I’ve been working on a web-based application recently that I intend to demonstrate to my bosses at school that would make life a whole lot easier for teachers, students and parents and at the same time provide even greater accountability to the community and the departmental office for what goes on in the classroom at a school. It’s the kind of thing that only an educator would understand the intricacies of, and it’s got me thinking – how much of a role do educators play in the development of the systems we use in schools today? And, if educators were involved when those systems were developed, how often are educators consulted or involved in the upgrade/update process?
We use an administration, budgeting and timetabling package in our schools and there are a myriad of things I don’t like about it. To be fair, there are a number of things it does well, too, and I wonder how many of the problems we do experience are related to infrastructure or configuration issues on our networks. However, all that said, I wonder sometimes if we are forced to bend, twist and re-shape what we do to fit within the framework provided by these applications, rather than them acting as tools to assist us in our tasks. I know there are a number of teachers in the schools I’ve been in that don’t want to go anywhere near the system, simply because it just isn’t easy for those who don’t understand it – the interface alone is enough to scare away the timid computer user!
So, when developing my application, I’ve kept a few things in the forefront of my mind:
- What I’m doing should HELP the teacher do what THEY want to do, not force them to work within a specific set of rules that forces them to change what they do;
- It should be easy to use and not require any specific software download; and
- There should be plenty of opportunities for collaboration on the software, and for feedback and comment to take place between those using it.
It’s still a little way off yet, but I hope that working on it between now and going back to school should be long enough to get a fairly robust demonstration of its capabilities finished.