A Tech Director gives his Take
Recently, we had a chance a chance to speak with Oren Marcktell, the Director of Technology at Barrie in Silver Spring, Maryland. Oren spoke about how Barrie has successfully implemented Kaymbu and gave us some great tips for other technology directors out there!
Tell me about your role as the technology director at Barrie:
I maintain the IT infrastructure of the entire campus. The teachers use Kaymbu in the Barrie Montessori program. However, technology as a whole is not something we stress at a young age, as we follow Montessori principles with younger students.
I also manage email, connectivity, and technology, and work closely with our Technology Integration Specialist, Tommie Hata, on technology integration within our classrooms. Our school ranges from 18 months old to 12th grade, which is a big age range. Kaymbu is used with our toddlers all the way through the 5th grade.
One interesting fact: We have 180 students devices deployed on campus, as well as 80 teacher devices.
How did you learn about Kaymbu?
One of our teachers went to to a conference where Kaymbu was being featured. A key part of the Montessori program is documenting student’s work. We thought Kaymbu was a great way to document activities, since using a mobile device makes it easier to document outdoor activities. Overall, Kaymbu has been a big win, and the parent feedback has been absolutely tremendous. Parents have even asked to add student’s grandparents to the system so they too can receive the moments teachers are capturing as well.
What piqued your interest about Kaymbu?
The documentation aspect in particular stood out. As well as the capability to file all of those moments in a really easy, searchable way. When parent conferences come up, we can pull up those student’s moments, and visually show the student’s progress. This enables teachers to easily show student’s progress, since teaching at a young age is very hands-on.
By the way, in the last six weeks, we have captured more than 5,000 moments to families!
What are your goals for the system; why is this important to Barrie?
One of the biggest reasons Kaymbu is important to Barrie is because we are a Montessori school. We not only adhere to the Montessori philosophy, Barrie also happens to be a Montessori institute. We teach educators the principles of the Montessori philosophy.
How has the feedback been from your teachers and staff?
5,000 moments in six weeks speaks for itself!
That number may not seem as large when you consider our large classroom infrastructure, with 12 classrooms in the lower school, nevertheless adoption has been outstanding. Teachers don’t find it confusing or time consuming, which is important since you don’t want to be fumbling with software when teaching young children. The ability to send moments directly from a device is a huge time saver.
How has the feedback been from Barrie families?
Oftentimes the feedback we get from parents is very emotional, as they are overjoyed when they see moments from their children’s lives they would have otherwise missed. Recently, we were told a parent shared a moment of their child with their friends. Two of their friends liked it so much, they inquired about Barrie, and are coming to an upcoming open house. Kaymbu is now even helping us find new families!
Why is family engagement important to Barrie?
We see parents as partners. We are a very open community, which is so important to everything we do, and in many ways our students are our family during the day. These moments from the classroom bring us all together as a community.
You review and evaluate many technologies in your position. Is there anything particularly unique about Kaymbu compared to other products you’ve seen?
I think it really hits the mark on simplicity and functionality. You could put everything you need into a software package, but Kaymbu stands out for how easy it is to use and the benefits a school gains from using it.
What are some tips you would like to share with technology directors at other schools:
Think about device usage. We noticed that in our toddler program the teachers are much more hands on. We switched to using iPad-minis for them, which made their life much easier. These teachers often have to hold the students, since they are only 18 months old.
Lastly, observe and really think about using technology from a teacher’s perspective. They are the people who will actually make use of the technology and tools you give them.