Relief hits me when I return to my seat after my presentation. I am glad that is over and that I was able to share my knowledge of education and social media with my classmates. While sitting in my seat, I am surprised about how quickly the five minutes went by and I regretted that I could have concluded my presentation with stronger applicable information. Additionally, I did not explain whether my opinion on using social media in schools had changed or not.
A week passes by, and I received an email from Professor Kane with the feedback for my presentation. After reviewing and reflecting upon the feedback, I realized that there is so much more that I could share. So, I thought it would be best to respond to themes and answer questions from my feedback. Hopefully, by the end of this post, your questions are answered.
Question: What is the general overview of the industry?
ClassDojo, DonorsChoose.org, and KidBlog are a part of the rapidly growing educational software industry. Similar to other industries, schools are leveraging technology to improve teaching, behavior, and tracking data. The software education industry is valued at $8.38 billion. Last year, the valuation was $7.9 billion. Digital assessments and testing represent that largest category in educational software at $2.5 billion dollars. The recent focus on Common Core standards and data has increased the demand for digital assessments.
Theme: I do not see the benefits of ClassDojo. I am concerned about the use of ClassDojo in classrooms.
I was also skeptical about this. However, when used to promote positive behavior, ClassDojo can bolster classroom culture. In Boston Public Schools, teachers are required to have a behavior management system in the classroom. This usually takes the form of a visual stoplight. Students who are on green are doing well. Students who are on yellow receive a warning. Students who are on red must stop and reflect on their behavior. I have seen this system implemented with more colors and different variations of colors. The key to system’s success is that the children understand that they can navigate throughout the colors both up and down and teachers must have flexibility in expectations for different learners. If a student is having a bad day, they can turn it around with positive behavior. Additionally, a good teacher will motivate and even change expectations for student to receive positive reinforcement to get them back on task. ClassDojo can be used in the same way. The benefit is that you have data trail on classroom behaviors. By having data, a teacher can adjust classroom structures or communication to ensure that students are in an optimal learning environment. Education has been late in implementing data driven practices. ClassDojo allows a teacher to easily track positive and negative behaviors. If the data not sway you, ClassDojo also has additional free features such as a classroom stream and free social emotional curriculum. Parents can see the art project that their child finished or pictures from a field trip. Teachers can use the social emotional curriculum to explain what empathy or perseverance is. Social emotional curricula can cost thousands of dollars and ClassDojo is offering it for free!
Question: What challenges do these platforms face?
ClassDojo received a lot of negative publicity around privacy and parental consent. The NY Times wrote a critical article about ClassDojo stating that teachers are using ClassDojo without asking parental consent. When downloading the software, teachers agree to term of service that the school and parents consent to the use of the software. Some teachers are using the software without the parents’ knowledge. The NY Times also claimed that ClassDojo plans to sell personal information for marketing purposes. ClassDojo released a statement that said that they will never sell personal information and that profile data that is not saved by a parent is erased after a year.
The main challenge that KidBlog faces is exposing students to criticism from peers or the public. However, since the teacher has full control of who can see a student blog this can be limited and monitored.
DonorChoose.org experiences challenges receiving enough funding for projects. To combat this problem DonorChoose.org promotes specific projects on their home page to ensure that users who travel to their site are first exposed to projects that are close to being fully funded or projects that are for high needs schools.
How prevalent are the use of these platforms?
ClassDojo is used in 90 % of K-8 classrooms in the United States and in over 180 countries. It has been translated into 35 different languages. Also, 1 in every 3 US students ages 5-12 have seen the social emotional learning curriculum provided by ClassDojo.
KidBlog does not release any information on how many classrooms use the platform.
To date DonorsChoose.org has given over $525 million to classroom in need. Around 75 % of public schools in the US have posted a project on the site. Lastly, over 2.5 million people have donated to DonorChoose.org.
Has my opinion changed about social media use in schools?
Yes, it has. Social media has great potential for enriching learning environments in schools. However, they must be strictly monitored and regulated. I support the use of platforms that are made for school purposes because they have privacy and security tools built into the program. I do not support the use of Twitter, Facebook, or more generalized platforms in K-8 schools. There is too much risk of exposing students to explicit content or bullying.