Collaboration at Scale: What Happens When an Edtech Company and Educators Work Together

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Sometimes you just have to ask.

One of our long-standing customers, Westley Field of Waverley College in Australia, a Catholic school for boys serving grades 5-12, submitted the below request through our Haiku Learning Feedback Forum.

"Hello. Is it possible to create a class and then have it automatically available to all users within an organization? I would also like to be able to make one class available to all teachers automatically."

Westley’s reasons for wanting to facilitate “automatic” sharing amongst teachers within his school will probably come as no surprise to most educators:

"For far too long, the factory model of learning has boxed teachers into silos and prevented sharing of ideas and class structures. One great quality about teachers is their willingness to share, practice, and learn from each other…The ability to allow others to view [classes] opens those doors and makes it easy for all to share.”

It’s more than just sharing

Hmm...sharing content. Many of our experienced customers are probably thinking ‘Wait, you can share content in Haiku Learning! We do it all the time!’ However, this request wasn’t just about sharing content. And yes, btw, there are many ways to share content in our platform--just see them all below!

Westley, who is the Director of Learning Innovation at the school, was looking for this: view-only access to classes, at scale, within one’s domain. Of all our modes of sharing content and granting permissions, “Shadowing” came the closest, but it’s intended for a 1:1 basis. “Anyone on the Web” enables view-only access at scale--but that includes, well, anyone on the web! A little too “public” for some people.

Collaboration at scale with no “administrative headaches”

Needless to say, we’re so excited to announce that Haiku Learning has just made this possible by adding two brand new Class Visibility settings! Just tell your Domain Administrator to set Class visibility settings to either “All people in the Organization of the Class” or “All people in your Haiku Learning Domain” depending on the level scale needed.

Emily Jeanes, a Haiku Learning Sales Engineer and the writer behind our App of the Week blog, sums up the benefits of this new setting from an administrator’s perspective: “It invites others in their school to view without risk, administrative headaches, or complex permissioning tools. It was the answer to 'Shadowing permissions is hard at scale!’ and 'I just want my teachers to collaborate without giving them editing rights!’”

From a teacher’s standpoint, the view-only access is a low-pressure way for teachers to have windows into each other’s classes to learn from each other without fear of accidentally changing something in the class! As Westley said, "It gives [teachers] the opportunity to easily see what others in their organization are doing and how they’re doing it. We can allow teachers, who are unsure of how to structure [classes] using our desired school model, an opportunity to see how others have done it."

The many faces of collaboration

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We couldn’t help but reflect on the community that happened behind this feature request, especially since there’s been so much discussion lately about how edtech companies and schools need to work together to drive innovation that educators really need.

Westley reached out to us in other ways beyond submitting the above ticket to our Feedback Forum. He emailed his education rep directly. And he spent time with several of us at an iNACOL conference.

He even met with one of our developers, Marcos Wright-Kuhns, to discuss his desired features. Westley had a layover in Portland, Oregon where Marcos lives, so they spent the day discussing ideas and requirements.

Marcos has been with Haiku Learning since its inception in 2007 and loves the moments like that where he gets that face to face interaction with customers: "When I sit down with a Haiku Learning customer, it almost always results in dozens of exciting new ideas.”

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Of course, no edtech company can immediately grant every feature request that comes in, even when you’re speaking directly with a senior developer! Our philosophy is based on the essential 80: if at least 80% of our users will find a feature an asset and not an obstacle, then we'll consider building it. We do this to avoid the feature bloat that many LMS’s have succumbed to in recent years. Our goal is to remain clean, uncluttered, and focused on the features that users really need.

As it turns out, that 80% wasn’t hard to come by. The request quickly gained popularity with our customers as they voiced their support in the Feedback Forum.

"As we got more and more requests that truly support the “community" aspect of Haiku Learning's motto, the request became more and more popular,” said Emily. “Over time, we amassed a huge list of 'Interested Users.'”

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After the great interest shown, it was a matter of prioritization, time, and resources on our part. And the window recently opened up to finally make it happen.

“As a developer it's sometimes intimidating thinking of the effort it might take to bring a customer’s vision to reality,” said Marcos. “So it's extra exciting when we take the time to polish, perfect, and release customer requests."

Now that it’s here...

So what is Westley going to do now with this new feature? Exactly what he set out to do above.

"I plan to publish a list of classes that are designed using the structure that we are hoping to see across our school. I will advertise the names of the classes and invite other interested teachers to view them. I will also add a list of [classes] to a teacher professional development community page (on Haiku Learning) for future reference if others (such as those going for new positions at our school) are interested in viewing exemplar models.”

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Westley collaborating with teachers at Waverley College, a Catholic school for boys in Australia.

Sharing, collaborating, and building communities have have all taken off in recent years with the surging popularity of collaborative forums like Personal Learning Communities (PLCs) and the dozens of ed tech Twitter chats that happen on a nightly basis.

We love that we can help facilitate that as well through our learning platform, our Feedback Forum and our Community Forum. As Emily aptly put, “It became an emblem of our continued hope for deeper collaboration between teachers."

sharing and collaborating options in haiku learning

We’d love to hear how others schools will be using these new settings since we know so many of you have been waiting for it! Let us know in our Community Forum!

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App of the Week: FlipSnack

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In this weekly blog, our own Emily Jeanes gives readers the lowdown on web apps that educators can use inside Haiku Learning. Emily is the very first Haiku Learning Sales Engineer. Edtech ninja, sci-fi writer, and proud transfer from our award-winning Client Services team, she brings with her a passion for researching, playing with and integrating awesome educational tools into Haiku Learning. Like Haiku Learning, she likes to think she plays well with others.

What is Flipsnack?

From their site: "FlipSnack is everything you need to easily publish captivating online magazines, transforming your PDFs into online flipbooks." Now offering an education-specific version called Flipsnack Edu, Flipsnack is an easy and beautiful way to embed PDFs, images, online textbooks, and anything else you want to flip.

In Haiku Learning: Flipsnack embeds beautifully into Haiku Learning, has several custom design layouts for teachers to choose from, and offers some oh-so-coveted https and responsive checkboxes for their embeds. The full PDF appears in the block as a flippable book, and allows students to flip through the pages.

Flipsnack embedded into Haiku Learning
Here's what Flipsnack looks like embedded into a Haiku Learning class. Credit: Flipsnack

Here's that same Flipsnack embedded into this post. Go ahead, click through it.

How do I get the embed code?

The embed code is hard to miss in Flipsnack. Just go to your My Collections area, and select any uploaded item or collection. Select the giant red Embed button to get your Embed code. Use the EDIT area to change different options such as the background, flip style and sounds, controls, and other great settings like right-to-left orientation, auto-flip, etc.

Why should I try it?

We love that Flipsnack is not just an embedded PDF, but a little book that students can search, flip through, and even download if needed. It even makes a little "flip" sound when you move from page to page, and like every other setting, you can even turn that sound off.

Flipsnack is very customizable, makes it easy to find that embed code, and is HTTPS-friendly. For an easy way to bring already-ready content into a class in a way that enhances the original PDF (not just displays it) we think Flipsnack is awesome.

For Haiku Learning customers: Are you already using Flipsnack in your class? Share how you're using it in our Community Forum!

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Nine Apps Added to Our Embed the Web Library

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Every week, our own Emily Jeanes gives readers the lowdown on web apps that educators can use inside Haiku Learning. Emily is the very first Haiku Learning Sales Engineer. Edtech ninja, sci-fi writer, and proud transfer from our award-winning Client Services team, she brings with her a passion for researching, playing with and integrating awesome educational tools into Haiku Learning. Like Haiku Learning, she likes to think she plays well with others.

Have you checked out our Embed the Web library?

We are constantly adding new items to our Embed the Web Library - a collection of resources that offer embed codes for everything from videos, slideshows, chat tools, and news sources, to textbooks, interactive lessons and games.

I love these tools! Most of them come to us through suggestions from our awesome teachers, and I love that embed codes bring their favorite familiar tools into Haiku Learning alongside class content and features like Discussions or Assessments.

Here are some we've recently added to the Library, now going strong at over 150 tools. Check 'em out!

Newest additions to the Embed the Web Library

  • PrimaryPad: PrimaryPad allows for synchronous work in a simple web-based word processor. Students can collaborate on text in real-time, with authorship colors highlighting just who types what.

  • Haiku Deck: Haiku Deck is a simple, beautiful, slide-based presentation system that makes telling (and sharing!) your deck fun.

  • TV5 Monde: Bring videos straight to your class from TV5Monde, the global French-language network of several television channels.

  • Spider Scribe: SpiderScribe is an online mind mapping and brainstorming application. Collaborate and organize ideas, files, calendar events, and more in free-form maps.

  • Piktochart: Looking for quick, custom, stylish Infographics? Check out Piktochart, and create infographics in as little as 10 minutes!

  • MSNBC: Embed MSNBC News videos, from NBCUniversal, right into your class to keep students up-to-date on current issues.

  • Lino: Lino is a web-based sticky note tool, allowing you to create virtual stickies on your bulletin board online. Embed your entire board to share those stickies easily with your class.

  • Screencast-o-matic: Screencast-O-Matic allows you to create screencasts in one click, then embed them in your Haiku Learning class.

  • LessonPaths: LessonPaths allows for the curation of custom web-resource playlists. Embed your custom web path to share the trip with your Students.

Do you know of a tool that offers embeds but isn't in our Library? Find out how to suggest it to our team.

Don't miss Emily's weekly App of the Week review, where she gives in-depth reviews on apps from our library! Subscribe to the Haiku Learning blog to keep up with all the latest from Haiku Learning.

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EdTech Weekly News Roundup - March 20, 2015

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Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here are some interesting edtech articles from this past week that you might find useful.

"5 Ways to Keep Social Media From Being a Legal Headache" – THE Journal

From school policies on social media to monitoring students online, this article uses examples to show what schools should – and maybe shouldn't – do.

"How to Crowdfund Your Classroom" – Edudemic

Teachers have always spent some money out of pocket for the extra supplies or tools they need for the classroom. However, there may be a new answer for them in the digital age: crowdfunding. It turns out there are are crowdfunding sites that are focused specifically on educational projects. This article lists five educational projects that can get paid for by crowdfunding and how to get started with crowdfunding.

"'Education Innovation Clusters' Aim to Improve Schools" – Education Week

Education innovation clusters are "regional partnerships among school districts, research organizations, private companies, and other groups to improve schools”. In addition to showcasing some of the interesting work done by such clusters, this article discusses how Digital Promise is creating a network to track and share the data gleamed from them because these clusters can have a bigger impact if their results are shared.

"Maximizing Competency Education and Blended Learning: Insights from Experts" – CompetencyWorks and iNACOL

This report, based on research done with 23 experts, discusses the differences between personalized learning, competency education, and blended learning, and how to best integrate them into schools today.

"A Parent's Guide to All That 'Ed Tech' In Your Kid's Classroom" – WNYC

While the audience for this article is clearly parents, it might be good to look over the kinds of questions that you can anticipate getting from parents when it comes to edtech initiatives at your school.

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Assessing Mastery: The Perils of Averages in Standards-Based Grading

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Justin Goff is a Haiku Learning Community Specialist, and our in-house assessment expert here at Haiku Learning. Before joining the Haiku Learning team, Justin taught upper-school English at international schools in Korea and Japan. He’s a big fan of standards-based assessment practices and loves that Haiku Learning provides the right tools for teachers to use sophisticated approaches to grading and assessment.

Let’s do a little math problem. (Don’t worry, I’m an English teacher - you’ll be safe. It's simple math.)

Say you have a Standards-Based Gradebook using a 1-4 scale that looks like below:

Standards-based gradebook scale in Haiku Learning

Both 3 and 4 are green because both scores indicate that the student has mastered the standard - that is, they’ve met the learning goals you’ve laid out for them.

Now let’s say you have a student – we’ll call him Eric - who has scored as follows on the first three assessments.

Sample student grades in SBG gradebook

Pretty good, right? He got off to a rough start, but he demonstrated mastery of the standard on his most recent assessment. Way to go, Eric!

Finally, let’s say you’re using the average of Eric’s scores to calculate his overall score for the standard. Right now, Eric has an average of a 2. Maybe you’re thinking that you want Eric to demonstrate mastery a few more times before you think he’s really mastered the standard overall.

So here's the question: How many times does Eric need to demonstrate mastery in order to earn an average score of 3 on this standard? The answer: Up to fifty-seven times.

Granted, Eric only needs three 4s in a row - three brushes with perfection - to bring his average up to a 3. But he needs fifty-seven 3s. Fifty-seven!

And even then, Eric has only earned a 2.95 - just enough to round up to a 3. Unless he scores a 4 at some point, poor Eric can never reach 3 without the help of some rounding.

What averages mean for determining mastery

Let’s take another look at the problem above, but from a different angle: What would Eric have needed to do in order to “master the standard”- that is, earn an average of at least 3?

The answer is pretty evident from the table I showed you earlier. You either have Eric earn 3s from the start, or you throw a 4 in there instead of that 1, maybe.

Standards-based gradebook scale in Haiku Learning

In other words, with an average, “mastery” means getting it right from the start.

Now, let’s look at our three Erics again. Improving Eric is the success story, right? He’s in a class that challenges him - he’s not just demonstrating what he already knows. And whatever the class is doing, it seems to be working for Eric, as he just keeps improving.

In an ideal classroom, you’d want every Eric to be Improving Eric. But using an average keeps Eric’s overall score down simply because he started out in the right class - and it ignores how well Eric has responded to instruction.

Averages and Medians in Haiku Learning

None of this is to say that averages are a bad thing: like any statistical tool, an average has its uses. For instance, an average can be useful for calculating an overall grade that summarizes the student’s performance in a class across all standards.

But when it comes to the question of whether a student has mastered a particular standard, an average is rarely the right tool for the job. Even in most cases where an average could be appropriate, a median, which you can use in Haiku Learning, is usually better. (In the examples above, Eric would only have needed two more scores of 3 or higher if you were using a median.)

In the end, though, we decided to include an average in the list of Mastery Level Calculation Methods for Standards-Based Grading in Haiku Learning. We couldn’t think of any cases where an average would be the best fit, but we also couldn’t rule out the possibility that you’d want to use an average in ways we hadn’t anticipated.

However, if you do use averages for standards-based assessment, or if you have any other thoughts about determining mastery, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment in our Community Forum.

If you're still learning about standards-based grading, Justin did a post on traditional grading vs. standards-based grading back in January.

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