Update–NCWise Training and Gradebooks

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been neck deep in training and a trip to Europe over the holidays.

I was overwhelmed with training and was very worried about training others on something I felt like I barely knew.  What a relief to have an awesome group of core trainers to work with and learn from!  By the time, our lead teacher and I trained our staff yesterday, training was like a well-oiled machine.

Our staff walked out with positive attitudes and smiles.  Many said it was painless and I think their fears about NCWise were alleviated for the most part.  I think it also helps that we are going to be using the program in steps and not all at once.  (We won’t be using the gradebook until next fall.)  The training materials created by the core training group helped to make things clear and concise.

So, today, I am heaving a huge sigh of relief and look forward to the actual conversion process and hope it will go as smoothly as our training did.  We have already planned for a little refresher course just before the week of conversion so hopefully things on the teacher’s side will run nicely.

As far as the parent access question and the NCWise gradebook are concerned, we are still undecided at the moment.  However, if we don’t use the NCWise gradebook, the full potential of having shared access to student data will not be realized.  Also, other online gradebook possibilities will cost money.  These are all factors to be discussed but at least the future looks bright!

Impacts of NCWise and Online Gradebooks

I don’t know about most schools but we are in a quandary as to which online gradebook we will use.  Here are our concerns:

  1. At this time there is no parent module available in NCWise that allows parents to log in and monitor their child’s progress. Separate online gradebooks do allow this and it seems to be working pretty well at other schools.  These other schools intend to put final grades into NCWise or enter grades twice.  NCWise does allow the teacher to email progress reports to parents.
  2. If teachers don’t use the Teacher Assistant Module in NCWise as their gradebook but use a separate program, administrators won’t be able to view a student’s current grades unless they log in to the online gradebook.  Information will be split in two different locations which isn’t convenient for the administrator.
  3. Separate online gradebooks cost money versus NCWise which is free. 

How much value do we place on parent/student access?  Is it worth pursuing a separate alternative until NCwise implements its module?  What do administrators want?  Is ease/convenience of having all student information in the same location more important than expending extra dollars for parent/student access?

I’m not sure but I would certainly value other opinions out there in the educational technology stratosphere!  Our Media and Technology Advisory Committee will be tackling this issue in the coming weeks as well.