As part of our partner spotlights series, we’re taking a look at Studyo, a project management tool focused on building student agency, organizational skills, and autonomy. Studyo is designed specifically for the one-to-one or BYOD student device context, complementing Blackbaud’s onCampus learning management system (LMS). As a SKY API beta developer, Studyo has plans to further integrate into Blackbaud’s products, but let’s first look at the company’s background.
An Emerging New Paradigm
In the late 1990’s, Studyo Founder and CEO Renaud Boisjoly saw an emerging trend that had the potential to transform how students and teachers interact: one-to-one device computing. Schools were exploring the technology, but many found it too expensive to justify until a decade later when products such as the iPad and Chromebook greatly reduced the cost of one-to-one programs. At the time, Renaud left his position with the Canadian Apple education team to consult with schools looking to find the proper equilibrium between easy technology and student achievement.
Proper Teacher Practice
While Renaud worked with thought leaders at influential schools such as Lower Canada College, one question constantly came up: “How do we replace the paper planner?” The general belief was that the built-in calendar tools within these devices should serve this purpose, but regular calendars didn’t properly support school schedules, creating a need for specialized tools.
The underlying issue was that calendars lacked a way for students to interact with teacher-published content. “Simply knowing about due dates is not enough,” schools were saying. “That’s where the planning work for students starts—not where it ends.” As a result, it was proven time and again that the organizational tasks students need for all of their classes didn’t fit into the traditional calendar structure.
To address the need to merge a school calendar with a planner, Studyo set out to create a product that incorporated two baseline concepts: 1) create a calendar perfectly adapted to the complex schedules in schools with rotating days, different bell times, holidays, and school cancellations due to weather (we are from Montreal, after all). 2) develop a way to visually distinguish the schedule from the tasks needing to be managed.
The result is a unique, clear, and flexible interface that displays two levels of information—the school schedule with task icons positioned within the context of each class—at a glance.
As teachers became more comfortable with publishing coursework online, another question emerged: How to connect the learning occurring in the classroom and on the whiteboard to the online coursework. Seeing that students were often taking pictures of whiteboard notes on their phones, Studyo added a camera feature, enabling photos taken of the whiteboard or the textbook to become tasks in the planner. Teachers also have the ability to instantly share photos with the class, eliminating the bottleneck of students waiting to take a picture of the whiteboard.
Project Management for Kids
Another concern emerged: How would students have the opportunity to build their organizational skills if everything is supplied to them? Studyo addressed this with a Task view that displays on a timeline with tools to set the next steps and split tasks into individual steps. For students, it’s a real introduction to project management and self-management.
All In One Place
The final Eureka! moment was to offer a single portal for everything to avoid double-entry. With the objective of combining the strengths offered by the Studyo environment with the capabilities of platforms such as onCampus and Google Classroom, connectors were created, allowing Studyo to pass tasks such as assignments and exams from the central LMS into individual Studyo sections.
Connections have the added benefit of allowing the deployment of Studyo to improve and develop student agency while not requiring teachers to learn a new tool. Studyo adds value for teachers by giving them the ability to see individual student planners, as well as an overview of all tasks being published to students within Studyo and any of the connected platforms. This is a great tool for schools wanting to avoid multiple assessments on the same day for students.
Studyo offers a rich layer of functionality that sits on top of onCampus for schools deeply concerned with the development of student autonomy and executive function skills. To ensure a seamless integration that will evolve over time, Studyo became an official Blackbaud partner in 2017, and one of the first to announce support for the new SKY API. This partnership has opened up a whole series of exciting possibilities.