Naenae College Uses Educa As Learning Support Software And Makes A Difference
In October 2013, Naenae College opened the doors to their new specialist learning facility. The care, thought and innovation has led to an inspiring learning environment for the students and teachers. The teaching team have continued to review current practice and look for opportunities to improve.
This is when they found Educa.
Tamsin Davies-Colley and Donna Clark were seeking a platform that was effective in tracking learning, communicating progress to families and was teacher-friendly. The REPORTS tab on Educa showed information on who was responding and the frequency of their visits.
“We could see that 98% of parents had connected. This was much higher than expected and reassured us that we could use Educa as a main source of communicating.”
From A Flood of Paper to Online
Before Educa, the teaching team used the wider school systems as learning support software along with a communication book that was set up for each student. Teachers would regularly write in the book and send it home to parents who would do the same.
“Sharing with parents in a text form is difficult. Students are often doing really valuable work but it is hard to see these incremental changes and learning progressions.”
Since starting Educa as its learning support software , Donna has seen it bridge a gap between home and school. Parents see evidence of their children engaged in their learning and managing new tasks with limited support. The learning support software also gives them peace of mind that their child is in a safe, stimulating and caring environment whilst outside of the home.
“Educa feels like a very authentic way of informing parents and extended family. It not only shares our school program content, but often demonstrates what their child is capable of achieving in a range of different learning environments. I feel it has been a supportive resource for parents and their engagement has increased.”
Easier To Use Than Google Drive
She has found Educa to be more personal as it has an educational platform compared to a more corporate system such as Google Drive.
“Educa is visual. Photos and videos are a very open and honest way of informing family. Observations recorded by a teacher are supported by visual evidence. Parents can view the links to core competencies, see they are being met and that it is in real time.”
She found systems like Google Drive to be less engaging and more complicated for students with special needs to use. For the less literate it is not particularly stimulating and requires more 1:1 support to navigate. Even for those who are more literate, there is a higher chance that things can go wrong. For example, each time a student completes a document, they have to choose who they allow to edit, view or comment on their document.
“This can be confusing and it means a student can unknowingly share with everyone or with the ‘wrong’ recipient. With Educa the privacy and sharing ability is predetermined so it is safe and simple.”
Using Educa Stories To Break Down Barriers
A big focus for Donna’s senior students is transitioning them into the community. This can be challenging for some students as unfamiliar situations can create anxiety, apprehension and lack of engagement. During their group outings, Donna takes photos and videos which are put on as a group or individual story.
“Educa has been fabulous because I am able to show this student where we went and what we did. It demystifies the unknown and encourages the students to become involved. For example, since viewing the Educa post, one student has now decided they would like to come on the next visit to a new community facility that she was initially apprehensive about.”
Reinforcing Prior Learning & Achievements
Another focus for teachers is looking for methods that help students absorb and retain information. Using Educa they can now revisit past learning experiences to help with their consolidation of their new learning.
“I will put up a Science experiment with photos and videos and students can then revisit this learning which all helps with their retention.”
Depending on the student’s ability, they can have access to their portfolio and upload their own stories about their experiences. She has seen students build positive self-esteem as they look back over their achievements and progress.
“Initially some students were very shy at having their photo taken. Now they embrace it as they really enjoy seeing themselves on Educa and looking back through their portfolios. Other students enjoy the role of camera-person/s, knowing that their pictures/videos will be up-loaded to Educa. Once again, feelings of positive self-esteem and ownership flourish for these students.”
Easy To Use
Donna finds Educa simple and easy to use.
“It is easy. You can’t do anything wrong.”
And so do the students …
“I have seen instances where a senior student has shown a teacher aide how to navigate around Educa. Educa gives that leadership opportunity to more able students who are proficient in IT.”
Donna Clark is a Special Needs Teacher at Naenae College, a high school in Wellington, New Zealand. High school learning support teams in New Zealand and Australia use Educa.