Sunday, August 31, 2014

FreshGrade: A Communication Link Between Teachers and Parents

By Sean Scarpiello

It is often easy to take on the mindset that more technology in schools will improve the quality of education. While this is true with the proper implementation of technology, it is more important that parents stay involved in the education of their children. Studies have consistently shown that students with parents and guardians who remain active in their education achieve more in school and later in life. By combining the effectiveness of parental involvement in education and the ease of technology, FreshGrade enables parents and teachers a clear line of communication to track the educational progress of students. FreshGrade helps parents learn more about their children’s education and allows teachers to communicate a highly detailed assessment of students that goes way beyond a traditional report card.

Teachers can easily sign up for a FreshGrade account at no cost to the school or their students. From here, teachers can update parents directly as learning goes on in the classroom. For instance, if a teacher notices a student struggling or excelling in an area, they can instantly send out an update to parents. FreshGrade has an easy-to-use format that includes a gradebook, calendar, and more. Plus, there are webinars and tutorials offered to teachers and parents if they run into any difficulty navigating FreshGrade. This technology is available for use on any computer, tablet, or smart phone through an app available for the Apple App Store and Google Play. There are applications available for teachers, parents and even students.

On the parent side of FreshGrade, there is 24/7 access to a comprehensive student portfolio which is updated by teachers in real time. Here, parents can learn what their children are learning about in school, along with their strengths and weaknesses. It also keeps parents updated on when projects and homework assignments are due. Parents are also able to have a conversation on FreshGrade that goes beyond the traditional parent-teacher conference. Here, parents can hear suggestions on how to improve and supplement their child’s education from their teacher. This can be in the form of direct messages from teachers, as well as pictures, audio-recordings, videos, and other documents sent privately from the teacher.

One added benefit is that students can also have access to this material. Much like having a report card updated daily, students can see where they are struggling. Plus, this also empowers students as it enables them to tell their teacher discreetly where they are having trouble. Teachers are then able to easily respond to students’ issues in the form of a video, audio, or other format. I think this would be particularly useful in a subject like math. If a student is having trouble with a certain type of math problem, they can contact their teacher right when they are facing this difficulty. Teachers can then reply with a video of how to complete this type of problem in more detail. This lets students receive an individualized approach to education and they can watch the video over and over until they gain an understanding of the material. Plus, students do not have to wait until their next class to try and grasp difficult concepts.

FreshGrade is such an amazing technology because it can connect students, teachers, and parents in such a clear and concise manner that is completely free for everyone involved in the process of education. For teachers, this is a particularly useful tool because it offers even more resources than a link of communication for parents. Overall, there is no reason why all grade school students should not have access to this technology, as it improves the quality of education through the creative application of technology.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a very good concept to introduce, something which more internally connected families have been practicing through the centuries: that parents stay involved in the education of their children, in many instances are very much on top of it, which is ideal.  However, that's something which the broad masses have not been doing, yet should.  But that is where the "lack of opportunity" starts, in circumstances like (a) where there are no parents or only one, and that one overworked and/or handicapped, (b) where the parents are not educated themselves, or (c) lack capability or interest of the parents of being involved, which could be because of drug use or the pursuit of totally different interests, or (d) other forms of disconnect to their children.  Unfortunately, THAT (a)(b)(c)(d) part of the population is rather large, and those kids who have the benefit of a well functioning and mutually interested family is relatively small.  Thus, "FreshGrade" is a good tool for the already privileged to function still better, which is all right, and in a competitive world certainly to be taken advantage of if you are in that category.

At the same time, however, IMHO much more could and should be done to create conditions for those growing up to have concerned parents or some form of substitutes to be involved and help them along in their education.  AND ways should be found and explored for growing up kids to find, choose and select intellectual sponsors and supporters on their own.  It so happens that I was a kid that grew up that way from age 16 on, that's when my father died in a concentration camp and I became the prime income earner for my mother with yet three younger siblings of mine.  In spite of all of this I did continue my education, paid for it myself (no other way at the time), and very much did reach out for the supervision and guidance by competent, friendly and supportive "somebody's."  Guess what, I didn't have to reach far to find a great wealth of understanding, guidance and support, at minimal, often at no cost:  Through books in libraries, including the America-House library of the American Embassy in Frankfurt/Germany at the time.  I easily found the authors (though maybe long dead) who wanted to speak to me, knew the problems which they had worked through at their time, and gave me good advice for right then and there, plus have served me well since.

Regarding the issue on hand, I think the world needs a FreshGrade also for all those NOT blessed with healthy and smart parents who have time for them.  And/or a way for these masses of youngsters to create and connect to their own guidance and monitoring "whatevers."  These could be humans, institutions, or just Google, maybe.  Again, via today's technology and the Internet that could be a cinch, i.e. as soon as someone will do something about it.  Maybe you could suggest this to your readers and someone will pick up the challenge.