Review of SeeSaw

SeeSaw is an app currently supported and used in my school division. Teachers of kindergarten and grade one have access to a paid subscription while teachers in other grades can use the free version. I never had the opportunity to use Seesaw when I had my own classroom but have had access to it through an administrator’s account. I have not come across any teachers who do not like SeeSaw and have found that it is used in many different ways in order to suit the needs of the students and comfort level of the teacher.

What is the purpose? What does it provide the user?

SeeSaw is described as a platform for student engagement. Students can reflect, create, share, and collaborate by taking pictures, recording videos or sharing their work. Teachers can send out messages, share student work, create activities, respond and communicate with families. For parents, they have an immediate look into what their child is doing at school, share in their learning journey by viewing videos and documentation of learning, and have direct access to comment on their child’s account or directly to the teacher through the messaging feature. For all parties involved, an account becomes like an online portfolio for the school year. With the paid version, the contents shared can stay with the student from year to year. With the free version, the account does not roll over into the next year.

What are the educational uses?

SeeSaw was designed for student engagement. While the features I listed above all fit into educational use, the company identifies that SeeSaw can be used in a variety of ways which include:

  • Feedback and reflection – students share their work and then teachers and peers can comment in order to provide feedback, guidance and encouragement.
  • Assignments and Assessment – teachers can send out assignments and give direct private feedback to students.
  • Family Engagement – communicating with families and keep them up to date in real time as posts can be sent out as they happen during the day.

What do the terms of service and privacy guidelines mean?

The terms of service start out in a very unique way, “Seesaw’s mission is to create an environment where students can be their best. To accomplish this goal, it is essential that Seesaw is safe place for students to document their learning, and that parents and teachers are in complete control over how that information is shared”. While others often begin with legal jargon and legal terms, this terms of service feels like the company cares for you and the content that is shared. It goes on to share promises which include:

  • We never sell your data or student data.
  • We never advertise in Seesaw.
  • We don’t own the content you add to Seesaw.
  • Student work is private to the classroom by default.
  • We use the latest security industry best practices to protect you.
  • We are transparent about our practices and will notify you if things change.
  • We are compliant with FERPA, COPPA, GDPR, MFIPPA, and the Australian Privacy Act.

The privacy guidelines state that a teacher or school is required to gain parental consent prior to using Seesaw and even provides a sample consent form (although you would need to use the one created by your school division). While the opening statements in the privacy guidelines make promises to you about protection, SeeSaw does still collect the following data:

  • Account information – name, email, password, phone number, profile picture
  • Journal content – photos, drawing, files, notes, hyperlinks, comments on posts, and voice recordings
  • Messages – all messages sent and received
  • Activities – any activities created by the teacher
  • Activity Author Profiles – teachers who choose to publish activities to the Community Activity Library
  • Information from your Google Account or other Third-Party Sign-in Service
  • Log Data – your IP address, browser type, operating system, device information, and your mobile carrier

While that list is lengthy and similar to other apps, I feel that the way the policy is written is almost more reassuring. It goes on to say they only use the information they collect to provide the service to you. The information is used to:

  • Verify your identity and store your Journal Content, Activities, and Messages.
  • Provide teachers, schools, and family members with customer support.
  • Notify you about activity on and updates to your account or your child’s account.
  • Research, understand, and analyze trends of users to improve and develop new features for our products.
  • Promote enhancements to Seesaw relevant for teachers, families and schools.
  • Investigate, prevent, and detect activities on our service that we believe may violate the law or applicable regulations. We may, at the request of a school, investigate accounts to determine whether they comply with school policies.

It is important to note that users are given the option to withdraw their consent of personal information at any time.

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