K-12 School Social Network and ePortfolio
Greenhills School is a 6th - 12th grade independent school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2009, Greenhills was interested in developing an engaging online communication tool for students, teachers and parents. Having previously used Edline to post homework assignments, they were comfortable with online tools, but they wanted the flexibility to post multimedia content and use web 2.0 tools without the frustration and risks of having students sign up for various online services.
To meet this need, Zengenuity built Project Greenhouse, a school intranet and ePortfolio modeled after popular social networking sites like Facebook. Taking the best features of these tools and bringing them in-house allows teachers and students to engage in rich online interactions, while still maintaining student privacy. Built on the open source Drupal platform, Greenhouse is fully configurable and infinitely expandable by the Information and Technology department at the school. The system is under constant refinement, and new features are often added to enable specific grade-level and school-wide projects.
Greenhouse has several major features:
Class Pages: Each class has a page that includes their assignments (with online quizzes), news, calendar and a discussion forum. Each class also has its own blog, photo and video gallery, podcasts and a resource bank for submitted links. Class permissions are configurable, so that students in many classes can submit their own blog posts or resources, if the teacher allows it. Teachers have the ability to send messages to students, parents or both through a private messaging system.
Group Pages: Student, teacher and parent groups all have pages with features like those of the class pages. All members of the Greenhills community can freely create and join groups online to receive announcements and participate in group discussions.
Member Profiles: Every user of Greenhouse has their own profile page, which includes an electronic portfolio, a personal blog, photo and video gallery, and resource bank for links.
Parent Access: Parents have access to all their children’s assignments and class information, so looking up homework when their child is sick is a breeze. The system has also been designed so it’s easy for teachers and parents to communicate with private messages.
User Dashboard: For the 2010 school year, we introduced the Dashboard, which provides all users with an overview of upcoming assignments/events and recent news, both school-wide and in their specific classes and groups.