Education

Software recommendations for managing after school classes?

Douglas Tarr Entrepreneur and Software Architect

October 10th, 2013

Hi -

I've decided to teach a bunch of 4th graders computer science after school, and I'm looking for software to help facilitate the administration of the class.  Specifically, stuff like coordinating schedules, and letting me put class materials online so the kids can access it at home.

I've seen a lot of these focused on sports, but are there any that focus on classes?

Thanks,
Doug

Luis Avila Owner/Fullstack Architect at IdeaNerd LLC

October 10th, 2013

What's wrong with Google Calendar and Google Docs? Everything is free. It doesn't seem like you need any special software for what you're doing... scheduling and document sharing.

Karen A. Sorensen

October 10th, 2013

Who is your audience? If they are low income students then, don't assume they have access to computers and broadband at home. Low income families are more likely to get internet delivered through mobile devices. Do you want a communication function? Post lesson activities? Do you want to provide a flipped classroom environment where presentation of information is outside the classroom and project-based activities take place in the classroom? Or more of a presentation during class and projects take place at home? How open is the school's internet access? What software's and cloud applications can the students access at school?

I have managed and developed after-school programs for about 3 years, and I found the most effective way to communicate to parents and students was through SMS messaging. I set up a groups through my contacts (I am Android-based, if you use iOS you will need to download an app, or use Remind101). Students and parents were able to reach out to me very simply, ask real-time questions, and I had group and individual communications. I find by 3 grade, most students have access to at least a feature phone.

You can use Edmodo for classroom organization and communication, but I found through research that unless you provide training on how to effectively use it for both students and parents,  it becomes a closed Facebook chat, not a good classroom management tool.  Edmodo integrates with Evernote and Dropbox, which you will need for the share function. Whatever you use make sure to provide training on how to use the application effectively, just don't assume they will know how to use it.

I like to use g-docs since it exposes students to productivity software Unless the students come from a very technical school, chances are they don't use email, and might not have a gmail account. I think  I like using g-docs since it gets students exposed to productivity applications.

I would make sure that you have an acceptable use policy form that is signed by both student and parents. In this policy make sure you highlight what things student can do/cannot on the computers, lists the software/cloudware you are using, outline where they can go, etc... The school should have had parents signed one but I would just have one a more robust policy that you have to protect yourself. The first class you have should be on digital literacy where they are required to sign this form and understand what each application they are using.
Hope this helps--K

Travis Workman Founder/President at Cognisoft

October 10th, 2013

Check out Udemy https://www.udemy.com/ or blackboard http://www.blackboard.com/ as a disclaimer I am not affiliated to either of these companies I have researched them for another client of mine who is trying to get into this space. If you are not familiar with the terms for this type of space it is reffered to as MOOC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course


Eric Sexton Game Desginer at Crate Entertainment

October 10th, 2013

Im not sure if it will work for your needs but I like to use Trello for project tracking and task managment.

robert carter

October 10th, 2013

Our school is using edmodo

David Gold

October 10th, 2013

If you just want something free where your students go access documents/pdfs you put online you can always use Asana.  I use it for my workflow, but you could hack it to suit your needs.

Assign tasks with due dates
Scheduling announcements
Assign specific work to individual users

Check it out!

Kris Braun Co-founder of KidsWifi

October 10th, 2013

There's a startup with us in the VeloCity Garage called Planboard (https://www.planboardapp.com/) -- they concentrate on online lesson plans. Definitely picking up traction amongst public school teachers and boards.

Thomas Traylor Senior Software Engineer at Envysion

October 10th, 2013

Check out Piazza (www.piazza.com). 

Tom

Adam Porroni Entrepreneur / Criminologist / Developer

October 10th, 2013

I agree with Luis - GDocs & GCal are great solutions for simple, straightforward scheduling, doc-sharing, etc.  If you need more security, you can try Box or Dropbox for documents, but GDocs can be used for a lot of things, even Forms to act as quizzes/knowledge tracking.

What else do you want to do with your class?  What other use-cases or requirements do you need to meet?

Paul Henderson

October 10th, 2013

Check out School Empower (www.schoolempower.com).  I happened to come across it the other day, but I haven't used it.  Looks like it has some useful tools for managing classes, schedules, etc.

Paul