Schools are gearing up for the 2014-2015 school year, and many will be implementing the new Common Core State Standards. Administrators are busy preparing ways to communicate with parents regarding the new initiative. Founder and President of Media Authority Marketing, Lisa Williams, was interviewed recently and shared her thoughts on the best way to communicate these changes. “Now more than ever, schools need their own mobile app. A mobile app is the quickest, easiest, most affordable and effective way to get parents up to speed and keep them informed with the implementation and progress regarding the CCSS initiative. Unlimited push messages can be sent from the app weekly, even daily, from the school offering tips and education about CCSS in bite-sized chunks for parents,” Williams said.
Media Authority Marketing, an online PR firm, is unveiling a new program aimed at increasing the efficiency and speed at which schools and parents communicate. Williams says that her firm is “dedicated to making mobile apps available to local schools even if we have to find community partners to accomplish it. It’s our latest community initiative.” Derrick Meador, a school administrator and authority on education, recently wrote an article on About.com regarding the impact of the Common Core Standards and an article about Parental Involvement in which he said: “The level of parental involvement will need to increase in order for students to be successful with the Common Core Standards. Parents will need to understand what the Common Core Standards are and how they impact their child’s future. Communicating with parents on a continual basis is a key ingredient to increasing parental involvement.”
Sharing important information with parents during the transition process of CCSS is going to be crucial to the overall success of the standards. Schools who already have a mobile app have reported an increase in parent involvement, which saves time and reduces cost. Simon Duffy, Principal at Holy Spirit Primary Catholic School in Darwin, Australia, played an important role in getting mobile apps into the three schools he has worked at. He shared what he believes is the biggest benefit of having a mobile app: “I would say the dissemination of information and being able to get the information to parents in real time. We can show things to the parents in color, which is something we cannot afford in print form, so it is a cost saving for us. The cost of printing for us has gone down a lot. We went from printing one [newsletter] for every family last year, about 180 newsletters, down to just 6 newsletters so that was a massive cost saving for us.”
Williams agrees, stating that, “Increased parent involvement is imperative, so parents can understand, support, and help their children with the new philosophy the Common Core Standards brings. With the implementation of a mobile app and real time communication system, this is by far one of the best ways to get information to parents instead of bombarding them with assemblies, newsletters, and more paperwork throughout the year.”
In addition to the benefits related to the implementation of Common Core, the mobile app also keeps parents informed by sharing important information that may have otherwise been lost by elementary students, buried in the bottom of a backpack, or forgotten by an older student. Parents would also be notified when changes are made to school bus schedules or reminded of “fun days” like pajama day or crazy hat day. In the higher grades, mobile apps can help increase attendance at school assemblies, sporting events, and school performances.
Parents can also receive push notifications for newsletter updates, late or unexpected schedule changes, or school closures and emergencies. Parents also have the ability to schedule meetings with teachers right from the app. Perhaps most importantly, at the high school level, parents and students can receive reminders for college applications, deadlines, and information about college planning events.
Jonathon Burke, Head Counselor at Palisades High School in Grand Junction, Colorado, had this to say about his school’s mobile app:
“One of the big benefits we’ve seen is from our counseling department. It allows us to send a push notification like a text message which has been a huge benefit as a means of communication to students and parents. We’ve seen a sharp increase in our parents and their students’ attendance to certain events like financial aid nights, back to school nights, [and] college nights, just because we’re hitting them with the information in a way that is easily accessible to them.”
Parents are stressed and busier than ever, they have information coming at them from many directions, and often from more than one child. Making it easier for parents to stay abreast of things going on with their children’s school can be a huge stress reliever. Parents would be able to read a quick message from the school while they are sitting at the car wash, waiting for an appointment, or on a lunch break, without feeling overwhelmed at the thought of calling the school to scheduling a meeting, going to a website, or reading a long newsletter.
There are a plethora of topics, information, and ongoing communication that is necessary for schools to share with parents and students. A mobile app is one simple way that technology can help in all those areas and more. The mobile app can also allow schools to have links and resources for students and parents regarding the Common Core Standards. The app can help with tutoring, and even has the option for the principal to send out weekly videos to keep parents informed.
The initiative that Media Authority Marketing is launching is to get mobile apps in as many schools as possible to help with communication and parental involvement. This can help schools operate more efficiently and increase communication between faculty, parents, and students. What sets their initiative apart from other mobile app specific companies is the complementary media coverage they can provide.
Schools and businesses that work with MAM will not only receive a mobile app, but a PR campaign informing the community of the action the school and business are taking to improve their community. The school and business will be set apart for making the experience of parents and students the best it can be while utilizing technology for better and faster communication, student safety, and overall cohesiveness. The principal of the school will be interviewed, and an article and press release will be published online. The article about the school will be syndicated and picked up by local affiliate media outlets for NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and many others. “There is a shift towards it [having a mobile app] right now and it’s increasingly becoming more popular,” says Meador.