With so many online options available to schools, teachers and school leaders, allowing for integration with pupils, parents and colleagues can involve enrolling to a multitude of platforms and services, of which many are unfamiliar. However, nearly everyone knows the basics of Microsoft Office tools, right?
Ensuring online platforms include integration of which people understand and can work with is critical, and that is why Skooler has grown into such an intrinsic tool for schools who work with Office 365 applications to support teaching, learning or planning. The Skooler platform offers three significant dashboard functionalities offering a one-stop shop: the main Office 365 applications, such as Microsoft Word, Excel; external API’s allowing key school essentials, such as SIMS, EducationCity, 2Simple, LGfl etc; and a planning goals functionality that explores assignment progress, absences, and a curriculum linked planning structure.
I was given a comprehensive online tour of the Skooler online environment, and what I was faced with was a platform that easily allows for integration of many school tasks, allows ease of access of tasks set for students and their parents. Fundamentally, the Skooler online environment allows grouping features which allow for an internal intranet service within a school structure allowing subject groups, year groups, SLT groups, or any area you wish.
What is impressive therefore is that teachers can use the dashboard and entire system from any device inside or outside the school environment.
Setting and managing tasks for students works like a dream, with the Skooler platform allowing for the importing of files and documents, converting to online versions and allowing students to complete tasks within Office 365 and subsequently being handed in online, with teachers receiving notifications of any missing work from individual students.
Additionally, the planning tool for teacher is also very impressive. Skooler have included all National Curriculum objectives from England, but also allows for bespoke or individual goals that a school may use. Assigning the objectives to various weeks within the planner is fantastic, ensuring all learning objectives are being delivered. This plan can be transferred with the ‘generate plan’ option populating into a teachers calendar, so being informed on the dashboard of the objectives or activities being done that week. This information can then be pulled up the ladder to allow teachers and headteachers explore the objectives that are being worked on within year groups or subjects. This information automatically shows in the calendar. This is a really impressive feature of Skooler, and further enhancements promised over the summer will improve this even further.
Yet, there is even more. The assignment functionality within Skooler easily allows teachers to create tasks for students, relevant to the age-group or subject – including an optional plagiarism tool. WebLinks can also be added into assignments to support pupils with research, and learning goals can also show the purpose of the aligning the work with key learning objectives. Teachers can plan forward, making assignments available in the future, and specify a deadline date.
Assignment tasks are also pulled into the parent portal, along with being available to the students own calendar and Outloook mail, which is part of their dashboard. Communicating with parents is a breeze within Skooler, and any tasks given to pupils can also be shared with parents, so they can be engaged with the documents and activities being completed with their children.
Pupils can work online with the documents. With the Skooler Add-On tool, pupils can work online, with a simple option allowing to ‘Hand-in assignment’, with no off-line or online saving, with the completed work going back to the teacher. For the teacher, the process works the same. The teacher can grade the assignments handed back in, offering an online mark and feedback to the student. This fantastic feature can really help reduce the time marking, and valued comments and feedback can easily be annotated.
Ultimately, graded work populates into a Gradebook, showing the grading and progress of individual students, along with groups. The information can be shared with school leaders and other teachers to help target particular groups of pupils or progression in specific subjects.
Other features include a quiz functionality, allowing for a range of different quiz styles, including multi-choice, short answers, true/false etc. A timer is also available, to help students focus on the quiz for the specified time. Also, a class list option shows basic information of the students, including the option for photos, e-mail addresses and parental information. This data is drawn from SIMs data, but also the option is available to create Seating Charts, but this is still in development, with the full functionality being made available for September 2017.
Other teasers currently being improved or added soon include an enhanced timetable functionality, as well as an improved parent portal including the utilisation of OneNote, which will also include grading and feedback given to students by teacher/s.
Seeing the platform work, as an educator, really showed how Skooler is working hard to reduce the planning, workload and feedback pressures faced by colleagues everywhere.With the promise of further developments and upgrades to be made ready for the new school year, Skooler is building an integrated online tool that schools who embrace working with Office 365 really shouldn’t ignore.