Upstrive enables educators to understand how students feel, track data related to energy, motivation and well-being levels in real time and give solutions to deal with problems
Dubai, April 07, 2022: Schools in the UAE are deploying a new application that tracks the mood of students and teachers and comes up with suggestions to keep them upbeat.
The application, which won the Best Product to Promote Health, Fitness or Sports in the Classroom Award at GESS 2021, is gaining traction across various educational institutions in the UAE.
Upstrive is a survey-based application that helps manage student and staff well-being and engagement. Developed by Sven Maikranz and Linda Bonnar, it was launched in January 2021.
A set of questionnaires are prepared on a regular basis, customized separately for students of different age groups, and students can express themselves through emojis and comments.
Upstrive has enrolled 12,000 users till date, of which 9000 are paid users. The platform has 13 schools which are under contract or trial, while 32 schools are in the pre-trial stage. Upstrive, a division of Mindmotions LLE, has its presence in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia and Germany.
Upstrive provides customised templates to users such as questions and suggestions based on the school’s feedback. It also provides guidance through pre-set and evidence-based programs and surveys, e.g: In case a school wants to conduct a survey on well-being, they will have ten ready questions that they can use. This will prevent schools from coming up with the questions themselves. Furthermore, Upstrive helps with the analytics and solutions basis the query where schools can run the poll on their own. Upstrive is managed on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The app enables teachers and pastoral leaders to know how students are feeling. They can track data related to energy, motivation and well-being level of the class in real time. On the basis of data received, the app gives solutions to deal with problems students may be facing.
Campbell Douglas, Principal & CEO of GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail says that though schools in the region have a lot of data on students such as the PASS GL survey and the KHDA Well Being Census that is useful for pastoral leaders, it is more of a snapshot that mainly provide just the data. “Upstrive allows us to track day by day how students are feeling through live data, so we can react in the moment to any situation,” says Douglas. He adds that the app has also been useful during times of remote learning as students could check in at home and access any support they needed.
Students are provided with opportunities to check in daily to reflect on how they are feeling. Janine Johnston, Assistant Principal – Primary, Hartland International School says that many students also use the comment tool, allowing them to write and reflect on their emotions and experiences. “This aspect of the app has proven extremely useful for teachers, SLT and the school counselor as it helps to identify any potential issues for individuals or groups of students,” she says.
Upstrive opens doors for students in relation to improving their independence and taking ownership for solving their problems through using the plethora of resources, activities and evidence-based courses which can be easily found on the app, says Ashley Robins, Assistant Principal – Pastoral Care and Student Wellbeing at GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail.
Schools admit that the app also helps strengthen teacher-student bond. “Upstrive helps teachers to develop a strong connection with students which definitely helps students to bloom academically,” says Fariha Rasheed, School Counsellor, Ajman Modern School.
“I am so lucky that my students feel comfortable to share their concerns with me 24/7. This way they do not feel lonely in this time of recovery from COVID,” says Suzie Hachez, Director – Wellbeing, GEMS Counselling Network Leader.
However, there is no clarity on how the app determines if the students are giving the correct answers. “There are no right or wrong answers like in academics. The students are sharing their views and expressing themselves in a safe environment. The schools decide what they ask and in what frequency,” explains Sven Maikranz, CEO, Upstrive.
Available on both Apple and Google App stores, Upstrive caters to the learning community at large.
It all started about three years ago when Maikranz approached his coaching colleague Bonnar with an idea to convert her coaching book ‘Press Play’. The aim was to convert the book into an app so that it can achieve a higher reach and help more young people live a healthy life. Over time, more and more ideas for functionality started taking shape and eventually translated into an app called Upstrive. The app works on a SaaS model for schools.
How does it work?
Once the teacher has logged in to the account, they can create a poll, post or surveys and ask questions to students on mobile phones or on the desktop version. The questions are created for students to express their emotions. Students can also put detailed comments about how they feel. Teachers can check the trends and analyse if there are responses that need immediate intervention.
“Last year, we asked students to check in up to three times a day, twice in school and then again at home if they wanted to. The main theory behind this was that no student goes home unhappy,” says Robins.
The data allows teachers to identify students who might be struggling with emotional issues and help deal with it by taking appropriate action. “This has helped us plan best when to run interventions such as stress relief assemblies and other targeted events,” says Douglas.
Similarly, students can explore solutions to the most common issues young people face, including recommendations from their peer groups on what works and what doesn’t. “Upstrive also has several courses for students to try with real life examples and solutions from people of their age, on topics such as friendship issues or family troubles. Staff can also use this to help an entire year group, for example with time management, and can direct them to the course on the app. The courses are also evidence-based which fits in with the school vision,” says Emma Mcculley, Deputy Head Pastoral at GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail.
Students can also reach out to a counselor or SOS for help – these requests are handled by qualified and authorised school personnel.
There are restrictions on who can post questions and polls. “We also don’t allow comments on posts or direct contact between students,” adds Maikranz.
The questions posted encourage students to reflect on specific areas of their well-being and attitudes to learning. “Posting questions such as ‘Was there a challenge in a lesson today and if yes how did you overcome it?’ can support students on becoming self-regulated learners. Many students use the space to write and reflect on a huge range of issues and themes from their emotions, to how they feel about a particular friendship or their feelings about subjects or lessons,” says Johnston.
Many schools have implemented the app for the staff as well. “All the same features and functionalities for the students are available for the teachers. They can check in, complete the evidence-based training courses and also journal in their own private, encrypted space on the app,” says Mcculley.
“Our SLT members are using Upstrive’s different courses for our teachers, focusing on their wellbeing. We use Upstrive’s different features for teachers such as polls, posts, and asking questions. Teachers can post their answers anonymously which gives them the freedom to respond and give feedback openly,” adds Rasheed.