Online Reporting to Parents using Google Docs: A Proposal Update

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  • Karen Riding

    Brill thanks

    How is your project coming on? I am considering using Google docs/SIMS and real smart cloud

    K

  • Anonymous

    Hi Karen – not aware of any change but can find out for you and will let you
    know.

  • Karen Riding

    Hi Tom
    I have been told that online reporting is no longer statutory just recommended, do you know whether this is true?

  • tomgbarrett

    Good to hear from you Kevin and thanks for the comment – I am still
    preparing to roll out the work with parents and will keep you posted with
    how things go via posts here. In terms of security it has never been a
    problem, with Postini email security enabled for GMail for Apps it is a
    pretty tight ship. There is a range of admin options that allow different
    controls over communicating in and out of the domain. I have been using it
    for 3 years and I am very confident about the security.

  • tomgbarrett

    Good to hear from you Kevin and thanks for the comment – I am still
    preparing to roll out the work with parents and will keep you posted with
    how things go via posts here. In terms of security it has never been a
    problem, with Postini email security enabled for GMail for Apps it is a
    pretty tight ship. There is a range of admin options that allow different
    controls over communicating in and out of the domain. I have been using it
    for 3 years and I am very confident about the security.

  • http://kevinmace.net/ kevin mace

    I am the technology Integration Specialist at a school here in America and one thing I have been able to do is get the teachers using Google Apps. We communicate through Gmail and Chat and teachers are making Google Docs left and right. I haven't pushed them to use it with their students yet, but that's the next step. But I wanted to ask you about security? I remember this blog post and was wondering how it is going with parent communication and security. Keep up the good work!

  • http://tbarrett.edublogs.org/ tbarrett

    Hi Ray – thanks for taking the time to comment. I can see the distinction you are making between the two types of information relayed to a parent. It wasn’t my intention to make a simple system sound complex. We currently write written reports, this online version is covering our statutory obligation to report to parents, so it is still a report in many people’s eyes. Not necessarily mine though.

    If you look at some of the examples I have posted you will see that I fully recognise that making it available online provides a teacher with greater scope to share work – that is why I titled the examples on Google Docs “Portfolio” and not “report”.

    I don’t think I have “clouded” this process at all – Google Docs is a tool that is currently in place for all our students as part of Ed Apps, and so is an ideal platform to share a portfolio with parents and pupils. A simple solution for us. Even so, the desire to share children’s successes and progress in learning in a better way was the starting point – not the tool.

  • http://www.efoliointheuk.blogspot.com Ray Tolley

    Tom, much against my nature, I held back from responding, assuming that other more-authoritative folk would chip in. I think that your repeated use of the term ‘report’ tends to reinforce the traditional concept of a written report – with all the implications of careful language, grammar, spellings etc along with all the usual hazards of making sure that the teacher really is writing about the correct child etc.

    I don’t see ‘on-line reporting’ as anything of this nature. If my car engine were to overheat I am sure that I would get a red light flashing or a simple message to check or drive more carefully. On an F1 race-track a black flag would tell me to pull off into the pit-lane. This is how I see on-line reporting – a flagging device that shows some sort of concern or commendation – without a long detailed explanation.

    The practicality of this is relatively simple and need cause teachers no keyboard induced RSI. Teachers are well used to entering marks and even short comments which are stored in real-time on the school’s MIS. These grades can be aggregated and displayed graphically in a simple and easy to understand way. Some assessment tools, like SmatAssess do just this. These on-going results are then displayed whenever the child’s parent/carer accesses this through their Remote Access facility. Any obvious causes for concern are made obvious and indicate that parents should ‘pull over into the pit lane’.

    The above simple system is in contrast to another area that you refer to and is best accommodated through an easy to use e-Portfolio system. When displaying artefacts, possibly with the invitation for comment, the e-Portfolio is the best tool to manage the formative feedback and even repeated ‘conversations’ without the need to clutter up the MIS. This is where the progress in, say, handwriting or practical activity can be documented so much more naturally and, even, across different schools.

    I fear that your starting point with Google Docs has possibly clouded what, in my mind, can be a very simple solution for teachers and parents alike.

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  • http://www.hccweb2.org/mrsking Angie King

    Hi Tom, thank you for putting your ideas out there. I follow your thoughts here with great interest. I have been attempting to open parent-teacher communication with my Year 2 parents and have created a Moodle site in an attempt to showcase what happens during our day and begin some online dialogue. Here in NSW Australia, we currently report using the 6 areas of learning. The work load to do this would be considerable and becomes a whole other topic. Our school tends to thoroughly comment on English and Maths areas then be more topic orientated in the other Key Learning Areas that do tend to overlap at times. I think student reflection is vital but does it have to be for every subject. As this is ongoing, could it not be more I am confident in ….. I still need a little help with my …. and I would like to learn how to…… which would then generate a focus for the child for the next week, month? Just a thought.

  • http://tbarrett.edublogs.org/ tbarrett

    Hi David thanks for the comment – the ePearl system looks interesting, thankyou for bringing that up. I thin kit is vital that these new opportunities generate new ways of working. Taking what we know is important and crucial in the realm of reporting to parents and making the most of the potential that is newly available.

    IWB could do lots of old things in new ways but it was always the transformed learning experience that was important to me. For example not just doing handwriting on the IWB like any old blackboard or whiteboard – but transforming it through the use of notebook recording software and video playback of writing demonstrations.

    Much the same is needed here, something new. But we still have to ensure it is practical and manageable from the parents point of view. It has to build upon what we know is good not just completely reinvent. There has to be a fine balance and I hope over the summer I will be able to find it.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on the overall structure of the report and what you would consider to work well in this way.

  • http://tbarrett.edublogs.org/ tbarrett

    Yes the Safe Harbour agreement is an important piece of legislation and strangely missing from BECTA guidance which gives an incomplete perspective on using these tools.

    I am pleased you consider this post important and would appreciate your thoughts on the style and structure of the report itself.

    Thanks for the comment.

  • http://tbarrett.edublogs.org/ tbarrett

    Thanks Jenny, I think the informal, regular feedback will be beneficial to all involved. It is not always possible to speak with parents all of the time and I hope this approach will help with that. Lots of people have said they have concerns about workload – but we will have to see about that.

  • http://edubuzz.org/blogs/david David Gilmour

    Tom,

    Thanks for digging into the “safe harbour” topic. I’ve been trampling about in that area, and what you’ve learned is helpful to me.

    You’re right to be wary of computerising the existing batch reports system. New technologies, if we’re not careful, are too often used simply to do the same things, but we need to think what new possibilities they enable.

    I agree with your use of the term portfolio, and am struck by the way your re-thinking of reporting is starting to look very like ePearl, a system I learned about from Dan Isele when he visited earlier in the year, and which we’re planning to try out. As you’ll see from the site, ePearl starts not from a technical approach, say by aiming to build a VLE, but from what we know is pedagogically effective, and uses tech to support those effective activities. These include goal-setting, peer feedback and parental involvement, for example.

  • http://dougbelshaw.com/blog Doug Belshaw

    Tom, this is an extremely important post and one that I’ll be sharing with lots of people! Your exploration of using Google Docs/Apps for a new version of reporting to parents is fantastic.

    I really am rather buoyed by the ‘Safe Harbour’ information you’ve discovered and now my mind’s buzzing with ideas.

    Thanks Tom! :-)

  • Jenny Ellwood

    Tom – a really useful article! Great piece of research on the whys & wherefores behind online reporting. I would agree with your comments re. reporting; formal feed back to parents half way or near the end of the year is not what’s needed- an informal more or less continuous approach is so more appropriate. I look forward to hearing about the next stage!