How to Deal with the Technical Challenges That Face a Modern School or College

Today’s schools and colleges face a wide range of technical challenges that did not exist a decade or two ago. As more technologies are developed and go mainstream, these challenges will continue to increase. However, if you take certain steps and precautions, you can use the latest technologies to their full potential and use them positively in your school or college. Below are some of the ways you can achieve this goal for your school or college.

 

Training and Education
As technology has advanced and becomes more important in the education system, it’s essential to have staff members who understand these technologies. A wide range of systems is required in a modern school or college, including learning management systems, financial management systems, school and college management systems, and complex technical equipment.

These systems and equipment need to be installed and maintained on a regular basis, so it’s important to hire people who are qualified to work on these systems and equipment. If you already have people doing this work or you want an employee or employees to improve their technical skills, it’s worth your while sending these individuals on a software development masters degree program offered by a university like Maryville University.

The skills they develop and improve while they are on a course like an online MSSD degree will benefit your school or college in many ways and you will have employees who are able to cope with a wide range of technical issues that affect today’s schools and colleges.

 

Bring in the Experts
Online bullying, promoting your school or college properly online, and other important online issues need to be addressed by the person or people running a school. Unfortunately, many senior staff members in schools and colleges may not be aware of these issues and how to deal with them. If this is the case, you may need to hire a person or people who can consult with you and identify the threats and the opportunities that the internet and the latest technologies present.

 

Introduce Rules and Regulations
Schools and colleges have always had their own codes of conduct. However, in recent years, it’s become a necessity to introduce even more rules and regulations that govern the way technology is used in a school or college. The use of smartphones and social media has changed the way students interact with each other. A school or college now needs to find ways to control how these technologies are used during school hours.
Budgeting

As more educational technologies are developed, more money and resources are required to purchase and maintain these systems. These are added costs that today’s school or college administrators have to include in their budgets when they sit down to decide how much money they have to spend during the academic year.

The latest technologies are changing most areas of our lives and the education system is one of the areas that are most affected by these developments. If you are running a school or college, you need to know how to deal with the technical challenges you are facing.

3 Education Technology Products Built in Developing Nations

Ensuring access to education technology despite economic constraints.

 

We have ​previously discussed​ how education technology is a vital ingredient when it comes to greater inclusion, especially for those from marginalised groups. The same principle holds true no matter what the scale. Whether it is your classroom or a nation on the verge of becoming a world player to be reckoned with technology is a resource that cannot be ignored.

 

But most educational technology is developed in the western world, where access to high speed internet, a constant supply of electricity, and other infrastructural support is presumed to exist in plenty. Anyone who has stepped outside their first world bubble will realise this is not the case in most developing nations. This is not to say that non-western countries are not technologically savvy or economically capable – the thriving economies of some African, Middle Eastern and Asian nations have been the subject of much analysis. The issue here often has to do with the comprehensive availability of infrastructural support across a nation and its people’s socio-economic classes and the consistency of its quality.

 

It is obvious, then, that educational technology built in the nations that they are made to support are the perfect fit for its people. These products are most likely to keep in mind the location specific constraints other products might not address, making them more useful to those who need them the most – their users.

 

BRCK

 

The biggest blocker for product developers in most developing nations, even those that are economically robust, are having to deal with a much larger set of unknowns than their counterparts in more developed nations. BRCK is a portable connectivity device that helps users cope with unreliable internet and electricity connectivity issues. These two are non-negotiable requirements for most technology products, even if it is something as simple as video conferencing in a social studies professor to teach school children in Ghana about the world around them.

 

Developed in Nairobi, this product has now multiple copy cats which only speaks to the very real need that existed in the market for such a device.

 

MobiStation

 

Developed in Uganda, MobiStation is billed as a classroom in a suitcase. Powered entirely by solar electricity, MobiStation enables teachers to use it in a variety of ways. It’s in built projector and audio system can be used to play educational videos, project classroom notes, or video conference with students across the world to help build bridges amongst the youth of the nation. MobiStation also has a rich library of offline content to supplement the school curriculum and teaching material being used in the classroom, that does not require internet connectivity to be used. Features like a touchpad and stylus allow students to have a more tactile learning experience resulting in higher engagement.

 

Ustad Literacy

 

Product developers in Afghanistan noticed that a lot of existing education technology on the market was relying on ubiquitous access to tablets, laptops, or high end smartphones. While access to mobile devices is expanding at breakneck speeds in developing nations, it is foolhardy to build for a more westernised future when the present need in developing nations is critical.

 

In order to improve literacy amongst students, developers at one of Afghanistan’s few technology firms, developed Ustad Literacy on existing eXe open source software, to allow people with low-end brick phones to be able to have access to learning tools on their devices. This non-dependence on electricity, internet connectivity, and even cellular connectivity, allows the poorest of students in the most remote areas of the world achieve literacy outcomes that keep them on par with their more privileged counterparts.
 
Our intent with our Learning management sytem – Uzity too is to make learning easier for everyone.

education technology tools blog

Four Unexpected Education Technology Tools That Will Transform Your Classroom

These education technology tools were under your nose all along
 
 
Education technology is growing by leaps and bounds, supported by an immense amount of credible research and backed by robust engineering. We’ve spoken on this blog before about how education technology tools and platforms are not just for the elite, but that the simplest of tools can help marginalized students learn better. But as any teacher in an underfunded school knows, making the case to purchase the latest piece of technology on the market can be an uphill battle. Assessing the needs of your classroom, comparison shopping for the most cost effective option, ensuring that it will be useful over the long-term are all just the first few steps to convincing school administrators to make a purchase you just know will empower your students. It is often a long drawn out and exhausting process. So here are a few existing tools that are not necessarily built for the classroom, but are as effective as that best-in-class dream tool you have been eyeing for months now.
 
 

Education Technology Tools

 
 
Google Docs
 
Working with Google Docs for a group project is one of the most fulfilling experience your very particular students are going to thank you for. Its auto-save option is perfect for the absent-minded kids, while it’s multiple person edit feature allows for seamless real-time collaboration. The best part is that it’s continual archiving enables you to see who really contributed what in that report you assigned – enabling you to better help students who might be flying under the radar and lagging a little behind their peers. These features can be found across most Google Apps features – from Slides for presentations to Sheets for some organization or analytical assignments.
 
 
Duolingo
 
Struggling to get your students to pay attention to their language lessons out of the classroom? What better way than to gamify it. Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps out there, and there is nothing stopping it from being a fun five-minute game your students play on the bus on their way to school. While it certainly is not a replacement for in-classroom instruction, it makes for a handy supplementary tool perfect for practice – one of the most vital elements to perfect learning a new language. This is by far one of the most under-rated education technology tool in the market.
 
 
Prezi
 
A big part of learning is communicating the information absorbed to an audience. Even the most enthusiastic listeners can be distracted when confronted with a dull and static powerpoint presentation straight out of the 90s. As a savvy teacher, you know that communication and presentation skills will stand them in good stead for their college career and their professional lives after. So why not give them a head start? Prezi is a presentation tool that allows students to easily create highly dynamic and engaging presentations. Using this educational technology tool will not only encourage your students to think about how to best communicate their ideas but also about how to use good design to their advantage.
 
 

StayFocused

 
Let’s be honest with ourselves – the best education technology tools stand defeated in the face of the multitude of distractions our students have to cope with. Whether it is a notification about their favorite singer tweeting or the latest meme going viral or a fight brewing on the group chat, work and pleasure are intermixed in our increasingly connected world. Tools like StayFocused enable students to be online but still stay productive by blocking certain distractions for pre-determined periods of time. Deploying tools that help you focus early can only train young brains to remain on task more easily.
 
Let us know what are the other education technology tools you like to use!

Sampoorna school management system blog image

Project Sampoorna – The School Management System Every Indian Student Deserves

Proven results in scale and effectiveness for our nation

 
Sampoorna school management system blog image
 
In 2011, the Government of Kerala took on the ambitious challenge of better serving its students by more efficiently managing their school record details. The end-goal was to make previously tiresome processes more hassle-free for all administrators, from the Headmaster at the very top of the institution management to the classroom level teachers interacting directly with students.
 
From this vision was born Project Sampoorna, a school management system that would track the details of every student in order to enable institutions to better empower them. Sampoorna was built on Fedena’s open source database and server software and was launched under the aegis of the IT@School Project in Kerala, whose aim was to leverage technology to bring about school level transformations. The numbers involved in this project only speak to its ambitiousness – over 300, 000 teachers benefited in Kerala had the opportunity to use this system to better track and manage their students’ schooling. 70 lakh student records in 15, 000 schools across the State were tracked using the Sampoorna system.
 
But why was this project so important to begin with? While the processes of yore might have seemed cumbersome, they certainly were not entirely dysfunctional. Things had been carrying on without too many major mishaps. Was this yet another effort to fix something that was not entirely broken?
 
Sampoorna in the media
 
Let’s start with a deeper than surface level look at a phenomenon most people are familiar with – the skyrocketing of school fees. This is not only a subject of popular debate at dinner table conversations, or an electoral promise made by anyone running for office, but a a primary factor in people’s individual economic decision making. The refrain from a disgruntled parent about how much he/she is spending on school for his child whose marks are not quite up to par is practically a trope now. Educational loans are one of the most utilised types of funding banks offer. Every parent aspires for their child to join a brand name school, get into a brand name college, and secure a brand name job. So it makes sense why school fees are rising and will continue to do so. There are a multitude of factors that influence this trajectory. In addition to the usual suspects – such as rising cost of living, the demand for more specialised competencies from our teachers, and the increased competitiveness students are facing with each passing day – there is a hidden cost that is not often factored into increased school fees.
 
School administration fees are often overlooked when considering why school fees are so high nowadays. In addition to property costs, schools are dealing with a greater number of administrative processes, from issuance of certificates to catering to the real-time information demands of increasingly involved parents. The sheer scale of these processes is hard to keep pace with, especially without the help of technological support. Anything that helps mitigate this cost is a win for everyone – from institutions who seem to be perennially struggling with budgetary budgetary concerns to parents who are making heartbreaking compromises for their child’s educational future.
 
This is where ambitious initiatives like Project Sampoorna come in. The robust engineering upon which the platform is built and its comprehensive technical capabilities allow schools to focus on their primary goals of educating India’s future thinkers.
 
What started off as a 100 day pilot programme in 2011 was found to be so effective, leaders in the Government of Kerala have now mandated the compulsory use of the Sampoorna school management software across the entire State going forward in 2017.
 
Educational technology initiatives are rarely this successful, especially when one factors in the massive requirement in terms of scale. Especially of note here is that this has been accomplished not by a private entity with billions of dollars of investment, but by the Government of Kerala, ensuring its democratic implementation. This is not an elitist program accessible to only a few financially blessed institutions and their equally privileged wards. Students from all walks of life in Kerala have benefited from this project and will continue to do so.
 
A second point of commendation is that Project Sampoorna has led to stellar financial outcomes – data shows that over $10 million dollars a year has been saved every thanks to the cost-cutting in labour and resources that the platform has allowed. Every dollar earned through this type of frugality at scale is a dollar that can be put towards resources that directly improve student learning and thus, student outcomes.
 
So what are the administrative functions that the State of Kerala has saved on in the last few years?
 
The processes the system can manage are comprehensive. Administrators can use the Sampoorna school management system to streamline previously burdensome processes like preparation of Transfer Certificates, copying of Admission Register, generation of a variety of student reports, generation of lists for numerous scholarships, preparation of SSLC examination database, preparation of student progress report, student class promotion lists and even entry forms for sporting and cultural events. Students and parents can keep a better track of their progress in school through the easily generated reports for parents, teachers and non-teaching staff who support student activity The system has become a necessary facet of everyday school functioning – teachers utilise the time table management feature that has been integrated into the software.
 
Sampoorna Fedena The hindu
 
And what can we look forward to from Sampoorna in 2017 and beyond?
 
Now that some existing processes have been tested in the system, the possibilities are endless. The potential of the system must be utilised at its fullest in order to ensure complete effectiveness. Whether it is ensuring its existing features to better track government spending at individual schools, or expanding the scope of the system to track more than student details, the sky’s the limit.
 
In a country like India, where various out of school factors like number of siblings, gender of the student, parent’s income, parent’s education, distance to school, nutrition(body mass index) etc. play a critical role than the quality of schools and teachers, Sampoorna has the capability to track student data that directly affects our ability to understand issues that truly affect educational outcomes for students. This data collection is the first step to implementing highly effective and personalised students. Sampoorna is also ready to manage the implementation of these students. For instance, tracking the implementation of a government scheme like the Mid-day Meal program utilises features that already exist in Sampoorna and have a proven track record of success.
 
Research shows us that education is one of the key factors in social mobility – a marker of success, especially in a country as diverse as India. For most people, education is their one route to improving their social conditions, especially for those struggling with abject poverty. Detractors might argue that spending on educational technology when students go hungry is a frivolous and foolhardy act. This is an outmoded way of thinking. Education technology helps effect real change that can transform people’s lives. It is not just a student that benefits, but their entire family, and consequently their communities. Investing in educational technology initiatives like the Government of Kerala has can make or break this country’s future.
 
Sampoorna’s robust technical capabilities and cost effectiveness at scale make it a highly reliable educational partner, especially for Governments that already have the reach that private entities struggle to match. Its success is not just limited to the State of Kerala, and visionary leaders from across the country must recognise that there is no reason to not expand it to the rest of India. This future ready platform is what students from across our country deserve.

student management system report card format blog image

Are Your School Report Cards Communicating To Parents Or Confusing Parents?

The Changing Role Of Schools In Society
 student management system blog image
 
A few decades ago, schools could be defined as fundamental centres for imparting knowledge and formation of the citizen according to the constitution. However, with changing economies, shrinking families and increasing pressure of children the role of the school in society is fast changing.
 
The role of the school has evolved to not only be places that transmit information but to encourage critical thinking, creativity and foster healthy social relationships. The schools of today are places of research, cultivating among its students positive attitudes of enquiry and a desire for lifelong learning.
 
Understanding The Purpose Of The Report Card
 
While the role of the school has evolved, the humble report card has continued to remain a paper that simply grades the students on their scholastic achievements.
For schools, the report card is an essential administrative tool that serves as a record holder of the students’ academic progress. But for parents, the report card is the most common and formal form of parent – teacher communication and hence needs to be in a format that is clear, easy to understand and universally acceptable. It is vital that the report card of schools be meaningful for parents as accurate evaluation and communication of the students’ progress in school is crucial to the students learning.
 
Communication Or Confusion?
 
Despite the fact that all schools have the same goal of facilitating learning, different schools have adopted different designs for their report cards. While local schools offer simple formats that include a brief summary of students’ performance in school, the international schools offer more detailed reports with in-depth narratives of student performance, analysis of strengths and weakness, records of awards together with testimonials from teachers. Some schools also provide attendance records, behavioral records and other non-academic information in their format.
 
However, with so many schools, often within the same education board, and school district offering differing report card formats, evaluating a report card can be quite confusing for parents. While on one hand, some report cards are overwhelming with their pages of information, on the other hand, the lack of data in the more simple report cards can leave the parents longing for more information about their child in schools. For parents, whose children are migrating to a new school, the lack of standardization, and disparities in the system are creating further confusion.
 
With so many report card formats floating around, how do parents then compare the performance of their students to the norm? How do migrating parents deal with the confusion? How do school accepting migrating students compare and analyse their performance?
 
Is a society, where kids are often judged by their report cards, differing formats and evaluation methods can be confusing and often hampering to the student academic progress as well as self-confidence.
 
Is Standardization Of Report Cards The Solution?
 
Earlier this year, the Indian CBSE board released common templates for report cards to be issued by all CBSE schools. The aim of this move was to standardize evaluation of students across schools.
 
According to the new format, the report cards for classes VI to VIII will be identical with rows which specify the terms, periodic, notebook, subject enrichment and half yearly/ yearly marks scored in each subject and the corresponding grades. It will also have co-scholastic assessment where students will be graded on a 3-point scale
 
This marks only the first step towards standardization of report cards, ensuring transparency about strengths and opportunities, and establishing a common platform that evaluates all students equally.
 
As schools preparing our kids for the future, our reports cards to need to be equipped for the future. As an educational institution, are your report cards a comprehensive guide for the parents or a confusing sheet of paper? What progressive changes would you like to see in your school’s report card?
 
Do email your report card to us at support@fedena.com and let’s discuss ways to create standardized reports cards that will help parents and students get a complete understanding of the learning of a student.
 
Are you a parent struggling to understand your child’s report card? Do share your experiences with us.

Fedena Report card #ultimatereportcard

A Report Card Built For Parents

Better design can result in more comprehensive report cards

 
 
#ultimatereportcard
 
For your average parent, the report card is the first and oftentimes only reference we have to assess how our child is doing in school. It is a tangible piece of evidence that becomes a signpost in their educational journey.
 
When stripped down to their essence, most report cards contain the same basic elements of information:
 
1. Subjects the student is studying
 
2. Scores or grades received this semester in the last examination held for these subjects
 
Beyond this report cards can also contain the following elements, amongst others, whose aim is to give a more comprehensive picture of a student’s progress in the classroom:
 
1. Comments from the teacher explaining the student’s performance with more nuance or context
 
2. Scoring or grading of skills outside of the student’s knowledge of the subject at hand (punctuality, discipline, etc.)
 
3. Percentile scores, to give parents an idea of how our child is doing compared to their peers
 
Most parents are worried about two things – that our child do well, and that they do well relative to their peers. Striking a delicate balance between the providing information that immediately tells us how our child is performing, while also ensuring that the optional information provided only adds to this knowledge is an art.
 
Report cards tend to err in both directions. They either report too much, muddying the waters and confusing us parents on the course of action they need to take with regards to our child’s schooling. Or they don’t tell us enough, with stark scores that don’t really provide enough context to situation a student’s performance in school. A given score may look exceptionally low until context is provided that helps us parents understand that our child is in the 99th percentile of the class, and the score is low due to the nature of the subject, or harsher grading.
 
What’s missing here is a standardised understanding of what a good report card looks like. The variance in design and information means that there is no defined standard across schools and education boards that us parents can compare with. It also means that we, as parents, might be missing out on information or suffering from information overload due to bad design without even realising it.
 
A simple example of this is scores versus grades. Over time, in India, we have seen shifts in favour of each style of assessment. Indians seem to like scores in their report card as it gives them a concrete, quantitative idea of how our child is doing in class. Over time, however, many institutions moved towards a letter grade, as it helps categorise students in a band, giving a better idea of their performance relative to their peers. In India, where the pressure to perform in school can reach dangerous heights, it was thought a letter grade would also prove to be less embarrassing and stressful for students. While the alleged futility or success of such an exercise is the subject matter of another blog, this variation has caused immense confusion for parents. While they might have a reference key that explains these grades relative to that of our child’s peers, when it comes to assessing their performance vis a vis that of students in another school, or across the city, or under a certain educational board, the system falls apart. Scores fare slightly better in being more easily comparable, but aren’t foolproof – different education boards and schools score with varying degrees of rigour, which puts us parents back at square one.
 
The only way we can ensure that we parents get the most out of the report card is by pooling together our collective knowledge. Over the years, every report card we have seen has either added or taken away our understanding of how our child is doing in class. Why not share the possibilities of how a report card could look, and then pick and choose the most informative and useful elements to build a report card to beat all other report cards once and for all?
 
Crop or anonymise any personal information and share your report cards at the link below/in the comments/on social media pages using the hashtag
​#​UltimateReportCard. The time has come to build the mother of all report cards, and this time it will be designed by those who rely on it the most – you and I, the parents.

Fedena edtech humanities

The Role of Education Technology in the Humanities

How the state of the arts can be improved with education technology
 Fedena humanities education technology image

 

Education technology products proliferate the market today, but most of them are focused on learning in the areas of science, technology or maths. The humanities are often sold as subjects that require memorisation of vast quantities of boring information or something people instinctively just “get” due to having early access to cultural capital in their lives. The state of humanities education in India is abysmal to begin with and stereotypes like this do not help the cause. An increase in appreciation for the arts cannot be accomplished without a parallel increase in accessibility to avenues that will help us understand them. Currently, this happens in silos that merely seem to cater to populations that already have a stake in the game or are proactive enough to seek them out. It is completely inaccessible to large swathes of the population who are not even cognizant of its existence.
 
This is not to say there are no tools for people seeking to improve their reading comprehension or writing skills. Websites like Free Rice have gamified vocabulary building, and are fairly addictive to boot. 700 words encourages consistency in writing everyday – a key to becoming a proficient writer. But educational technology products, platforms or tools seem to reflect the interests of their creators, and are largely focused on STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. So what is an aspiring writer or budding historian supposed to do? While we wait for this field to catch up, here are Fedena’s top three tools that will engage arts-inclined students in our educational institutions, from kindergartners to those completing their PhDs:
 
Grammar Gorillas
 
Chuck your Wren & Martin – education technology tools like Grammar Gorillas have gamified something as boring as learning grammar. Its fun and interactive nature makes learning grammar with its intricate rules easy and interesting. Students keep coming back for more which guarantees that good grammar will stick, thanks to all the practice. While this helpful tool is geared towards younger students, a strong foundation in English grammar will stand them in good stead for the rest of their educational and professional lives.
 
Essay Punch
 
Remember those 15 mark essays from school? Most students assume that a 10 out of 15 is the maximum score they could potentially get. But why not aim higher? While essay writing might seem like an archaic skill to develop in this day and age of WhatsApp and instant messenger,being able to articulately and convincingly put across your point, no matter what the medium, is a skill everyone can stand to develop. Essay Punch essentially breaks down how to do this. From encouraging students to think of their essay’s thesis in order to ensure the final point of the essay is crystal clear, to providing guidelines at every stage of the essay writing process, Essay Punch is an education technology boon that even former students can benefit from.
 
Smithsonian’s Picturing the 1930s
 
The historical Smithsonian Museum’s Picturing the 1930s is a great example of how existing institutions can use education technology to reach wider audiences. The website allows students to explore 1930s America and interact with elements of existing exhibits to learn more comprehensively about this defining era. What’s unique about this platform is that information sharing is not a one way street – students interact with primary historical resources to get a sense of what it was like to live in those times. History coming alive has never been more within the reach of everyone – especially for those who might not be able to travel to or visit museums like the Smithsonian.

Fedena engage blog

4 ways to use classroom technology to engage students

Classroom technology might be the solution to this age old issue
 Fedena engage blog image

 
Ask any teacher, and they’ll tell you that a balmy Friday afternoon class, right after lunch break, is not exactly conducive to teaching the nitty gritty of how sound travels – even to the most eager future-physicist. Getting students to pay attention in class can feel like an uphill battle. This is not a new problem teachers are struggling with either. In the past, it has lead to the birth of some classic classroom practices – from field trips that provide context to that otherwise boring history lesson to reward systems that rely on gold stars and special privileges to motivate more competitive students to learn.
 
Student engagement is also what sets good teachers apart from the best – one my favourite teachers when I was in school was my biology teacher who, despite his sonorous voice, managed to keep us all on our toes by catching us unawares with his silly personifications of parts of the human body. These days, however, teachers do not necessarily need to be trained in the theatrical arts to engage their students. We can now rely on classroom technology to capture their imaginations, and thus attention. Technology enables us to do this at scale while still remaining cost conscious. This is especially effective with a generation that has grown up with technology from the womb. To them, it feels intuitive – the learning curve for new technologies is not as steep as it would be for older generations and it is, frankly, more stimulating than your classic textbook oriented teaching methodologies.
 
Here are four ways you can use existing classroom technology to re-energize your students into loving what they are learning:
 
Increasing in-class engagement
 
One of the most powerful moments during teaching is the first time a student hears about a new concept. For most, this happens in the classroom – when we teachers introduce a new idea to the student for the very first time. This can often feel like a one-way process, which is not conducive to high levels of engagement. Using in-class classroom technology tools like polls, shared boards on which students can write, etc. engages students more meaningfully, ensuring that they are paying attention, and learning the material well.
 
Enabling peer learning
 
Studies have shown that students’ grades are positively influenced when they learn from their peers.Teachers have long relied on teaching methodologies like group projects and student-led group discussions to capitalise on this, but with modern classroom technology the barriers to these methods are only decreasing. Students no longer need to be limited by time and geography in their learning. Platforms like Fedena allow students from across the world to form study groups centered around a subject or interest.
 
Creating a continual feedback channel
 
Students are often blind to how well they are doing in a class, until exam time rolls around. This can be detrimental to a student’s progress since they have no way of assessing how well they are grasping the material. Classroom technology, like Fedena, enables teachers to give continual, one-on-one feedback helps students understand exactly where they are excelling and where they should channel their energies to do better.
 
Personalising learning
 
Studies increasingly show that personalising learning results in better student outcomes and is the way of the future.Detractors may questions the practicality of hyper-personalisation but classroom technology allows us to engage with students at a granular level. From giving one-on-one feedback on homework assignments, to being easily be able to assign coursework that the student learns at their own pace, to even being able to assist the student in real time through personalised messaging and video-calling, classroom technology is rapidly becoming the backbone of good teaching.

questions to ask yourself before buying ERP fedena blog

6 questions to ask before investing in education technology

Not all education technology is created for you
 
A couple of weeks ago we spoke about the six cool educational technology gizmos we really, really want to get our hands on.Now every person needs their cool toys, but education technology products are not the latest hoverboard or drone camera for adults to geek out over. They need to actually serve a purpose and address a need that can’t be fulfilled by existing solutions. Plus, not all education technology holds water and schools are not exactly known to have the deepest pockets. We owe it to our students, teachers, and parents to invest funds wisely. So here are six questions to ask yourself before investing in the latest education technology product taking the learning world by storm:
 
Question 1: What is the product made to accomplish and what is my intended use?
 
While Indians are the champions of jugaad​(plumbing leak sealant makes for excellent, and very resilient, sculpting material, for instance), investing in an expensive piece of educational technology that we never end up using is quite the disaster. Do your research (read: internet sleuthing) and ensure the product you are purchasing actually addresses your need. There really is no need to buy expensive drawing tablets for your art class when cheap easels from the local art store will do. They’ll all end up being used as glorified coasters.
 
Question 2: What is the research going into the product development?
 
Education technology products must be built in consultation with the target group they are ultimately serving – students, teachers or administrators. The product might be built by the best technologists in the world, but the people who understand the issues that need addressing must define the purpose of the product. Checking on the research and thinking behind product development will help predict how effective it will be in the classroom.
 
Question 3: Will I need to purchase ancillary products to use this one?
 
No one intends to join a cult when they purchase a product, but sometimes it just happens. Buying an education technology product from a particular brand should not entail the purchase of all their ancillary products. Investing in one item is expensive enough for a school (most are perennially suffering from a budget crunch and hardly have money to throw around). If the product you intend to purchase requires you to by eight more bits and bobs for your to really be able to use it, consider alternatives.
 
blog image fedena school ERP
 
Question 4: Is this product sustainable?
 
A temporary problem requires a temporary solution, not spending on an expensive piece of education technology. Your purchase must address an endemic issue or make life easier or more efficient for the foreseeable future. Yes, technology becomes obsolete with time, but the end should not already be nigh. A product purchase is only worth it when you reap benefits for a long time.
 
Question 5: What is the post-purchase support provided?
 
Great, you found your dream product. You’ve answered all the questions above the way they should have been answered, even found this nifty discount code, and are ready to hit buy so the little shopping cart icon does its little happy dance. But what about using it? Is the product easy to use? Is comprehensive training provided? Is their customer service responsive? These are not necessities for every piece of education technology being purchased, but they certainly make for some great perks and might tilt the scales in favour of one product over the other.
 
Question 6: How secure is my data?
 
Education technology, from its very inception, deals with sensitive data. Whether this is student scores, parents’ financial records for parents, or teacher contact information, you must be confident that this data is being stored securely. Vulnerable data being leaked could spell disaster in terms of security as well as institutional reputability.

edtech gizmos blog image

5 Education Technology Gizmos You’ll Want Today!

Education technology that isn’t just useful, but cool too

 
edtech gizmo blog image
 
We’ve previously talked about why education technology is so important for learning in a diverse, changing, multi-cultural, globalised world. But let’s be super honest – all the cool new toys coming out of it are just so much fun too. Don’t act like you haven’t been mesmerised by your collaborators turning your silly thoughts into a proposal on a shared document, or haven’t sometimes caught yourself playing your child’s educational games.
 
Below are some of the coolest and most fun education technology toys we love:
 
 
Smart Board
 
Those who’ve had the opportunity to experience this uber cool product need no explanation. Somewhere between a ginormous tablet and one of those cool magic erase whiteboards we played with as kids, this product is sure to enhance the experience of every single person in the classroom – student, teacher, and administrator alike. Whether it’s sending all your free-form notes from a brainstorm session directly to your email as a PDF, or experiencing the magic of limitless imagination thanks to endless white space, we kind of want a smart board in our house – for no reason. Yeah, we’re officially fangirling education technology now.
 
 
eBeam Edge
 
Smart Board too out of your reach? No worries, we aren’t zillionaires either. The eBeam Edge allows you to essentially turn any whiteboard into a budget Smart Board. All you need is a projector and a computer. This seems perfect for class discussions – project a presentation, doc, or web page and let those opinions fly. The eBeam Edge allows you to mark up anything, turning it into your own virtual scrapbook. It integrates well with existing tools like Powerpoint presentations and Word documents and helps you customize your own dashboard of icons and images. Say goodbye to cramped notes in the margins of your textbooks and worksheets and hello to slick, intuitive, useful education technology.
 
 
Livescribe
 
It’s not just classrooms that are getting to play with some cool education technology. All those doodles are works of art you can save now. Research shows that physically taking notes in class aids understanding and recall of the subject matter being taught. But who has time to pore through reams of paper, when cloud computing and shareable docs have made dead tree notes so obsolete? Enter Livescribe, a notebook that records all your notes as they are and stores them for you in electronic format. It’s your buy once for life notebook. And you still get to look like a hipster artist who does things old school.
 
 
iClicker
 
You know those super annoying Buzzfeed quizzes that you can’t help but take? Humans seem to be addicted to self-indulgent quizzes, or maybe it’s just the rhythmic click-click-click that keeps us coming back. So why not bring this to the classroom? A funny poll can only liven up the French Revolution, right? Administer multiple choice quizzes, get quick feedback from students, and even let them liven up their presentations with this piece of education technology.
 
 
DreamBox Learning
 
Proficiency in mathematics in no longer just something born out of rote learning or through a combination of sweat, blood, and tears. DreamBox Learning is a platform that intelligently adapts to how any student between kindergarten and the 12th grade learns his arithmetic and algebra, and it has been found to be highly effective. It isn’t another cool new toy to play with, but this education technology platform can really help people learn to love what was once a much-feared subject. And that almost makes it cooler than some of the gizmos on this list. Hey, we said almost!

Classroom Technology blog post Fedena School ERP

5 Reasons Kids Today Need Classroom Technology

It’s a new world – Classrooms aren’t what they used to be.

Classsroom Technology Fedena blog post image
 
Robotics labs and teacher holograms might seem like frivolous marketing tricks used by private institutions looking to justify their exorbitant fees. Do your kids really need to work with local artificial intelligence start-ups building their very own robot dog for a 7th standard science fair project? Is it even teaching them a subject’s basic fundamentals as rigorously as you were taught? It all seems a little too much.
 
Classroom technology, whether it is Skyping with your sister classroom in rural Uganda to learn about farming techniques in the region, or having access to some of the best technology to help build that robot dog, is more than just a cool extracurricular to include in your college applications. Here are five reasons your children need classroom technology:
 
 
1. Their generation grew up with classroom technology
 
Depending on how old your scholar is, it is highly likely that they were the first generation experiencing developmental technology from the very womb. Whether it is carefully planned music and teaching modules to be played to the mother’s belly during her pregnancy, or an app that promises that your diapered infant’s first words will be “je ne suis pas une pipe”, kids interact naturally with classroom technology. It was their first teacher, so why not continue using something they already instinctively learn from?
 
 
2. We have more things to learn than ever before
 
The sheer amount of information we now have access to is staggering. Libraries will always have an important role in every student’s life, but real estate is costly, and classroom technologies are indispensable. They give you access to resources that cover chasms in knowledge at a fraction of the expenditure investing in physical resources would entail. Wikipedia is oft-derided but is the first point of learning for students world over – whether they are sitting in a fancy Silicon Valley private school classroom or the one room hut that schools students from the surrounding five villages in rural India.
 
 
3. Catering to different learning styles
 
Not all students learn the same way. Earlier, we focused on teaching to the majority, assuming that those who couldn’t keep up were merely weaker students. Research has shown that different learning styles exist and it doesn’t make sense to exclude entire swathes of students in a globalised world where specialisation in obscure areas is king. Classroom technology is an economical way to teach diverse students.
 
 
4. An increase in new job roles
 
As the world grows older, it grows more complex – and so does its requirements. There has been an explosion in the diversity of skills required to keep our world functioning smoothly. While doctors and engineers remain popular professions, advances in the field mean that our understanding of these roles has become more specialised. Classroom technology aids us in understanding this granularity – whether it be an advanced microscope in our labs that helps us better understand our future geneticists understand the building blocks of our body or machines that let us experience what zero G feels like for the future space engineer.
 
 
5. It prepares kids for the real world
 
The most obvious, but vital, reason we need classroom technology is that it helps prepare students for the real world. Computers were once thought to be specialised equipment that would only be used by the bespectacled, nerdy, little men scribbling away in damp basement labs in crumbling old universities. Or by the government for a secret project to destabilize some enemy regime, of course. But here we are – with us typing this for you on an ancient Dell laptop, and you reading it on your snazzy little desktop or top of the line mobile device. Shouldn’t we be preparing our children as early as possible in life for our inevitable technology fuelled and sustained future? Classroom technology is the most practical and sensible starting point.

smart school students fedena blog

Smarter In More Ways Than One

The five kinds of unusual students classroom technology empowers

 
smart school students blog image
 
Intelligence comes in many forms, and our schools must cater to them all. Here are the five different types of students educational technology is already helping:
 
Underperforming Students
 
Maharashtra’s education board recently received a lot of flak for wanting teachers to conduct remedial classes to help underperforming students, but not defining how these classes should be conducted.The aim of this initiative was to ensure that poor performance was not a reason to leave behind students and to give them focused attention to enable them to succeed. It is clear that terrible implementation led to the failure of a well-intentioned policy. Smaller groups receiving more focused attention are bound to perform better, but the paucity of time, resources, and finances often make this an impossible task. This paucity can be addressed via technology. Fedena allows teachers and students to create discussion groups, share individualised assignments, and track learning at an individual level, leading to more focused teaching.
 
Female Students
 
Even in the most progressive countries, teachers have observed that women are often sidelined, spoken over, and ignored during classroom discussions. Considering how effective these discussions can be in understanding and ideating new concepts, the lack of space given to an entire gender can be exceedingly harmful to our young achievers. While the problem might not be eliminated entirely (after all, the “there are no girls on the internet” trope exists for a reason), platforms like Fedena are inherently structured in a way where silencing is not as easy, since discussions tend to be in smaller, more dedicated groups leading to more focused engagement.
 
Remote Students
 
Students in remote parts of India, are usually underfunded, under-resourced, and under-supported, leading to poorer performance compared to their urban counterparts. This creates a caste system in education – a field that is supposed to be the key to social mobility. Technology can often be an equalizer for students who don’t have access to the same resources their urban peers do. Virtual classrooms bring rural students closer to teachers who might be working out of a different part of the world, access to learning materials has been made easier than ever through deeper internet permeation in our villages, and platforms like Fedena allow for educators to remotely support and track students who might otherwise slip through the cracks.
 
Students with Special Needs
 
Special needs students are often divorced from the mainstream because traditional thinking leads us to believe that interaction with mainstream students is ineffective. However, research shows this is not the case. Interaction with mainstream students is helpful to students with developmental delays because they learn from their peers. It is not just they who benefit, however. Special needs students also make effective tutors– where they affect their mainstream tutees’ achievements and behaviors. Online platforms are one mode by which such interactions are facilitated. Environmental challenges that adversely affect special needs students who might suffer from sensory sensitivities are eliminated, it gives both mainstream and special needs students time and space to reflect on their thinking and responses to each other, and the ability to define focus and group size aids learning.
 
Introverted Students
 
In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking​, New York Times bestselling author Susan Cain, asserts that our educational institutions are designed for extroverts. What happens to our quieter students then? Platforms that allow for more regulated opportunities to engage are a solution, and this is where education technology comes into play. Online discussions on Fedena can be broken down by group or subject, leading to engagement that is more focused on the topic, rather than the vagaries of social interaction. The distance and time offered might also encourage those who often don’t speak in the classroom to share their thoughts after some reflection.