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These five easy-to-use and free tools can help parents and educators stay in touch and prevent potential academic concerns

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As we prepare for a new school year, many parents would like to know how they can better connect with teachers and stay informed with their child’s progress.

Maintaining open channels of communication is important and can help prevent a student from falling behind.

There is no shortage of social media and mobile application tools for receiving instant news and communication, and eSchool News has compiled the following apps to connect and network with educators during the school year.

If there is a specific technology not mentioned in this list that you think is helpful, please let us know in the comments section below and by following the conversation on Twitter @eschoolsnews.

(Next page: Five parent-teacher communication tools)

Twitter

Once considered inappropriate for classroom use, Twitter and other social media are becoming commonplace in schools across the nation. Teachers can use Twitter to engage students on lessons and assignments, and parents can view classroom accounts to see what is being taught. Parents can follow teacher accounts to stay connected. Shannon McClintock-Miller, the district teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School in Iowa, is a great example of how Twitter can help connect parents, educators, and students. She can be followed @shannonmmiller.

The Twitter app can be downloaded in the App Store and Google Play.

Facebook

Unlike the microblogging site Twitter, which is limited to 140 characters, Facebook lets users post content, including images and video, without length restrictions.

Some teachers have students create a classroom Facebook page to discuss and keep up with assignments and projects, while some districts have a page to share news and updates related to the school. John Skretta, Ph.D., is the superintendent of the Norris School District in Firth, Neb., and explains how Facebook can be an integral part of the school district for educators, administrators, and parents alike.

Access the Facebook app in the App Store and Google Play.

Skype

Did you know that more than 80,000 teachers worldwide use Skype in the classroom? One of the marvels of modern technology is the ability to communicate instantly with someone halfway around the globe. The free audio/visual messaging service Skype is already implemented in language courses, and can be used in lieu of a telephone for the busy or traveling parent wishing to speak with their child’s teacher.

For more on how Skype can turn classrooms into virtual field trips, read here.

Skype is offered in the App store and Google Play.

BuzzMob

No, it’s not a 70’s punk band. BuzzMob is a new mobile app that brings parents, educators, and administrators together. How does it work? The app syncs with your current location and connects you with the people around you in a real-time, live community. By joining GPS-defined “Rings” in the smartphone app, “BuzzMobbers” within the same location can connect instantly and talk, exchange ideas, and share multimedia.

Download BuzzMob in the App Store or Google Play.

Remind

Looking for a safe and secure way for teachers, parents, and students to communicate? Remind (formerly Remind101) offers a unique way to keep students and parents connected with text messages about academics and school activities. For more on how this app works, watch this brief informational video clip.

Remind is available in the App Store and Google Play.

Michael Sharnoff is Associate Online Editor for eSchool News. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_eSM.

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