In high school, I worked furiously to hide my phone from my teachers. If a phone rang in class, student and device were sent straight to the principal, and if we were caught texting, we awaited the wrath of administrators and educators alike. But in the last few years, technology in schools has evolved from being banned to being embraced, and this gradual shift has allowed for the success of apps like Seesaw, a platform that “empowers students of any age to independently document what they are learning at school.”
Compatible across a number of devices, including iOS, Android, Kindle, Chromebooks, and computers with Chrome or Firefox, Seesaw is just one of the many educational apps slowly changing the face of education in the 21st century. And much of its popularity seems to be derived from its implicitly collaborative nature. According to the app’s site, “Seesaw gives students a real audience for their work and offers parents a personalized window into their child’s learning.”
Simply by snapping a photo or taking a video of their assignments, or working directly within the app itself, students create a sort of digital portfolio that other students, teachers, and parents can access. And because Seesaw documents the entire process by which a student arrives at the finished product, teachers no longer have to implore, “Show your work!” Seesaw makes sure everyone can see it.
It’s a beneficial tool for just about everyone involved — students are exposed to technology at a young age, while parents can see first-hand what their children are up to during the school day. And of course, teachers can observe their pupils’ thought process and the logic behind their work, keeping tabs on progress and identifying areas that could use improvement.
The basic version of Seesaw is totally free, and surprisingly easy to use. Rather than having kids complete the laborious sign-in process, they can simply hold a device with the app installed up to a QR code poster, which allows them to select their name from a pre-filled roster. “20 percent of lesson time is spent just getting kids signed in to education apps,” Seesaw founder Carl Sjogreen told TechCrunch. “That’s why teachers are reluctant to adopt tech in the classroom.” But not so with this new app.
Already, Seesaw is being used in an incredible one out of every four schools in the U.S. And according to the company, 92 percent of teachers report they have an increase in parent involvement and engagement since using Seesaw, and another 95 percent report that Seesaw helps teach their students develop 21st-century skills and use technology more effectively.