Aspen Can Do Better

Michael OConnell, Staff Writer

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Communication has become streamlined and instantaneous in the modern era, yet the manner in which teachers communicate with students is perhaps the most convoluted it has ever been.

There are at least four platforms of various popularity teachers use at SHS to communicate with students: the Aspen portal, email, Google Classroom, and the Remind App. Each has features and subsequent advantages and disadvantages.  

Aspen allows for a more straightforward communication of grades and upcoming assignments, while Google Classroom allows students to work and submit responses to assignments natively. The Remind App allows for direct SMS like communication between students and teachers.  In a perfect world, a developer would have already made software that synthesizes the best of what services like these have to offer, while also stripping away the clutter and confusing navigation.

Aside from the glaring interest, and ethical conflicts, it would be most convenient if teachers and students could communicate directly through the messaging apps they use most, whether it be iMessage or Snapchat.  Retail new analysis site RetailDive has found SMS to have an eight times higher rate of response than to email, proving that convenience has finally trumped formality in terms of communication etiquette.

The main purpose of all these individual services is to bolster the efficiency of a students workflow. For most, it is a safe method to find out exactly what assignments must be completed, and on what date. In order for the school to reach this goal, a simple request should be made to the development team of the Aspen portal.  

Aspen is the most important platform for teachers when documenting the completion of assignments and scores on assessments. Teachers do have the capability to create and post assignments before they are due; therefore, with this in mind, it would be to everyone’s benefit if Aspen included an automated daily email or text message sent to each student that would include each assignment they need to complete in the next week. Students can receive individual notifications similar to this, but they are by no means comprehensive.

For many, homework can make or break a grade, so it would make sense that Scituate Public Schools (who pay an Aspen licensing fee), should want to get the most out of the system.  We know the system is not being used to its full potential, considering all of the not-so-complimentary systems teachers use to make up for Aspen’s shortcomings.

To truly justify the switch to automated online school systems, our school must demand implementation of more practical and objectively useful features, in order to better organize the lives of students and the jobs of teachers.

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Aspen Can Do Better