Digital disruptor review: Storypark

We heart digital disruption at Nest Legal and not just in the legal space.  In this series of blog posts, we look at other businesses using tech in fun new ways to shake up the status quo, particularly those that make life easier for young families.

Next up, Storypark, the cloud-based tool that allows a child’s ‘village’ to cooperate in their development.

I regularly express my awe and appreciation for the amazing educators at our community childcare centre.  Not only do they convince a room of toddlers to simultaneously sleep and eat vegetables, but at some point throughout the day, they also manage to write an 800 word summary of what all the kids have been doing all day and take photos of the kids doing so.  We call it the ‘toddler Hansard’.  Up until last year, the text would be posted on the public website and then the text plus photos would be put in a physical book for parents to look at during the mad rush of pickup.

Last year, however, the centre decided to trial a new cloud-based platform Storypark to convey these learning stories.  My phone pings at around 2pm on childcare days and I can read through what my son and his friends have been up to, look at the photos and leave a comment (which is attributed to me with my name, my child’s name and a profile picture of the two of us).  The grandparents also get the notification and can read the update and leave comments.  These room-wide posts go to all parents and family members of the children who are in the room that day.

The platform also allows us to record and share our own photos, videos and text with our son’s educators and family members (and these don’t go to all parents).  If we are spending a lot of time at home talking about a topic that he is also discussing at childcare, or if something significant is going on his life at home, we can let all his educators know and they can offer their reflections.  It means that all his main educators are kept in the loop, which may not be the case if the information was communicated hurriedly at dropoff or pickup.   

But, to be honest, we don’t use this function anywhere near as much as we participate in the room-wide posts.  If the kids are playing in the centre’s vegetable garden one day, we join other parents in commenting on what we are harvesting and eating at home (it is Northcote, y’know…)  And then later that night, if our son is having a standoff about carrots, I might drop into the conversation that they are his friend Lucy’s favourite vegetable.  Or bring up a picture of him and Lucy sharing said vegetable at lunch the previous day, if I think it will help my case.

Through these posts, we know the names of most of his classmates’ parents and we have a shared history when we cross paths at dropoff or in the local playgrounds. They shared in my son’s excitement as he showed off his new sister to his friends for the first time. And I know which of his classmates are also coming to terms with a new addition to the household and I will talk about this with him at home.  I hope that these will be the families that surround him as he starts at the local primary school and finds his way around town as a young adult.  As someone who grew up in small country communities and who often feels conflicted about my choice to raise my kids in the city, away from the cousins and grandparents, this is really special to me.

So I was surprised to read an interview with Storypark’s founder that he considers it an ‘anti-social network’ – ‘It might just be three teachers and, say, two parents, and that's it, that's the learning community’.

To me, Storypark is so much more.  It takes a village, even when you’re in a big city. Technology that enables this gets a gold star from me, even if that was never its intention.