India's HCL to build social network for US schools

The Indian outsourcer is building an online "hub" for American organization North Carolina New Schools, where educators and students can share content and discussions, and access tools and resources.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent

U.S. organization North Carolina New Schools and Indian outsourcer HCL are building a social network for teachers and administrators, that will serve as a common gathering place.

Students and teachers will be able to share resources online with the new online hub. (credit: NC New Schools)

In an interview with ZDNet, NC New Schools director of development April D. Anthony said the central "technology hub" will host content and discussions amongst users, while "spokes" will connect them to additional tools and links, such as Google Docs or Edutopia. NC New Schools is a public-private partnership that supports innovation in education.

The new system will go live on September 1, 2013, she said, replacing the six-year-old "commons" intranet, which has fallen out of favor with its 3,000 users.

Initially NC New Schools will target these users, and the teachers and administrators in the partner network of 110 North Carolina schools. However, it is open to all.

The technology hub is a key part of the organisation's Vision 2015, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to transform the talent schools and their districts and nurture talented teachers and administrators.  

"We did focus groups with teachers and principals who said there is a lot of information out there but they have trouble figuring out where to go. The hub would be a one-stop shop. They don't have to go to Facebook to connect," said Anthony.

The "hub-and-spoke" design is being built by the American arm of Indian outsourcing firm HCL.

Anthony said HCL, which established a services centre in Cary, North Carolina in 2008, donated the MEME software platform and Indian development work to the project.

The Noida-headquartered company uses MEME to engages about 75,000 employees through 2,057 groups, 175 pages and 71,568 posts. The groups have helped create business ideas worth over US$25 million, the company said.

NC New Schools's mission is to accelerate systemic, sustainable innovation in schools across the state, including the promotion of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.

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