TeacherKit is a virtual gradebook app, that allows teachers to save class and students information (attendance, behaviour, grades, notes, seating arrangements) in the one place. This app is only available on i-devices (iPod, iPad, iPhone) and Windows 8, but on the outset it seems like a really convenient way to store the class data.
Strengths/Opportunities: Most teachers have department-allocated laptops these days and school-wide grade book systems, but this is an even more mobile option to log attendance, behaviour, and grades. I’m also a bit obsessed with data and graphs, so I got a little excited when I saw the reports that are generated through this app. The reports are simple and reader-friendly, with clean graphics. The multi-class option is great for secondary teachers who have multiple classes, and primary teachers who team-teach. The basic app is free, which is always a plus!
Weaknesses/Limitations: One downside is probably that unless it is implemented school-wide, this just adds more work (marking attendance roles twice, entering grades twice, etc). It is also limited in the fact that the fully-functional version is only available on mobile Apple devices (iPod, iPad, iPhone). There is a version available with Windows 8, but functionality is limited compared to the Apple version.
In The Classroom:
I used this in the role of teacher aide taking specialist groups from three different classes, and it was helpful (to a point). I didn’t have access to an online attendance/grade system so this was good to keep track of the students I worked with. I could get data from the classroom teachers regarding grades and test scores, and add notes, so that I had a record of where each student was at in the classroom.
This was helpful because it eliminated the need for multiple folders and sheets for each student. I could track attendance and behaviour (particularly useful in my context), and adding notes for individual students was easy. I liked being able to generate student reports for the classroom teachers, and the option to send via email was excellent.
I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t log in through a browser, or with an Android device, and I think this is a real weakness of the program. There is a link to the Android store, however my Samsung phone and tablet were incompatible, and no option to log in on a laptop. The iPad is great during class time, but working at an iPad for an extended period can be tedious and I would have liked the option to add data on a laptop. Also, the seating chart feature was mostly useless to me (although I think that was mostly contextual, and I can see possible uses – like tracking possible links between behaviour or test scores and seating arrangement – in other classroom contexts).
The verdict: I probably wouldn’t use this in the classroom once I graduate unless it was something that was implemented school-wide, as it would turn into a chore. Most schools have a system like this in place already, and this would just be a double-up. Also, the limited access to the program is frustrating. That said, I really like the reports that are generated from the data, so I would enjoy using it in the classroom if it was school-wide and if I could use it on a laptop and across multiple devices.