Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Skedula Still Sucks

It's funny. I put up a post saying Skedula sucks, and I got dozens of responses from people who'd never posted on the blog before, most of whom had never used Disqus, a very popular commenting platform. One person would say the technophobes love it, then an hour later someone would post saying, "I'm a technophobe, and I love it."

I got multiple posts calling me a liar, and characterizing those who criticize Skedula as Luddites or worse. I took them down, and I will continue to delete such posts, so please don't even bother.

I know many teachers, I know what teachers are passionate about, and I do not know one single teacher, not even a  tech-oriented teacher, who is passionate about a grading program, any grading program. I have read all the comments, and I do have a response.

Several posters insisted Skedula does not, by default, make posts public. They are wrong. When you write an anecdotal, the public box is checked by default, and you must uncheck it. I would not advise teachers to make negative posts open to all. If you've read Chancellor's Regulation A-421, you think twice about what you want people to hear. There's a prominent case of a teacher being fired for writing unsavory things about her students on Facebook. I'd think a school audience would put a teacher at even more risk.

I find it incredible there is no feature for a guidance referral, and thus far no poster, not even the ones saying they are from Skedula, has addressed this fundamental flaw. If you wish to send a message to a guidance counselor, you must then look up who the guidance counselor is, if you have not already done so, then check the name of the counselor. In a school like mine, with a dozen counselors, that's unnecessarily time-consuming. Daedalus selected the counselor automatically in one step.

Yes, I know, you need training, as many posters repeated. As a matter of fact, I've had it, and one of the reps from Skedula was in my school just last week. The first time I mentioned guidance referrals, the rep answered a question, but not the one I asked. When I repeated it again, he said the beauty of Skedula was that I could set it up to do it myself. That was akin to bringing my car in and having the mechanic tell me the beauty of his shop was that I could come in and do the repair myself. There was no discussion of adding this very basic and useful feature from this rep.

Let's look further at training. I'm using the Blogger platform right now. I've had zero training. I also had zero training in MS Word. Last week I edited a film using iMovie, with zero training, for the first time. The teachers using Engrade in my building did so with zero training. An intuitive program is user-friendly, and requires little training. I had zero training in Daedalus, and I've had zero training in any computer program I can think of. But let's go back to our experience with the Skedula rep.

A young tech teacher raised her hand and asked why a screen with our school name pops up every time we log in. She felt it was a waste of time. Could we bypass it? No, said the Skedula expert.
A young math teacher told me it was faster and more efficient to use a Delaney book to take attendance, and that using Skedula ate into valuable class time. In fact, several tech-oriented teachers had already told me they'd found taking attendance with Skedula was awkward, so I haven't even bothered.

Several issues came up about viewing students. Why were their faces blocked? That was because of the iPad. Why do we have scrolling issues? The iPad. But there will be an iPad app, said the rep, sometime soon, that will fix that. Pardon me if I believe it when I see it. Meanwhile, the teachers at my school, almost all of whom use iPads (on which they needed no training), can wait.

Other commenters on the blog were thrilled you don't have to write grades on Skedula. You don't have to use the EGG. Yet the rep was unable to demonstrate it, saying the grades were not up yet. The principal made sure to set up an EGG because our grades are due on Friday. I suppose he could've used Skedula and hoped for the best, but I thought it was a good idea when he bet on a sure thing. Still, maybe when Skedula works, it works. Again, I'll believe it when I see it.

Today I wanted to pull up a student schedule. I clicked "schedule" and got a choice of three schedules. I could view the student's test schedule, if I wished, and there was some other schedule, I don't recall which. Perhaps there is a school somewhere where people commonly need student test schedules, but with only 28 years teaching experience, I don't know where it is. So there I found an extra step, for no particular reason, when I was trying to find something very common--here there should be a default, and it should be the student schedule.

Now I know I will get another mountain of responses telling me how wonderful Skedula is, and how it's changed their school cultures, and their lives, and how birth control pills were a relatively unimportant invention compared to Skedula. But here's a fact. I talk to teachers and administrators all day at my school.

Not one single person has had anything good to say about it. We use it, because the school probably paid 40K for it, and is stuck with it for the year.  I use it every day because I have no choice. I find it counter-intuitive, and not user friendly.

In summary, please review the headline.
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