The Edsby platform at the heart of a major high school
TanenbaumCHAT in Toronto, Canada, makes wide use of Edsby’s many features
Toronto’s TanenbaumCHAT is the largest community Jewish high school in North America. Delivering a dual General and Jewish studies curriculum and incredible depth and breadth of programming to more than 1,000 students can be challenging at the best of times. Doing all of that in the midst of a global pandemic only added to the complexity in recent years.
The Edsby social learning environment has become intrinsic to the day-to-day functioning of the school and an important component of school life.
“If, tomorrow, Edsby were to suddenly become unavailable, it would be devastating,” says Avital Aharon, TanenbaumCHAT’s Director of Educational Technology. The school employs Edsby more extensively than many school districts, using it for a wide array of uses, such as daily attendance, learning management, report cards, and team and club activities.
“Edsby is used by every stakeholder and every type of professional in our building, including the admin assistants, guidance department and Deans’ office. With its sync to our various databases, we’ve got everything, even educational alerts and IEPs, all in one place,” says Aharon.
The academic assessment and reporting core of Edsby is key at TanenbaumCHAT. “Edsby is central. Parents have real-time views into student achievement and activities, and always know what’s going on. There are rarely any surprises,” she says.
Before Edsby report cards became available, the school, students and parents had to access another system to find grades. It was not as seamless, digital or robust.
TanenbaumCHAT’s extended population includes more than 8,000 alumni. Edsby’s unique, moderated school newsfeed can be tapped into by Alumni Relations staff to help share school news to the wider community.
The school boasts around 100 student-run clubs and committees that are all established at a huge fair at the beginning of every year. Any student may suggest a club as long as there is a teacher-supervisor in place. Edsby’s Groups capability is a natural hub for these activities. “Students use groups in every possible way you can imagine. From file libraries to resources to polls,” says Aharon. “Name the topic, there’s a club about it on Edsby,” she says.
One group is particularly popular. “Today our Politics Club reached a whopping 100,000 posts! We might need professional help for our Edsby addiction. Summer withdrawal is going to be an issue,” wrote Politics Club moderator Eliyahu F. at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
Edsby’s Report Inappropriate feature allows users, including students, to flag items for office review. Every item that is flagged is looked at by a staff member, leading to teachable moments, according to Aharon. “There’s no way everyone can monitor every single post, so the feature is crucial,” she says. “It provides a mechanism for teaching K to 12 digital citizenship.”
Staff love Edsby
The breadth and ease of use of Edsby is always a surprise to new staff if they’ve never used it before, notes Aharon. “We welcomed and trained 17 new teachers this year. There are always a lot of ‘oohs and ahs! We can do this?!’” Teaching Edsby and explaining how to make it work for their virtual classroom is exciting.”
There’s no question that Edsby has impressed students, staff and parents alike and is an indispensable part of life at TanenbaumCHAT.