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ThinkWave – Bringing Key Elements of Administrative and Instructional Technologies Together to Facilitate Teaching

by Kelly Walsh on November 14, 2012

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Combining elements of the SIS, the LMS/CMS, and a Portal, to create something uniquely powerful.

Recently, ThinkWave co-founder John Poluektov reached out to me to introduce this application to me. On first glance, ThinkWave struck me as being purely an administrative technology, and not really an instructional one. John took the time to provide informative answers to questions I posed and in doing so, made the case that ThinkWave brings elements of some instructional tools together with common administrative functionality to create a tool that facilitates administrative needs while also aiding in instruction-related communications and helping to establish a stronger connection between teacher, student, administrator, and parent.

First, a few key point about the benefits of ThinkWave:

    • Integrating administrative and instructional aspects into one platform decreases double-entry of data. This is important to decrease resistance to adoption.
    • The main benefit of an integrated information system is improved teamwork between administrators, teachers and parents based on timely, focused, and granular data.
    • Adoption is key. ThinkWave software, workflow, and business practices are focused on reinforcing incremental, steady adoption.

This video provides a nice introduction to ThinkWave:

Following are John’s replies to a couple key questions I posed to him regarding ThinkWave.

How is ThinkWave an instructional technology, rather than just an administrative technology?

We think that these two systems should be one and the same. An administrative system needs to collect and organize data to handle reporting, such as attendance, transcripts, and report cards. An instructional system communicates outward, between teachers and their students, and includes elements such as lessons, learning resources, feedback and interaction.

The problem with separating these functions is double-entry of information. If a teacher needs to record an assignment in her gradebook, and then also on a public-facing web site, there will inevitably be resistance. If an administrator has to import students into the admin system and also into the LMS (and keep them synchronized as enrollment changes), it is no surprise when usage decreases over time.

Solving the problem of adoption, by eliminating double-entry of information, lets us harness the main benefit of an integrated instructional system: improved teamwork enabled by efficient and granular communication between administrators, teachers, students and parents. The value of early, coordinated, and focused intervention, based on real data, is well documented and intuitively easy to understand.

What about ThinkWave is new?

ThinkWave is developed to solve the problem of real-world adoption for smaller schools (from 1 to 500 students). Our technology is designed at many levels to facilitate organic, incremental, and steady adoption by all members of a school’s community.

At the simplest level, the admin system can be used in isolation to manually record attendance and final grades, print report cards and generate transcripts. Next, administrators can invite teachers to connect to gradebook views. At first, teachers can just record attendance and final grades, which are automatically rolled into report cards. As teachers become more comfortable, they can adopt the gradebook, messaging, and file sharing features.  Students and parents have access to consolidated views and receive email summary reports on a daily or weekly basis.

ThinkWave provides value, even if only one administrator is on-board. Each teacher that comes online makes the system more valuable by increasing the quantity of data that’s collected and organized.  Students and parents form a feedback loop to encourage all teachers to come on board.

ThinkWave eases adoption by focusing on connections between administrators, teachers, and student/parents, rather than on exhaustive features for each individual interface. It is more important to have a easy-to-use gradebook that is perfectly integrated into the overall system than to have a poorly integrated teacher interface with tons of features. ThinkWave is optimized for gathering and making sense of lots of granular data points by providing an easy interface for entering information.

ThinkWave business practices are also designed to enable easy adoption. ThinkWave is cloud-based, so schools do not need to invest in hardware, upgrades, or infrastructure maintenance. Users access the program with a browser on their PC, tablet, or mobile device. Potential customers can browse a live demo site account from our homepage, and can try the software for free for 30 days before purchasing. Teachers can use the free gradebook, then recommend it to their school. The license can be billed on an annual or a monthly basis, is transparent and all-inclusive, and is affordable even for small schools. In all cases, we try to eliminate cost, hassle, technical requirements, and uncertainty for customers.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Measurable Success in Technology Integration – Mooresville Graded School District
12 Common Education Technology Implementation Problems and How to Prevent and Remediate Them

4 New Technology Tools for Measuring Learning Outcomes

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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