As requested by some tweeters I’m going to blog a little about iDoceo which is a teachers planner & mark book app which I’ve been using for the last academic year.
Before we start I want to make two important points.
- The app is only available for iOS devices (hey, don’t shoot the messenger) so if you’re not an Apple user you might want to stop reading now. Or maybe I can convince you to jump ship & buy an iPad.
- I fear I’m about to sound like an advertisement so just to clarify; I have no connection to the app other than being an enthusiastic user and I haven’t been asked to write this review by anyone other than some teachers on Twitter.
Right let’s crack on. I intend to give some detail of how I use the app and what are the best features but don’t intend to spend ages explaining to you how to do things. I found the best way to learn was just to try stuff and play around for a few hours. It really is quite an intuitive interface. On the few occasions I’ve not been able to work something out I’ve used the excellent tutorials on their website.
The app isn’t free but it’s worth every penny of its price tag (£7.99 at the time of writing)
There’s no avoiding the fact that you need to personalise for your timetable and this takes some time commitment. I did find that it was much quicker second time round. I would approach set-up in the following order;
Import Classes – I do this directly from Excel. Save as a .csv format, email to myself and then choose “open in…iDoceo” TOP TIP: you need forename & surname in one column so use concatenate in Excel to do this prior to uploading to iDoceo
Set Timetable Options – in Settings (cog icon), choose planner and tell it how many periods in your school day
The use the schedule option in settings to set the timings of your periods. You must enter every start and end time for each lesson.
Set Icons– I love the icons in iDoceo as they allow a lot of information to be summarised in a cute little icon. There are lots available and it’s worth choosing a handful and deselecting the ones you don’t want to appear otherwise you end up endlessly scrolling through unwanted options. Still in settings scroll down a little to icons. Deselect unwanted ones and change the label of the ones you do.
Set up Schedule – You can now set up your timetable in the Schedule tab. Simply press & hold to assign each period to a class. If you run a two week timetable just do this for a two week period.
Input holidays -Select calendar from the top tabs and then choose holidays from the lower tabs. You can now tap on any scheduled holidays to remove them from your calendar
Copy schedule –You can now copy your timetable from the start of your academic year to the end. Copying a fortnightly timetable needs to be done in blocks to stop it getting out of sync when there is a one week holiday.
You should now find that this means that your planner view (tab at the top) is ready to go. So moving on…
The planner works exactly as a paper planner would do; you can tap in a period and add notes as well as do fancy things with colour if you’re a pretty planner type.
Bump and lock.
My planner used to be a mess. There’d be an unexpected trip and you’d have to cancel a lesson. IDoceo makes this easy. Selecting a period and clicking on the bullet point icon gives you a bump or lock option. Use lock for any lessons that cannot be moved such as assessments, mock exams or practicals. This means if you miss a lesson or need to add in am extra lesson you can bump lessons along. The app will automatically bump around anything locked.
Use the at symbol to attach lesson resources.
You can link up to your iCal/ outlook/ GMail calendar (do this in settings). This year I’ve set up a separate calendar for my homework setting which you’ll see appearing at the top of my planner view in grey.
I’ll mention here the home screen too which is where you can see all your classes and make notes on the notepad (I use this to make a note of topics to revisit, a colleague used it for her to do list). You can also add general pinboards which allow you to have key information always at hand eg school calendars, tutor lists etc.
Each class has a grade book. You can add extra tabs down the left hand side. And assign icons to pupils (for e.g pupil premium or SEN)
Each time you add a column you can decide what time of format you want. I use the colour coded 1-100 scale most which you can adjust in terms of what score is represented by what colour. Alternatively you can enter grades or set up your own grade types. TOP TIP: change the cell editor to numeric keypad if entering numbers (took me waaaaay too long to work this out!) Double clicking on a column allows you to change settings retrospectively. Scrolling to the bottom of the column allows you to calculate a class total or average. The most recent update allows excel type formulas but I haven’t explored this yet.
Seating plan view allows you to set up to 5 different plans per class which is useful if you teach in multiple rooms or if you want to keep a record of a previous arrangement. I colour code pupils based on how on or off target they are so I know who may need additional support. There is a random picker option so you can lose those lollipop sticks!
One of my most used tools in iDoceo is the ability to add straight to the grade book from the seating plan view. Do this by selecting column from the top for an existing column in the grade book or add column if you want a fresh one. You can now double tap on a pupil to add a score or icon. You can also just display existing scores (useful if you want to have 1:1s with pupils scoring under a particular mark on a homework)
I use this to keep a record of issues such as late to lesson, verbal warnings, behaviour marks, lack of equipment, uniform issues etc. This has proved very powerful in terms of spotting patterns and for parent evening discussions!
The grade book view also has a diary option which will take you to your planned lessons for the current class. I particularly like the timeline view and the ability to search your previous lessons (“when did we do fractions?”)
iDoceo does not automatically back up so you must ensure you have selected a suitable cloud drive to back up to and that you remember to manually back up frequently. This can be done from the back up tab.
What continues to impress me about the developers is that they are not resting on their laurels; despite having a very good app they are constantly developing and reacting to user feedback to roll out new features. I’ve always found them responsive to Twitter queries and they openly welcome feedback and suggestions.
I know one thing, if I ever leave this school and lose my iPad I can’t see me doing anything other than buying a replacement. Once you iDoceo you can’t stop (oh shucks now I’m thinking about crisps…)