One of my New Year Resolutions is to be more consistent in writing blog posts on all the neat and useful tools the Dawgeared team comes across. As we have mentioned before, this is a great time to be an edtechie educator. The barrier to the use of new web tools and applications is minimal with the emphasis on simple and easy to use user interfaces and designs the norm. Check out this article for a more in depth look at the other trends in edtech applications.
One area that has been an exception to this has been in the realm of online gradebooks. There are several online gradebooks that allow teachers to enter, average and report students grade. However, for the most part, there has been a lack of focus on creating a space that is attractive, well designed and easy to use. When you are working on marking as much as we do, you want something you can spend a lot of time with, without going crazy or cross eyed.
Enter the next generation of gradebooks!
Last August, Learnboost opened their doors to educators promising a look and feel that was fresh and easy to use. Having used it since September, we have been very pleased with it as a tool to make our lives easier with some caveats.
First the positives. Signing up and starting out with Learnboost is a very simple process. Creating an account is easy and quick with very few steps to getting your class site up and running. What I really like is that all the actual setup of classes and grades is left to later instead of as part of the initial setup. Setting up the classes themselves is easy with the ability to quickly edit and set up terms, numbers of students and other elements. The design of the site is very pleasing to look at even after the 12th 🙂 hour of staring at it.
Entering marks and organizing the grade averages is simply an matter of going into the settings for each grade and choosing how you want it to be displayed as a final grade.
These are just a few of the benefits that make Learnboost easy and simple to use. You can integrate a Google calendar to help you keep all your important info in one place. You can also create your class schedule right in the application to again keep all your info in one place. The site allows you to attach learning objectives to each of the assignments however, as these are all based on American curriculum objectives, this part is not that helpful to Canadian users.
On the flip side, there are still a few things that could be put in place. It is still in the early stages so these things may still come and they are by no means major problems. First of all, there is no ability to weight individual assignments. You are able to weight categories of assignments, tests and projects but no way to weight the assignments within the category. This is something we would really like to see. The seating chart maker is nicely done but not particularly useful when you want something outside of rows. Also, at the elementary level, we don’t know how many people actually need a seating chart integrated into their gradebook program. Another area that would be useful is to have more ease in creating a new term. Right now, you have to set up each term for a subject separately and re-enter all your student information. What we would like to see is the ability to set up a new term for Social, for example, and have all the information from the last term be transferred automatically to the new term. We also don’t see much use for the attendance tracker with so many school districts going to centralized but this may be vision for Learnboost to be adopted on a more school district level at some point.
Overall, we love Learnboost. The ease of setup and use coupled with the beautifully designed user interface makes the process of grading and recording marks a little easier and less time consuming which just benefits everyone. We are very excited to see where Learnboost goes from here.
- Beautiful design
- Easy to use
- Easy setup
- Quickly access and record data and information
- Very responsive Learnboost team
- Integration of multiple calendars
- Lesson plan creator
To Work On:
- Better flow of information when creating new terms
- Weighting of individual assignments