In September of 2015, my fellow students and I were introduced to a new app called ebs:ontrack buzz. Described to us as a new private, safe platform that would enable a stronger communication between students and staff, we were excited to discover the benefits it would bring to us, our tutors and our lessons.
Before using ebs:ontrack buzz, my class communicated through the online social networking service, Facebook, which had a number of different safeguarding issues. Due to this, ontrack buzz was a welcoming, modern application that would further engage our learning together. The app specialises in the four C’s; communicate, collaborate, control and comprehensive. ontrack buzz allows students and tutors to communicate without the exchange of any personal information; it understands the boundary between academic life and social life, unlike the previously used Facebook. It also creates a community, allowing the students and tutors to collaborate on projects and tasks easily; answering questions students may have and helping tutors understand the class’s progress and understanding. Most importantly, ontrack buzz also features multiple safeguarding features; ensuring boundaries remain between students and staff. ontrack buzz is also brilliantly useful because of its availability; an individual can have access to it via a computer or simply by downloading the app onto their mobile device. If an individual has access to an internet source, they can use ontrack buzz anywhere; in college, at home, while travelling; it really has made communication modern and simple. Within a few weeks of being introduced to the app, I and my fellow classmates began to benefit from its many qualities and soon considered it to be a great, new aspect of our academic lives.
ebs:ontrack buzz had such a positive impact that I was asked to complete a Twitter student diary about my experience with the app as it allowed me to describe exactly how ontrack buzz has benefitted me and my learning life within the last year. I firstly emphasised how ontrack buzz has helped me engage with my tutors from home; on one particular assignment, I struggled to answer one of the questions. I had previously written notes during one of our classes and sent them to myself over email, hoping they would help me. However, when I came to try and download the notes, I was experiencing a number of different technical issues and therefore couldn’t access them. I also happened to have a deadline at four o’clock on that very day; ontrack buzz became my lifesaver. I simply messaged my tutor on the app, describing my issue and within a few minutes, she sent over some notes and advice on how to conquer the question. I then answered it and sent it over to her on ontrack buzz before the deadline, also earning the highest grade possible in the process. The app was also very useful when I was off college due to illness. Firstly ontrack:buzz sent me a push notified message asking if I was OK, which I could reply to letting college know why I was absent, but it also allowed me to stay in touch with my tutors who could let me know what work I had missed. Personally, this ability to allow staff and students to engage more with each other, is for me the best aspect of ontrack buzz. I feel I am learning more as I am not afraid to ask questions and have a direct line to always contact them; I can even do it from the comfort of my own home. Over the last year, ontrack buzz has constantly surprised me with its ability bring together staff and students and I know it will prove to be a much-valued aspect of the classroom in years to come; a new and modern tool for a new and modern generation of students.