Stephanie Ng loves children, and after earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Wheelock College-Singapore, she got a teaching job and embarked on what seemed like a pretty clear career path.
Stephanie also loves technology. And when her principal wanted someone to help with a technology project, the principal tapped Stephanie.
That’s when new options opened up along Stephanie’s career path.
“It was a pilot project, and my principal put me in charge of it, probably because I was one of the youngest in the center and I was more tech savvy, so I could help my colleagues.”
As part of the project, Stephanie made use of an online preschool management system that allows schools to keep digitized records of things like attendance and assessments, help teachers better communicate with parents and develop classrooms that enhance the learning experiences and environment of preschool children.
Stephanie helped her school to transition to use the interactive whiteboard and introduce technology into the classroom, and used an e-portfolio system that allows teachers to communicate with parents and share photos and updates online.
The parents liked the ease of viewing the reports online in their own time. They don’t have to come down to the center, and they can even show the grandparents what the children are doing at school.
The folks at the education software company CommonTown learned about Stephanie’s tech prowess, and two years ago asked her if she’d like a new job developing programs that could help other schools become more tech-savvy and efficient.
Stephanie’s expertise in ECE, and her facility with technology, made her an attractive catch for CommonTown. They created a job title for her – educationist – to explain her combined roles of educator and technologist.
CommonTown developed Qoqolo, a preschool management system that helps teachers increase their productivity, and fosters greater communication between parents and teachers.
Qoqolo – a Japanese word for heart — empowers teachers with smart solutions to lessen their workload by introducing a paperless way of documentation and communication.
Many schools, Stephanie found, still use paper records and are happy to adopt a more time-efficient approach. And many teachers, she found, need to be guided gently into the tech-savvy future.
“The challenges would be some teachers are quite resistant to change, they would rather stick to their old method,” she said. “Once they see the new system, they see the benefits. Parents like the system, and it helps them to communicate with the school.”
Now 28, Stephanie wants to expand her work into developing other apps and software that enhance teaching and learning, as well as to further incorporate technology into early childhood learning.
“With my preschool background, I know what the needs of the teacher are, and I am able to use terms that they understand to conduct the training, so they understand the system.”
While she misses working directly with the children, Stephanie knows she can always return to the classroom down the road.
“It’s a different kind of job satisfaction compared to being a teacher,” she said. “I also see the challenges facing the teachers, they have a lot of teaching and planning, and on top of that they have to do a lot of assessment. I hope this system helps them better perform their work.”
Says Stephanie’s supervisor, Evelyn Chew: “Stephanie’s degree in Early Childhood Education and her 4 years of experience as preschool teacher has equipped her with knowledge of preschool curriculum as well as preschool’s process and practices. She plays an important role in the design and development of Qoqolo – CommonTown’s preschool management system. She constantly provides excellent suggestions and valuable feedback. With her around, we are able to save a lot of time understanding the workflow and speed up our development cycle. She develops training materials and conducts product trainings. She understands the needs of teachers and is able to communicate with them using “the same language.” Her ECE background and her self-motivated character contributes greatly to the successful rollout of Qoqolo to over 190 centers.”