Sun | Jun 24, 2018

Techno-tools for the classroom: ClassTag - facilitating seamless communication

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMGen Clacken

Over the past few decades, teachers, school administrators, and other education officials have watched and lamented the decline of the home-school connection. Economic and other push-and-pull factors have especially affected the relationship that schools have with parents and guardians.

Research has long established the importance of a strong parent-teacher relationship to student behaviour and achievement.

There is no denying that when the school and the home are communicating frequently and effectively, student performance improves. But how does the school bridge the divide between busy and sometimes absent parents? How do teachers connect with parents in holistic and meaningful ways without compromising personal and professional boundaries?

The good news is that there is an app for that. It is called ClassTag.

Today, we speak of learning partnerships and their impact on improved student performance. More and more educators are finding innovative ways of connecting with the home in order to manage student behaviour and motivate students to learn and do well.

This is especially difficult in some Jamaican schools, where a growing number of the students are living with siblings and other relatives who are not much older than they.

Their parents are either living or working in other parishes or have migrated to other countries to "make a better life" for themselves and their children. This results in a significant breakdown in the home-school relationship, with large numbers of Jamaican students not adequately being monitored and supervised across the home to school fronts.

 

Real Communication Management

 

ClassTag is described as an "all-in-one" app that was created by a group of parents to improve the flow of communication between themselves and their children's teachers.

The app is cloud-based and supports several features that can be used to significantly improve the relationship between teachers and parents and effectively extend the classroom community to include this important group of constituents.

ClassTag allows the teacher to share class announcements, give information on class events, request parents to volunteer for special projects, and organise parent-teacher conferences all done from within the app itself. Teachers can log upcoming events and allow the app to automatically send out periodic reminders, share images and videos from classroom activities, and send to parents automatically generated weekly newsletters that recap the ending week and highlight reminders about schedules and activities for the week to come.

Another important feature of the app is that teachers can monitor parental involvement in the group through the reports generated by the app. The app can even tell which parent is generally offline and may need to be reached via text messages. These messages can be sent from the app free of cost to the teacher and the parent.

 

Benefits to Parents

 

Parents who use ClassTag rave about its ease of use and the range of communication among themselves, the teachers, and even other parents. The parents, if they wish, do not have to share contact information with other parents in the group.

Communication takes place within the app when parents are online. Where persons are offline, then the app can send messages and announcements via text messages if parents so choose. Parents can volunteer for projects and RSVP to events within the app and can speak to the teacher privately about the performance of their child.

The app can accommodate many classes across many grades across many schools, thus giving parents the ability to coordinate the class calendars of each child.

Dates and events can be added to personal calendar apps, giving persons the ability to integrate and manage all schedules. Use of the app cannot be monitored by other parents. They cannot tell that an individual was last on the app yesterday at 5 p.m.

ClassTag rekindles the sense of community in the classroom. It provides teachers with a comprehensive tool to communicate with parents and keep them informed about students' growth and development.

ClassTag can be used on any operating system (IOS or Android devices) or can be accessed through any web browser. It is easy to use and free of cost and gives a commitment to remain free forever.

Visit ClassTag at https://

www.classtag.com/ to check out what the app has to offer.

- Gen Clacken is an educational technologist with 16 years of experience in online education. Visit www.genclacken.com.