Seesaw App Focuses on Student Work to Boost Engagement

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

Seesaw, which allows students of any age to document what they are learning at school, is now among the most popular student-driven apps. Developed by a former Google Product Manager Carl Sjogreen, the app has just released a paid version that comes with advanced assessment tools for the price of $120 a year.

Students not only upload their homework and assignments, but also share them with parents, teachers, and fellow students. Instead of just sharing finished text, students can also add photos, videos or annotation to explain how they got there. It helps teachers easily identify where students went wrong and what could be improved in the learning process.

In an interview with Josh Constine, Sjogreen, Seesaw's founder, announced that the app is already in use in 200,000 classrooms in over 25,000 institutions in the country, which equates to 1 in 4 schools nationwide. The app also has a free basic version compatible across all devices and platforms, including iOS, Android, Kindle, Chromebooks, and personal computers with Chrome or Firefox.

Sjogreen also pointed out that teachers are usually reluctant to use apps in class, as statistics show that 20% of the lesson time can be spent for just logging in. To avoid the unnecessary hassle, Seesaw does not require an e-mail address and a password. All the student has to do is to hold the app to a QR code poster in class and select his/her name from the roster.

According to the official app site, Seesaw gives students a real audience for their hard work at school and also offers parents a personalized view into their child's academic progress:

"Seesaw's immediate, visual updates actually get seen by parents, provide encouragement for students, and cross language barriers."

As Lulu Chang of the Digital Trends notes, Seesaw is beneficial for all the parties involved – students at a young age get familiar with technology; parents monitor their kid's progress in real time; teachers collect assignments easily, observe children's logic behind their homework, and quickly identify areas for improvement.

The new paid assessment feature allows educators to access privacy tools, writes Nicole Gorman of Education World. Teachers can now create private folders to keep student work and take notes that are not visible to students and their parents.

The premium version also includes some useful tagging options. Teachers will be able to tag students' posts with a given set of skills and standards, and they will also assign a 1-4 rating to student work. These features will give the teachers immediate understanding of how students are doing toward pre-defined curriculum objectives.

As Seesaw has been used in US schools for more than a year already, the company estimated that 92 percent of the teachers had an increase in parent involvement since using the app. 95 percent of the educators admitted that Seesaw helped their students develop and improve their tech skills.

Seesaw has several competitors such as Remind, Canvas, Instructure, Pearson, and Blackboard. However, most of them focus on tracking grades or communicating with parents. Seesaw's competitive advantage is that it is oriented to what a student creates.

The app also helps shy children who rarely raise hands and ask for assistance. The app may discreetly reveal who needs extra attention without being embarrassed in front of peers.

07 13, 2016
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