The Hive is Where Teachers and Students Gather to Discuss Their Writing.
The Hive, the social, collaborative, and interactive heart of the essaypop system is one of the most popular features and growth drivers of our product. When students are able to connect the way they can in the Hive, engagement soars and so does productivity and overall writing proficiency. However, as is the case in any environment where young people can interact*, controls must be put in place to assure that students aren’t misbehaving when they should be engaging in civil discourse.
* Fun Fact -- The first note passed from one student to another was reportedly exchanged between two 7th graders in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France in 1437.
Here are the features currently have in place to ensure that the Hive is a safe and secure environment –
The teacher can quickly organize students into manageable groups or clusters. While the Hive can be set so that a whole class or even a whole group of classes can interact freely, the teacher can also cluster students into any sized group they choose, and this is done instantly. It really is the equivalent of pushing desks together. Clusters can easily be customized by the teacher. Student avatars in the Hive can be dragged and dropped into new locations so that teachers can organize students by ability, for classroom management purposes, or for any other reason they can think of. We have found that when teachers place students in smaller clusters and also provide specific instructions as to the type of feedback they want students to give to one another, the level of useful and substantive feedback increases measurably.
If the teacher decides a student is being a little too much, she can simply mute the student. Once muted, the student will not be able to leave any comments for anyone else for the duration of the essay. Students who have had a change of heart and want to be civil can easily be unmuted.
The teacher can delete any comment in the Hive at any time.
Individual Student Hiding
There are times, albeit rare, when a student might write something that the teacher deems inappropriate or too sensitive for the rest of the students to see. In these cases, teachers can simply “hide” the student’s work from the view of other students in the Hive. The student’s avatar will still be shown, but students will not be able to see his or her writing. Students can also hide their own writing in this way as will be seen in the next section.
Turn off global chat
There is a section of the Hive called “global chat” where any student from any period within the Hive can leave a general message that can be seen by all. The global chat thread is very useful for students who want to post individual messages or questions that will be seen and hopefully addressed by the larger group. Students who are frustrated or who have perhaps missed a day of class can post a question and get help from anyone in the Hive. If the teacher doesn’t want this available, the global chat, of course, can be turned off by the teacher at any time.
Turning the Hive off
The Hive doesn’t have to be accessible to students at all times. The teacher has complete control over when students can see the Hive and when they can’t. Some essaypop users turn the Hive on and off strategically, having students jump in towards the end of a writing session, for example. Others keep it on from the beginning of the writing to the end. Keep in mind, too, that the Hive can be turned on for some classes but not for others. The Hive is quickly toggled on and off in the essay dashboard.
Locking the Hive door
If a student is writing something that she would prefer to keep private are would prefer to share with the community later, the student can simply lock her Hive door. When this is done, no other student will be allowed to view the student’s work until she unlocks the door. The teacher, of course, would never be locked out of the student’s work.
Just as the teacher can delete any comment in the Hive, students can delete any comment that gets posted to their personal thread. If a student finds that a comment left is not useful, they simply delete the comment. Keep in mind also that students can “pin” useful comments. Pinned comments are exported to the student's sidebar in their writing area where they can refer to them as they write and revise their work.
Student-enabled rubric scoring
Teachers are able to filter and select elements that they wish to assess on a particular essay. The teacher can also enable it so that students can assess one another on the same elements
Future Features That Will Enhance the Hive
The essaypop team is always looking for ways to keep the Hive environment safe and secure. Take a look at some of the upcoming features we are developing.
With this feature, teachers will be able to give students anonymous names and avatars at the click of a button.
Student Mute Feature
Students are currently able to delete unuseful comments. In the future students will be able to mute peers who they don’t wish to interact with anymore. This can be done temporarily or for the duration of the activity. Of course, the teacher cannot be muted by students.
Any messages containing profane language will not be able to be posted. Moreover, the student and the teacher will receive a notification that such language use was attempted.
Anonymous Tip Feature
This feature will allow any student to anonymously inform the teacher of any misbehavior that is happening in the Hive. The teacher can then investigate and take appropriate action.
Daily Emailed Hive Report
At the end of each session (or each day depending on the settings applied), the teacher will receive a report that details important activity that has occurred in the Hive, including numbers of comments left by students, who is being active or inactive, how many comments were pinned, how many likes and honors were bestowed*, and how much (if any) misbehavior has taken place and by who.
*Likes and honors are explained in the next section
The Importance of Training Students to Become Effective and Responsible Peer-to-Peer Mentors
The Hive is an amazing innovation and an environment that clearly facilitates substantive, peer-to-peer interactivity. However, despite all of the checks and balances, the best way to ensure high-quality feedback and an overall sense of community is to give students the skills they need to thrive in the Hive.
For this reason, the essaypop team has put together and is continuing features and tools within the Hive drive and scaffold the type of feedback that makes everybody involved more engaged and more proficient. The following video allows you to take a deep dive into our philosophy regarding building meaningful mentorship communities around writing using the Hive and how we are building the capabilities to make this philosophy a reality.
We’ve developed hundreds of academic stems and phrases that help students provide substantive feedback to one another. If you scaffold the process, students learn how to coach each other meaningfully.
The “thank-you” button, pinning useful commentary and honoring peers
We’ve built ways for students to thank and honor one another in the Hive because when people are acknowledged for their contributions, they want to continue contributing.
Teachers can build short surveys that require students to read the work of other students and then provide prescribed feedback. The surveys are engaging, quickly done, and fun and the teacher receives a report when they are completed.
Have a look at this document which details all of the above --
Writing in isolation is a lonely endeavor and really unnecessary when you have access to an interactive environment like the Hive and the proper tools to navigate within that environment. At essaypop, we are obsessed with getting collaboration and peer-to-peer feedback right. This is why we spend so much time and so many resources on perfecting the way teachers and students interact in the Hive.