FreshGrade Helps Teachers, Parents and Students Converse About Learning

People
By: 
Kenna McHugh, Learning Counsel Writer

Lane Merrifield, the co-founder of Club Penguin, now owned by Disney, and current founder and CEO of FreshGrade, is getting ready to appear on Canada’s version of Shark Tank, Dragons’ Den. Catching up with Merrifield for an interview about FreshGrade was a challenge so we exchanged ideas and thoughts about FreshGrade and educational technology via email, and I watched his Ted Talks. He is sincere and straightforward about the importance of listening.  He talked about helping teachers, parents, and students. The importance of communicating with each other so children learn.

FreshGrade is a portfolio and assessment platform that helps educators, parents, and students converse about learning. With FreshGrade, educators can capture evidence, give feedback and track progression through standards and custom objectives.

Merrifield established FreshGrade because he saw the need to assist the communications between all the people who are involved with a child’s education. His realization began when he saw the frustration his son went through when his teacher mistakenly gave him a low grade. That situation sparked memories of his mother, who was a school teacher, working long hours and stressing over teacher-parent conferences and compiling information and grades for each student.

As a result, FreshGrade’s mission is to connect students, parents, and teachers in the individual learning journeys of students through insight and conversation. “It started with a simple word, ‘nothing’ - it’s the answer we, as parents, kept hearing from our kids when asked what they’d learned in school.”

“As CEO, my responsibility is to serve the team, make sure they have everything they need to align with our company vision and direction. We’re committed to serving teachers - keeping them at the heart of our approach, and I need to be doing everything I can to help our teams be successful in that goal.”

FreshGrade creates more visibility enabling parents to become more engaged and involved in their child’s progress and learning outcomes, so they become better partners with the teachers.  The most significant aspect of using FreshGrade is when everyone is plugged into the platform and sharing feedback.  “Students gain the most from the platform when their parents and teachers follow their work at the moment,” explains Merrifield.

With the platform, teachers connect amongst themselves to share ideas, best practices, and wins. FreshGrade also increases efficiency in the classroom and frees teachers up to spend more time on the things that matter most – students

According to teachers, the software itself is easy to use. Merrifield says, “The biggest challenge we hear about is the adjustment needed to the daily process because it's different than the way it always got done."

With that said, Merrifield noticed that once the change begins to happen, “The benefits are endless. Once teachers and school districts see the value and results FreshGrade creates, the decision to continue is easy.”

Merrifield appreciates hearing successes about how the platform brings together families, teachers, and students. “For me, it’s the countless letters we receive from teachers, parents, and students every week thanking us for making FreshGrade and sharing the incredible impact it had on their education,” shares Merrifield. “From helping to uncover learning problems to radically changing the quality of conversation at the dinner table each night.  These small wins across all our users are what keeps me going every day.”

One success story that stands out and Merrifield likes to share is from Lauren Warkentin an elementary school teacher who uses FreshGrade on her device.  She finds it easy to share and document each students progress. She then shares it with the parents. If need be, she asks for their assistance at the moment.

Leaving Club Penguins and founding FreshGrade segued fundamentally because both platforms focus on communication with and about children based on modern technology. Merrifield sees educational technology as a contribution to making the world a better place. “In conjunction to the common camping analogy of leaving a site better than when you arrived, I trust investing in education will create long-term impact for our families, schools, communities.”

“Whether it’s an outdated report card process or how homework is corrected, Ed-tech saves time, solves a problem faster and allows a teacher a more personalized approach to success in learning.” Whether it’s the outdated report card process or how homework is marked, Ed-tech can save time, solve problems quicker and allow the teacher to offer a more personalized approach to success in learning.”

FreshGrade helps bring the educational process to everyone involved with a child’s learning. “Improving the education experience for students, parents, and teachers are why we exist, and why we will continue to build into the future. As a CEO I’m always looking ahead to make sure we’re solving the core problems and provide solutions for what’s needed next.”