Website review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2018

Homeroom

Simple photo-sharing tool offers limited classroom options

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Grades
K–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.

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Pros: Navigating the interface is intuitive, and setup is quick.

Cons: Missing key features for classroom use like private messaging and photo editing.

Bottom Line: Share photos, videos, and posts with students' families, but don't expect the versatility and features of similar tools.

Teachers can use Homeroom to give parents a glimpse into the fun and learning happening in their classrooms every day. All of the posts in the album are visible to all group members, however, so posting individual student work wouldn't be as smooth as it is with other tools like Seesaw. Teachers could appoint a journalist-for-the-day (or week) to document class work and activities in videos and photos and share them through Homeroom. Teachers could also use the tool for regular parent communication, posting announcements in addition to sharing photos and videos. Be sure to consult your school's privacy policy before sharing photos of students or students' work. 

 

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Homeroom is a website (and iOS and Android app) for teachers to share private classroom albums with students' families. Teachers can post text, videos, and photos to the Homeroom timeline feed; photos can also be viewed in a gallery format. Setup takes a couple of steps: naming the album and inviting users by email. There's also an option to invite a batch of users using a link. The default setting allows any member to post, but teachers can control that in the settings, restricting posts to administrators and allowing parents to comment and "like" posts. Posts can be deleted but not edited, and there's no option for photo cropping or editing in the tool.

High school teachers might use Homeroom as a safer, more regulated class social medium, but the appeal is mostly for parents. The privacy policy and terms of service specify the tool is for users 13 and older, so for younger students, use is limited to only their parents. Apps are available for both iOS and Android, so teachers and parents can connect across platforms. But there are no options for private messaging, or editing posts or photos, so classroom use is restricted. The monetizing focus of the site seems to be the option to create a photo book using pictures posted to the album, and banner ads appear to remind the user. Overall, Homeroom is simple and easy to use, but there are other tools out there -- like Seesaw or FreshGrade -- that provide more options for teachers who want to give families a view into the classroom. 

 

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The interactive stream of posts and photos involve family members in class activities. Students will be excited to share what they're doing in class and read comments from group members.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Homeroom allows teachers to share with families the fun and learning happening inside their classrooms every day, but the tool doesn't offer much beyond sharing posts and photos.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Setting up Homeroom is intuitive, especially to users of other social media platforms. However, a lack of options for editing posts and photos makes its use burdensome. 


Common Sense reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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