iStudent is, simply put, a way for students to keep track of their grades online.
Some schools go a little overboard and add little games to the site (like this example from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School):
Pretty fun. (I may have played a few times) For Ashland, however, we have a simple, functional one.
This offers such information as the student’s schedule, current grades, past MCAS scores, attendance, and current assignments. As long as teachers take the time to keep it updated (and most do), iStudent is a decent resource to keep an eye on one’s academics. Really the only area in which information is lacking is the section for current assignments.
I assure you, I have more homework than two quizzes. Of course, students should be paying attention in class and writing down their assignments. This is something I agree with fully. However, on the days when a student forgets to do so or misses class, having a backup like this would be nice. It’s not always the case that there’s friends in class you can ask, and students may not want to email the teacher out of awkwardness.
iPass also offers a guide to using it, which is of limited use. It seems to be aimed towards the administrators using iPass since it makes reference to several iPass actions (searching student IDs, etc.) that only admins could do. The other sections in this guide define things like what the F5 key does, so they’re of limited use to teens. Admittedly, it makes sense that this guide is geared towards admins. They’re the ones who need to interact with it the most often. I’m probably the first student to click on it. However, once logged in, there is a second guide available. At first, it seems vastly better than the other guide, with tons of categories.
However, once into the iStudent category, it’s still geared towards admins. No helpful info for student use. Also…
Someone got lazy in creating this and apparently copied and pasted from another guide. The change in font and missing words (evidence of pictures that didn’t copy and paste into the new format) are clear signs of that. Anyone in a class with Ms. Sherman can tell you what a bad idea it is to copy and paste. So this iPass guide isn’t anything to get excited about, but even that’s fine really. iPass is fairly intuitive to use, and again, I doubt many students are scouring the internet with burning questions about how to use iPass.
All helpfulness aside, one major downside to iStudent and its relation iParent is that not only can we keep up with our daily grades, but so can our parents. Even though I typically get good grades, the thought that my dad and my mom can see every quiz I get a bad grade on or every homework I miss makes me uneasy. I feel that at this point in our lives, as fourteen to eighteen year olds, we are past needing our parents’ constant supervision to do well. It’s not necessary for my parents to grill me on why I did poorly on a quiz when I already know what went wrong and what I need to study next time.
If possible, I would suggest a merit-based iParent system. A student that is doing well in school is clearly handling things just fine, and doesn’t need grade supervision. They should be allowed the luxury of privacy when it comes to their grades, as long as their parents have the assurance that the grades are within acceptable bounds (say, high B’s to A’s). A student who is in the mid-range (high C’s to low B’s) is in a trickier situation. It may be that they just have a difficult time in that class. In that case, perhaps an alert could be sent to parents and student informing them of which class (not the specific grade) and advising them to talk to the student. This will foster communication between parents and students and allow the student to still retain some privacy. Students whose grades fall below C’s, however, may be the type of students who do need more supervision. In this case, the parents could be granted access to their individual assignment grades and their class grades. That way, they could discuss with their student the specific areas in which the student is falling behind. For example, if homework is the problem, then the parents and student can work with each other to find a solution. I really think iParent and iStudent have much more potential than just allowing the parents omniscience over their children. If used in the right way, these programs could also encourage communication and cooperation between students and parents, and responsibility for students.