School apps to engage parents of the new world

In an increasingly digital world, schools are turning to integrated school management system to organise communications and newsletter content, complete administrative tasks, and manage data.

In this digitalised context, not to mention a world where inefficient and wasteful use of paper is no longer tolerated, technology has stepped in. With Australia having one of the highest percentages of smartphone users worldwide, using apps to manage communications can streamline notifications and permission note protocol, giving everyone a break from note chasing.

Modern families occupy a more complex space than ever before.  The work-life balance juggle combines with an over engineered schedule and, in many cases, a career that follows them home.

As fewer households include a stay-at-home organisational agent (parent), notes pile up under magnets on the fridge, and unless ‘Thursday is swimming day’ is manually loaded into the calendar and an alert set, it may be overlooked.

Some teachers overcome this by setting up a ‘closed’ or ‘secret’ group on Facebook to ping parents with 6am reminders, but most teachers have their own version of organisational mayhem going on at home.

It’s really needs to be the domain of the school management team to implement school-wide comprehensive systems, which operate using the same channels as the rest of our digital-dominated existence.

Apps with push notifications can track attendance, issue reports, send meeting requests and flag upcoming events for parents.

Special announcements such as school weather disruptions or special events can also be communicated via the school app, reaching anyone with access to the internet.

Government agencies and mental health organisations haven’t changed their tune about the importance of the home-school partnerships. Schools that have embraced technology to bring school and home into partnership report an ease and connectedness has resulted. Does your school use its Facebook page for alerts? Do class teachers have their own closed page for parents? What platforms do your parents use? Can you send out a survey to see if you are a Twitter or Facebook dominated community? The tech is there for the taking – and with most parents already active-social-media-using-smart-phone-aficionados, apps and social media might just make your school community ‘come together, right now’.

School apps for convenient, customisable communications

Active School Apps general manager, Leigh Kostiainen is passionate about the importance of school to parent communication. Her first-hand experience with wasteful paper note systems led her to “seek a solution that would incorporate simple, easy-to-use technology”.

Active School mobile apps are customisable to school branding and functional requirements. “Whether it’s to announce a rained-out sports event, an upcoming mufti day, or to provide the latest school newsletter; our apps provide schools with an intuitive and cost-effective way of keeping parents informed,” Ms Kostiainen explained.

She says push notifications are the most widely utilised functionality; they can be dispatched to the whole school or a specific group. These can be sent instantly or scheduled for later transmission.

“School lunches and uniform ordering, as well as absentee notifications, are also popular features with parents. Other popular features include the newsletter and calendar tabs, which enable parents to consume the communications at their convenience,” Ms Kostiainen noted.

“Active School apps are module based and fully customisable, enabling us to provide a cost-effective communication tool for schools and parents,” she concluded.

Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry is a freelance education writer and the former editor of School News, Australia.

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