotely on the day of installation and remains available, unlimited and free of charge along with support.

Project Marketing

The marketing strategy we have implemented involves all schools throughout the UK including cross-marketing to our Messenger customers by multiple methods - regular newsletters, exhibitions/roadshows/events/seminars, website, social media - Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, regular eshot campaigns, print and online advertising, case studies, press releases, app store/google play/windows store.

A free, no-obligation trial is offered to all schools for a minimum period of 4 weeks. The schools can use their own data if required for the duration of the trial and we will even lend the schools mobile devices if required.

This academic year (2013/14) we launched an extensive Emerge for Schools marketing campaign where Emerge branded footballs and Emerge Headteacher mugs are being sent out to Secondary School prospects throughout the UK over a number of months. This is accompanied by regular email and social media communication campaign.

This category recognises education themed apps across all education sectors.
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