How the pandemic has made Seesaw less effective

Used in just about every country on the planet, and a staggering percentage of US schools (the company claims 3 out of 4 schools in the US use it) Seesaw has become a global education technology juggernaut. When parents are connected to their child’s account, they are able to browse through the stream of uploads from their child or other posts and announcements from the teacher/s. Seems perfect for use during Home Based Learning?

Schools, particularly primary schools, use it in many different ways with varying levels of success, however, I believe the maximum value of Seesaw is when it is used in a targeted fashion as a straight forward student curated portfolio of learning development, with some very occasional updates from the teacher on special events happening in the classroom. That is, use the platform for a clearly defined purpose, in a limited fashion… don’t overdo it.

Where Seesaw falls down is when it is used in a haphazard way, inconsistently across the school, and through overuse or no defined purpose. It also teeters on mimicking social media, most alarmingly without students being developmentally aware of the pitfalls of social media platforms (system admins, turn off those likes!), with an endless stream of content, over time much of it saying little for their learning development.

During the pandemic, many primary schools that were already making use of Seesaw naturally turned to it as a means of delivering Home Based Learning, which gradually changed the way schools use it, to it’s detriment. Simply put, a portfolio is not the place to deliver a full program of learning. At the beginning of the pandemic, it made sense, a solution was needed quickly and everyone was already connected. Schools still using it for the delivery of Home Based Learning in 2021, need to rethink. If a portfolio was important in the past, what has happened to it now?

With students, teachers and parents involved in sharing and discussing student learning progress through an easily accessible student digital portfolio, this simple but effective tool can be a great way to keep parents informed and involved in their child’s progress. This is just as relevant now during the pandemic as was prior and will be into the future. Let’s keep a watch over how we use platforms to their strength, by not being overrun with the daily “workbook activities”, or turning Seesaw into a school news-stream, decreasing it’s effectiveness to highlight student progress.

Platforms for purpose… and this one is best used as a digital portfolio.

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