Americans today are re-evaluating the way they think about education. This isn’t just evident in the adoption of the Common Core State Standards but, increasingly, in the implementation of new technologies in classrooms across school districts to better prepare students for the interconnected world they will be entering upon graduation.
These technologies range from smartboards—which extend the function of whiteboards in the classroom—to laptops; recently, some school districts, such as the Ramsey School District in New Jersey, have integrated the use of tablets into their curricula as well. The move to more-connected classrooms is in line with universal technology trends such as smartphone ownership among American adults (65 percent) and the rapid rise of the Internet of Things.
That being said, the way that school districts digitally communicate with students, parents and the community outside of the classroom is still in the nascent stage. For the most part, school district websites are rudimentary and unattractive, discouraging users from seeking data from this source.
For a great way to supplement your school’s website and get the important information out to the students, parents and community members who need it most, consider investing in a mobile app. It can provide the following attributes:
- One place for social: It seems like everyone is on social media these days, including school districts. If your schools have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, for instance, a mobile app is a great place for them all to live in one place, making them more easily accessible.
- A place for content: Most school districts feature some sort of letter from the superintendent on their websites, but the content usually stops there. A mobile app will give your content greater visibility and can facilitate conversations between administrators and the greater community. Furthermore, since mobile apps make content more accessible, there will be a greater demand for more content and more chances for interaction through this medium.
- Gives student newspapers a boost: Newspapers across the globe are changing and becoming digital first, so the building blocks for future journalists—the student newspapers where students get their first taste of the industry—should reflect the real world. You can host your student newspaper on a mobile app, and allow your students to build important digital media skills in the process.
- A home for homework: Forget giving out free assignment pads at the beginning of each year. With a mobile app, daily homework assignments that teachers upload to the Web can be accessed by students anywhere, at any time.
- Enables push notifications: The problem with websites is that they are one-way communicators, i.e., they can’t communicate any information unless it is actively sought by the end user. With a mobile app, you can set up push notifications—such as new content alerts to your mobile device—that will alert app users of new events, content or even emergency communications such as school lockdowns or severe weather threats.
- Keeps athletes up to date: Student athletes have it hard, balancing school work, practices and games. What’s more, for coaches, keeping players, parents and fans apprised of rescheduled games and practice sessions is tricky. With a mobile app, you have one place to house and update this info rather than going to the trouble of notifying each individual, and you can go a step further by pushing notifications out to all concerned parties.
- Drives school pride: Many school districts that have their own mobile app have a place where students, parents and community members can post pictures of sporting events, school functions and even dances. It’s a nice feature that keeps everyone in the know, so to speak, and can also serve as a student recruitment tool. By adding this function to your mobile app you can facilitate even more content share, by making it easier to share photos right from your phone.
- Hosts headlines: Great school districts often find themselves in the local headlines and almost every school puts out its fair share of press releases. You can house all of that content in one section of your app, and with an RSS feed, you won’t have to do much physical work when posting. Again, the push notification function of a mobile app makes this method more effective than an (often) outdated website.
- Starts conversations: Forums are great places online where Internet users can ask questions, answer someone else’s and start discussions on any number of topics. School districts can facilitate intellectual debate by beginning a student online forum and hosting it on their mobile app.
- Automates forms: School forms can be saved to the mobile app for easy access. Then, with just a one tap of a finger, students, parents and community members can elect to digitally fill out forms required for activities such as field trips and volunteer work.
This list is just a sampling of how school districts will benefit from a mobile app. If you’re interesting in getting started and want to learn how a trusted third-party vendor like AAJ can help reduce the overall cost of app development and help you maintain the app throughout its life cycle, click here.