Innovative Public School District Powers Communications via Dedicated Online Community

The Challenge: Tutor & Mentor Services Management  

Kankakee School District was in need of a user-friendly, yet robust, solution to manage communications between tutors/mentors and students. In addition, district and school administrators required visibility into those communications to ensure the experience for both students and educators meets state/district expectations and standards. 

Kankakee’s current tutoring and mentoring solution consisted of tutors and students using traditional email for communication and a PDF list of available tutors for students to choose from. Students were unsure as to which tutors/mentors best fit their needs due to not having subject specialization or experience information. Furthermore, scheduling sessions resulted in lengthy back-and-forth email threads simply to confirm location, timing and other logistics. 

The Solution: An Online Community

After considering an array of out-of-the-box tutoring and ‘booking’ platforms, Kankakee realized each of those platforms was missing a key component - the social and community element. Many platforms are capable of providing ‘personal profiles’ and scheduling functionality; however, each platform Kankakee considered did not offer the engagement and collaboration a dedicated online community provides. Additionally, Kankakee required the ability to track and validate sessions between students and mentors/tutors. UpSquad’s online community platform allows school districts to not only confirm actual interactions, but also measure student/educator interactions via a built-in reporting dashboard.

The Results: Engagement, Learning and Progress 

Students and tutors/mentors are now part of an inclusive and safe online space in the form of “Kankakee Konnects” - the district’s formal home for outside-of-the-classroom learning. Each student community member owns a rich profile with background information, areas of interest, hobbies, extracurricular activities, and of course subjects or skills they are seeking to improve. Within that same community, tutors/mentors have a similar profile offering information on their skill set, professional experiences and areas of expertise. 

Both students and tutors/mentors quickly search for matches based on these profiles and efficiently schedule sessions using a “Calendly-esque” tool, which allows calendars to be synced and conflicts to be avoided. As of April 2023, Kankakee has seen a 200% increase in sessions scheduled versus the same period in 2022 and a 300% increase versus 2021. 

The district-wide integration of the platform revolutionized many schools. These institutions, which previously didn't offer any method for students to directly communicate with tutors outside of the classroom, saw a significant boost in student-tutor communication. Out of the 2,200+ Kankakee students on the platform, nearly 1,500 of those students have scheduled and participated in a tutoring session. The resulting conversion rate of nearly 70% provided a 10-fold increase in the number of students interacting with tutors versus previous years. 

About Kankakee School District 

Recognized as being a regional leader in progressiveness, innovativeness and creativity, Kankakee School District #111 works together to build ONE community with strong local partnerships. Located in the southern Chicagoland area, Kankakee is home to 12 primary/secondary schools and nearly 5,000 students. The leadership team at Kankakee is committed to increasing student achievement through a vision of producing globally productive citizens.  

Interested in learning more about branded online communities for your educational program? Schedule a meeting with Eric Branch from the UpSquad team here. Call or text us directly at 434-270-3622. 

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