Tag Archives: Communication

The story of how same marks can lead to two different grades!

Author : Hariharan

It was a sunny day and I felt my car’s AC air gushing at my face. It was in no time, the AC beat the heat but it was temporary. The heat came from a phone call then. The person X of Hive Public School at the other end tells me, “Hari all the overall grade calculation for class 6 is wrong”. I wanted to reassure whether she was telling what I heard, so I told, “Could you please repeat it ma’am?”. “Hari all the overall grade calculation for class 6 is wrong. What we have given in the sheet as aggregation what Report Bee has done doesn’t match at all”. I took deep breath which I don’t do often and claimed, “Your’s is a CBSE school right?”, the answer was ‘Yes’. “We do calculation based on the CCE* guidelines”. And the conversation went on till I agreed to change the grades for deviating students. Now, you would have got it, most of the time we end up abiding customer needs.

Usually the assumption for any CBSE school would comply to CCE guidelines. This was an incident on that assumption which proved costly. The next few passages, I will be explaining the math involved in our calculation and why the deviation happened in the first place. So if you are not really a math person and it bores you, feel free to jump to the last paragraph.

Our mode of calculation (CCE prescribed) :

captureTo your left is the grade calculation image. They say grade is calculated based on the marks scaled up/down to 100, basically percentage. Each grade also has a grade point pinned to it as well. Each subject’s grade for a term is calculated by aggregating the marks procured in the numerator, the total in the denominator and multiplying it by 100. That would give the percentage value for it to be displayed as grade in the report card. In this way individual subjects will have marks and the respective grades. To calculate the overall grade, the individual subject’s grade is the percentage expressed out of total marks in term all subjects inclusive. Below is the image explaining our calculation for the specific student Bee.

image-1

Hive Public School’s mode of calculation (The heart wrecking phone call) :

There is no legitimate image for this to be referred. The only place where the calculation can be found out is as fields shared by the school. Each subject’s mark is grade with percentage as base. Till this point they resemble our mode of calculation. After this, they do a calculation which you might not see in any CBSE school doing. For the grade procured, the corresponding grade point is referred and this is done for all the subjects. The grade points are summed up and divided by the number of subjects included part of their academics. This gives an average grade point out of 10. The overall grade referred is based on the grade point’s range. Below is the image explaining Hive Public School’s calculation for specific student Bee.

image-2

The teachers of the school had gone for a workshop three years back and had brought this take away of overall grade calculation. Had the overall grade calculation methodology been mentioned in the CCE guidelines, this problem wouldn’t have come. So, here we came with a hack. The school identified students with deviating grades and gave it to us. We changed the grades manually through CSS, the tool which is normally used to feast your eyes with vividness. Because of this, there was 956 lines of code at the back end. Also, we ended up editing the grades of 20% of students in a class on an average.

*CCE – Continuous and comprehensive evaluation is a process of assessment, mandated by the Right to Education Act, of India. Student’s marks will be replaced by grades which will be evaluated through a series of curricular and extra-curricular evaluations along with academics. The aim is to decrease the workload on the student by means of continuous evaluation by taking number of small tests throughout the year in place of single test at the end of the academic program. Only Grades are awarded to students based on work experience skills, dexterity, innovation, steadiness, teamwork, public speaking, behavior, etc. to evaluate and present an overall measure of the student’s ability.

Reflections: There’s More than Meets the Eye

 

A teacher’s concern, love, thoughts, and actions that nurture children are rarely ever ‘captured’. Goes without saying that stories have forever been instrumental in moulding cultures and societies! Reflections- Teachers’ Stories in their own Words, launched in February 2015, is a space where teachers can speak their minds, share tales from their lives and their classrooms so that everyone can appreciate what they do and learn.

Why Care?

  • Teacher-to-Teacher Connect: Personal stories foster learning from each other’s examples, enable exchange of ideas and establish deeper connection with teaching.
  • Adds depth: Researchers get in-depth knowledge. We can perhaps hope to get a more representative realistic image of the teachers.
  • Improve PTA Experiences: Parents could appreciate what some teachers do. It is heartening to learn that some teachers do go to great lengths to ensure a joyful learning experience.
  • Surprise for everyone else who has any pre-set notions about teachers.

Come to think of it, there isn’t quite anyone like the teachers! Teachers are the frontrunners in our education system; the progresses our children make in schools (and beyond) are solely dependent on the quality of our communication with them. They have a huge task and tremendous pressure under which to deliver upon their responsibilities. Yet we know so little about them and their views. To top this lack of knowledge, little do we know that there are heroes and role models in the teaching fraternity who successfully defy the prevalent wisdom of the day, which portrays teachers as overburdened, de-motivated and passive recipients of information. It is only reasonable for us – educationists, researchers, parents, individuals, civil society- to know the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of what they do:

How to Capture these Reflections?

That’s a good question! Teachers have no time; why would they care to share their stories with us, that too via a medium (technology) they don’t much like? Hence, the apparent challenge was in getting ‘the powerhouse of knowledge’ to write. With minimal chance of receiving even a handful of stories, we doubled the challenge by launching Reflections at the worst possible time- Final Exams!! Thankfully, this round was a pilot. We were so sure of receiving a scanty response that we were thrilled with just about 10 odd entries!

Lo and behold, they just kept trickling in by the dozen. Reflections stopped at 52 beautiful stories/essays from teachers’ lives, written by them. No, these were not just from the English language teachers but also from the teachers of Hindi, Sanskrit, Maths, Chemistry, Social Sciences, Geography, and Biology.  Obviously, we were overwhelmed and encouraged by their beautiful stories.

The stories were then evaluated to arrive at the winners (remember, it’s a writing contest). Nectar is proud to publish these unique stories under a special sub-category for them, obviously by the name Reflections. It is as heartening to read each of these real stories from real teachers, as it is to read some fantastic comments by other teachers. This is the true power of technology! It makes boundaries non-existent, renders physical connect obsolete in the path of learning and paves the way for a virtual community from the so-called tech-averse group.

Day 1 of Result Announcement: 3 of top-10
Day 1 of Result Announcement: 3 of top-10

 

In summary, Reflections:

  1. Gets us some great stories of change: Everyday problems need simple actions to solve; teachers do that all the time; we just don’t know what they do. Story of Little Johnny, of ALICE, passion for Psychology, compassion for slow learners, their appreciation of exam fevers, and of little innovations, use of technology to name just a few.
  2. Offers a platform for the Teachers to speak their minds, inspire and network: Healthy constructive communication among the teaching fraternity implies a deeper connection with the process of teaching.
  3. Helps empathise with the Teachers: Gives us a glimpse into their minds and lives so we can see what drives them or the challenges they face (for those who care).
  4. Enliven moments and live forever, in the hearts of others!
  5. Shows how savvy the teachers really are! The real handicap is lies around the right motivation.
  6. Shows their sense of commitment: They deliver on their responsibilities by sometimes going out of their way.

Teachers, keep sharing! We love your stories.

 

 Crossroads: For a Stronger Connection with Our Users

Why Crossroads?

Have you ever tried to understand how people perceive you? Do they understand just the way you want them to or do you need to put in more effort to get them to follow you?

Living is an art, a skill, a technique. You need to learn and practice it as you would a game or a musical instrument” – SWAMI PARTHASARTHY

Understanding something is also a technique. When we bring out a product, there is so much thought that goes into it, the design, the look and the feel. There are so many more unknown factors that we need to understand while creating a product that is used by a large and diverse group of people.

Report Bee, currently serves 132 schools, with over 5000 teachers using the software. Today, we can proudly say that on an average we have 600 users logging in daily to use our software. Our software has an array of products created to help teachers maintain their data about students better.  As of today, teachers can use the following features:

  • Records– to input all of students’ performance data
  • Insights– to analyse and compare results at all levels in an instant
  • Registries– to view consolidated results in one sheet
  • Report Cards– to generate personalised insightful reports for each student
  • Attendance– to easily manage daily attendance
  • Health Card– to be proactive about students’ health
  • Waggle, SMS– to communicate efficiently with parents
  • Parent Portal– where parents can view insights of their wards

Report Bee works with the vision to help the teachers record data easily by creating different features. As the days go by, we keep creating more and more features in the belief that they are going to be extremely useful for the teachers. Beliefs can sometimes be divorced from reality, especially with inadequate communication.

So, one day, we stopped and questioned our own assumptions:

  • Are the features really as useful as we deem them to be?
  • Are the teachers using them just the way we imagine or…?
  • Do we need to improve the feature and how?

In essence, we thought it was time to try and understand what the users really wanted in comparison to what we were offering them, and bridge any gaps that existed in effective usage of the software in its entirety.  We were convinced that it was time to see how the existing features were being used before creating new ones. It is one thing to create a feature, but having teachers not using them is the worst that could happen to us!

The Memorable Journey

Forming the Team: With this thought in mind, we formed a team to unearth the truth, calling the project CROSSROADS. The team from Report Bee was assisted by Wankai to conduct this user experience study. Wankai is an innovation-consulting firm that helps organizations and companies strive towards newer possibilities in their arena. They helped Report Bee to structure the entire process and implement the project. Thanks guys! The learning for us has been immense! 🙂 The final core Team of Crossroads included Jack, Jayashree, Karthik, Sharanya (from Report Bee) and Brijesh and Varun (from Wankai).

Crossroads Team all Set for Interviews!
Crossroads Team all Set for Interviews!

 

Visiting Schools for Interviews: The team then started the Crossroads journey. With a process in place, we visited 14 of Report Bee schools and interviewed the key stakeholders –Principals, teachers, students, parents, extended families. For each of the stakeholders, we had a list of exhaustive questions created by the team under Wankai’s guidance. For example, if the respondent was a parent, in all likelihood, he/she would have received the Report Bee report cards generated by the school. So, they were questioned about how well they understood their child’s reports.    Similarly, if the respondent were a teacher or a Principal, questions were based on the usage of the product besides understanding the Report Bee report cards.

An interview in progress with a Principal
An interview in progress with a Principal

 

We also, interviewed other educational stakeholders to understand their perceptions of our product.

All in all, we conducted close to 70 interviews spread over a span of 2 months. Phew! It was a marathon run for the Crossroads Team but travelling is always fun when done in a group! And the Crossroads Team enjoyed it even more as it was heartening to get real feedback on the product. Of course, all our travels included a day of sight-seeing! 🙂

Crossroads Team sight-seeing :)
Crossroads Team Sight-seeing 🙂

Making Sense and Incorporation of the Feedback: When all the interviews were completed, the Team (under Wankai’s assistance and guidance) rigorously and patiently went through all the interviews to make sense of each of the feedback to gather and compile the information. It was nice to see a coherent picture emerge out of this exhaustive process. Further, suggestions and domain expertise were used to improvise the product with further enhancements to reach the need of the educational stakeholders.

Crossroads Team Compiling Feedback and Discussing Findings
Crossroads Team Compiling Feedback and Discussing Findings

Wrap up with Surprises: The Crossroads findings were finally presented to the entire Team at Report Bee in a grand ceremony, marking it a significant day in the journey of Report Bee. What could be more important to us than introspecting our product and aiming to give the best quality to our users? 🙂 The whole Team had a fun day-out to absorb and discuss the findings. Facing reality sometimes can be hard, but when taken in the right way, it can lead to more positive solutions. This is exactly what happened to us at Report Bee.

Fun and Final Presentation to Report Bee Team at a Beach House ;)
Fun and Final Presentation to Report Bee Team at a Beach House 😉

We thank all the schools and teachers for having given us their valuable feedback. Today, thanks to Crossroads, we have become bigger and better in serving our teachers, understanding their needs and continuously learning in process! We will definitely be back for a bigger learning next year!