Smart phones require smart communication strategies

  • A “Bully” button for students to report incidents;
  • An audio button to upload and showcase music performed or created by students and student groups;
  • An ACT/PLAN button that links to important information about college admission assessments, including deadlines, schedules, sample questions, test strategies, etc.;
  • Help link with numbers to assist teens in crisis;
  • A “Phrase of the Week” button—this phrase could be used for teaching tolerance, anti-bullying, etc.;
  • A detailed map of the campus;
  • A “Video” button to allow for sample performances from our visual and performing arts students and/or demonstrations from career and technical education students;
  • A service learning button that includes information about upcoming service learning opportunities, with a link to the district’s online tracking system;
  • A “Scholarship” button to include resources for students and parents; and
  • Buttons for individual teacher sites and parent resources.

While GCS was able to use its content management system to create a mobile version of its entire website, the district is exploring creating more streamlined apps for specific purposes, such as marketing Guilford Parent Academy events, recruiting teachers, promoting schools, and announcing weather-related cancellations.

As it explores using more targeted apps for communications, GCS hopes to gain insight from Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), which launched its first mobile app this fall to improve parent outreach.

See also:

How to engage parents online more effectively

Using QR codes for school communications

Ten tips for using social media in school communications

Created in English and Spanish, the mobile site features pared-down information of high interest to parents, including a GPS-fueled school locator, search functions, and an enrollment app that make school shopping and contacting staff easier.

The site also features content about academics, the arts, special education, athletics, calendars, bell schedules, bus stops, clubs, field trips, and school events. MPS parents can sign up for news feeds or check out blogs by the superintendent.

When communicating in a mobile environment, it’s more important to focus on content than graphics, photos, icons, color, and other design elements, according to Amy Kant, MPS web specialist.

Parents appreciate sites that load quickly and don’t eat up their data plans, according to Kant, so smart communicators edit their content carefully and resize and minimize photos, charts, graphs, and other memory hogs.

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