The Northwest Passage

The HMS Assistance

Why the Northwest Passage?”

First of all, our company was founded by a history teacher, so it stands to reason that he'd go find a historical metaphor for our work. Furthermore, a particular favorite is naval history.

Enter the Northwest Passage. A grueling, difficult, dangerous, and often impossible journey that claimed many ships, many lives, and a huge amount of funding and resources. Even today, with our more advanced naval technology, warmer temperatures and ships designed specifically for the passage, very few actually make it through.

The Metaphor:

- The crews are the teachers, the educators, the software developers, the students, and the parents. We are all in this together.

- The ships are our technology: computer software, hardware, peripherals, white boards, everything down to the pencils and paper we use in class.

Our target, since we know that the crews are made of some of the best people in the world, is to make the “ships” just that much better. Back in the 1800s, when a ship was outfitted to make the attempt, it was heavily modified. Decks would be doubled, framing reinforced, extra supplies filling the holds in huge quantities, and hulls covered in sheet metal armor to protect against the dangerous and unpredictable ice. We feel like that's how educational technology has worked so far – a database model designed for other types of business, interfaces designed by outsiders, have educational skins and reinforcements attached. It wasn't until ships were specifically designed for the passage that the voyage became more likely and reliable, rather than a shot in the dark.

This is not to say by any means that nobody has made “the passage” yet in education. We definitely have some immensely successful teachers and schools, just like some of those wooden, wind-powered ships made the passage to the other side. The reality is, though, that we should not have to fight our technology to get our jobs done. The technology should be working for us in every way, from database engines to the application layer where you're interacting with the interface. Additionally, with the input of those who have had to use inferior programs and technology, we can build upon and avoid the mistakes of those before us.

Better ships help captains get their crews to the other side. Better technology allows you to focus on your job, and therefore do better at it. Join with Far North to help make education a better place for all of us.

HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery