Planitou, a digital application first designed to allow early childhood center educators to communicate more effectively with parents, is being adapted to meet the needs of preschool and elementary school. About sixty teachers from the Quebec school network are currently testing the tool.
“Last year, we started adapting Planitou with the digital school diary, a photo and video album, a skills observation module and a videoconference tool suitable for preschool children, ”explains Jonathan Thivierge, President and CEO of Planitou.
“The goal is to bring together in a single tool functions that are normally dispersed among several applications. We also have a great concern that the interface is easy to use for the little ones, ”he adds.
For the 2021-2022 school year, the project is continuing with kindergarten teachers 4 and 5 years old as well as 2e year. The pilot project is carried out in partnership with the National RECIT service for preschool education. Changes have been made to the tool to accommodate the new preschool curriculum and the first version of a digital portfolio is currently being tested.
Bye bye paper agenda
Suzanne Larocque is a kindergarten teacher at the Center de services scolaire de Montréal, in a multiethnic and underprivileged environment. When she volunteered in September 2020 to participate in the pilot project, it was a real leap into the void for her. " I was not techno at all. "
Today, she says she would never go back. She is ready to abandon the paper agenda for a digital communication tool. She can now send the same message to all parents with a single click (instead of writing the same message in all the paper calendars or printing it in multiple copies). She can send personalized messages, prepare her emails in advance and send them at a time of her choice.
A big advantage, she now sees when parents consult her messages and they can respond to her electronically instantly. Also, in the case of children in shared custody, both parents receive communications at all times, which can facilitate follow-ups.
“I learned to master the features very quickly. I also take the time, at the start of the school year, to explain to parents how the tool works. It should not be taken for granted that everyone has mastered digital technology, ”she says.
While she appreciates smoother communications with parents, she fell in love with the videoconferencing integrated into Planitou. “It's simple and clean visually, there is no cognitive overload like in the other tools. It's perfect for my little students, ”remarks Ms. Larocque.
It also indicates that the videoconference developed by Planitou uses much less energy in terms of bandwidth than other similar tools, in addition to working on older electronic devices. “Last year, 50 % of my students were studying remotely from a cell phone,” she explains.
The launch of the official version of Planitou is scheduled for the start of the 2022 school year, while the application should be made available to all school service centers in Quebec. Connection bridges should be possible for users of the Mozaïk school portal.
At a time when some school service centers in Quebec prohibit the use of applications that are only available in English, as we reported to you a few weeks ago, Jonathan Thivierge believes that Planitou could become an interesting option to meet certain needs.