Apple added a slew of new educationally-oriented features to the iPad’s iOS operating system with version 9.3, but it may take some time to figure them out and work them into a school’s routine. Not the case with TabPilot, which can work with things like Apple’s School Manager. The top new items range from customizing screen layouts and locking lost or stolen pads to blacklisting undesirable apps and sharing the devices among students and teachers. It’s Mobile Device Management scheme lets you use Apple’s Classroom App to manage and document the class.
560 Degree Solutions’ School Management System can cover a school with 360-degrees of technology with everything from automating admission and registration of new students to payroll and human resources. In addition to tracking student progress, 560 Degree can integrate transportation and create a variety of reports for state officials and parents.
Foradian’s Fedena changes the School Management Software dynamic by not charging based on the number of students. Created in India, the app has modules for everything from courses, scheduling and attendance to grades and admissions with a common Web-based interface. There’s a customizable dashboard, the software can create a variety of reports and you can integrate Moodle and Google Docs into the framework. The Pro version costs $600 a year and includes 33 module and Web-based training, while the $1,000 Pro Plus version adds 13 extra modules and comes with personal training.
A report card can never include the subtleties that modern education seeks to provide, from collaboration to creativity, but FreshGrade can consolidate it all for free. Available only for iPads (sorry Android users), there are apps for Students (to compile assignments), Teachers (to provide feedback) and parents (to view progress). The program can capture everything from plain old written material to videos, sound clips and images. There’s also a blog for sharing ideas and a new gradebook that lets teachers use a variety of assessment methods.
Disappointed with Apple’s support, management software and security? JAMF Software’s Casper Suite now supports the new educational features of iOS 9.3. The software can help set up iPads for multiple accounts, use the Classroom app work with Apple School Manager and Managed Apple IDs for schools. There’s even a new Lost Mode that allows an administrator lock a lost or stolen system, rendering it useless while allowing it to be tracked.
If separate gradebooks, student information and analytic reports are too scattered, Jupiter iO puts it all together in one place. The program is cloud based and its common interface covers it all, from testing to billing. It can not only can keep track of every student’s progress and send it along to teachers and parents, but has its own store for buying texts. Jupiter iO costs $8 a student with volume pricing available.
ThinkWave Educator 3.0’s cloud-based gradebook puts all the right grades in the right places, regardless of whether it’s a single class or a day’s worth of teacher. In addition to numerical grades, the gradebook can use letter, check marks or just about any scheme you can think of and generate a variety of reports for administrators or parents. The program’s powerful dashboard lets you choose among Students, Teachers, Classes, Grades, Attendance, Reports and Setup. It can even be used to distribute and collect assignments and the program includes 25MB of online storage space for free. The $50 premium service ups that to 100MB.
Forget about sending home colored photocopied because Bloomz can make communicating with parents much easier and more efficient. Still under development, Bloomz works with iPhones, iPads, PCs and Android systems to provide a class calendar and set up secure two-way conversations. It can also help with everything from announcing snow days and finding a field trip chaperone to setting up parent-teacher conferences and sharing class photos.
We typically focus on the larger programs that can accommodate thousands, if not tens of thousands, of students, but School Time does a lot for a little. Aimed at smaller schools, the free version can work with up to 50 students, which for some is just right. In addition to a gradebook, attendance and a library database, the program can email invoices and provides teachers with a nice Dashboard for viewing test scores. The software has a mobile version that works on phones and tablets.
Open Ed’s already inclusive view of what teachers can use in classrooms has just gotten much wider. The software now offers a single log-in for a variety of free curriculum and classroom content by integrating with Edmodo, Canvas, Otus Plus, Schoology and Moodle. Expect more in the coming months.