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Save me from having to use SeeSaw, Class Dojo and Flipgrid with my classes this year

August 9, 2017

I’ll admit, I can become infatuated with edTech from time to time. I also envision that it will have a much more powerful influence on my classroom than it ever seems to have. Despite this, my classroom is still fairly un-techy; I’m inconsistent at best when it comes to using our LMS, Canvas, and on any given you’re most likely to find my students solving physics problems in small groups using pencil and paper.

Still, I do dream of an app that will be a true game changer in my classroom, and I think the app of my dreams would look something like this:

  • Quickly record and tag observations about students and groups—I want to be able to walk around the room, see a cool thing a student is doing, and write a note about it and tag it to the student to refer back to later when I’m writing comments. I’d also like to have the choice to make these comments private. It’d be even better if I could add photos, short video recordings, and audio notes. Double bonus if I could tag more than just the student, for instance #insightfulquestion.
  • Let students submit photos and screencasets for feedback—It’s become a very common method of getting help in my class for students to send me a quick photo of their work for feedback. I can quickly look at the photo and write a few questions to push their thinking, or offer a hint. Right now, those emails pile up in my inbox, and I don’t have a nice way of organizing them or quickly searching for them. Putting all of these photos/screencasts in an app and then being able to organize and tag them would be a godsend.
  • Let students create multimedia portfolios of their work and get feedback from me—I’d love for students to be able to create portfolios of their work—they could add photos, video and audio recordings and tag their work with various tags like #goallessproblem or #explainedmistake. I’d then be able to go through the portfolio of a student and give feedback, both as text, and ideally as written annotation. Bonus if the student can respond to my feedback and we can have a bit of a dialogue.

And of course, I’d want all of this to work nicely on multiple platforms, including my iPhone, student phones of every flavor of iOS and Android and laptops (with extra bonus for instantly de-flipping photos snapped using the webcam).

As best I can tell, this app doesn’t exist as a single app, but I have found 3 contenders that each do part of this. They are:

  • Class Dojo—the observation app. Class dojo makes it super easy to record feedback about individual students or groups. If I never invite my students to have their own accounts, then my notes notes would be private, but if I do set my students up with accounts, it seems like students would see any notes I write about them. Class Dojo is fast—it’s really easy to group students and quickly leave feedback. My heisitation is that Class Dogo does seem to be the the app embodiement of Skinnerism, and I don’t want to create a points economy in my class is fed by Class Dojo like I’ve read about in so many elementary school classrooms
  • Seesaw—an incredible digital portfolio. Seesaw really seems to do some great stuff for allowing you and students to quickly add multimedia to a digitial portfolio, but the ability to quickly add a note about a student leaves a lot to be desired—it’s very clunky and slow. But I’ve heard from a number of high school teachers that really like this app.
  • Flipgrid—the new video sharing wonder. Flipgrid seems like a great way for students to share video. Many of its features seem to overlap with Seesaw, but Flipgrid’s presentation is unique, and I’ve seen a few links on Twitter of people using it as a tool for having people leave video messages when they miss a teacher or professor for office hours which seems cool (but not something I need to do). Flipgrid seems like it could be my photo/screencast submission app, but I’m not sure it does photos, which would be a dealbreaker, I’m afraid.

There’s a crazy part of me that thinks it wouldn’t be so bad to try to use all of these apps this year. But the sane part of me knows this is a really bad idea. Here’s where I’m reaching out to you—are there things these apps can do that I’m missing? Is there a way to get to 80% of what I want to do with just one of these apps?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2017 8:44 am

    When I read the phrase “presentaton is unique,” I’m afraid I immediately imagine “23% of population will not be able to figure it out, and will feel like idiots.”

    Odd that text is now tougher than images to deal with!

  2. August 10, 2017 9:50 am

    Since your already using Canvas, I know it can do all these things, though maybe not as smoothly as you want. The observations piece can be done from the People tab, click on a person and a pop up appears with a summary about them, click on their name and it brings up their profile, then click on Faculty Journal. From googling it looks like this is hidden from the student. For photos and screencasts, Canvas excels at this; I would just set up a generic assignment with a due date the end of the semester, and students re-submit whenever they want. All their submissions then stored in the same place, and speedgrader could be use to give feedback. Lastly, Canvas does do portfolios as well, and from what I recall they’re pretty good. I think the main weakness of Canvas is going to be the observations piece; maybe you could use one of the others for observations and Canvas for submissions and portfolio work. My hunch is that keeping things in one place is worth the fact that that one place isn’t perfect for what you want to do.

  3. Diane permalink
    August 10, 2017 6:55 pm

    I’m just going to leave this here…

  4. August 14, 2017 1:27 am

    Both Sesame and FreshGrade would do most of what you described. I actually thought you were going to finish off your post by saying… “and I’ve discovered a great app called Sesame,” because what you were describing all seemed within the capabilities of those apps. Of course, you might have to adapt slightly to each platform.

    • August 23, 2017 12:41 am

      Sesame seems neat, but I don’t see how I can quickly create notes about students or entire groups—it looks like I have to build an activity first (which might be week 1 observations) and then add notes to that. Am I correct?

  5. August 27, 2017 9:52 pm

    I am new to FreshGrade and Sesame, they look great but not seeing them as being cross-platform. I like Seesaw with a little Flipgrid smashed in.

  6. Brenda Leigh Webster permalink
    September 27, 2017 11:34 pm

    Crazy, If I hadn’t known any better I would have thought you read my mind and stole my post!
    I actually am using all 3 this year and think they do overlap. However I am using Dojo for class stories only, basically like instagram. Seesaw will be used as a student portfolio site, even though Dojo has this as a new feature, I went with Seesaw because Dojo is still new with it. Finally Flipgrid allows the class video features to be all in one place.

    In a dream world the 3 companies would merge and become an amazing new company!

    Maybe even be called FlipSeeDO?

    Good Luck, start small and grow. That’s what I’ve done.

  7. Bourget permalink
    November 24, 2018 5:09 pm

    Can you use flip grid within seesaw? I use classdojo for quick notes and to communicate with families. Seesaw is perfect for differentiated projects. Easy annotations and audio helps level the playing field for struggling students.

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