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Scenario: The teacher assigns an online activity for students to complete.
First problem: Three students can’t seem to find the right URL. It’s on the Smart Board, clearly visible, but they keep getting 404 file not found errors.
Second problem: Two students who have been separated by the teacher are typing away and trying their best to keep from giggling. The teacher knows something is up, but every time she approaches them, all she can see is the assigned activity on the screen, and they appear to be working.
Third problem: Another student has found the correct web page, but opened the incorrect document and is lost. He keeps asking his neighbors for help. Instead of working on the activity, now three of them are trying to find the right document to open.
Solution to all of the above: Hapara®.
Hapara® is a cloud-based app that integrates with G-Suite and Windows 365 effortlessly. It gives teachers a place to oversee all that is happening online from one app.
From the teacher dashboard, I can share a URL with all my students simultaneously and it will open on their devices automatically at the same time. No more rushing around trying to figure out what was incorrectly typed into the browser. WIN! This feature alone is a huge time saver. Everyone is off and working within seconds.
From the Highlights screen, I can see every single tab that is opened on each device on my computer screen. What’s even better, I can also close tabs from my computer with one click. In essence, I can help students stay on task and be more focused on the assignment. No more sharing GIFs, JPEGs, or videos without my knowledge. This has been the BEST classroom management tool in my arsenal EVER. When I close a tab, I’ll hear an initial, “Hey!” but then the student realizes I closed the tab and have redirected their learning. After the first few closed tabs, I rarely have students wander to other off-limits sites. If a student goes to sites that are clearly off-limits (ahem, trying to get around the blocked list), I can even take a screen shot from my computer of their screen. It is difficult to argue with a screen shot. Just sayin’.
Ever wonder if students have, um, used each other as a resource for completing work (cheated)? With a quick click, I can see all of a student’s docs and see with whom they have shared their work. The evidence is irrefutable.
From the Workspace screen, I can immediately share documents with students. No longer do they need to log on to Classroom and find the assignment. I can share exactly what I want them to work on through Hapara®.
Another benefit of Hapara®: I can organize my students into differentiated groups and distribute assignments accordingly. It streamlines assignments effortlessly. Or, if I want them to collaborate on an assignment, I can do that with the click of my mouse.
As educators, we can create and collaborate on different ideas for improving student success or parent interaction all in one space. How cool is that?
A downside: students MUST be signed into their Chrome or Window 365 accounts in order for me to see their activity. If they open other browsers or do not sign into their accounts, I cannot monitor their online activity or share with them. Our school has consequences in place to encourage students to do what they are supposed to do. Kids are kids and will try to find ways around the system. Just be aware of this and address it ahead of time. An easy solution is to disable all other browsers. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, especially on Macs and PCs.
From the administrative side, Hapara® does require a bit of work. The initial set-up was not too difficult and took about 45 minutes with the customer service rep. From there, it is a matter of creating class and student spreadsheets to upload into the system. That can be a bit time consuming. It does sync with Clever, PowerSchool SIS, and RIC One API (additional costs may apply). Archiving classes seems to take forever. This is something that should be completed during the summer – trust me on this one.
Pricing: Pricing is dependent on school and/or district size. Our school is an institutional school with a smaller population, so our cost was reasonable. Hapara’s sales team has been forthright with our school. The seminar I attended at a Ed Tech Summit quoted an average price of $3-5 per student per year. Our costs were in line with that statement.
Support: Hapara’s support team is awesome! I have yet to go more than twelve hours without a response to an email. They have a Hapara YouTube channel with detailed, helpful tutorials for each aspect of their app. The app itself is user friendly and fairly intuitive.
Using Technology Better has a decent six-minute video on how Hapara and Classroom integrate. Using Technology Better has several tutorials on Hapara, including one that can be shared with students explaining how Hapara works.
My conclusion: if you can talk your administration into purchasing Hapara for your school, it is worth it. The learning curve isn’t steep, the program is intuitive, the time saved in the classroom is valuable, and it adds a layer of online accountability for students.