Apps In Action: Using iDoceo as an Effective Teachers Assistant

Note: all screenshots featured in this post are taken from the sample data included with the app and not my own due to data protection.

iDoceo is a fantastic app which turns your iPad into a digital teacher planner. When I was first introduced to this app by a colleague, I’ll admit I was skeptical. Firstly, the cost of the app is £5.99 and secondly I already have a traditional style teacher planner, why do I need an app for that? However, when you get to grips with iDoceo, you really start to appreciate it. It offers all the same practical functionality of a paper planner, but with so much more! Also, the automation the app provides saves me a load of time and anything that can do that to help me manage my workload gets a big thumbs up!

Basic Features
As already mentioned, iDoceo provides all of the features we as teachers have come to expect from a traditional planner, in a digital format. For example, you can input your timetable, class lists, assessment data and a basic lesson plan: all of which are not revolutionary, but are vital.
However, many of these can be automated, which makes set up and general use much quicker and easier. For example, once you have I put your schedule, it automatically copies these to the appropriate days in the planner. Also, rather than inputting each individual students data manually, you can download the necessary information from your school’s management information system (MIS) (eg. SIMS, Facility etc.) and import it straight into iDoceo. Once you are using the app, you can also export information like assessment data. This means you don’t have to manually complete a spreadsheet with all of the data gathered, the app takes care of that for you. As highlighted these simple features all help with what otherwise can be time-consuming tasks.

Advanced Features
The advanced features of iDoceo are what really make this app worthwhile. I’ll only cover a few of the most useful. In fact, due to the sheer number of features available, I’m sure there are still some which I haven’t yet used!

– Advanced lesson planning features – in a traditional planner, there is often a small box to record a rough lesson plan and any homework to be set or collected. On the surface, iDoceo offers the same feature under the planner tab. However it actually goes much deeper than that.
Firstly, it allows you to add emoji-style icons. I use this to signify things relating to lessons. For example, I add the book-like emoji to show when homework is due in. This means I know key information about a lesson at a quick glance.

Perhaps more significant is the resources tab. This enables the user to add voice recordings, videos, photos, files and websites to a lesson plan. I have used this feature in many ways. I’ve used the file function to add documents and Keynotes to a lesson plan so that everything is contained in one place. The audio recording feature is useful for post lesson reflection and evaluation. Additionally, if we have produced something like a mind map that I want to keep for future reference, I have taken a photo and attached it to the lesson. As a result, I do not have numerous photos clogging up my camera roll, making them hard to find.

Finally, the schedule tab contains a number of useful features. One of these is the ability to copy a lesson plan, including resources, to another location: very useful if you teach numerous classes in the same year group. However I believe one of the most significant features is the Bump function. This enables you to push forward or backwards either an individual or a series of lessons: a feature that’s useful either in the event of a teacher or class absence.

– Student Information – in my old teacher planner, the only information I could was able to record was the name of the student and used a series of symbols with a key to signify things like EAL, MAT or SEN students. iDoceo allows me to have far more information about individual students at my fingertips, giving me a better picture of each students I teach. For example, I can now attach key pieces of information to individual students like IEPs. This enables me to cater to specific needs of students with far greater ease since all the information I need is easily accessible on the spot.

– Seating Plans – before using iDoceo, I used to staple pages of extra information, like seating plans to the classes page in my planner. It got to the point that my planner was getting extremely bulky due to all of the other pieces of information included. The app addresses that by allowing the user to create seating plans in app for classes. iDoceo enhances this even further by adding a number of extremely powerful tools aimed to help teachers. It enables you to create numerous seating plans, meaning you can create a seating plans for behaviour management or to group learners by ability or skills and easily switch between these depending on which is most appropriate for the lesson. Furthermore, different views are available. My favourite as a teacher is the business card-like view, showing key data from your planner for each pupil. You can even choose which data you would like displayed.
The seating plan feature also includes a handy tool for randomly selecting students. This is a twist on the lollipop stick idea, a fantastic AfL tool suggested by Dylan William, although much more intuitive and manageable.

– Data Backup – For most teachers, their whole school year is contained in their planner. If this applies do you, how does the thought of losing it make you feel? Luckily, iDoceo has addressed this potential pitfall. iDoceo allows the user to backup their data and supports various cloud storage solutions including Dropxbox, Google Drive, iCloud, One Drive and WebDAV. So if you are unfortunate enough to lose your device, at least your data is safely contained. Despite this, iDoceo unfortunately does not yet support iCloud Drive and requires the user to manually backup their data. Whilst backing up data requires just two taps, it would be nice if it automatically did this every 24 hours, just in case the user was to forget.
iDoceo is quite simply a fantastic app that goes way beyond a traditional teacher planner. Despite my initial reservations, the benefit of using this has been immense! The number of features included is quite astonishing, however ultimately you can choose to use as many or as few of these as you like. Although the cost appears quite high, I feel that it is very good value for money. Additionally, from a whole school perspective it may save money if each teacher was given a copy of the app which can be reused, rather than purchasing new teacher planners every year.

I do reserve some very minor criticisms of iDoceo. As mentioned earlier in this post iCloud Drive integration and the ability to automatically backup data would be of huge benefit. Furthermore, the initial setup process could be improved as it is a little fussy and not quite as intuitive as the rest of the app. However, once it is set up, you’re good to go!

icon175x175iDoceo – teacher’s assistant. Gradebook, diary, planner, timetable,seating plan and resource manager by Bert Sanchis is available for £5.99 on the App Store.

*all prices and links correct at the time of publication and are subject to change


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