If I can track my pizza order on my phone, how about my children’s learning?

Pizza Hut Windows Phone appI can track my pizza order in real time…

Pizza Hut have announced the availability of a new app in Australia to allow you to order your custom-made pizza from your Windows Phone, and in some countries, I can do the same for a Domino’s Pizza. Currently a quarter of all Pizza Hut’s online sales come from smartphones.

So I can sit at home, design my own pizza, specify the delivery time, and then wait for the goodies to turn up. Or with Domino’s, you can track the pizza live as it goes through production (see how it works here)

Screen shot of Pizza TrackerAnd one enterprising app developer developed a Domino’s Pizza Tracker web app, which ran on a range of smartphones. This allowed you to track the full progress of your pizza order – so you could see progress as it was being assembled, baked, and sent out for delivery. This app used Domino’s XML system, which gave the opportunity for developers to access the production data and build clever apps on it (sadly, Domino’s then decided to block the app from accessing the data, so the excitement of watching your pizza order go through production was removed)

…so why can’t I track my children’s learning progress

I know that for some people their pizza is a high priority in their life (@bennuk, I’m thinking of you), but surely if we’ve got that level of fine detail about the production of our dinner, then we should really have the same kind of information on our children’s learning progress. Where’s the app that tells us how students are performing in school? How can we help parents to connect to their children’s learning? After all, if parental engagement is critical to a child’s success in learning, then engaging them in new ways could be key. At the moment, as a parent I get a report school only twice a year. But could we be doing better?

The things we’d have to change could be pretty small – like making sure that teachers record marks in a consistent way across the school, and record them into a system. And find a way for parents to be able to see the information for just their children (which is solved in many schools already through parental logins to the website, or student logins to their learning management system).

Professor John Hattie, in Visible Learning, says that his children had to put up with the same question after school every day “What feedback did you receive about your learning today?”. If it’s that critical a question to ask, then perhaps we should be using technology to make it easier to answer. And pizza companies give us a simple, powerful example of what’s possible.

Sometimes we get bogged down in fancy language and technical concepts – learning analytics; education business intelligence; parental engagement. But perhaps we can simplify it by comparing and contrasting with good practice outside of education, to unlock a different approach.

What do you think? Comment below