What we hear from the Hapara Certified Educators: Monitor or empower?

Aug 12, 2015 | For the Classroom, Hapara Champions


Allison Winston

Hapara_Certified_Educator_Badge-1.jpgOur New Blog Series, What we hear from the Hapara Certified Educators, is focused on sharing Hapara Certified Educator’s insight and best practices.

The Hapara Certified Educator program is a certification designed to help edtech integrators, professional developers, instructional coaches, and teacher-innovators utilize a pedagogy-first approache to integrating Hapara tools. Over this three-month course, candidates engage with new learning paradigms, explore teaching and learning scenarios, create classroom lessons and professional development activities–all with an eye toward shifting instructional practice and engaging students more meaningfully. Click here to learn more about the Hapara Certified Educator program or to apply for Cohort 3, which begins February 1, 2016.

Monitor or Empower? Using Hapara Highlights with Google Chrome

December marks the highly-anticipated Open Beta release of Hapara Highlights in the United States. A new and improved version of Hapara Interact, Highlights is both faster and more powerful. But its true value comes from a set of features designed to help educators focus more on learner agency, engagement, and digital citizenship, and less on monitoring and punitive measures.

Since many Hapara-using schools will be enabling Highlights this week, I can’t think of a better time to share some best practices developed by our friends, the Hapara Certified Educators.

Image: Lucelia Ribeiro Flickr


Hapara and Learner Agency

Hapara tools originated in a school where philosophies of learner agency and empowerment are paramount. As Mark Osbourne of CORE Education explains, learner agency is “when learning involves the activity and the initiative of the learner, more than the inputs that are transmitted to the learner from the teacher, from the curriculum, the resources and so forth.” According to Mark, “learners must develop an awareness that there are consequences for the decisions they make and actions they take, and will take account of that in the way(s) they exercise their agency in learning.” Many educators in New Zealand and Australia are already using Hapara Highlights to support more learner-centric practices.

Behavior as Barometer of Engagement

While the ability to identify misuse or off-task behavior may make Highlights attractive initially,  Hapara Certified Educators share that the potential comes from Highlights’ ability to support digital citizenship instruction and student-driven learning.

“As teachers, we should not be interested in being “Big Brother” in our classrooms,” explains Eleni Kyritsis, Hapara Certified Educator and Year 6 teacher in Melbourne, Australia. “Instead, Highlights can help us promote digital citizenship and teach our students to interact online in a positive manner.”

Sometimes, off-task student behavior can be addressed as a behavioral or classroom management problem, other times educators use this information to reflect on what is and what is not working with instruction. Cynthia Nixon, Hapara Certified Educator and TOSA in Solana Beach, California, explains that a teacher can use Highlights Activity Viewer to evaluate student engagement and identify the impact of her lessons. “If students are goofing around on the Internet, they are not engaged in the assignment,” explains Cynthia. “Sometimes that is not entirely their fault – but ours as well.”


On the other hand, if students are engaged in a lesson that interests them and captures their attention, they won’t abuse the tech tools” says Jennifer Struebing, a Hapara Certified Educator and English teacher from Des Plaines, Illinois. “While it can be used as a monitoring tool, Highlights should be thought of as an engagement and accountability tool.” With Highlights, she says, teachers can use the Snaps feature to document moments of high and low engagement among learners, which they can use to reflect on the value of the chosen activity.

Like many teachers, Eleni, Cynthia, and others work with students to establish appropriate-use guidelines at the beginning of the school year.  Later, if an individual student does something to deviate from the agreement, the teacher may use Highlights to take a Snap (screenshot) of the activity to ground their conversation with the student. This way, Eleni explains, “the teacher shifts the responsibility to the learner for his or her own learning and personal behaviour.”

How do you use Hapara Highlights to promote digital citizenship and learner agency? We’d love to hear your thoughts!  .

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