East Stroudsburg Area School District (ESASD) is a public school district located in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania. Among the district’s goals is digital literacy for all of their 7,000 students.
From grades 6-12, students are provided with a laptop device so that they may gain the skills necessary for their post-high school workplaces or their institutions of further study. As their digital mission statement reads, “we want each of our graduates to be successful…we know that in this century it is nearly impossible to do this without a digital device…” For ESASD, digital fluency is at the heart of their academic aims.
Within ESASD’s commitment to accessible digital technologies, the district has also made it a priority that students have authentic learning experiences. As Joe Martin and Diana Allison, two of ESASD’s Technology Integration Coaches note, one of the most effective ways that educators can provide these experiences is with personalized, friendly feedback. However, the challenge with implementing this feedback has been that “students don’t want to read written feedback because so much gets lost” including the tone, intention, and even connection between the deliverer and recipient of the feedback.
Upon the recommendation of Family Consumer Science Teacher Regina Brotherton, Joe and Diana discovered Mote and in their words, “went all in with it,” sharing the tool with all staff in their district. While Mote was initially used primarily for feedback, staff at ESASD found it to be a popular, flexible solution to a wide range of educational needs – supporting teachers not only in Language Arts, but also in math and the sciences. The key for ESASD was that, with Mote, as students completed assignments, they could actually hear their teachers, their personalities, and their humor, thereby giving a bond not easily accomplished by the written word alone.
With Mote, teachers have been able to easily and effectively incorporate voice into their digital learning. No longer limited to the potentially ambiguous written word, teachers across ESASD now use their voice to give feedback, instructions, and scaffolding.
For ESASD staff, Mote has been a boon to both academics and relationships. As one staff member shared, she motes because “not only does Mote speed up the feedback process, but it also helps to give more detailed feedback that you might not normally be able to fit on a page. You can even explain how to fix an error in terms your individual student can understand.” This ability to deliver granular, nuanced feedback serves to both elevate the quality of feedback just as it makes the process more accessible to students. That is, with verbal feedback, staff may more easily communicate with their students which in turn leads to stronger connections – something that multiple ESASD staff described in a Mote survey.
For ESASD, Mote has been a bridge between the digital and human. By empowering authentic and human connection across the spectrum of Google Workspace applications used, teachers are able to not only build their students digital fluency but do so in such a way that it feels friendly, inviting, and accessible.