It’s a software program that teachers can use to manage information about students, keep records, communicate with parents and attempt to control children and the classroom. At its core it’s a way to rank the children against each other in the hopes that children will try harder so they will move up on the ranking list. The hope is that parents (as they are notified) will push children to do what’s necessary to move up the ranking list. How do you move up the ranking list? Do what you are told, how you are told and when you are told. Be a good little soldier and you get a gold star.
What other software does the same thing? This link takes you to a page that accumulated information from the web pages of 17 different products: http://www.topbestalternatives.com/classdojo/
Why are these types of programs being used? Teachers want to communicate with parents to let them know how their child is doing. Teachers are overwhelmed with demands on their time to keep track of grades, lesson plans and report on everything. They also want to control the children to keep the train moving. They are hoping that children will want to be recognized and rewarded for doing well so a system that helps support those goals came into being.
Example: Following is a real email from a kindergarten teacher to parents explaining why that teacher is using ClassDojo:
I am so excited to tell you about something new we are starting in Kindergarten! We needed something to motivate us a little bit with our behaviors in the classroom and I just discovered http://www.classdojo.com ! With Class Dojo, each student’s behaviors will be tracked on our classroom smartboard, as well as through the Class Dojo app on an iPad. We have several target positive and negative behaviors; when students display these behaviors they have the opportunity to either earn or lose points throughout the day. At the end of each day, I can look at the students’ reports to see what we need to work on. You also have the ability to log on to view your child’s behaviors. Your child brought home a Class Dojo account code for his or her account. You can use this code to get online and view your child’s day.
Our target behaviors currently look like this:
Positive behaviors, students will earn points:
On-Task: includes paying attention, staying focused
Negative behaviors, students will lose points:
“bullying” – this we are using to include unkind words and actions, such as not keeping hands to self, name-calling, etc.
Calling out and causing disruptions
Disrespect – this includes being disrespectful to teachers, the classroom, materials, etc.
Off-Task – includes not listening, not following directions, not paying attention in class
I am hoping that this will be a positive experience for all of us and help us to reach all of our goals for the remainder of the year. I ask you to please be patient with me as we get this new program started. The students seem very excited about their “monsters” and about earning points which makes me very excited as well! Today we kept all of the points positive to get acquainted with the system and help the students feel motivated.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this new system. We are very excited and I hope it continues to motivate us to make great choices.
Are there controls on use of products like ClassDojo?
The simple answer is…each district is different. We checked locally and found that there is NO policy or guidelines. If a teacher wants to use it they can with no oversight or controls
What (if any) concerns are there? (Here’s a link to an article that addresses the following: http://www.joebower.org/2014/11/6-reasons-to-reject-classdojo.html
- ClassDojo gets character education wrong
- ClassDojo gets motivation wrong
- The public nature of ClassDojo is inappropriate
- ClassDojo pits adults and children against each other
- ClassDojo can only ever be experienced as coercive and manipulative
- ClassDojo prepares children to be ruled by others
Finally we reached out to ClassDojo multiple times asking a couple of questions. After trying for months here is the response we got:
How much money have you raised and from whom?
I’m sorry, I do not have access to financial records, this is information that the company owners have access to only, and I’m not sure that the information is available to the public.
What’s your revenue source to pay back the money you have raised?
We are currently venture capitalist funded. Plans for the company are internal information at this time. When we have other plans, we’ll issue emails and public info via our website.
Do you gather data and if so what, how, what are you allowed to do with it, do you sell data and if so what, to who, etc.
Teachers have accounts with us, so this means their data is stored. They can access info from any place, just as would would access an online email account like Gmail. This info is all private, we do not sell this, or share this.
We question whether this type of tool improves education or just pushes for conformity. The lack of policies at school districts on the use is concerning. The information can be hacked. There are a number of examples of the wrong information going to the wrong people. If you have had any experience please share it. If not please take the time to study this for yourself and then contact your local school district and express your thoughts.