Identify an Emerged Technology

Identify a current technology that has emerged in the last few years that shapes learning or productivity in your industry.

My school system purchased an online grade book system three years ago.  This is a change to the grading system that was in place before.  Teachers did not report grades to parents or students in a mandatory fashion until mid-quarter progress reports and quarter grades.  Grades were stored in teachers’ personal grade book.  Now, the readily accessible online format allows for parents to view grades on the spot to correct low scores in their child’s performance.

What problems or challenges have been associated with this technology?

The initial transition was difficult.  Teachers were familiar with a previous system, and they had to receive training to use the grade book will the new features available to them.  Since the grade book is used online, not all teachers had access to the online format in their classroom due to a lack in Internet and computer access.  Teachers in most schools had to use their personal resources at home.  In the first two years, the teachers were only posting one grade to represent the students’ final grades.  This practice changed when the superintendent mandated its weekly use.  Another issue is that parents and students did not see the need to view student progress online.  The parent user rate was low because they lacked access to the Internet, did not want to learn a new technology, and they did not see a need when teachers were not posting timely information.

What societal need does it meet, and what are its benefits?

An online grade book allows for teachers to communicate students’ progress with parents to offer intervention programs so students do not fall behind.  The grade book offers statistical tools over the nonelectric grade book such as assignment average.  Information about school activities in a school bulletin are also “pushed” to parents who share their email address with the schools.  Likewise, teachers are able to take attendance, and the attendance information is sent to parents without relying on teachers to make phone calls on a regular basis.  School administrators can have a snapshot of the different activities taking place in the classroom based on assignment descriptions.  School counselors can easily prepare a master schedule using PowerScheduler.  An interesting new feature is the ability to view grades through a mobile device for parents and students, which should enable access to more people.

What would make this technology even better, avoiding the pitfalls you identified?

Teachers have access to a self-paced training program available online, but there is no designee trainer for the school.  New teachers receive training in a group setting on their first official day of work, which is separate from the others teachers who are already in the school.  Veteran teachers do not have access to a person for face-to-face consultation on the tool in every school.  These teachers have to rely on old notes and feedback from their peers rather than an expert designee assigned to the school.

PowerSchool, the online grade book system adopted by the school system, is found at http://www.pearsonschoolsystems.com/products/powerschool/

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6 thoughts on “Identify an Emerged Technology

  1. My district has used PowerSchool since 2004. This was a welcome change compared to the previous system that could only be used in your own classroom. I am lucky that every teacher has their own computer with wireless access.
    Only 25% or so of my parents view their child’s grades online. They can receive this by e-mail or view it directly, but many do not sign up for the service. We have promoted this feature every year through e-mail, parent nights, and newsletters, but still are not successful in having parents use it.

    • Hi Kellie,
      Thank you for your honest posting on this matter. I am in awe that your school system had PowerSchool in place for about a decade and only 1/4 of your parents make a concerted effort to use it. I hope my school system fares better than the situation you mentioned.

  2. Our school uses PowerTeacher as an electronic cumulative folder. We have access to all standardized test scores, attendance, and medical alerts. The grade book is built into the system and all grades throughout the year are recorded in this grade book. I still keep my records in a paper grade book, just as a way to find grades on the spot if the internet is not working. What I like the most about the electronic grade book is that parents can view grades anytime. As a parent, I love that I can look in my son’s grade book to see how he is progressing. On the teacher side, it shows every time a parent logs into the student’s grade book.
    Now that we are accustomed to PowerTeacher, they are changing our system to Enrich. Sometime this year we will fully transition. The difference between PowerTeacher and Enrich is that teachers will have access to each student’s IEP, instead of keeping up with a paper copy.
    What do you think about the program you are using? Do you think it’s beneficial?

    • Hi Amanda,

      I do think this onlne grade book is better than what we had before, which was a system where teachers had to enter grades via a floppy drive with no parental access to the information. I have never heard of Enrich. Other than having the ability to store IEP files on them, what other benefits are there of using Enrich over PowerSchool?

  3. I have never heard of the Powerschool, but the program we use sounds similar. It is called Infinite Campus and has features that I really like, including a class profile report that allows me to see how many A’s, B’s, C’s, and F’s I have at a glance. The program also has a free app that parents and students can add to their phone that alerts them each time a grade is entered. We can set the preference to show student photo and this is an amazing asset at the beginning of the year when we do not know our kids. Currently, we are working on a program that is geared toward personalized learning and the goal is for the Infinite Campus software to be tied to our learning system so that when the students is given a low grade, the lms will read the grade and assign recovery lessons and activities to that student. I will be interested to see how this part goes, since so many of my students do not get internet access. But I think this is a huge step for differentiation and can certainly try to support the program while the kids are at school and do have access.

    • Karen,
      This sounds like a great idea! I can imagine the students trying even harder to get that high grade to avoid the extra assignments to catch up on that grade. The credit recovery concept does look time consuming by the shear volume of preparation for every lesson to have a “make up” plan. Are the teachers receptive to this idea? If so, this might be an initiative I want my teachers to consider.

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