September 27, 2011
I had the privilege of working with rock star entrepreneur Sam Chaudhary before the rest of the world stormed the stage. [Check out Sam’s latest post to the Beta Classroom site!]
Beta testing this incredible program allowed me to recognize its extraordinary potential and award it the title of “Teacher Approved Technology” months ago (you can check out the review and original beta test video here).
While beta testing, Sam and I realized the importance of documenting the benefits of successful collaborations between ed. tech. entrepreneurs and teachers. In honor and celebration of Class Dojo’s victory, I proudly republish the thoughts we put down while collaborating via google doc. sometime before dawn in early July. For full explanation of what it takes to have a successful symbiotic collaboration between ed. tech. and teachers, here-> Best_Practices If you are a teacher interested in checking out other programs like class dojo, you should join our team of teachers who help shape the ed. tech. of tomorrow!
Benefits Sam Gained From Partnership with Beta Classroom
- Told us that we were solving a problem. Speaking with you gave us a strong signal to go ahead with what we were doing – people underestimate the importance of these types of morale boosts.
2) Explicitly told us what was important to you, or what you’d expect. I think your ‘stream of consciousness’ narration throughout the video really helped us understand what you wanted to do, and therefore what we need to do to fit with your work patterns.
- Implicitly revealed needs. For example, when you were choosing the T-shirt icon from the negative behavior, you had to scroll through a bunch of icons without knowing when it was going to come up. We’re now building a ‘lightbox window’ so you can choose the icon while looking at the whole set, rather than clicking along until you find it.
4) At numerous points through the video, you highlighted a lot of bugs! This is fantastic because as we are following the lean startup philosophy of ‘release early, release often’ – and the fact that we’ve been going for just 4 weeks! – we frequently don’t have enough time to catch all the bugs – which is why it’s important to have an engaged group of beta testers like you to say ‘hmm… that seems weird!’
- You came to us, without us getting in touch via friends of friends, or other ties. You were doing it off of your own initiative and and talking about their that are important to you. This is a subtle distinction but when it comes to feedback, it means you are very ‘mission-driven’ and concerned about making this useful for you in your context, because ultimately you want to use it. It is different when someone is using it not only because it is useful, but also because their indirect relationship with us! This meant, I feel, that we got direct, unfiltered feedback – which all startups need more of!!
6) Thoughts on product deployment: as startups, we make assumptions about the environment in which our products will operate. It is awesome to hear from you what actually happens in the classroom, e.g. ‘my wireless used to slow down when multiple people at the middle school accessed it’.
For example, at one point you said that ‘all programs we use ask me to re-type students names one by one (other than the one which is mandated by the school), so I don’t mind doing it again… I do think that there’s got to be a way to just paste in a list’. This made us realize that if we’re going to be better than other programs, we’ve got to make something as simple as adding a class list be a really awesome experience. We’re now building in a ‘copy and paste a list of names’ feature, as a direct consequence of your feedback.
A second example of this was when you logged in with your phone, and it took ages to load – you filled in the silence with conversation – you were praising us, which was great haha :p – but which suggested to me that the performance of the web app is too slow.
Benefit of working with Sam and Class Dojo:
+ Added Value – Freedom of movement! I will no longer will I be forced to choose between standing near my keyboard or using a paper seating chart to record student participation points. This application allows me to be where I need to be-with my students, and easily keep track of class participation points. Additionally, the program provided me with an analysis of the feedback I give my students which will help me make better decisions about how I encourage my student’s to succeed.
+ Time Saved – 3 hours/week (at least) that I usually would have spent deciphering, entering and analyzing participation point charts at the end of the week! Saves me time in my efforts to contact parents to let them know of their child’s successes in class.
+ Improves Teacher’s Efficiency and Practice: Gives parents and students access to technology so that parents can access their child’s data and see how they performed in class each day.
+ Optimizes Student Learning – Helps make learning more fun for my students and provides them with a better understanding of positive/productive behaviors and choices