This lovely post comes from Justine Poidevin an education guru from TAFE, its exciting for us to see Kinderloop being used by these guys to help train early childcare workers.
Thanks again for the opportunity to meet. Each time I meet with you and Dan I am inspired by the possibilities. I have the fine fortune of being able to see your Kinderloop app through a number of lenses. Let me explain:
Firstly, I am a parent. I am a consumer of child care and I know exactly what it feels like to be ‘out of the loop’ when your child is in care. Talk about mother guilt! I am the busy working mother (of 3!) who is rushing from one place to another and yet really wanting to know what is going on in the lives of my children. I do care – a lot. But it has been so difficult to extract that information in the timeframes that I can manage. If I use kinderloop, feeds can come to me through the day – even if I can’t digest them properly immediately because I’m busy, at least I know I have it. I can look later; I can share it with my child (and their siblings) at the end of the day; I can share it with their grandparents / aunties & uncles (and / or include them in my feed); it would make me feel connected and I think I would understand my child’s world a little better.
Secondly, I am an early childhood professional, a Teacher, Trainer, Facilitator and Assessor. I am trained to influence (and scrutinise) early childhood services and practices. I have a very strong philosophy about early childhood, strong beliefs that govern my professional approaches and drive me to improve the experiences and lives of children in and out of care and for those who work with them. I am a section leader in a large state-funded organisation – (TAFENSW – A Registered Training Organisation) – that qualifies people to work in early childhood. The national and international standards that we adhere to must be upheld at all times. Our focus is quality service provision. Kinderloop gives me new opportunities to explore other methods of program delivery, timely and cost-effective solutions to problems we have grappled with previously including time / cost / benefit analysis of even some of our most basic functions as we move to a new training market under Smart and Skilled. By making the small change of a centre-to-parent communication app to a student-to-facilitator /assessor communication app we can be timely, we can be present, we can be customer-focused. Kinderloop definitely has a place in this realm.
Thirdly, I am an innovator. I am fearless of change and I love technology. I am impressed by the adaptability of the Kinderloop app so far and already my head is spinning with possible uses and scenarios. Already the app developed for use between centres and parents has found its way into my realm of teaching and assessing – I saw it from the start, and you have been nothing but accommodating. We are already discussing using the app to explore new markets including off-shore locations. As the world becomes more global – we can source our information from anywhere, we too can share our information. Imagine connecting two child care services from across the globe? Imagine a student preparing for a work placement (internship) and already knowing about the service before they arrive? Imagine moving beyond child care and using the app in military, immigration, schools, and prisons? Imagine using the app for the (approx.) 39% of children in ‘informal’ care arrangements 1 (eg – with grandparents, relatives and nannies). Imagine a child really being able to feel that their parent or guardian cares / understands because they can show they know? Kinderloop is an example of being a fantastic agent of change.
Technology is a funny thing in child care – there is a fear, I suspect brought on by unknowing; fear of litigation (although the stats on who has actually been charged with anything or even fined is really low); by a culture of being encouraged to think and respond to possible worst case scenarios, and not the opposite; a lack of understanding of risk assessment; cautious and voiceless unions; confusing and sometimes conflicting laws and boundaries; misunderstandings about child protection laws; sensational media coverage of Facebook, paedophilia, bullying (all done with the internet); and a general fear of technology for those who are not keeping up with it. If the uptake of the app is slow, I can understand – this is a sector paralysed by fear and fed on misunderstanding. As an industry they are also highly conservative and risk-averse.
I am delighted to be working on an education strategy to assist child care settings in being comfortable with technology and it’s appropriate use. Kinderloop helps to pave the way as a fine example of compliant and simple to use technology being put to good use.
The face of child care is changing in Australia. There is a current push to improve the quality of care and education in the early years. The approach thus far has been changes in laws, a focus on compliance and an assessment and rating system which threatens to “name and shame” underperforming child care services on a government owned website. More fear – well done Australia! The current work force has an average lifespan of less than 5 years, which is shameful as it can take up to 4 years to be fully qualified to work in the industry. And they are leaving in droves – currently 180 educators leave the sector every week, purportedly due to the abysmally low wages. We have a skill shortage and labour workforce drain.
Is technology the saviour? No, but maybe. Here’s my thought… imagine if child care was more overt, more ‘in your face’? If you got reminders in the work place about what your child was doing, if child care became a work place discussion topic, if fathers were reminded in the day, if bosses were reminded in the day, perhaps the value of the profession would also be on the rise. Like in some comparable European countries, perhaps childcare would be integrated into employment and education policies and would be either free or very affordable. That’s a long stretch for one little app, but I like to think big!
Perhaps I am thinking too far ahead. What about now? What difference can Kinderloop make right here, right now? Immediately, I see:
a fresh approach to documentation
> rejuvenating the profession (“my day is fun!”)
> reducing the time spent on documenting – less reliance on goodwill to be compliant; more time to actually work with the children
> an environmentally friendlier approach
> ease of use – amazingly simple user interface
real, proper communication with parents / guardians / extended family
> personal, targeted sharing
> the provision of a means to allow two way communication in real time
> utilising the technologies most of us have
> embracing the global spread of our relationships – local, national, international
compliant and auditable systems
> robust reporting that can be produced as required
> authentic record keeping
> less need for paper
> productivity savings (based on cost / benefit analysis)
> a more productive workforce during work hours
> workers’ work remaining in work time only (less out of hours catch-up)
> demystifying child care and a child’s day
> a better understanding of child care
> perhaps even the comparison of one to another to help parents choose the best care
an opportunity to create an income stream
> based on using the photos / videos that can be packaged and presented to be sold as gifts, mementos
And that’s just a list for the child care services themselves! I could similarly produce a list for RTO’s…
We can tick the same boxes for compliance, communication, financial and time savings, streamlining, access, responsiveness, competitiveness and the list goes on! The future uses I am sure will include things I haven’t even thought of yet – how exciting!
Want another angle? What about what the Kinderloop app can do for the families who are using it? Words like uniting, sharing, commonality and closer spring to mind – and all because a child went to child care! Who would have thought the child would be the centre of such an amazing interplay between the service, the family and the community and those relationships could be aided by an app! The pivot-point on which conversations are started and a community comes out the winner.
I really would like to commend you both on your approach to the development thus far and the product itself. I wish you both the best for your upcoming pitches and expansion plans. I’d love to continue to be part of the future, so thanks again for the opportunity and insights you are providing.
Cheers for now,