Schools Clamored for Seesaw. That Was the Good News, and the Bad News.

Schools Clamored for Seesaw. That Was the Good News, and the Bad News.

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And it’s been a year. In February, Mr. Sjogreen was mapping out long-term projects from Seesaw’s downtown San Francisco office. Come March, he was working from his Noe Valley house, juggling home-school duties for his 9- and 12-year-old children, just like many of the employees, and Seesaw was in “rapid-response mode,” as he put it.

Teachers like Sharmeen Moosa, a first-grade teacher at an international school in Bahrain, decided Seesaw would be their remote-learning platform.

“Prior to Covid, I used it as just a digital portfolio for kids,” an online collection of their drawings and recordings, Ms. Moosa said, but when her school closed in February, her use “transformed massively.” She used the app for morning messages and daily lessons, adding audio or video clips, posting additional resources, and creating student assignments along with communicating with families.

Many other teachers used the app in similar ways, exposing shortfalls that the company had to race to fix.

The app, designed to work with iPads and Chromebooks, had hardly been used with Android tablets. But now parents were logging on with Amazon Fire or Samsung devices running Android. Numerous students didn’t have email addresses and needed a different way to log in from home. Teachers, who could no longer look over students’ shoulders while they worked on an assignment, wanted to comment on saved drafts before students submitted a final version. Notification delays grew from a couple of seconds to hours. The company’s servers sometimes slowed to a crawl.

Those issues meant teachers, families and schools all fired questions at Seesaw for help. Mr. Sjogreen, who prided himself on getting back to customers almost immediately, found that just wasn’t possible.

“I’m sad that during a time where they were so stressed out, we were not as responsive as we would like to be,” he said.

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