As more schools and districts are discovering, smart communications using smart phones can help keep families connected to schools and their personnel in productive and convenient ways, while offering new avenues for parent and student engagement.
Backing these new apps with sophisticated databases and other programs that make upkeep easier can go a long way in helping time-stressed school personnel manage communications more effectively and efficiently.
MPS, for example, spent time and money creating a central database of key school data. When changes need to be made as a result of employee resignations and appointments, programmatic shifts, the opening of new schools, or other issues, the changes are made in the database by designated staff.
Once the database is updated, the revised information populates the mobile website automatically, eliminating the need to make changes by hand in HTML coding on each individual webpage, a painstaking and time-consuming process.
For MPS, resisting the temptation to jump into mobile communications too quickly has paid dividends. By thinking through long-term needs for sustainability, and working across traditional central-office silos and schools, MPS already has gained greater employee collaboration and cooperation.
While it’s too early to know whether the new mobile app and interactive features will improve parent engagement, so far, it looks like a model worth replicating.
Award-winning eSchool News columnist Nora Carr is the chief of staff for North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools.