Article

Teachers design app for tracking students

Three Taranaki teachers had a dream to design software that they could use every day in their classrooms to make teaching easier. The result is appT.

No more files and folders. No more moving between paper, cameras, computers, and school management systems. Just you, your class and an iPad. That’s been the driving force behind appT.

Created and developed by Andy Evans and brothers Felix and Moriz Hartmann, appT enables teachers to photograph, record and store each student’s work samples and assessment information in their very own personalised folder. The idea for software to help lighten teacher workloads like this came after Andy saw a lack of apps that sufficiently met the varied assessment requirements of his own classroom.

“There are lots of different apps out there but in my experience, they’re all very generic,” he said. “Our point of difference is that we can customise the app to meet the specific needs and assessment requirements of your school, individual departments, year levels, and subjects.”

Using his background in web design, Andy first developed a basic template that allowed him to record photos and corresponding achievement standards of his technology students’ work. From there it has slowly evolved into its current form.

“It was never conceived to be a commercial product. I just wanted something that allowed me to record information that was specific to my classroom and my learners.

“I was working with Felix and showed him what I had been doing. He passed it on to Moriz who was teaching down the road at a local primary school and saw its potential. We got together and after a few beers at our local here we are.”

Efficient and relevant

Cara Rankin, Team Leader and Year 3 and 4 teacher from Woodleigh School in New Plymouth, has been using appT since the beginning of the year.

“This is the first program that I truly feel is designed to be efficient, relevant to today’s curriculum and a real time-saving device for teachers,” she said. “No more paper shuffling. I can record essential skills, National Standards and information from all curriculum areas with ease.

“At the push of a finger I can instantly access individual results and print progress reports. The camera/video tool allows me to easily collect evidence to support my judgements. Taking photos of work samples and tests saves so much time where before I was endlessly sifting through paperwork to find past results.”

New Plymouth Boys’ High Hospitality teacher Adrienne Roberts started using appT when it was first released last year.

“This app is tailor-made for my teaching. I have been able to tie functions together so that, at the touch of a button, I might complete several tasks at a time that might otherwise take several hours to complete. It has reduced my stress and my workload and it is so easy to use.”

A place for reflection

A further feature of the software is the ‘pupil’ folder, a place for students to capture and reflect on their own learning.

“I particularly like the area for student voice,” said Rankin. “Children collect evidence of their own progress and can discuss goals. This can be done in video or written form.”

Alongside the classroom app, the appT team has also created teacher portfolios in which users are similarly able to capture, catalogue and reflect on evidence of classroom practice demonstrating the Registered Teachers Criteria.

“It’s a simple way for schools to work through the appraisal process and help teachers meet their requirements around registration time,” explained Moriz Hartmann. “What better way of evidencing quality teaching than through video? You can also import professional readings, input direct links to websites, and best of all you can email it to anyone instantly.”

As far as the future development of appT goes the boys are taking it one step at a time.

“At the moment, we just want to help teachers work smarter and help them put time back into their students not tedious bookkeeping and administration,” added Felix Hartmann.

“Getting people to use it and experience how easy that side of the job can actually be made is our greatest wish. If we can do that and improve our product along the way, we’ll be really happy.”

 

MORE ON APPT

Designed for use on the iPad, appT can be used to record and assess students’ work, and provide feedback. It can be customised to meet specific needs and assessment requirements. It also integrates with both Google Drive and Google Docs. For more information go to www.appt.kiwi.nz

 

THE APPT TEAM

All three are full-time teachers in New Plymouth. Andy and Felix teach at New Plymouth Boys’ High School, and Moriz is at Woodleigh

 

 

Categories: Article, Issue 55