Do we need another collaborating tool?

Once again, while looking into the details of an online tool that educators can use, I am faced with the limitations rather than its possible benefits. I don’t usually try to be cynical about anything; however, with everything on teacher’s lists of things to do, learning a new technology tool may not be on the top of everyone’s priority list. With that said, after spending some time reading up on Favro there can be some interesting information gleaned when comparing this collaboration tool with others that are readily available for educators.

By anchoring this blog in ISTE Standard 4 (Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems); especially 4a (Educators dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology) we can explore how can educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover, and share resources and ideas, and solve problems?

My response? With purpose! 😊 Teachers are given a finite amount of time which we try to stretch to its absolute maximum.  When taxed with meeting the scope and sequence mandated by the district and building, finding time to collaborate can be last on the list unfortunately.  I am very thankful for the teaching environment that I work in; collaboration is number one for our discipline as we integrate history and ELA curriculum.  This does not come naturally.  

Our school focuses on collaboration through two different methods: Critical Friend Groups (teachers from different disciplines, administrators, and counselors) which meet at least once a month to go over student work and educator’s dilemmas. Another way we collaborate as a whole school is Learning Walks.  Twice a year (at least during the Pandemic) a group of teachers open their classrooms for a few teachers to observe their classes.  As an observer we look for things we can see – classroom management, teaching strategies, etc.  It is a non-evaluative observation and is used for professional learning.

The online tool I looked into, Favro, appears to be designed mostly for corporate settings; however, there are components that seem to be beneficial for educators, especially when you consider that everyone desires to “integrate various departments and keep everyone on the same page” (Consumer Voice, 2021). The favorable attributes include: 

  • “Connect·the·dots with relations:” what I like about this feature is that you can have active or “live” areas on different aspects of a task.  For instance, if I am collaborating with fellow English teachers and my “assignment” is to create a list of books for the end-of-year book club, this list will be helpful for those who are creating the reading schedule page as well as initial directions page.  I can place my task on both of these pages and edit it “live” in both spaces.
  • Another positive attribute is that one person can have the license for the product and invite other collaborators as guests instead of requiring everyone to have to pay a fee to use this platform.
  • The last positive aspect of this product is the ability to integrate with the many digital tools educators use already such as Slack, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Calendar, and Google Drive. 

While educators are definitely attempting “to integrate various departments and keep everyone on the same page” (Consumer Voice, 2021), and it is tempting to be drawn in with the promise that users can learn “how to effectively communicate, [keep] everyone on track and up-to date, and [stay] organized at all times” (Consumer Voice, 2021), there seems to be too much overlap into programs schools and educators already use.

With Microsoft Teams and Google Drive apps readily available, bringing in a tool that was not created with educators in mind, but to allow “organizations do what they excel at – making products and services that change the game. Fast” (Lavi, 2020), the time that it would take to use this tool to is full capacity does not seem worth it.

References:

The agile collaborative planning app for SaaS & games. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.favro.com/

Favro review. (2021, April). Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.consumervoice.org/favro-review?topic_id=101

Lavi, S. (2020, July 16). Favro vs Asana. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.itqlick.com/compare/favro/asana

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