What’s new in Edsby – September 2022

Edsby September 2022 update

Edsby is excited to share with you great new features added in recent months. Enhancements in the list below were added based on customer input and feedback from teachers, administrators, students, and parents like you.

Not all new features will be available to users immediately. It’s up to individual schools or districts/regions when or if they choose to introduce specific new Edsby capabilities. This list is here to help teachers and administrators plan, and to give end-users insight into new things you may see in Edsby soon, if not already.

New documents and videos have been created to describe new features in more detail. These are all available in the support section of our website.

Notification enhancements

Edsby has had notifications for many years, but substantial enhancements have been done.

Along with educators and parents, students are now prompted to turn on a default set of notifications when they log into their account at the beginning of the school year for the first time. The default set enables personal, class, group, and school events with the Edsby notification bell, email, and mobile notification types.

In addition, the Setup Notifications dialog is now available to educators, parents and students on the mobile Edsby apps. Previously, the dialog was only shown for users logging in with desktop browsers.

The Notifications page now includes buttons to reset notifications to the default set or turn off notifications.

Message options have expanded to include mobile notifications. When teachers, parents, or students accept the default notification set, they will receive an email and a mobile notification for new Edsby messages. Parents who have not activated their account but have an email address associated with the student contact record will receive an email with the contents of the message.

Feed notifications now cover Polls, Journals, and Events. When students post a question from My Work, the teacher will receive a notification in addition to the Gradebook unread counter.

For school administrators, the News Item Posted notifications will notify the Senior Admin, Office Head, and School IT that a new message has been submitted for approval by a teacher or a student.

If a district does not use Edsby for Attendance, the parents’ notification form will not include Attendance incidents.

New mobile apps for iOS and Android

When Edsby develops new features, introduces enhancements, or fixes bugs, the changes are usually reflected on Edsby’s servers and are experienced by desktop browsers and mobile users at the same time. Because of this, unlike other apps, there’s no need to download new Edsby mobile apps as frequently as other systems.

That said, Edsby just released new mobile apps based on new, contemporary technology that provide faster performance, better stability, more flexible login experiences and other improved aspects. The new apps are available in the Google Play and Apple App Store. Update your Edsby mobile app if you haven’t already.

New Server address screens

The new versions of the app includes new Edsby server address screens. Anyone that downloads the app for the first time needs to enter the organization’s server address.

When the app is opened, the user clicks Get Started. In the next screen, the user enters the school or district’s server address. If they need help, the link takes them to this help article.

When parents activate their Edsby account the Welcome message includes the server address.

Watch for even more improvements through the year to the Edsby mobile user experience.

Group recommendations

A group recommendation panel has been added to the home screen. This new panel lists groups based on roles, subjects, year levels, interests, group names, and group activity. Groups can be joined by clicking the Join Group button. For closed groups, an Ask to Join button will appear.

Previously, districts and schools could enroll people in a set of appropriate groups, but they needed to rely on people finding more groups through the organization page or search. The group recommendation panel helps improve collaboration and communication.

For teachers and administrators, districts and schools can create groups for projects, initiatives, locations, functional areas, or events and they will appear in the recommendation panel. Teachers and administrators can join when they wish and leave when they wish.

A school can create groups for all their student extracurricular activities and students will be made aware of the groups and be able to join the groups that interest them.

Districts and schools will be able to create groups for parents that have a more specific focus such as “Volunteer Opportunities”, “Kindergarten Parents”, or “Grade 8 Parents” and parents can choose to join those that apply to them.

Tagging Groups

Group recommendations go beyond just showing a list of existing groups available to the role. Recommendations are fine-tuned by users choosing their own interests. The interests are drawn from the tags created in the groups.

The Groups form includes a new section that tags a group with subjects, year levels, and interests. The Subjects field is prepopulated from the district’s Courses. The Subject list will encourage faculty and staff to choose from the official list of subjects when tagging groups. However, the list can be expanded by clicking +Add a Subject. The Year Levels field is also prepopulated, but additional years can be added. The Interests field is built from the interests of other groups and other interests can be added.

As subject, year level, and interest tags are added to groups, they are visible in the Group setup form of other groups so that they can be used as tags.

Interests added by users in their Edsby settings are only used within Edsby for group recommendation matching. No user interest data, or any other data Edsby manages on behalf of our paying customers— which include your education organization—is ever licensed to anyone else or otherwise used for commercial reasons such as advertising. Read details about how Edsby manages user data here.

Fine-tuning personal interests

The group tags are visible in the personal Account Settings to help people fine tune their own group recommendations. The group’s Show To field determines which set of tags the role sees in both the Group setup form and the user Account Settings. For example, teachers and administrators may see groups that have been tagged with reading recovery, students at risk, sheltered students, or special needs, and these tags will not be seen by parents or students. The set of groups shown only to parents might have tags such as parent volunteer opportunities or parent events, and these tags will not appear to the students. The set of groups shown only to students might be tagged with applying to university, robotics club, or Monday clubs and these tags won’t appear for parents.

For Teachers, the Subjects and Year Levels fields are prepopulated based on what subject and grades the teacher is currently teaching. For example, a grade 3 teacher will already have “3” in their personal settings. The group that discusses the grade 3 standardized testing will be recommended to grade 3 teachers if the group has been tagged as “3”. Or has 3 in the name of the group.

The group recommendations are also based on the group name. For example, if a teacher has a subject tag of Music and there is a group named Music Assessment Practices, the teacher will see this group in the recommendation list even if the group isn’t tagged with Music.

Group recommendations also consider how active a group is. For example, when the group that is used to coordinate the annual Terry Fox charity run becomes active leading up to the event, it will rank higher in the recommendations panel. When the event is over and activity in the group trails off, the group won’t be ranked as high. The following year, as activity ramps up, the group will again be ranked higher to anyone who is not a member of the group.

Suggestions for setting up Group recommendations

For each role, the user Account Settings form displays Interests tags based on those created in groups, therefore, you may wish to create a set of interests for each role. If you have groups that use automatic subscriptions for students, parents, or teachers and administrators, you can create a starter set of tags by adding them to these common groups.

For example, the Student Handbook group is on every student home screen. This group can be used to populate the Interests field that a student will see in their Account Settings form. For example, you could create various categories of clubs and teams. As other group moderators set the Interests in their groups, your starter set will give them a pattern to follow.

Students will see the starter set of Interests in their user Account Settings. Therefore, a student who is starting to think about university and is free after school on Mondays can choose from the starter set of tags. Even if none of the groups are tagged, the recommendations are also made based on the name of the group and the activity in the student groups.

Class features and enhancements for teachers

Gradebook filters

The Edsby Gradebook’s focus is to provide teachers with a fast and convenient way to enter grades and to create an organized repository of student submissions and conversations around assessments.

Gradebook assessments can now be filtered by reporting period, formative, summative, units, and types. The student roster can be filtered by grade-level, course enrollment, and dropped students. Teachers can now create multiple filters in the Gradebook.

In this illustration, a teacher has filtered a Main tab (indicated in bottom left) to assessments within Term 2. The filtering does not impact the optional overall average column.

The teacher could also choose to create additional filtering tabs for Full Term, Term 1, and Term 2. The teacher can choose to rename the “Main” tab to “Full Term” and create multiple tabs.

In this illustration, the teacher wants to see which students have missed quizzes or tests and has filtered the Gradebook by assessment types. The list of assessment types is based on the contents of the Gradebook.

Below, this teacher has created two custom assessment types named Reading Eval and Writing Eval and created filters to display the reading and writing evaluations on separate tabs.

The Gradebook can be filtered by units. The Gradebook can also be filtered by formative and summative assessments. The Student filter includes student grade levels. If applicable, the course codes and student grade level will also be available.

Change to Excused assessment status flag

Based on feedback from teachers, Edsby has updated the behavior of the Excused status flag on assessments in the Gradebook. Setting the flag to Excused will drop the grade from the student’s calculated average. Changing the Excuse status to any other status will add the grade back into the calculated average.

Perspective Analyze

The Perspective’s focus is to take data entered in the Gradebook and give the teacher tools to analyze it. Introduced in early June 2022, the Perspective Analyze feature takes data from Evidence and the Gradebook and enables teachers to see the results of both types of assessments in one place.

The Analyze feature empowers the teacher to look at the assessment data in multiple ways to spot trends or areas of concern and act on the information. A teacher can choose to analyse the data by strands, standards, evidence tags, assessment types, units, weeks, or months. The results can be summarized by a variety of methods and the teacher can choose what to include in the data. Please note that certain choices will be customized based on jurisdiction. For example, Ontario districts will see General Expectations and Manitoba sites will see General Outcomes. In addition, the grade scheme choices will be limited to schemes your teachers are already using.

Clicking a cell displays all the assessments and evidence items contributing to the grade. In addition, the standard/expectation/outcome description is also included.

As an example, in this Saskatchewan grade 4 math class, the teacher assesses at the general level outcomes and is interested in latest achievement.

In a Kindergarten scenario, this teacher uses learning evidence exclusively and wants to know how many observations have been tagged as potential report card comments. The teacher has set the color scheme to gray scale.

The Analyze page remembers the teacher’s last settings. The settings are also retained when viewed from within a report card sheet.

Redesigned Evidence form

The learning evidence form has been redesigned based on feedback from teachers. All elements of the form can be completed without the need to expand the form. The Evidence form supports the ability to set a performance level for each standard, expectation, or outcome. An optional Date field has been added to the form to support teachers who wish to add date information to an item.

Student submission of live Google documents

Teachers will soon be able to attach Google docs, sheets, and slides to Edsby assessments and have students “tear-off” a personal copy of the file. The students will work privately on their copy of the file until they submit the assessment. Once submitted, the teacher can view ongoing progress, provide feedback, see all comments, and view document versions from within the Edsby Gradebook’s grader.

To begin this process, the teacher creates an assessment and enables the Online submission of a document or file. Clicking the Google icons opens Google Drive where the teacher chooses one or more documents. Selecting the “Make a copy for each student” option completes the teacher process.

If the teacher wants to see the students’ progress as they work through the assignment, the teacher can ask the students to submit the assignment immediately. If the teacher only wants to see the completed assignment, they can instruct the students to submit the assessment when they are ready to be graded.

For the student, Google documents behave differently than other online submissions. The student submission screen’s submit button is disabled until the student copies all attachments to the student’s own Google Drive. At submission time, the student can only submit files supplied by the teacher.

Once submitted, the teacher can access the documents through the Gradebook’s grader. The teacher has access to the same Google interface and tools when viewing a shared file within Google Workspace for Education. Any comments or edits to the document are seen immediately by the student. As with other Edsby assessments, the teacher’s assessment grade and comment are only seen when the assessment is shared.

Improved class navigation

Navigation between Edsby class screens has been made more efficient with new drop down menus for Perspective and Evidence. Additional class options are now represented by a familiar hamburger icon.

The change was driven by the desire to improve usability for teachers who depend on a screen reader, however the change also benefits teachers with smaller screens or anyone that prefers to navigate without a mouse. All teachers benefit from the new ease of moving from one area of the class to another. For example, with this enhancement, a teacher can view a student’s learning evidence and then navigate directly to the student’s assessments in the Perspective.

Navigation between classes has also been improved by keeping the focus to the same page when switching to another class. For example, a teacher can review the learning evidence for one student in multiple classes using the class picker.

Personalized class names visible to parents

Teachers can customize class names through the Class & Gradebook setup form and the personalized names are now seen by the teachers of the class, students, and their parents. Previously, personalized names were not shown to parents.

 Because formal class names provided by the SIS may not be parent-friendly, this enhancement frees the teacher of needing to remember which names the students see and which names the parents see. In this illustration, the teacher has changed the name of her G1Core3 class to Announcements and Attendance. When the parent logs in, they see the personalized name in the Classes panel, Recent Activity, Calendar, and Notifications.

Improved Library curation

Teachers requested more control over the Class/Group Library panel. Attachments are no longer automatically added to the Library. Teachers and moderators will be able to choose what items belong in the Library. Once posted, the attachment can be added to the Library by clicking on the chevron and selecting Add to Library.

Grade scheme enhancements

Multi-column grade schemes can be configured to include an average column or have no average column. This enhancement removes the Total column from the Gradebook for grade schemes configured to disable the average column. The Gradebook displays a Status column to enable the teacher to access the Grader, make submission on behalf of a student, or set a status flag.

A Grade scheme can support multiple mapping schemes. For example, an ELA Standardized scheme can have the Reading and Comprehension columns use a symbolic scheme (Independent, Instructional, Frustration) and use a limited set of numbers for the Organization and Conventions columns.

In addition, mapping schemes can include customized colours. The colors are visible in the Perspective’s Analyze page. In this illustration, custom colors have been added to the four-level custom scheme.

If your district would like to explore the capabilities of custom grade schemes and custom grade scheme mappings, please open a support ticket or email support@edsby.com.

Course Model enhancements

Gradebook summary columns for aggregates of general level outcomes can be pre-set through the course model. To do this, open the course model and click Weighting. The Gradebook summary columns are located on the Assessment page. Once configured, the Gradebook summary columns can be modelled to existing classes with the New Class Settings options. Course modelling is powerful and perilous; all changes should first be tested in the district’s Edsby sandbox server.

Not all standards, expectations, and outcomes support aggregates of general level outcomes.