About a year ago, my school district started on a journey to make information access easier for our community. Now, in New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana, there’s a new way to access information: by mobile app. Parents, students, and faculty in our school district can look to one place to find the school-related information they need.
It’s easy to see how having an app can be useful. The app gives our community a quick and easy way to access the school district’s news, events, maps, feedback, and more. To help other school districts learn from our experience, I’d like to share lessons we learned along the way:
1. Make the jump.
We first launched our mobile app,developed by AT&T Mobile Application Development, in spring 2013, which gave us time to work out the bugs while it was being used in that school year. Because of this, when we kicked off the next semester, we were able to share a new tool with parents to improve the timeliness and efficacy of communications.
2. Get the word out.
There’s no point in having an app if no one uses it. Spreading the word to parents is critical to shortening the feedback loop. At New Albany Floyd County School district, we featured our app in a video newsletter and distributed it to our community.
3. Keep an eye on optimization.
There’s always room for improvement. When we launched, we were eager to get a useful tool in the hands of our parents and educators. Now, after having the app in place for a while, we’re working with AT&T to launch an updated version that brings classroom learning and real-time student progress into the mobile arena.
Specifically, we wanted to create tailored portals for our main types of users. The new version integrates with our student information system and provides three unique views of student progress and achievement – teacher, parent, and student. We also chose to integrate our Learning Media Pool (LMP), so teachers can enrich student learning by choosing from a wealth of digital objects, both local and out on the Internet, to easily develop classroom lessons supported by audio and video.
4. Look to the future.
By leveraging the technology that students use every day, the app can open opportunities for the district to create social learning channels where students and teachers can collaborate and communicate in real time. The app can also help parents become more actively engaged.
5. Bridge school and home.
With the ability to monitor student progress in nearly real time and on an ongoing basis, parents can proactively ask their child what they learned/discussed in school each day, thus extending the opportunity for learning and discussion outside the classroom and into the home.
Along the way, I’ve learned – and continue to learn – ways to use technology to improve district operations. These things can enhance learning outcomes by facilitating an environment where the district administrators, teachers, parents, and students can all be more fully engaged and active participants in the education program.