Reported by Christine Carey – Early Years Specialist
There are a number of e-based systems for recording and storing assessment information in the Early Years. Practitioners record their evidence (photo, film, text, audio) using hand held devices (e.g. iPad, iPhone, PDA etc). All evidence is referenced against the Early Years Outcomes months bands and Early Learning Goals. Assessment evidence is wirelessly transferred to secure storage. Once stored this information can be used in many formats. Each version of software allows you to produce a wide range of reports for individual children, classes and cohorts. The reports are designed for reporting to parents and evidencing progress to leaders, governors and inspectors and can be edited to make them more personalized.
The benefits of using e-based systems:
- Time Saving: Saves practitioners approximately 5 hours per week
- Cost effective: Save money on resources, post its, scrap books, printing, staff time
- Professional: Efficiently correlates assessments in date order, neat word processed teacher comments which can be spell checked and edited remotely at home.
- Secure: Photos are uploaded into a secure online system, no more risk of children’s photos being left on unsecure digital cameras in the classroom.
- Easy to Use: If you can use a mobile phone, you can use e-based assessment software.
Orbit early years
Available on: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Web.
Suitable for: birth to five
Current Price: Currently free to download in apple store.
About the App: Orbit Early Years makes life easier for early years providers and is used by child minders, private nurseries and school foundation stage units. Having used the software for a year in reception class I found it extremely efficient as a means to file individual photographic evidence. It allows you to review any observations and edit them before they are uploaded to individual pupil portfolios. You can invite parents to share in their child’s learning and input ‘postcards’ of their child’s significant achievements outside of school.
Possible Pit falls: Once you have uploaded observations, only your settings administrator can make any changes you may feel you want to make, which could be problematic in a job share or large setting. If you use handwritten observations alongside orbit or wait till the end of each half term/few weeks to upload observations eager parents may be disappointed if their child hasn’t got a new observation when they happen to view their child’s portfolio if you use orbit family. Also, families who don’t use the internet at home may feel disadvantaged. Technical problems if you try and print out a large amount of observations at one time.
2Build a Profile
Available on: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android.
Suitable for Ages: Foundation Stage
Current Price: The app is free to download and you can request a month’s full access from 2simpleapps.com to trial. A year’s access for one device costs £99 + VAT and a full school site licence is £299 + VAT.
About the App: In my experience working in a range of early years settings, practitioners are finding this software the most user friendly and like its name reflects ‘simple’ to train other staff to use in the setting. It efficiently tags photos of pupils learning and securely stores them into individual online portfolios of achievements. Significant learning is efficiently logged for individual or groups of pupils. Teachers can keep track of observations and pinpoint next steps in learning in order to make sure each child is getting the best results with quick and easy progress tracking.
Possible pit falls:2Build a Profile works best with Classroom Monitor Early Years – an online markbook that tracks child development against their EYFS goals. Many settings and schools may have purchased different tracking software which isn’t compatible. The markbook uses a simple traffic light system to show each child’s progress against individual targets. All the evidence and observations you record in 2 Build a Profile are automatically shared with the markbook to support your judgements. As all 2simple software each application comes at a cost and so for the full package could end up less cost effective than competitors.
Available on: Desktop PC Windows 32 Bit PC running Windows XP SP3, Vista, Windows 7.Windows PC with 2Ghz or faster processor, 2GB RAM and a minimum of 2GB free disk space. iPhone 4GS or greater, iPad version 2 or greater. Android V2.3 or higher with an SD card and touch screen. (Fingertips recommend Samsung Galaxy Ace)
Suitable for ages: Foundation Stage
Current Price: Enhanced version – 30 Pupils £460, Plus £100 for each 10 pupils thereafter.
Annual License Fees £10 per Month, invoiced as £120 charge per year payable by all schools whether they are converting to the free basic version or paying for the enhanced version.
About the App: Having piloted the original software in 2011 I found it easy to use and liked the way it let you see how much evidence you have for individual pupils. Also, it is useful to track pupil progress as you can clearly see the levels each pupil, group or cohort are working at. You can print out individual observations or print out records every few weeks.
Possible Pit falls: Depending on the cost of the devices you want to use for the app it could end up very costly. Also, if you have either an unusually small cohort or large cohort you could find you pay over the odds as the pricing is based on a class of 30 pupils and an additional £100 for a further 10 pupils. For the free trial you have to have 5 schools present now, otherwise costs are incurred.