I read an article this week about tracking behaviour in school.
I think that tracking pupil behaviour is a good thing. Attitudes towards learning have a massive impact upon how much learning actually takes place. Different schools have different approaches and that’s fine, you don’t have to do it digitally however as Tom Bennett says in the article “recording children’s behaviour digitally is useful” and he’s right too. He also correctly goes on to talk about the devil being in the detail in terms of keeping these types of systems up to date with data so that the information held in there is useful. This isn’t rocket science and it applies to many things that happen in schools; you record all of your test scores, not just some; you should know about all of your students, not just some.
The piece, to me, however just seemed to be a bit of a pop at an app that I know can have a big impact with schools if they approach its use in the right way. The app which I’m talking about of course is ClassDojo. Now – straight up, I put my hand up – I am a ClassDojo ambassador. What does this mean? Well, basically, it means, that I champion the use of this app (alongside many of the other apps that I have vast experience of using in the classroom – no I don’t get paid). It can have a really big impact on positive engagement in the classroom. I don’t refer to it personally as a ‘behaviour app’ either, but a ‘positive engagement’ tool. Best practice use sees it being used to recognise positive behaviour in the classroom, not positive AND negative aspect.
One point made in the article talks about publicly displaying results in the classroom. Some teachers might think that good in terms of competition in the class however I am minded to agree with Andy Christopher Miller who in the article says, “One of the consequences of the public display of results is that you end up shaming kids if they’re not doing as well. That has knock-on effects in terms of their self-esteem, as well as their motivation and behaviour.” For me, this is a no-brainer, and you don’t have to show the current results of the whole class to the children. Another commentator in the article agrees and says that she doesn’t do this with her class. Another great practice that I have seen is where teachers add themselves to the class and children reward their teachers for mutually agreed positive targets for the classroom too. A culture where learning, openness and celebration of positive effort should be celebrated, not berated. If Hattie’s research tells us anything it’s that teacher collaboration and positive relationships have a big impact on learning and progress. Surely this helps?
Privacy is mentioned in the article and in its tagline too. Privacy is a massive concern for all of us. One of the trickiest things schools face is compliance and ensuring that data protection is taken seriously in a school and that all requirements are met is something that many schools are unaware of.
In the article Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility in IT at Plymouth University is quoted as saying a number of things however it is not made clear whether he is talking specifically about ClassDojo although this is the app the article is talking about.
He is quoted as saying, “many teachers and parents have not considered whether children’s data will be kept private. “It’s something we’re sleepwalking into,” said Phippen.”
“With the roll-out of the academies programme and private sector investors, you do start to ask questions: if you have someone who’s got access [to online data] who might have third-party interest, where’s the policy that protects the kids’ data from that?”
Putting the fact that it is not clear what technology Phippen is talking about to one side; I don’t think (and I acknowledge I’m not an expert) there is much more that ClassDojo could do to be more compliant. They are certified as an approved company under the US-EU and US-Swiss Safe Harbor frameworks. They are COPPA and FERPA compliant too. They have detailed information about their privacy practices on their privacy centre page which can be found here: https://www.classdojo.com/en-gb/privacycenter/. They’ve even won awards in recognition of their transparent privacy and data practices. Additionally, they have some great guides to demonstrate the lengths they go to to meet privacy requirements:
It seems much more likely to me that Phippen is referring to the concern (one of which I share) about compliance and regulations for schools in relation to data protection and privacy of student data.
Given the many features of ClassDojo to develop positive engagement in the classroom; from sharing pictures of great work using such features as ClassStory, to opening up communication channels between parents and home or the fact that as a class you can choose what positive behaviours children can be rewarded for; it’s a really great tool to promote good learning in the classroom.
So, why am I an ambassador? It’s not for the money as I don’t get paid. I have got a t-shirt though, I have to say. I’m an ambassador for ClassDojo because I know the impact it can have on learning and like I have for many years, I want to share what it can do. Just as I am an ambassador for Book Creator and why I advise countless other technology companies and their products such as Explain Everything and Kahoot. It’s not for money, although I am sure I could charge a pretty penny, but because I believe in them and I’ve seen first-hand the positively powerful impact they can have on our young people.
You can find the original article I quote from here.