Ex-New London teacher founds Edficiency, a scheduling software company

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For most educators, an announcement that their school would implement a flexible period next school term probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But for Joseph Connelly, who taught chemistry and physics at New London High School, it proved life-changing.

Sensing that it would be difficult to schedule students and keep track of where they were, Connelly learned to code himself so he could automate their flex periods. The software that was developed to simplify the logistics of flex periods was so effective that in 2015 he spun off into a company he named Edficiency.

James Bacon, Connelly’s brother-in-law and business partner, explained: “Joe was solving the problem schools had with flexible hours. Years before, we talked about the challenges educators faced when trying to schedule a block of time where students could go and hang out with teachers. »

Unlike a study hall, a flextime period is a fixed time in a student’s schedule that provides the flexibility to go to a different location each day. A student can visit a teacher for academic support, attend an enrichment session, meet with an advisor, write an assignment, participate in extracurricular activities, or opt for a study period.

It can be confusing trying to match the variety of possibilities with where and when a student will be. This is where the Oshkosh-based Edficiency comes in.

“Flextime created logistical challenges to make sure students and teachers knew what their schedules would be like,” Bacon said. “Our software handles that.”

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The system is adaptable and is configured to manage which students can be scheduled with which teachers and which activities are allowed. Time requests can be entered into the system before midnight the day before and in the morning students and teachers receive a timetable by email.

“Before this system, a school might use passes or paper notes or have students check in at multiple locations where they’re supposed to be,” Bacon said. “Tracking that is time consuming and confusing when schools try to determine if a student is available or not.”

The system helps schools rethink how they use existing time and provide more opportunities for students, Bacon said. Although the pandemic has slowed growth to a 20% increase instead of the expected 50%, the software is being adapted by schools across the country. Research says it works.

In a recent survey, 94% of staff and 93% of students said the software was easy to use. A total of 83% of users thought it had led to an increase in student results.

Joseph Connelly

For Bacon and Connelly, the results are not surprising. Both are seasoned educators with master’s degrees. Bacon began his career as a math teacher before becoming a K-12 teacher coach in several southern states, then taught, consulted, and helped rebuild schools in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Nepal. .

Connelly served in the Army National Guard and toured Afghanistan and Iraq before moving into education. He said his time in the military provided him with life lessons that encouraged entrepreneurship.

“During a fairly intense combat driving course, I was taught never to look directly at the obstacles I was trying to avoid,” he said. “Most often you’re heading towards where you’re looking, which means if you focus on the obstacle, you’re more likely to hit it. I think that applies to entrepreneurship in since the hardest thing to do is to avoid the traps. You must be aware of the dangers, but to succeed you cannot afford to be distracted or too focused on them. Choose your path, make a swerve when needed, but keep your eye on the goal.

Their business goals may have been slowed by the pandemic, but they feel like they’re getting back on track. Bacon, a former SCORE volunteer who earned his master’s degree in educational entrepreneurship, said everything they do is a constant learning experience and informs what they will do in the future.

Connelly is the “global” person, and Bacon focuses on marketing, sales, and customer service. Through trial and error, Bacon discovered that most advertisements reach too large an audience. Its marketing program now consists of attendance at educational conferences, cold outreach to schools in the nation’s largest metros, Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

And with a growing number of satisfied customers, word of mouth has had a substantial impact on growth. Since the majority of software purchasing decisions are made before school starts in the fall, this is a particularly busy time. Bacon spends much of most of his days demonstrating and promoting the benefits of Edficiency.

“Right now, more than ever, we want to grow and impact more schools and more children, but not be pushy at a time when schools have a lot to do (due to the pandemic),” said he declared. “We’re happy to know that we have a great product that gives schools the ability to do things they couldn’t otherwise.

Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and former district manager of SCORE, Wisconsin.

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