Your days of playing games and streaming content when you should be working in class could be numbered, with the introduction of an Australian software program into schools.
The software is designed to keep tabs* on what’s showing on kids’ laptop screens so teachers can monitor activity.
NSW schools are now trialling* the world-first program, which uses elaborate colour-coding to throw up a “red flag” on the teacher’s laptop when a student goes off-task on their classroom computer.
Six schools are using the edQuire software and many more are expected to follow suit.
It displays a graphic on the teacher’s laptop in real time* showing where students are spending their time online.
A red bar means a student is not working on the lesson, green shows they are on-task, blue shows they “likely to be on task” and conducting research, and orange means they could be sending an email or conducting a Google search.
Use of the software follows recent concern about the nation’s slide in international rankings across key subjects and a Productivity Commission* finding of serious discipline problems in schools.
Researchers have found that when students’ attention strays from lessons, boys spend 55 per cent of their time during lessons on gaming, 25 per cent streaming videos, 15 per cent on sports sites and 5 per cent streaming music in class. Girls are distracted 59 per cent of their time by streaming videos, 19 per cent on gaming, 7 per cent with celebrity news, another 7 per cent on social media and 8 per cent music streaming.
“We use computers every day and it is easy to become distracted — it’s a growing issue with kids getting off-task (in class),” a year 12 student, who did not wish to be named, said.
“In the early years of high school we were monitored by the teacher walking around and looking at what was on our screens but the older students don’t get checked as often.”
Northern Beaches Secondary College Manly Campus and Randwick’s Emanuel School have trialled the program.
Head of teaching and learning at the Manly Campus, Bianca Hewes, said it allowed her to see how much time students spent on specific tasks.
“I can modify my teaching practice to meet the needs of my students,” she said.
Director of eLearning at Emanuel School, Garry Case, said edQuire “filled a critical hole that has been missing”.
“The staff who have seen and used it feel elated* to finally have a tool to gauge* what their students are up to on their laptop in class,” Mr Case said.
Program inventor Dr Michael Cejnar said the system provided information for parents, teachers and students to improve academic results.
He said teachers could “detect a student who is falling behind or distracted and provide immediate feedback.”
keep tabs: watch over
in real time: as it happens
Productivity Commission: Government body looking into how people do different things
elated: very happy
gauge: monitor levels
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Activity 1. Advantages and disadvantages
What are the advantages and disadvantages for students and teachers of this program being used in schools?
Draw up a two column chart. In one column list the advantages for both the students and teachers and in the second column list the disadvantages for students and teachers.
Extension: Is it necessary?
Do you think this program should be used in schools?
If so, write an advertisement aimed at schools or teachers to encourage them to buy the program.
If not, write a letter to your school or your teacher explaining why you think you don’t need this program.
Time: allow 60 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Personal and Social Capabilities, Ethical Capabilities, Critical and Creative Thinking
Activity 2. Pie charts
According to the article, how do students spend their time off task in the classroom?
Find the percentage of time that girls and boys spend off task on each activity and create a pie graph that shows this.
You can either draw your pie chart manually or you can use a software program to create the graph.
When your graphs are drawn, compare them and write some observations that can be made from the data.
Extension: Staying on task
Other than using this program, how else can teachers make sure their students are remaining on task?
Write a list of three ways teachers/schools can ensure students stay on task without the use of this program.
Next to each one write at least one an advantage and disadvantage of this method of ensuring students are on task.
Time: allow 60 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Mathematics, Technologies — Digital technologies, Critical and Creative Thinking
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many pieces of punctuation as you can find in green. Discuss how these are being used, where and how often. What level of the punctuation pyramid is the journalist using in this article?
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