Is ClassDojo A Teacher's Answer To Controlling The Class? (VIDEO) (PICTURES)
The team behind a new classroom technology tool claims to have found the answer to controlling unruly pupils.
ClassDojo, which was only established in June 2011, has already had rave reviews from the community. Promising to help teachers (and parents) improve children's behaviour using an electronic whiteboard, as well as the option to use a smartphone, the tool has already been a success in the US.
Now, founders Liam Don and Sam Chaudray, are hoping the UK will likewise embrace the innovative app.
In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, the two entrepreneurs explained why it was more than just a "name and shame" system and how, sometimes, a detachment from reality proves beneficial for some children.
"It's sometimes helpful to be depersonalised," says Sam, a Cambridge economics graduate. "Some children may find it hard to take criticism and it could result in having negative effects. Through the avatars pupils can create in the programme, their behaviour improves and they learn what constitutes as right and wrong."
The pair questioned more than 100 teachers and found one of the main problems in the classroom was behavioural management.
"Many felt they were struggling to build the children into good people, as well as actually teaching them the curriculum," explains Liam, who studied a PhD in education technology after working in the games industry.
"We don't focus on a child's personal development in the same way as we focus on intellectual education and a lot of teachers said they wanted to help their pupils build their character positively, as well as teaching them in the traditional sense."
Despite being relatively young - Sam is 25, Liam 26 - the duo are already well trained in their field.
Sam has already had experience teaching and feels "education is one of the most meaningful things I could work on - fundamentally, it changes lives."
Meanwhile Liam left the games industry, which he says was "great fun" but "left me with the vague feeling I should do something more meaningful for the world".
ClassDojo has seen 6% of teachers in the UK sign up to use the tool. So what is preventing the rest joining in?
It may be the fear that the programme will detract from teaching, something that Sam insists is not the case.
"Four out of 10 teachers say they spend more of their time in class managing behaviour than teaching, time which they want to dedicate to the classroom.
"ClassDojo offers them a solution. It's simple and easy to use so it's not going to take time to set up or to learn how to use.
"It covers the whole spectrum of teachers, from the younger ones through to older teachers who may not be so tech-savvy."
The notion of publicly pitting children against each other is also quickly dismissed.
"The public dimension of the programme isn't something we are worried about as the social dynamics in the classroom have usually already been established.
"It is important to stay away from ranking kids but the tool is much more about reinforcing the positives rather than a naming and shaming exercise."
According to Sam, the virtual classroom help changes the attention structure in lessons, giving quieter pupils more opportunity to shine, when they may have previously been overshadowed by know-it-alls or disruptive students.
Sam and Liam's venture definitely fits in with government proposals of bringing more technology into the classroom.
The idea is certainly a novelty one, but whether it will become a permanent fixture in the classroom, only time will tell.