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June 13, 2013

Product Review: Hapara

We recently asked a few teachers to share they ways they deal with version control*  issues and document sharing with students. Michelle K., in California, brought this great product to our attention: www.hapara.com.

Here’s the official information: Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard provides an instructional management layer to Google Apps, giving educators a snapshot view of student activity across Docs, Sites, Blogger, Picasa, Gmail, Google+ and Calendars.

In a nutshell, if your school is already using Google Apps for Education, Hapara synthesizes your students’ Google apps usage and gives you a big-picture view of information like who read their homework email and who’s late on an assignment.

In other words, Hapara = Google with Superpowers!

Michelle K. tells us how Hapara functions at her school: “All students get a Google account. Then, we can see how they are using it in real time. And if students forget to share documents with teachers, we can easily retrieve them from their Google Drive.”

From a teacher’s point of view—all tabs opened on each student’s browser:

From a teacher’s point of view—all tabs opened on each student’s browser.

harpara2-3

Hapara also shows which tab the student is looking at in the moment.

All this information sharing can feel a bit spooky, but it can also be incredibly helpful to teachers. If you are already using Google apps with your students, Hapara seems like a LIFE SAVER.

Even More Benefits:

  • It organizes student Google docs, comments, blogs, portfolios, etc. by student name.
  • Hapara has cool live online demonstrations and videos you can watch for free.
  • You don’t have to worry about managing students’ personal Gmail accounts.
  • You can quickly send messages and documents to students, individually or as a group.
  • Big-picture organization makes grading a breeze!
  • You can easily monitor student comments and blogs.
  • Hapara includes a free Parent Portal, which gives parents access to student work and parent newsletters.
  • Teachers can reset passwords for students as needed.
  • Even team leaders and principals can get overview access and leave comments on student work!

Optional Add-Ons Include:

  • Using Remote Control to see students’ screens
  • The Response to Intervention Add-On allows for easy tracking of RTI compliance

Some of the Drawbacks:

  • At $4 per student per year, Hapara ain’t cheap.
  • It’s going to be most useful in high-technology use schools and with older students.
  • Hapara requires that you’re already using Google Apps with students.
  • It takes some time up front to set it up and understand how it all works.
  • It seems like your entire school or district would need to be on board for maximum benefit.
  • You’d need to be really clear with students that you can see EVERYTHING they do online.

At least half the schools I work with these days are already using Google Apps with their students. Hapara could be wildly helpful with Google Docs version control alone!

*Version control – When you are working on a document from multiple machines and/or have multiple authors. . . and you cannot tell which document is the most recent!

Together Discussion Question: What do you think of Hapara? Tried it? Willing to?

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