ClassMate Digital Classroom Updates for December 2015
December 30, 2015
December has been a month of learning, building the ClassMate user base and setting goals for our products. Here is a summary of various things we are working on or developing.
Welcome Educators, Learners and Mentors
We have been working on our language for how we speak about the types of users we focus on. We decided to break them up into three distinct categories, and in no particular order:
- Educators: We decided to use the term “Educator” instead of “Teacher” because we believe that as people, we all can learn from each other in more places than just a school. ClassMate is not about providing Teaching, but providing Education through excellent content in a rich, easy to use, real time and flexible blended learning environment.
- Learners: We are not always Students at a facility, but we are Learners our entire lives. The definition of a student is someone who is studying at a school or college, while the definition of a Learner is simply a person who is learning a subject or skill. Our team believes that these are important parallels. In our discussions, we have considered that the school is the facility for a brand of learning. Some schools may create financial blocks, or require Students to attain a specified level of performance from a previous facility in order for the Student to be deemed “acceptable” for their school’s brand of education. At ClassMate, we believe that everyone deserves access to the same quality of education. As we continue our story and development of education technology, we will share more of our thoughts on these patterns and brainstorm with you on how we may overcome unnecessary inhibitors to the general quality of education.
- Mentors: In our lives we have various individuals that mentor us. A Mentor may be a parent, a tutor or even a fellow Learner. ClassMate will provide a Mentor Platform that is collaborative, easy to use, engaging and barrier free. The Mentor Platform will enable the best communication possible between Educators and Mentors. We also understand that Mentors may need education themselves to provide a better experience for their Learner(s). It is our goal at ClassMate to include education for Mentors as a part of their content associated with what their Learner(s) are learning. Arming our Mentors with the knowledge they need to help their Learner will give Learner’s the best chance possible to attain real skills and knowledge.
Activity or Assignment Completion
This month we introduced activity completion features. Although these features have been on our roadmap for some time, this came up quicker than we thought in our meetings with parents. This month we launched a series of new additions to the class curriculum views to allow Learners to check off the work they completed as they complete it.
We have more work to do yet on the activity feedback front and some of those things include:
- Progress bars.
- Providing the Educator with knowledge of Learner task completion.
- Allowing Mentors to view completed tasks.
- Uploading or linking to assets to a task and completion cycles.
As you can see, we have only gotten started on task completion and plan to evolve the feature set as we continue.
Grade Book and Grading
December also brought us our first few steps into providing a grading platform. Grading was another set of features that has been on our roadmap, but came up immediately in our conversations with Teachers. This month we worked up a series of designs that focused on both the presentation and input of grades. We are proud to announce in just a few short weeks, we have released the first phases of Grade Book functionality, and we are now focused on the presentation of the grades and progress to Learners.
As we continue, you may look forward to the following features to be done:
- Learners will have access to the grades and progress provided by the teacher.
- Mentors will be allowed access to view progress and grades.
- Grade Book itself will be given more ways to present grades and set letter grade boundaries, for example if you wanted – a 5/10 to yield a C- you may set the boundaries to do so.
Assignment and Task Management
ClassMate has been going through a series of updates that simply cleaned things up. In November we had spent some time on our mobile web display, and in December some of our new updates broke some of those things. These display breakages do require us to spend some time cleaning up the interface, but we believe having the important features out is more important and we can slot the time to come in and clean up the interface.
We are happy to announce that in December, our users began to speak up and ask for us to change certain things.
A bug was reported by one of our users that said the following:
“I have 1400 characters in my assignments but it does not allow me to save. It says I have greater than 2000??”
We are happy to announce, within two days we had made an adjustment to ClassMate to allow for additional characters. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is important for our team to get across that ClassMate is for you – and the team at ClassMate promises to take every request seriously and, where we can, provide real change to the software based on two key factors:
- Can we make it easy to use?
- Does it benefit education and culture?
- General fixes to due date display: ClassMate was displaying dates for tasks when dates were never assigned.
- Made the clickable regions of tasks in a curriculum easier to click on.
- Fixed an issue with shared contact information upon accepted classroom invitation.
Events and Closing
December has been a fun month! We were given the excellent opportunity to spend time with Connecticut Parents Union and talk with parents about real education and the challenges they face today. We took in feedback from teachers, parents and our users and have made real changes to ClassMate.
Our team is excited to continue to contribute to ClassMate, and we look forward to continuing to share and develop ClassMate with you.
Thank you and Happy New Year!
~ Team ClassMate