Technology working and not working

A year ago, no-one at my school know what an eportal was.

Now they are at the centre of the school's behaviour policy. Eportal is a web system that tracks student behaviour. A student does something good and they get a positive eportal. A student does something bad and they get a negative eportal. Simple.

It's a fine example of new techonology improving things. Previously, behaviour was logged haphazardly, in different ways by different teachers or, in many cases, not at all. This easy-to-use system has vastly improved the way students' progress is tracked. A form tutor or head of year need only glance at a student's eportal profile to see all their eportals, each accompanied by a short report. Parents have also been very impressed by how comprehensive a picture the system provides.

It hasn't, however, been all good. Eportal also contains an alerts page. It is meant to be an easy way of giving staff useful information. For example, an alert can be issued if a student is being sent home for illness and their teachers will see it. The alerts page has, however, become an excellent way of passing the buck.

Here are few recent entries:

“Y10 students seen smoking outside the gym.”

“Y11 students running around corridors during break.”

"Students throwing litter in playground."

Teachers put these alerts up and then put their feet up, pleased that they have “responded” to the trouble. As a rule, most teacher then read the alerts, shake their head and do nothing. Logging an alert has become a useless substitute for action

The lesson? New technology may be very exciting but it only actually helps if you work out its correct role.