Teachers should avoid employing StackUp as a way to keep students on task. Instead, use students' (or even teachers') StackUp results as a way to assess habits, interests, and time management. It's probably best used as a tool for students to explore interests and work for their own purposes, especially toward a portfolio or personal growth. StackUp can also be used for fun intra-class competition. Teachers can assign students code names to protect privacy and then post students' reading reports to compare scores and examine trends that would connect well with digital citizenship lessons. Students can see how their classmates are consuming the web and where they "stack up" on various topics.Continue reading Show less
StackUp is a Chrome browser extension that tracks how long you spend -- and how engaged you are -- on websites of varying topics. Teachers can assign categories of sites or specific sites to students, who then visit these sites and accrue time and badges. Over time, this browsing data is aggregated within student profiles by subject area and is available to both students and teachers to assess browsing activity and interests.
In the classroom, this provides evidence that students have read assigned websites and/or have spent time online appropriately. It also offers users a way for students to keep track of their interests, organize their time online, and conduct self-assessment and reflection. Students receive (and can hand in) a one-page printout that tracks their time and compares it to other users' stats.
StackUp's main selling point to educators is it's a way to assign, track, and give credit for what students read online. The issue is that this form of management and oversight can end up being extrinsic rather than intrinsic -- that is, students may feel pressured to stay on task rather than feeling driven by passion and interest. Additionally, the tool also has some practical issues. The developer's commitment to user privacy means the tool is easy to turn on and off. Consequently, the data it provides to teachers monitoring student activity is not necessarily comprehensive or reliable. Students can turn StackUp on and off at will, spending time on websites the teacher hasn't assigned.
StackUp claims it can tell how engaged a user is and that users attempting to fool the system will be spotted and removed from using the program, but it's not clear how that works. If the tool relies on idleness, a student could easily move the mouse on a screen while chatting with a neighbor. Of course, teachers can use StackUp differently -- focusing on it more as a tool for self-reflection, making students more aware of their own habits and interests, and using it as a record of learning activity to go in a portfolio. As with any tool, your mileage may vary based on how you frame its use in the classroom. As a free tool that's well-designed and evolving productively, StackUp is certainly worth a look, but know that its potential success in classrooms will require particularly thoughtful implementation.