Despite limited face-to- face interactions, customer feedback continues to drive product development, improvements and trouble- shooting with vendors

Written by Debbie Curtis T

he year 2020 will go down in history. From hurricanes to elections to rising COVID-19 deaths resulting in stay-at-home” orders, the numbers are all staggering. At the same time, school schedules shifted between virtual and in-person learning across the nation, in re- sponse to the pandemic. Travel restrictions were implemented, and those who were able to travel faced the possibility of a post-trip quarantine. But perhaps one silver lining is that 2020 also became the year of online learning. While there were initial obstacles to navigate, students, teach- ers and student transporters pulled their chairs up to their computers to “Zoom” in on classes. Software companies such as Edulog, Trans-

finder and Zonar have harnessed virtual meeting technology to keep their clients en- gaged and up-to-date on the latest trends that will ultimately help keep transportation depart- ments running as smoothly as possible during ever-changing situations. “The current situation has opened Edulog and our customers up to different experiences,” noted company consultant Derek Graham, a retired state director of transportation for North

18 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2021

Carolina, with a 30-year perspective on the industry. “One of the things I accomplished before I retired from my government job was to have Edulog available in every district across the state. Back in the day, software companies had to send people out to visit districts with uploads on floppy discs.” Today, Graham compared the benefits of in-person confer- ences with keeping in touch via online video platforms. While there is no doubt that attending an in-person conference is the best way to experience new products, share ideas and meet like-minded people in the industry, there are some positive as- pects to presenting information virtually. “Last spring, Edulog realized that transportation employees

may be at work but not necessarily have their regular job to do,” Graham pointed out. “The 2020 spring training conference

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