Sunday, October 20, 2019

IO Classroom (formerly Skedula) Still Sucks

For a few years I've been using this app to record grades. Some of my colleagues keep a paper book too. I don't. I figure if Skedula wants the responsibility of recording grades for thousands of teachers, it's on them to protect them. Doing the work once, as opposed to twice, should be enough. After all, Skedula is taking in tons of money for their service, so they owe us, at least, minimum competency.

Alas, that's not what we're getting right now. For weeks, the averages seemed to be off. I got tales of woe from various colleagues. I couldn't help but notice when I gave a kid a grade of 90 on a homework assignment that his average went from around 90 to forty-something. I had to keep re-entering the grade. I don't remember what I did to correct it, but I finally managed to do so.

 Had I not been paying attention to the overall average (and I'm not exactly sure why I should have to do that) I could've gotten an irate call from a parent. Then perhaps I'd be called into the principal's office and need to explain why a kid who passed all his tests has a 40 average. That's hardly what I call service. If I wanted a computer program that assigned random averages for no reason, I'm sure I could design it myself. After all, I'm totally unqualified to write computer programs, so why wouldn't my product look like that?

I don't know exactly how much my school pays this company, but last I heard it was around ten thousand dollars a year. Hey, if I could make ten thousand dollars a year producing crappy software I might do it. It's certainly easier than, you know, working. I'm expected to show up, be on time, plan lessons, execute said lessons, and somehow improve the English of my students. If I were to just show up and dance, or read a book, or eat fifty hot dogs, there would be consequences. Of course, I'm not running a big company that takes millions of dollars from city schools.

IO Classroom really outdid itself this weekend, though. A friend of mine was behind on recording grades, and told me he was going to catch up Friday night, whatever it took. He tried to log on Friday night and here's the message he got:

Skedula is temporarily unavailable.
We are currently performing scheduled maintenance. Site will be offline from Friday Oct 18 6:00PM - Saturday Oct 19 6:00AM.
We apologize for any inconvenience

Interesting that they seemed unaware of their own name change. Everyone I know still calls it Skedula.  I guess they do too. Of course, it was very nice of them to apologize for any inconvenience. I'm sure my friend, who canceled his plans Friday night to catch up, found that very gratifying. I suppose, since they apologized,  he'd have no issue canceling his Saturday plans as well

Here's the thing, though--in our school, at least, grades are due Tuesday morning. So a week of getting bad averages and the unavailability of Skedula wasn't particularly helpful. As if that's not enough, Monday and Tuesday are Simchat Torah. Observant Jewish teachers will not only be out of school, but they also won't be inputting grades on those days.

Now I don't expect Skedula, or whatever they call themselves this week, to be expert on Jewish holidays. I do, however, expect them to have their program up when teachers need it. I expect them to be cognizant of when marking periods end, and to do whatever maintenance they need to do as far away from peak times as possible.

I've asked for an extension for our school, and I suppose we'll get one. This now becomes an inconvenience for administration, the very people who decide whether or not to pay Skedula for its services. That's pretty bad business, if you ask me.

I'm told that Skedula was designed by ex-teachers, and that it's now run by some company or other. The thing about Skedula that makes it attractive to administrators is that it plays well with Stars, which is what administrators record various statistics with. It's time for the city to open up the system to competition, and find more reliable and user-friendly apps from which to choose.

The choice of Skedula or go screw yourself is no longer viable.
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