Providing individual children with unique needs with a personalized education has always been challenging. Two such problems that frequently occur are:
1. Ineffective collaboration among adults involved with the child (including parents).
2. Tracking learning goals and timelines at an individual level.
Many stakeholders are involved in a student with special needs, which may include general & special education teachers, specialists, therapists, school leaders, office managers, district personnel, and of course, the parents themselves. Because these stakeholders each have both large and different caseloads of students, the challenges of collaborating with each other and tracking personalized learning goals for each student are immense. Gen ed teachers and special educators are often not on the same page with regards to a student. Meanwhile, parents often feel in the dark about what services and activities are exactly being provided to their child.
Goalbook (goalbookapp.com) is an education startup company based in Mountain View, CA, and it recently launched its site in August 2011. Goalbook is a collaboration platform for teachers, parents, and students centered around the achievement of individual student learning goals. As education becomes more personalized and delivered through teams of specialists, the challenges of collaboration and tracking achievement will continue to grow. Goalbook leverages social networking technology to help educators address these challenges.
Take a look at these videos for a visual explanation of how Goalbook works and read below for an explanation of Goalbook’s features.
Goalbook General Overview
Goalbook For Parents
Let us explore some of the main features of Goalbook:
Goals, team members, and communication are all quickly and easily accessible from each individual student’s profile. From the student’s profile one can share messages or celebrate the student, attach files, or view/edit important information such as, accommodations/modifications, behavior or health information.
Tracking a student’s individual learning goals is central to Goalbook. The platform allows users to create goals for a student via a simple and flexible interface, and then to track progress towards each goal over time. Goals that are behind in progress are flagged, and sub-objectives can be placed to track a particular goal more discretely. There are several different views to see student goal progress, including a chart and graph view, a summary view and a detailed view. One can also generate a PDF copy to print or share with team members.
User friendly design:
Overall, Goalbook feels a lot like Facebook and Twitter. However, Goalbook has been explicitly designed for educators and parents to use, and for the tracking of individual student learning goals. Goalbook has incorporated feedback from educators and parents from design sketches to its current implementation, to make the site as easy to use and visually appealing as possible.
Multiple levels of security:
The responsible handling of private student data is an absolute must in special education. Goalbook enforces multiple levels of security to ensure that privacy needs are met. In Goalbook, each student has an assigned team of adults. Only the members of a student’s team can access that particular student’s data. Users have the ability to share messages to all members of a student’s team, or to share messages privately with each other. Also, all educator accounts are put into a private network based on the school or district email address.
Goalbook is completely web-based, and is accessed through any web browser, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE.
Goalbook messages can also be sent and received via email or SMS – allowing Goalbook users to send and receive student updates in real-time, whether via computer, tablet or mobile phone.
User feedback driven:
There is a ‘Give Feedback’ button on every page of the site, and users can log issues, suggestions and feedback at any point in time. Goalbook welcomes users to do so and much of the platform’s design and functionality have been directly shaped by user feedback.
Free for individuals:
Goalbook is free for individuals and teams to use, including parents. Schools and districts pay a per-student annual license to use Goalbook on a school-wide or district-wide basis, which then includes admin dashboards and reports, admin functionality.
Goalbook was founded by Daniel Jhin Yoo, who grew up in East Palo Alto, CA. Following several years as a developer at Oracle, he became certified as an educational specialist for children with moderate to severe disabilities, serving as both a teacher and coordinator for special education programs for the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto. After recently completing the Kauffman Education Ventures program, he is now participating in Imagine K12, an ed-tech incubator in Palo Alto. He is fluent in computer code and “ed-code.”
Daniel set out to create Goalbook as a direct result from his experience as a special educator. He took a step back and thought – in an ideal world, what does the perfect tool look like that would actually help a special educator do his or her job better, and not just focus on compliance. What would a tool look like that would enable educators and parents to collaborate more effectively together over each and every student? Over the course of several months, Goalbook was born.
Launched several weeks ago, Goalbook already has four school districts using the platform for their students with special needs. Several others have also expressed interest – some mentioning they wish to use Goalbook for all their students, not just those with IEPs. In addition, several hundred educators have signed up for Goalbook and are using the platform for their individual needs.
What can you do? As readers of this blog you can do the following – if you are a parent of a special needs child, please visit goalbookapp.com/parent. Here you can:
1) complete the 30 second survey form, and then
2) share Goalbook with your school, and with other parents.
If you are a teacher, please visit goalbookapp.com. Here you can sign up for a school account and begin using Goalbook. You can then invite fellow teachers and school leaders onto the Goalbook site.
Lastly, you can follow Goalbook on Twitter to receive all the latest updates