Students, teachers try out new online platform CavNet

Like any new technology, CavNet came with a plethora of questions.

CavNet is a portal based on Blackbaud’s software, a school organization system that allows students and parents to access information about the school.

Currently, students can check their schedules, view their absences and conduct reports, and see online rosters of students and staff.

Course descriptions can also be found on each class’s page though they’re geared more toward parents.

An online grade book and calendar for assignments are also available, though whether or not these features are used is up to the teachers.

This year teachers are required to use the online grade book to submit only mid-quarter progress reports, which the parents will be able to see for one week before the grades are made private again, head of high school Brooke Wells said.

Wells said he set the requirements for CavNet grading in coordination with the high school faculty.

“A lot of teachers are using the grade book right now,” Wells said. “I think it’s really efficient as long as only the students get to see it.”

One of the teachers using CavNet is biology teacher Kellie Whited.

“I didn’t (have a class website before) because I felt that students didn’t check (them) regularly,” Whited said. “But now that everything is on CavNet, I feel like students actually will check it, so it helps them with their assignments.”

And students say they are.

(Graphic by Héloïse Schep)

Of 124 high school students polled on Sept. 12, 78 said they used CavNet every day, and the assignment calendar was the most-used feature.

Since this is the first year for CavNet, Wells will see how things go before changing any requirements.

“We don’t want to force teachers to use CavNet if they prefer using paper gradebooks,” Wells said. “We’ll discuss with the faculty to see whether we would want more consistent grade reports and whether or not things will be different based on the grade the student is in.”

Wells said that he was considering having grade reports more often for the freshmen than for the seniors.

And the school plans to implement even more features into CavNet.

Director of technology Tom Wroten said that CavNet is very much still a work in progress.

“We’re working on improving the master calendar, as well as better athletics integration,” Wroten said.

The sports system works as an internal database that tracks scores, game recaps and wins and losses.

But these aren’t the only changes being made to Country Day’s online distribution of information.

Due to CavNet’s focus on internal communication with parents of current students, the old SCDS website is being revised to cater to prospective parents.

For example, an online application will replace the old paper one.

“We are revising and, in some cases, rewriting the content on the website,” head of school Lee Thomsen said. “It’s more of an upgrade than a redesign.”

The website will continue to be hosted by the current service, Digital Deployment, as the school works to make the website cleaner, easier to navigate and more visually appealing.

The new website will be launched gradually, but the first soft launch should be in the next month or so, according to Thomsen.

He said the school wants to release all the drastic changes at once and then slowly update the website with the rest of its features.

The last time the school website was redesigned was three years ago, though that redesign changed the website completely.

“Back then the system changed, and the look changed; everything changed,” Thomsen said. “This isn’t going to be as dramatic. ”

—Mehdi Lacombe 
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