Monday, April 18, 2011

Learn Boost: Free Gradebook and Lesson Plans in the cloud

What is Learnboost? 

     Learnboost is a free cloud based application which allows combines a grade book, lesson planner, calendar, seating chart, attendance  and more. The great thing about it (apart from being free) is that it works within Google Apps,  enabling you to access everything with your Google Email account and sync your calendar and other content.

Why use it? 

     The software itself is visually very appealing and easy to navigate. Teachers can quickly add their classes and start adding grades and other information about students. There is flexibility is how grading can be done and the grades can easily be shared with students and parents to help monitor progress and ensure accountability.
In addition, teachers can easily create lesson plans, making it easy to keep everything organized in one place. The great thing about LearnBoost is that it provides educators with the freedom to work from anywhere where there is an Internet connection.

    When I first tested Learnboost about a year ago, it lacked some of the features which I wanted such as the ability to share student progress with parents. I went ahead with using Engrade, another free site which I will review later. However, now that Learnboost has added new features, I plan to switch to it next school year because I really love the way it looks and how it seamlessly integrates with Google Apps.

How do I create and manage an account? 

To get started, you will need to sign up for an account. It is also possible to sign up with your Facebook account. Once you put in the details, you will be asked information about your class.

Once your class is set up, you will be taken to a page which allows you to set everything up, including your roster, schedule, seating chart, schedule, access and policy.

From this page you will be able to manage your class, post assignments and do your lesson planning. Getting everything done is quite simple and the site is very intuitive.

Is it worth getting? 

If you have access to a reliable Internet connection most of the time, then a cloud based application like Learnboost is a great way to manage your class. It certainly beats doing everything by hand. The reports and graphs are beautiful and very easy to read.

     There are certainly other options on the market but few are as well packaged and designed as Learnboost. And of course the best part is that it is completely free so you have nothing to lose if you later decide that this is not for you. I would recommend setting up a class and playing with all the options before going live. If you like the way everything works, you may decide that this is worth using at the beginning of the next school year (or even from today). To learn more about Learnboost, check their blog.

If you have used Learnboost or other sites on the market, please offer feedback. I would love to know which people like most.