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App helps students cope with pandemic

A collective state of being.

A social feedback app built by Gisborne data analyst Debs Hancock has been picked up by Lytton High School to measure students' wellbeing now they are back at school after the lockdown.

Mrs Hancock's app, Riposte, is designed to enable communities to collectively see how they are doing by using quick daily check-ins and machine-learning technology.

Used at Lytton High over two weeks, the app will enable students to express what they are feeling and why and provides a real-time barometer of their collective state of being. The school's prefect team is encouraging students to post how they feel about their return to school life in Alert Level 2.

“I thought it could benefit the school especially through these Level 2 times,” said community prefect and deputy head Erana Hogarth, who came up with the initiative for the school.

“People have told me they have been anxious and worried about coming back to school. They didn't know what school life under Level 2 would look like.

“I couldn't sit back and do nothing.”

Erana asked Mrs Hancock if she would like to run Riposte at Lytton and emailed an overview and proposal to principal Wiremu Elliott. He and a colleague who works with the school's seniors were enthused by the idea.

“I said ‘let's go for it',” said Mr Elliott.

“We were unsure about how young people were making sense of what has been happening. We want to know how they are doing.

“One thing about teenagers is they'll sometimes give an answer they think you want to hear but through this app we get a snapshot of how they are feeling. Over a two week period they can say what they want.

“Because this is a new way of operating it will be interesting to see what the data shows. This kind of technology is their world.”

The prefects will use the overview from Riposte's data dashboard to help provide better support for students, Mrs Hancock said.

“The prefects recognise all students are having different experiences in Level 2. It has been great the school has got on board. It opens the door to seeing how it works.”

Students have the option of sharing their posts on Riposte with friends and family; anonymously or privately so no one can see it.

“When the data shows on the dashboard, you can't see who has posted what and can only see themes and patterns coming through from groups of students,” Erana said.

“The data we provide to the prefect team and teaching staff gives a deeper understanding of how their students are feeling and how the school can better equip itself to cater for student needs during this tough time.”

Having developed the Riposte app over the past few years Mrs Hancock has been working with Trust Tairawhiti towards a launch date.

A week before the launch the lockdown was announced but at the online Hack the Crisis NZ's 48-hour innovation challenge last month, Riposte came second equal.

The app is available for free from android and iPhone stores. For more information about the app, visit www.riposte.app.

To help get a snapshot of Lytton High students' level of wellbeing now they are back at school in Level 2, prefects, from left, Angus Bodle, Reremoana Bartlett-Tamatea, Travis White, Ryan Anderson, Erana Hogarth, Rubi Perano, Sammy Durston and Caleb Collier are driving usage of an app from which data can be used to help support students. Picture by Paul Rickard