ClassDojo offers a simple but effective tool for educators

ClassDojo is a new iOS app aimed at educators. It is designed to complement the web-based ClassDojo.com service, a simple solution that uses the principles of gamification to improve behavior in the classroom. Using the service, teachers can list all of their students then award them positive or negative points for displaying specific behaviors. Reports can then be generated tracking class or individual point totals over time, and then downloaded or sent to parents for later review.

The Web-based service is highly competent, making use of a clear, minimalist interface while offering a simple but useful suite of features for educators to make use of. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the mobile app, which is significantly lacking in functionality, severely limiting its usefulness in a practical situation.

The most glaring omission from the mobile app at this time is the fact that it is impossible to manage classes and students. Existing classes and students may be awarded positive or negative points using the app (complete with a pleasing, satisfying — and optional — sound effect) but there is no means of creating a new class or adding students to an existing class. It’s also impossible to change student “avatars” using the app, and if the teacher has uploaded custom avatars for their students, these do not appear on the mobile app either. There’s also a web app version of the service, but this is similarly limited in functionality.

This said, both the mobile app and web app versions of the service do instantly sync with the website, so both may be used as a handheld “remote control” for live updating on points while leaving the full site “leaderboard” screen up on an interactive whiteboard or projector display. The full site presents its interface with large text and images and features “achievement-style” popups at the bottom of the screen when awarding a student a point, giving a strong and satisfying sense of gamification to proceedings.

ClassDojo clearly has a great deal of potential as a tool for educational professionals, and the customizability of the Web service means that it could easily be adapted to other situations, too — there’s no need to stick to the standard behavior descriptors, for example, nor indeed is there any requirement to use it for school children. It could equally be used to track scores in a competition or on a professional team-building exercise, and creative users will doubtless think of some other potential applications.

This potential is why it’s such a shame that the mobile app, as it exists at present, is so very limited. At the very least, it would make sense for users to be able to manage class lists from the app. All of the relevant information is already being passed back and forth between the website and the app and the data for the reports is already being calculated, so there does not seem to be a good reason as to why it’s impossible to access many of these features from the mobile version.

ClassDojo is one to keep an eye on for now, then, but not yet an essential tool for educational professionals. It has the potential to become that — it’s just not quite there yet.

ClassDojo is currently ranked at No. 57 in Top Free Education Apps and No. 60 in Top Free iPad Education Apps. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.