School marks visible immediately online

Eleven secondary schools across Minsk embracing E-school project in September, reducing paperwork and allowing parents to see children’s progress online and via SMS-messages, as well as missed classes
By Tatiana Pastukhova

Pilot project
The new system uses electronic diaries, journals and class schedules, explains Oksana Minich, the Head of the Information Resource Centre of the Regional Education System, Minsk City Institute of Education Development. She adds, “This is a pilot project, the main goal of which is to see whether proposed innovations are possible, feasible and in demand. When we see the results, we’ll talk about wider changes to the system of education in Minsk.”

The new system will use the ‘Schools.by’ electronic resource, with five major categories of user:  director, administrator, teacher, pupil and parent. Each category will have its own rights and level of access to site information.

How does it work?
Electronic documents are very similar to traditional prototypes, so are easy to use. Teachers will maintain an e-journal of pupils’ marks and absences from classes, as well as ratings for pupil behaviour and remarks, and their own teacher comments. The number of absences of a pupil and their marks are calculated per term, for viewing by teachers, the director and the supervising teacher. Each pupil will also have an electronic diary showing every mark awarded by a teacher, for viewing by parents alone. A summary table of school results for every pupil, covering all marks and absences over the term for every subject, and final marks, will be available to teachers, parents and pupils.

According to the developers of the service, the system should allow an easy overview of how pupils are performing, and of the whole class, with data comparable through graphs. Timetables of classes and the schedule of school bells can also be displayed.

Although the system is being introduced free of charge, parents are being requested to contribute a small sum to view their child’s diary: Br20-25 thousand for 30 days. In addition, parents may pay to receive SMS-messages to alert them to absences from school.

Promising innovation
The new system is expected to have many advantages, allowing parents, pupils and teachers to communicate in virtual space. A teacher can explain a mark given or tell parents about their child’s behaviour, as well as drawing attention to complaints and to teachers’ encouragement.

“Teachers currently have to complete a great deal of paperwork, so we want to remedy that,” emphasises Oksana Minich. “The project aims to allow teachers to focus on the educational process, rather than on paperwork. We’ll also demonstrate to pupils that the Internet (and other services) can be used to serve education, not only for ‘downloading’ games. We are seeing a ‘network of childhood’, with those as young as 3 years knowing what the Internet is and how to use it. Unfortunately, they don’t know the wider possibilities, including its potential for education.”

Virtual space is becoming an integral part of modern life, with greater application to the educational process. At present, only the private initiatives of some teachers are being used online, such as the downloading of educational materials to a network, scanned assessment journals and giving advice. Perhaps the introduction of E-School will move us forward, embracing more aspects of this amazing resource. 
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