Website review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2020

FreshGrade Connect

Multimedia digital portfolios connect students, teachers, and parents

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Grades
K–12
Subjects & Skills
Communication & Collaboration

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Pros: Options for uploading all sorts of media and accompanying reflections showcase a well-rounded picture of student learning over a mere snapshot.

Cons: Some of the navigation is a bit awkward, and the feed can get cluttered up pretty quickly. There's no option for students to work collaboratively with or get feedback from peers.

Bottom Line: It's designed with student learning in mind, and teachers can encourage students to submit quality content and engage in reflective feedback.

As an assessment tool, FreshGrade Connect offers teachers options for monitoring a student's learning process, progress, and outcomes. Student portfolios are a unique vehicle to get kids to show what they know in a way that's most comfortable for them. Let students play to their strengths when possible: The performers can record audio or video, while more camera-shy students might opt for written submissions or visual projects. Since your classes can be tailored to any subject area, the platform offers flexibility in the breadth and depth of knowledge students demonstrate that other tools can't provide. Kids can record themselves singing, dancing, or acting in performance-based classes while they write in-depth essays, critiques, or fictional stories in others. Plus, encouraging kids to submit their best iterations of an assignment provides them with opportunities to experiment and reflect without the fear of a poor or failing grade.

On the fun side, it's neat for students and teachers to post pictures from field trips, class events, or special projects as well. Balancing academic and social-emotional facets of education sends the message to students that learning is valued in many different forms. 

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FreshGrade Connect is a digital portfolio platform, also available via web and iOS or Android app, that enables communication among students, teachers, and parents/guardians. Upon signing in, teachers can easily create classes by adding or uploading students and customizing standards and assessment scales. Then, add posts and activities to the feed in the form of events, portfolio items, or assessments. Posts may include standards, files, tags, audio, video, images, or cloud-based uploads. Depending on the audience, grown-ups or students may add items to the portfolios in order to provide a clear picture of student progress. However, since teachers control the visibility of each activity, what gets shared is easily manageable for each posting. Teachers can also take advantage of different scales to show student progress toward goals, mastery of standards, content knowledge, and more.

 

Consider FreshGrade Connect a way to get students and grown-ups on the same page in terms of progress toward learning goals. Time-strapped teachers often opt for summative assessments and acquisition of easily tested but forgettable knowledge over authentic assessment or project-based learning. However, the ability to view and measure growth over time in an accessible format might allow for more authentic assessment. It's an invaluable way to predict and progress toward desirable learning outcomes. Through a  platform that's simple to use and understand, teachers can easily differentiate instruction, provide feedback, respect students' strengths and learning preferences, and promote self-reflection. 

In general, the accessibility features are great. Options to upload, record, and write content cover most of the bases in terms of learning preferences. Text-to-speech features would be a helpful addition, but teachers can opt to share information in both text and audio formats. There are some minor issues, such as having to use the Back button after adding a comment to a student's submission, and difficulty adding students to an established class. Also, although teachers can use filters, the feed can get cluttered quickly. If teachers want to remove posts, they have to delete them; an archive option or folder organization system would be helpful for teachers who want to access posts and activities without having them clutter up the dashboard. Ultimately, though, the ability for kids to show evidence of learning in ways that feel most natural to them speaks to the power of the portfolio as a learning tool.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Allowing students to shine and promote their best work helps kids buy in to the idea of presenting fine-tuned content. Receiving encouragement and feedback will make it meaningful for students.

Pedagogy

The product is adaptable to students' learning preferences and enhances the school-home connection, increasing the likelihood that students get the support they need. It also opens up assessment opportunities beyond tests.

Support

There's not much of a learning curve to use the product, and it's easy for teachers to personalize and differentiate assessments and submissions. Text-to-speech capability would assist students who struggle with reading. 


Common Sense reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Instructional Technology Facilitator

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