Birth Of Blend: Transitioning from ARS website to Blend.

Published on: September 2, 2017

Filled Under: ARS News, News, Showcase

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Three years after Ann Richards opened it’s doors, the school devoloped the website annrichardsstars.com. This website included class calendars, grade check, and a gmail account. This year, ARS decided to get rid of the website and replace it with AISD’s website, Blend.

“As the district has gone forward with more technology, and has tied more of the district tools with to your AISD login specifically, it has become more problematic to deal with two different accounts.” ARS librarian Ms. Shawn Mauser said.“It started really becoming an issue when they started really pushing the cloud and putting everything into the login, so ultimately that’s why we ended up changing. It got too difficult to juggle both of those, it was causing a lot of problems.”

Ms. Mauser has been working all summer long to make the transition from the ARS website to the new one. As she was working on it, she faced issues like creating email groups and getting access to student’s emails. Since many email groups are used for classes, communication between classes and teachers can be harder.

“I hate the fact that I can’t just make a biomed email group and then just email my students when I need to,” Ms. Mikaela McCrady said. 

Another issue found was that many students had trouble logging into the new system. Getting this fixed for students has been a challenge that Ms. Mauser and school administration is still having to deal with.

“Probably the biggest challenge is that the district is dealing with 85,000 students and we were dealing with 750…The district hasn’t gotten their to solve those problems yet. So what we’re facing right now is resolving problems that we’ve already solved and not having the control necessary to actually have those problems fixed,” Mauser said.

This year, an online classroom website, Haiku, is not being used anymore. Haiku allowed teachers to turn their class lessons into a mostly online, technology-oriented class. Most teachers whole class relied on Haiku if it was flipped class. This year teachers have to completely change their class setup.

“A lot of students can’t even log into Blend right now. We were supposed to be doing biology as a whole flipped learning thing and we can’t right now because people can’t get to it,” Ms. McCrady said.

Although Blend has been a big change and lots of people felt frustrated, people have also found a lot of positive changes.

“You can email people outside of just ARS, before it sometimes could be hard if you’re trying to do something for a class and you need to email something to yourself or get something from your phone to a computer,”Sabine Jimenez (9) said. “Now since you can email more people there’s more freedom and it’s a lot easier to do projects and that kind of thing.”

“It also has it’s own messaging system feature so if students are put into groups, you can message within the group,” Ms. McCrady said.

Blend will also save some time for teachers when entering grades.

“Haiku wasn’t tied to the AISD grade book so that meant that if they took a grade in Haiku they had to take that Haiku grade and physically key it into the gradebook,” Ms. Mauser said. “Blend is tied directly to the gradebook, so if they take a grade in Blend it automatically populates over to the grade book.”

Though these new technology changes have caused some problems this year, it has also opened new doors to improvements in the school.

“We will get through it. We always do. We are Ann Richards. I think it will all be okay in the end,” Ms. McCrady said.  

 

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