Digital grade books and cloud-based class management systems

By Aristotle

Summer holidays have commenced for most teachers. But for me, it is the beginning of an academic year. 

Many teachers have already begun interacting on social media to plan new and exciting things they can do before the schools commence again. New labels, bulletin board decorations, teacher lesson planners, seating arrangements, and classroom procedures. 

As a twenty-year-old habit, I have always been planning the whole academic year during my holidays. An hour of work at home every day during the vacations gives me a comfortable and relaxed academic year. This way, I can dedicate lots of time to my family and other activities that I pick up during the year. Last year it was cycling, and I plan to join yoga and mindfulness this year.

I hear teachers talking about board decorations, etc. But not many are talking about how they plan to change the way they grade. I mean, sure, it is easy to only think about which texts, units, activities, etc. you want to keep and which ones you hope to teach next year. As teachers, we know feedback should be given to someone to improve. Just telling someone “you must try hard” or “you could have done better” will not lead to improvement.

Also, practice alone does not make a person perfect. A person has to know what they need to improve upon and what to do to get better.

Education, assessments, and technology

The digital transformation has taken over almost all industries, and the educational sector is not an exception. While some sectors showed resistance to changes brought about by technology, the educational sector seems to have embraced the digitization process. The sector is experiencing tremendous disruption from rapidly emerging electronic learning services and solutions. One of the fast-evolving eLearning trends in the education industry is the integration of a digital grade book in learning management solutions.

Time is the new currency 

There is so much going on in everyone’s life. Most of us are looking after multiple fronts between home and work. The more we plan our time, the better we will perform. 

As I had written in the blog, “every business will be a software business” that “A strong pattern that emerges through history is that tasks that seemed repetitive for human beings were shifted to machines. Looking at the pattern we know technology will continue to play a big role in every sphere of our lives” So, why spend time and energy on repetitive tasks? Why get set papers, and assess your class by the old and obsolete methods? I think it is high time we take help from technology, right? 

Did you ever hear a teacher say she loves working over the weekend? Or that she loves grading more than engaging with her class? Let us concede, grading is one of the many tasks that can be shifted to digital apps.

What is a Digital Gradebook?

Digital grade books have become very popular. As a part of cloud management systems, digital grade books mark student assessments. It is an online version of a physical grade book. With the Chronicle Cloud (CC) app, the teacher can give grades and also take formative assessments. A teacher can also include student assignments, descriptive notes, and audiovisual notes on the CC app. 

Digital grade books are supported by cloud technology these days. So, the teachers can put all their classroom data on the cloud and share it with parents, other teachers, and the management. Not only this, the teacher can store all the multimedia notes, grades, instruction needs of the individual student on the cloud and download them whenever she needs them. The calculation of grades becomes extremely fast and easy with digital technology. 

Cloud-based class management systems have induced parental involvement to extraordinary levels, making seamless access to information about their child’s progress and pedagogical requirements. A typical modern online grade book is cloud software that allows teachers, students, and parents to access information concerning class assignments, formative assessments, instructional needs, attendance, etc. 

I am sharing a couple of the digital grade books that my colleagues use.

Chronicle Cloud- Chronicle cloud (CC) is a powerful and superbly integrated Cloud-based teacher app. With features like note-taking, formative assessments, grade books, advance note-taking, speed notes, etc. CC is a compact digital app that incorporates all the essential teaching tasks. 

CC has a ‘parents’ app where parents access ‘shared notes’ or assignments from Teachers. This app allows parents to submit assignments back to teachers as well.

Itunes U  

iTunes U is an grade book. It makes it easy to organize the classroom. With homework hand-ins, an integrated grade book, and private discussions, teachers can deliver lessons, grade assignments, and stay connected with parents and other teachers. Everything is just one iPad away. The integrated grade book lets you know exactly how each student is doing, it lets you see when a student has viewed an assignment, when their work is complete, and when it’s time to reach out with a reminder. I will write a separate blog on a few other apps that caught my attention while researching cloud-based class management apps and digital grade books.

Many teachers have inhibitions shifting to technology because of the status quo. To them, I have only one thing to say. Dear teachers, make your life easy and embrace cloud-based tools and apps. It will make your life easy and stress-free. And when everyone is incorporating technology in their profession and business, then why should teachers be left behind? 

For them, I have a few reasons as to why they should embrace technology.

Teachers must confess that teaching has its challenges. The traditional ways of teaching are obsolete and have proven to be time-consuming. We have more aware parents and a more aware students. Parents want innovative ways and are involved more in their child’s education. Teachers have to cope with a lot more than they had to twenty years ago. Parents and administration expect teachers to teach well alongside organizing the data, create engaging content, focus on individualized teaching, formative assessments. And, it’s not about just a profession-teachers have family, children, and their tasks have quadrupled.

Teachers need to effectively manage the colossal amount of data throughout the academic year. Hence technology makes it easier and faster. With technology, teachers can now concentrate on improving teaching strategies. With cloud-based class management systems, teachers no longer have to worry about maintaining and protecting voluminous data. The algorithms and the cloud-based information systems have everything integrated. Teachers have to enter the grades, average scores, and calculations are done by the software. Cloud-based apps and digital grade books come with enhanced security protocols. Hence the data is safe, secure, and can be retrieved anytime. 

As a part of their work, Teachers have to report the results to various stakeholders, namely the students and administrators, and parents. Grading and assignment-related reporting can be both exhausting and time-consuming for teachers. Generating progress reports, comparing grades, and referring to previous grades, information made available is quicker and easier with a digital grade book. Teachers don’t have to prepare handwritten reports for individual students. Gradebooks can easily generate progress reports for numerous classes in a fraction of a minute. 

Teachers no longer have to counsel students or send emails to parents. The data is accessible on the app, and parents can access it without having to write emails. Digital gradebooks keep track of learning and help students set educational goals, track progress, and identify gaps. Planning is made easy as students can view the calendars showing assignment due dates and dates for extra-curricular activities.

Almost all cloud-based class management systems and digital grade books come with notification alerts. The students and parents are alerted when the grades are updated. A lot of things are possible on these cloud-based class management systems. Students can download learning materials, instructor notes, and personalized instruction needs that the teacher has written for every individual student. Cloud-based technology is best for groups because they help manage content, grades, and communication. Such a fresh way to capture, document, and share student learning, isn’t it?

Grading isn’t fun, but since the digital gradebook, it’s never been so easy and teacher-friendly. digital grade books allow anytime/anywhere grading and tracking of student progress. They also offer extra-special options, such as easy alignment of assignments and outcomes with Common Core Standards and student-facing goal-setting and tracking. Whether you’re looking for a simple, free grade book or a full-fledged Learning Management System (LMS), you’ll find tools to suit your requirements.

Calculating Class Grades

Class grades on the GradeSheet are calculated using the following process:

  1. Non-percentage grades (letter grades or points) are converted into percentages.
  2. The weight of each assignment is added together.
  3. Multiply the percentage grade for each assignment by its respective weight.
  4. Add the values calculated in Step 3 together.
  5. Divide the number calculated in Step 4 by the number calculated in Step 2.

Digital grade books record grades, calculate averages, and set subjective performance indicators. Every time a teacher adds an assessment in the class feed or planner, a column is added to the gradebook.

Simplify and Succeed

What more can one want than an integrated digital platform that is easy to use. For attendance, communication, lesson plans, formative assessments, reporting, etc., and digital grade books to calculate grades in points, letters, or percentages. With technology, we ought to simplify the process and use it to our advantage.