This School App Is Controlling And Sending Out The Wrong Message To Students, Says Research

  • Parents Only

School communication app Class Dojo has been divisive since its launch in classrooms in 2011, despite its use in almost half of Australian primary schools. 

Through the app, teachers can reward students with positive feedback in real time when they produce good work or show good behaviour. Children are awarded points for skills such as “working hard” and “perseverance”, and deducted points for “disrespect”. 

Teachers can also communicate directly with parents through the platform, sharing pictures and videos from the classroom or reminding them of upcoming events. 

However, new research by University of South Australia researchers says Class Dojo promotes an archaic approach to discipline and likens it to China's social credit system.

“If we look at the fundamental basis of how China’s social credit system works, we see similarities with Class Dojo,” the study's lead author Jamie Manolev told Sydney Morning Herald.

“They both rely heavily on surveillance, rewards and punishments to reinforce behaviour and convert behaviour data into a score. Those scores are being used to determine what happens to students or citizens.”

Mr Manolev, who is also a primary school teacher, said the app was popular because it provided teachers with a “quick behavioural fix”.

However, this then sends a damaging message that children should behave appropriately just because they might receive a reward.

As the researchers found, this is damaging to a student self-motivation and the development of self-regulation. It also promotes unhealthy competition between students and can cripple a child's self-esteem. 

No No No, Dojo

Other teachers discuss the burden of the app, as it makes them available to parents on-demand at all times. Then there's the serious issue of the private for-profit company collecting and storing sensitive student behaviour data. 

The Pros Of Dojo

Many teachers believe the app is no different to handing out gold stars, awards or house points and can help with motivation and engagement. Teachers say they can track student progress and growth within the app, making assessment and learning goals more personalised. Many schools will use it more as a social media platform for the school community with much less focus on behavioural monitoring. 

What do you think of the Class Dojo app?

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