In a school context, real-time reporting describes the availability of student assessment data on a just-in-time basis. Ideally the process is driven by students with appropriate scaffolding by their teachers. The learners decide what to share with the people who are significant to them. It’s about the process, not the end product.
Any service that allows parents to see live student data could be considered real-time reporting. Examples include:
Schools that have implemented a real-time reporting scheme report significant benefits for parent-teacher conferences. Deeper conversations about learning can take place straight away as the parents don’t need to be brought up to speed.
Relationships between home and school are important. They help ensure that curriculum and its associated assessments are grounded in students’ lives and experiences, allowing them equitable opportunities to demonstrate their learning progress.
Altering the way your school reports to parents and caregivers is a fundamental change, so it’s important to be clear on why the change is being made. Using technology to enhance reciprocal information sharing is included in the Ministry of Education’s principles of effective reporting and information sharing . Positive outcomes include:
Use these reflective questions to plan your approach.
Understanding your “why” helps with purchasing software. Knowing the desired outcomes means that the features and benefits of various software packages can be assessed against those outcomes.
Learners will need to be taught how to use any real-time reporting application so that they can use it independently. Some software provides easy options for students to log in via QR codes, so it works for younger learners as well as those that are able to remember usernames and manage passwords.
Parents and whānau also need to be taught how to log in and access any features the school will be using.
Once students have learned how to use the software, they need to learn what to place into their portfolio and publish out to their wider audience. This may be different for each school and class. Ultimately the process should be student driven, but it’s also important that the students are posting with purpose and taking their audience into account. It’s desirable for the delay between the student posting and the notification to parents be as short as possible.
Most real-time reporting applications have teacher dashboards showing how often students are posting and what level of engagement there has been from parents/whānau.
Teachers can match the evidence their students post against learning outcomes.
Regular conversations with parents and caregivers, either face-to-face or electronically, can uncover any issues about the school’s real-time reporting. Parents can provide feedback on how they are finding the process. Through these conversations, teachers can monitor the partnership between home and school.
Involving parents and students in the evaluation of the real-time reporting process is important for building genuine partnerships. It has to work for all of the involved parties.
As schools have started real-time reporting, some common challenges have emerged. Real-time reporting relies on a shared understanding between the school, the students, and their families. Expectations should be clear to all interested parties and consistency maintained via good policies, evaluation, and kōrero.
Art teacher, Bridget Baker explains how she uses moment in time assessment, taking little snapshots to capture the children's understanding as they progress through a project.
Teachers from Hillcrest Normal School explain how students used iPads to document and reflect on their learning in the context of a science inquiry into the properties of milk.
Renee Strawbridge (DP Mt Biggs School) explains how they use Seesaw to connect parents and whānau with student learning.
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Park Estate School explored how Seesaw digital learning journals might support their junior team to use iPads for learning and creating, and how families could connect with their children’s learning, giving learners an authentic audience.
Their inquiry focused on strengthening learning partnerships via Seesaw digital learning journals. Seesaw was a tool that junior students could use easily and creatively.
Royal Road School, in the Auckland suburb of Massey, decided to implement Seesaw school-wide after using the trial version. They have set up a portfolio for each student and they collect examples of work from every learning area. Classroom teachers use the features of Seesaw in a variety of ways:
Use of Seesaw has increased as teachers include it as a routine part of their classroom practise.
"I think at the beginning you really need to consider what is it that you want uploaded and how often. Our teachers definitely needed to work out how to make it part of their daily routine.
I can see that some teachers still struggle to keep their Seesaw up to date and some teachers are great for a while and then it slows down. The issue I'm worried about is the expectation of our parents. Especially if they have more than one child at school. If one child never seems to have anything on their Seesaw, and the other has plenty then they may feel let down by the app.
Once our teachers make it a habit for each subject, I feel it becomes easier for them."
Maria Orr, teacher aide
The school has faced some challenges getting everyone involved. To access Seesaw from home parents need:
Not every home has access to one or both of these elements. One solution has been to make the computers in the school library available for whānau to use, with assistance from staff when it's required.
Effort was put into getting the parent community on board. Early in the process the school ran a parent night about Seesaw, with the students demonstrating how the system works. Parent interviews were used as a one-on-one opportunity to assist parents with getting connected. Older students assist younger ones to use Seesaw.
"With a primary school we have to make sure we utilise our senior students and support staff to help our little ones become more independent with the Seesaw app. So instead of a teacher trying to video every child in their class, the children can independently do it themselves."
Maria Orr, teacher aide
The school has noticed a positive effect in the communication between school and home. It's easy for school staff to broadcast notices to the parent community. As the notices are delivered directly to parents' devices, they are picked up more reliably than paper ones.
Royal Road teachers have noticed their students taking real pride in the work they choose to post. The ease with which work can be selected and posted out to whānau has provided an authentic audience for their work.
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