Image by Phaitoon: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2588 Photoshopped by Patrick Cauley
I am a frustrated educator. I mean, I am really, really frustrated. If you could see me right now . . . well you would see me typing, but pretend I am wringing a towel out of utter frustration. I’ve never been a big fan of GradeQuick but have been forced to use it. If you want to find out why this program has angered me read on past the break and if you’re a GradeQuick user yourself please read on and leave your own opinion below.
Before I get to the straw that broke the camel’s back, let me tell you where this all started. Back in 2003 I was using GradeQuick (made for Windows 3.1 mind you) on my laptop that was running Windows ME. It took one floppy disk to install this program that set me back around $75 if I remember correctly. It worked well enough, it was pretty stable and ran fine on my machine. It did what I expected it to do with little problems.
Now fast forward to 2009 when I start using GradeQuick (the latest incarnation might I add) because it is tied into my whole school. It is a big disappointment when I open up GradeQuick and it looks the SAME as my Windows 3.1 version. Not only does this latest incarnation look the same (which isn’t all that attractive) it actually performs the same. So let me sum this up. I used a version made for a 1998 computer and over a decade later I get more or less the same ugly version.
The interface itself works, but it could be improved upon sooo easily that it is painful. For example, when you are looking through the student information the parent’s email address is there but you can’t just click on it and have your email client open. Oh no, that makes sense. You can’t even hit ctrl + c to copy it and paste it in an email. That is also too much for GradeQuick. Instead you have to right click and chose Copy to get it. Also, to get to the email address, you have to click and scroll, scroll, scroll. Communication between teachers and parents is a huge determiner of a student’s success. Wouldn’t it make sense to make it a click away? It makes the process of emailing parents very slow, cumbersome, and basically lousy.
Here is another thing I wish they would have clued in on. Emailing parents reports would be a great way to send some information. Now to their defense they do have an online companion called Edline (which we use), where we can publish these reports, but sometimes there is just one or two students that you are concerned about and sending it to Edline doesn’t guarantee that the parents will see it. It would just be better to send that report straight to their inbox and get the discussion going instead of just publishing it on a website.
My school uses Windows but I like to use my Mac (personal preference), so my school let me install the Mac version of GradeQuick. All I can say is wow. First it had to launch a plug-in (which does not work on Lion-more coming on that) and then it would launch GradeQuick. This process was not quick (despite its clever name) at all. It took a few minutes for it to open and then it would crash around 10% of the time. Not to mention how ugly and using the program itself was nowhere near as refined as the Windows version. It was actually pretty painful to use as it did not have all the features the Windows version had and the features it did have were often in different places and not as easy (if you can believe that) to access. After a month and a half I abandoned it and used a PC in my lab to do my grades.
Many of these changes could have been made, I mean it is been the same system for about a decade, you can’t tell me that no one in this company that serves thousands of schools around the world thought about updating their software and making it a little friendlier and more enjoyable to use. So, when Mac released Lion, I was hoping that Edline (the company that makes GradeQuick) would have updated the software. The reason I thought this would happen was because the plug-in that needed to launch GradeQuick is not supported in any way in Lion, but GradeQuick let me down again. They sent emails to Mac users and instead of quoting, I’ll just put the last paragraph below so you don’t think I’m making this up:
Are you kidding me? Limited time? Folks, Lion was seeded to developers in February 2011. That means the developers (like the peeps at Edline) had from February to the date of the release which was the end of July. That is five months. Also, the plug-in (which does not work with Lion) was something needed on Macs over five years ago. Since Apple switched to Intel processors there has been no need for them; Edline could have updated their software then!
Before you say “Patrick, cut them some slack,” let us keep in mind that Edline is not a person coding in their spare time and hasn’t had time or resources to update their software. This is a company whose full time job it is to make educational software for its clients! They have clearly dropped the ball. I have no idea why they cling to the past and refuse to acknowledge the present until it smashes down their front door but I am sick of it. What really got me was how they have the gaul to blame Apple for their shortcomings. Really? Just say that you haven’t developed it yet or are working on it, don’t blame Apple in a passive-aggressive tone for this change which just about everyone (even me and I’m not a programmer) saw coming.
Edline, please get it together-you can be much better than this. I thought your software was very good in the late 90’s, but now over ten years later it needs to be redesigned with your users in mind. Your software works OK. Now please try to make it work great!
Glad I got that off my chest.