Showing posts with label free gradebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free gradebook. Show all posts

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Tricky Thing About Free Gradebooks - And Two Alternatives to Engrade

This afternoon I received an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to Engrade. Engrade is a gradebook tool that has been free to teachers for a long time, but starting in September Engrade will no longer have a free option. I do have a couple of suggestions for free alternatives to Engrade. Those are Otus and EasyClass. Google Classroom also has a simple gradebook available to teachers.

My recommendation of Otus and EasyClass come with the caveat that you should make a gradebook selection in conjunction with your school's IT director so that you're both on the same page in terms of tech support and compliance with local student data security regulations. And if your school has an LMS that they want you to use, you should use that instead of venturing out to use a different system on your own.

Otus is designed to be a complete LMS (learning management system) for teachers. In addition to the gradebook you have options for sharing assignments and delivering quizzes directly to your students' inboxes. Otus provides teachers with a library of instructional resources (videos, texts, interactive review activities) that they can share with their students. Third-party resource providers are integrated into the Otus LMS. A couple of notable third party applications are Khan Academy and OpenEd. OpenEd offers thousands of math and language arts practice assessments aligned to Common Core standards. Otus is free for individual teachers to use. Otus can also be purchased for district-wide implementation which includes additional reporting tools for administrators.

EasyClass is also intended to be a complete LMS for teachers. On Easyclass you can host classroom discussions, post assignments, post resources for students, and deliver online quizzes to your students. Easyclass discussions and assignments allow you to post notes to the whole class. Assignment notes include due dates. Discussion notes don't include due dates. Both types of notes can include file attachments and links. Through the quizzes option in Easyclass, you can create multiple choice, true/ false, or essay quizzes. Pictures can be included with your quiz questions. You can make instant feedback available to students at the end of the quiz (except for essay questions). Quiz scores can be sent directly to your Easyclass gradebook.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Kiddom - Another Online Classroom Service

There isn't any shortage of online classroom services available today. From Google Classroom to Otus to Edmodo, every service offers something a little bit different from the others. Kiddom is the latest entry into this crowded space.

Kiddom is a free service that enables teachers to create online classroom spaces. In Kiddom you can create and manage multiple classrooms. In those classrooms you can distribute assignments to students to complete and return to you.

One of the things that Kiddom offers to try to make itself stand out is an integrated search for assignment materials. For example, fourth grade teachers can search for mathematics assignments that are aligned to standards of their choosing. When a material is found teachers can then assign it to their students as a homework assignment, as a quiz, or as a long-term assignment. Teachers can also create assignments from scratch by uploading materials and or importing them them Google Drive.

Another thing that Kiddom does to try to appeal to schools is offer standards alignment within the gradebook. Teachers can choose from a set of state standards or set custom standards to align to each assignment.

Kiddom in Action
I registered for a free Kiddom account and created a classroom. The process of creating a classroom and adding students to it was relatively straight-forward and easy. However, creating assignments was not as quick and easy as I had hoped it would be.

To create an assignment you have can either search for existing materials within the Kiddom library or upload your own. I tried a bunch of searches for high school social studies materials and never got any results. Then I tried to search for elementary school mathematics materials and I did get some results. I ended up uploading my own materials to create an assignment.

Once you've uploaded materials for an assignment you then have to choose if the assignment is for homework, a paper, or a quiz. Once you make that selection you then have to choose how you will grade the assignment. Your grading options are "no grade,""points," or "rubric." If you choose rubric you then have to create a rubric in Kiddom. After choosing how to grade the assignment you then have to choose which standard(s) are aligned to your assignment. Finally, after making all of those selections you get to assign a start date and due date for the assignment. But wait, there is still one more step of choosing which student(s) will receive the assignment.

Fortunately, grading assignments in Kiddom isn't quite as cumbersome as creating and distributing them. To grade an assignment you simply go into your dashboard and choose an assignment. Then select "grade" and you can quickly see each student's submission and either assign point values or rubric values to each student's submission.

Initial conclusion
Kiddom is probably a fine service run by good people. It is in a crowded market up against behemoths like Google and Pearson so they're going to have to do a little bit more in terms of making the assignment creation process a little better in order to stand out. Kiddom does offer free iOS app. In an increasingly fractured mobile OS environment they should add an Android app ASAP.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

JumpRope - A Free Online Gradebook for Teachers

JumpRope is a new service offering teachers a free standards-based gradebook. I signed up and gave it a try this morning. My initial impression of the service is that it has a lot of helpful features once you figure out how to make them all work. To be fair, JumpRope does provide a lot of tutorials for new users.

The tabbed dashboard is the feature that stands out immediately when you sign into JumpRope. The dashboard makes it easy to quickly toggle between courses and tasks in your JumpRope account. Creating student rosters in JumpRope is easy to do. You can manually enter your students' names in JumpRope or upload a spreadsheet of names.

JumpRope can be used to enter grades and attendance. After you have entered grades for a few assignments switch over to the explore tab to see charts of your students' progress and mastery of subjects. You can generate and print progress reports in the explore tab too.

If you need a place to build and organize your lesson plans, JumpRope offers that too.

Applications for Education
Most schools have some type of enterprise gradebook solution in place. If your school does not have one in place or you're looking to try out another solution, JumpRope is worth giving a try.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

LearnBoost Adds Unlimited Media to Lesson Plans

Disclosure: LearnBoost helps pay the rent at the Free Technology for Teachers world headquarters. 


LearnBoost, the free online gradebook and lesson management service, just added another useful option for teachers. Now in the lesson planner teachers can include images, videos, charts, maps, and text clippings in their lesson plans. And if you're working with other teachers who use LearnBoost when you share a lesson plan that has media embedded in it the person with who you share will also be able to access the media you included. You can read more about this new feature and get directions on the LearnBoost blog.

Embedded below is a short video overview of adding media to your LearnBoost lesson plan.

How to embed media files in lesson plans from LearnBoost on Vimeo.

And another good feature of LearnBoost is the option to sync it with your Google Calendar settings. The video below shows you how to do that.

How to sync Google Calendars with LearnBoost from LearnBoost on Vimeo.

If you're not currently using LearnBoost, click here to get started and tell them I sent you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Updates to LearnBoost

LearnBoost, a great online gradebook service, has updated the way that teachers and school administrators can allow students and their parents to view their grades. You can read the full announcement and directions here. The short version of the story is LearnBoost has made it easier for students and to organize their access to grades. In the past students had to keep track of multiple access credentials for each class. That inconvenience has been removed now.

Full disclosure: LearnBoost is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers

Friday, December 9, 2011

Guest Post - Education Technology's Hidden Ticking Time Bomb

This is a guest post from Rafael Corrales, CEO of LearnBoost. LearnBoost has been an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers for the last ten months. Prior to them becoming an advertiser, I had written about LearnBoost a couple of times including this post that Rafael references below.

Freemium looks like the future for education technology companies. Yet there’s another side of free education apps and there’s a big, overlooked trend in this space that I want to shine a spotlight on.

With the proliferation of freemium services, educators aren’t fully realizing how their data is completely locked up. Richard emailed me over a year ago and he mentioned how some free services have shut down without warning to their users.

In fact, that awful free/paid back and forth situation with Ning is going to happen more frequently unless educators become aware of this ticking time bomb, get realistic about their data, and demand that education companies start unlocking their data from the very beginning.

If you only take away one thing from this post, it would be this helpful rule of thumb – if you aren’t paying with dollars for a service, then you’re paying with your data.

Look, even really well-funded companies can fail educators. Ning raised $119 million dollars, was started by the co-founder of Netscape, and had support from top institutional investors. Ning had everything going for it, including initial breakout growth around the world. But they didn’t have export or download functionality, so educators suffered when Ning made sudden changes. If a company in education is pointing exclusively to their investors, amount raised, or initial traction, you can’t bank on that - the inevitable truth is that they’re still locking your data. Plus even paid services shut down all the time in education, so you should at least rest assured that you are able to get your data out.

I’d like to see every education company open up and make data freely available. That means some export functionality, data download functionality, and future “open” related innovations. In fact, if data were truly free then education companies would have to compete on product-quality, instead of how much they can lock-in teachers, administrators, and so on.

Making data more freely available happens to be good for business. When we released our export feature and our data download feature, both times we saw a clear uptick in user adoption – and I believe other companies are starting to realize this. But hopefully educators themselves can drive a spotlight on this issue so that they force all education companies to be accountable for building the best possible products, instead of the best possible lock-in (which causes stagnation on product development, total control over users, and more).

If data could become more freely available then all education companies, whether they offer free or paid products, would be fully accountable for building the best possible products. This would be a huge win for everyone in education and ultimately benefit the most important stakeholders - students.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New LearnBoost Features - Multilingual Support and Lesson Sharing

Full Disclosure: Learn Boost is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.


LearnBoost, providers of a free online gradebook service, has released a few new features this month that you might be interested in. This month LearnBoost announced that LearnBoost is now available in Spanish and French. Yesterday, LearnBoost announced the option to share lesson plans through their service. A video overview of sharing lessons is embedded below.

How to share lesson plans from LearnBoost on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Import Local Standards to Your LearnBoost Gradebook

LearnBoost, providers of a free online gradebook service that can integrate with Google Apps for Education, recently announced a new feature that school administrators will like. Administrators of schools using LearnBoost can now import local standards into the gradebooks for their schools. Once the standards are imported all teachers within that school can select the standards that apply to the courses they teach. Click here to find directions for using the new standards importation feature.

If you're interested in learning how LearnBoost works with Google Apps for Education, watch the following video.

Adding LearnBoost in Google Apps Marketplace from LearnBoost on Vimeo.

Full Disclosure: LearnBoost is a paying advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Free Stuff Friday - Coffee Mugs from Learn Boost

Borrowing an idea that I've seen used on some other blogs, for the next month I'll be giving away free stuff on Friday mornings (eastern time). Some weeks will be t-shirts and other weeks it will be coffee mugs or other physical things to put in your classroom.

This week the newest advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers, Learn Boost, is giving away a pair five coffee mugs. To win the coffee mugs, pictured below, just leave a comment on this post with a quick thought about Learn Boost. At 7pm (EST) I will randomly select a winner from the comments. It's that easy to enter.


Learn Boost is a free online gradebook program that can be used by individual teachers or distributed across an entire school through Google Apps for Education. Click here and here to read some previous news about Learn Boost.

Update: LearnBoost just told me that they have five mugs to give away and there is also this opportunity to win some cash for your school.

Winners have been chosen! I used Random.org's number generator to select winners. #1 being the first comment and #54 being the last.
Congratulations to:
Mike Morrell
Sharlene Berry
Jennifer Hackathorn
Nancy Edwards
Leslie Smith 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Learn Boost Adds New Administrative Features to Their Gradebook Service

Learn Boost, a free online gradebook service, has recently announced a new and important option for school administrators. The new administrator tools will allow users to import entire school rosters. From the imported rosters of the school class rosters can be created. Teachers can add students to their class rosters by selecting them from the master list for the school. The administrator panel provides options for assigning student IDs. And remember Learn Boost integrates with your Google Apps for Education domain.

Learn more about Learn Boost's new administrative features in the video below.

Introducing Admin 1.0 from LearnBoost on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Learn Boost could be a good, cost-saving gradebook service for schools. When it launched last year it was designed for use on a class by class basis. The administrative options make Learn Boost a viable option for school-wide use.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Learn Boost Adds New Reporting Tools

Learn Boost, a free online gradebook service, recently added some new reporting features. There are new reporting features for analyzing the grades, assignments, and attendance of your classes as a whole. Reports on individual students are also available in the new Learn Boost reporting tools.

In the whole class reporting mode you can get reports on the average score on particular assignments. You can also see a break down of the types and frequency of the assignments you give. The attendance register now allows you to quickly see which students in your classes have the most absences and tardies. The reporting features for individual students includes a break down of a student's performance on individual assignments compared to their classmates.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Add a Gradebook to Google Apps for Education

Even though Google now offers ten times more services for Google Apps for Education than they did at the beginning of the year, they still don't have a gradebook service. But the next best thing is a new offering from the free online gradebook system LearnBoost (previously reviewed here and here). LearnBoost can now be integrated into your Google Apps for Education account. LearnBoost can be found here in the Google Apps Marketplace.

Click here or watch the video below to learn how to add LearnBoost to your Google Apps for Education account.

Adding LearnBoost in Google Apps Marketplace from LearnBoost on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
A lot of schools spend a lot of money every year on gradebook systems. Integrating LearnBoost into Google Apps for Education could save schools a significant amount of money every year.

Full Disclosure: in August 2011 LearnBoost became a paying advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Learn Boost Adds New Customization Options

Learn Boost, a free online gradebook platform that launched last month, has recently added a couple of practical options to make gradebooks better. You can now create custom subject and course titles in your Learn Boost gradebook. No longer does Learn Boost make you input schedule times in one hour increments. You can now create any time schedule you like. Learn Boost has also added an option for inputting lunch and after school activities in your schedule.

Read more about Learn Boost here. Overall, these are practical enhancements to a good free service.

Due to some past experiences with free online gradebook services, I had some questions for Learn Boost about their long-term plans specifically how they plan to support teachers' needs for data portability. One of Learn Boost's co-founders Rafael Corrales answered those questions in a blog post last month.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Learn Boost Plans to be Here for the Long Run

Earlier this month I wrote a post containing my initial impressions of a new free online gradebook system called Learn Boost. Recently, one of Learn Boost's founders Rafael Corrales contacted me to share some more information about Learn Boost. His contact gave me the opportunity to ask this of Rafael: "What is the long-term business model for LearnBoost? I ask because there have been other free gradebook programs that shut-down without warning their users leaving teachers in a lurch without access to their data." Rafael quickly replied, on a Sunday morning no less, with these answers that he gave me permission to share with all of you:

First, we want to always have the teacher gradebook, with the current feature set, as free. We are committed to that, because our business model is building out full school systems (some call it student information systems) and applying a freemium model to that space. So for teachers, it's always free. For schools, it can always be free if they choose no additional services. If they choose extra support or training, then schools do pay us but still significantly less than big competitors like Pearson and Blackboard. Plus they get a fantastic product, as we're confirming from all the great feedback we're getting and by our rapid growth. So our business model is a free teacher gradebook, and a freemium student information system for schools saving them 80-100% of their administrative software costs.

Second, we are committed to giving teachers and schools choice and flexibility. For example, we allow the export of our gradebook data. As we continue to expand, we'll continue to support export options. So even though we have plenty of money raised and we'll be around for quite a while no matter what, if anything where to happen to us teachers and schools could always export their data from LearnBoost.

We also believe it's important that teachers can export data because it means we believe we're the best gradebook and lesson plan software on the market. Look at many of the gradebook options out there that don't let you export -- that basically means they're putting a lock on the exit because they know you'll want to leave. We think you'll want to stay with LearnBoost, which is why it's very easy to export data in the event that you 1) want to leave or 2) something happens to our business.

For me the most important part of Rafael's answer is the ability to export the data you store in Learn Boost. I think if you choose to use Learn Boost and you're worried about data loss, exporting your data every few weeks would be a good habit to get into.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Free Online Gradebook Learn Boost Goes Live

Last month I reported on a new free online gradebook program called Learn Boost. Today, Learn Boost went live to the public so I signed up and gave it a test drive this evening. The current version of Learn Boost doesn't have all of the promised features activated yet, but what is activated is quite good. The most outstanding feature of Learn Boost is its very intuitive user interface. At no point during the processes of setting-up my class roster, creating a seating chart, and entering gradebook assignments and grades did I have to guess or wonder what to do next. The one feature I do wish it had live right now (it appears to be in the works) is an option to import student lists from an external file. You do have to enter student names manually the first time you use Learn Boost. Overall, on a scale of one to ten for ease of use, Learn Boost gets a ten!

Aside from the ease of use, Learn Boost has some excellent features for day-to-day use. When taking attendance in Learn Boost you have the choice of recording in list view or in a seating chart view. The Learn Boost lesson plan function allows you to upload documents and files that you need in order to conduct your lessons. Coming soon, you'll be able to share lesson plans with other teachers through Learn Boost. Recording scores in your Learn Boost gradebook is very easy too. You control the scoring system and grading scale that you use in Learn Boost. You can export and or print your gradebook at anytime.

Applications for Education
I've worked with teachers using the expensive gradebook systems Infinite Campus and Power School. The biggest complaints that I hear from teachers about those system are about how steep the learning curve is for simple tasks like recording grades or updating class rosters. In fact, in my school we've had entire staff development days devoted to training teachers on how to use Infinite Campus. That is time that could definitely be better spent on any number of alternate activities. Learn Boost will make it easy for teachers to easily do their daily administrative tasks instead of struggling to navigate an difficult user interface. If your school is looking for a new gradebook system, consider giving Learn Boost a good long look.

And I almost forgot, I tested it and Learn Boost works equally well in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. I did not test it in IE because even on my Windows machine I've uninstalled IE.