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/