Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Progress Reporting and Desire2Learn

Seems as though it is that time of year again... reports are due this week. Its not a time that I dread per say but it is a process that I think can be streamlined. Let me explain the process that we go through, as online teachers, to get reports to parents.

First of all our grades are placed inside the Desire2Learn grades module. Inside D2L we are able to produce a cumulative grade for students, one that updates in real time. However to get a report to parents we, as teachers have to upload our grades into our portal, using an internal import tool. Then we have to go into our report generation tool and configure the marks to be included, percentages, attendance, etc... From there we add our comments and save the report. Our portal then has a built in feature that allows the schools to download reports applicable to the students in their school. Then from there schools either include our cumulative grade to their reports, or print our reports and include them with theirs... and after all of that... our reports get to parents via their children.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not difficult to do from the online teacher end, time consuming for the anecdotal comments we add, but not difficult. The issue that I think could be streamlined is how parents receive reports from the teacher. The parent has to rely on the school to download our reports before they get them and the access is more static to four reporting periods during the school year. And what happens if children do not readily hand them over?

I always encouraged parents, when I taught in the face to face classroom, to contact me anytime if they needed a progress update. I have since suggested to parents that they get their children to log into their D2L accounts to view their children's progress.

I believe that parents should be able to access an update of their children's progress in real time and at anytime they wish... without having to go through anyone.

To achieve this in our environment I think that Desire2Learn should add the following feature.

When students are added to Desire2Learn courses there should be the option to add a parent email address to that registration. Then, when the student is registered, the parent receives an e-mail address with a link. That link, when clicked, will display the same page that their child will see if they clicked on their grades inside D2L. Maybe it generates a PDF file. If the child is doing multiple courses online, it generates a report for each course. Basically clicking on the link will query the server to fetch the grades and display them. To me this would totally avoid having to create a new D2L role for parents and authenticate the child's account against the parent's account (which I am told requires a great deal of work).

Some software packages allow for this real time reporting to students. I wish I had it with Desire2Learn too.

Now back to finishing reports :)

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