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Teach For All Customer Story

Alfresco Makes Document Management and Collaboration Easy for Educational Leaders Around the World

Alfresco Makes Document Management and Collaboration Easy for Educational Leaders Around the World

Teach For All is a global education network dedicated to expanding educational opportunity around the world by increasing and accelerating the impact of social enterprises that are cultivating the leadership necessary for change. Teach For All was founded in 2007 through a collaboration of Teach For America and Teach First. Teach For America, has been in existence for over 25 years and is an educational non-profit in the United States. Teach First was founded in 2002 and is an education non-profit in the United Kingdom. Today, Teach For All includes over 30 organizations in its network around the globe.

Challenge

Teach For All is a global non-profit focused on helping other organizations around the world expand educational opportunity in their respective countries. The network was launched by the CEOs of Teach For America and Teach First in the UK, Wendy Kopp and Brett Wigdortz, whose organizations recruit and develop diverse outstanding graduates and professionals to make an enduring commitment to addressing educational inequity beginning with teaching in their nation’s high-need classrooms for at least two years.

Today, Teach For All is a network of organizations all around the globe.

“Social entrepreneurs in other countries liked our model and came to us wanting to create a similar organization in their respective countries,” said Andrew Ho, senior director of information technology at Teach For All. “Once they are established, we provide direct support, knowledge sharing, and peer-to-peer direct connections for cross-country collaboration.”

Teach For All provides partner organizations with expert advice on everything from how to recruit teachers and build a business plan to best practices on fundraising and building a successful alumni network. But as the organization continues to expand – growing from 11 organizations to more than 30 in just five years – much of this knowledge became challenging to keep track.

“Documents were being stored on personal hard drives or buried in strings of e-mails,” said Ho. “We started using Box.com, but in an ad hoc way. There was no organization or structure and no one could find anything. Others were using DropBox or saving things in Google Docs. It was a very cluttered environment.”

Solution

Teach For All needed to consolidate to a single platform that could serve as its centralized document management system, but needed to ensure that the system was user-friendly and could seamlessly integrate into Drupal, its existing web platform. “We needed something that would provide a lot of contextual information, was easy to use, and had a robust search functionality so that information was easy to find,” said Ho. “We also needed a platform that would scale with our growing network.”

As a non-profit with a very small IT team, cost and ease of use were key concerns. After evaluating several platforms including SharePoint, SiteCore and Jive, Teach For All chose Alfresco.

“Most platforms we looked at tended to have a per user licensing agreement, which is unsustainable for us given our plans for a rapidly growing user base, especially as a nonprofit,” Ho said. “We liked the open source aspect of Alfresco and its ability to be customized, but it was also extremely user-friendly and easy to use out of the box.”

Teach For All shares limited office space with other organizations, which meant they don’t possess server rooms, so a cloud-based solution was also a must.

“Our CRM and data management are all cloud-based and everything else is hosted on Amazon Web Services, which is where Alfresco is now,” said Ho. “While cost was definitely a factor, it had to be easy to use. AWS is something we are familiar with and is flexible and easy enough for our internal IT team to pick up quickly.”

Results

Today, just one month after launching Alfresco to its partner network, there are nearly 500 staff members using the platform. Each week, almost 25 new users are added and the organization expects to quickly grow to 750 users. Some 3,000 documents have been uploaded into the Alfresco platform with new documents continuously added each week.

“We have about 50 active users per day from all over the globe. Everywhere from Thailand to Bulgaria and Lebanon, Alfresco is being used to drive education reform,” said Ho.

Teach For All created a process and workflow for uploading documents into Alfresco. Documents are sent to centralized editors who then validate them to ensure they have been tagged correctly before being published. The 3,000 documents that were initially uploaded into the system also underwent a review and editing process prior to going live.

Teach For All has also dedicated two staff members to serve as “librarians” for content, responsible for all knowledge management and documents uploaded to the portal.

“They make sure things are kept clean, stored in the right place, and tagged correctly,” said Ho.

The next step will be incorporating event management into the platform, enabling contributors to manage the content presented at Teach For All-sponsored conferences, attendance, as well as more robust social collaboration such as gamification (e.g., receiving badges for different engagement activities). Teach For All also plans to incorporate video into Alfresco in the near future.

“We have professional videographers who travel around the world taking videos relevant to the organization,” said Ho. “We plan to incorporate these so that when people search a specific topic, they will have access to these, as well as the Word docs, PowerPoints and PDFs.”

Since launching the Alfresco platform, user response throughout Teach For All’s partner network has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’ve already gotten a lot of great feedback from our staff,” said Ho. “Alfresco makes it easy for our partners to find relevant knowledge products from across the globe, which makes us stronger as an organization.”

"Alfresco makes it easy for our partners to find relevant knowledge products from across the globe, which makes us stronger as an organization." 

— Andrew Ho, Senior Director of Information Technology