ISTE ’17: West Corporation Unveils SchoolMessenger App For Parents And Teachers To Keep Track of Attendance and More
There are literally thousands of technology products out there for schools and education. Whether it be the latest software, LMS, SIS or app, when educators take to the show floor at ISTE Monday they’ll find an app for just about everything. While there are a handful of apps that incorporate some kind of school to parent communication, not many are designed specifically as a unified inbox for parents to communicate with teachers.
By now, most everyone in the world is familiar with some kind of messaging app. Whether it’s SMS, iMessage or Facebook Messenger, people are used to the flow of a messaging app. Many people prefer some kind of text based messaging over email and of course over talking on the phone. To reach today’s busy parents and busy teachers there needs to be a unified communication app, with notifications, that can prioritize communication to insure that no parent misses an important message and no teacher misses an important message either.
That’s why West Corporation created the SchoolMessenger platform and now the SchoolMessenger mobhile app. The app is a free download in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store (Android).
With the SchoolMessenger app, parents can engage in two-way conversations with teachers and with school groups, such as for classes and sports teams. In addition to messages, parents are able to use the app to exchange files, images and videos with teachers. Parents can easily view all SchoolMessenger Communicate notifications related to their children’s schools and district, plus other messages, in one scrollable “stream view,” just as they would on any other popular messaging or social media app.
Teachers will have the ability to use the app to easily send home class assignments, permission slips and other files. Using one-to-one messaging, teachers and parents can securely discuss individual students. And through group chats, teachers may launch discussions on everything from classroom events to what students are learning about that week.
“We recently conducted a national survey exploring how districts are currently using communications technology for parent engagement that revealed districts plan a 44 percent increase in the emphasis they put on mobile apps in the next one-to-three years. Yet, they also expressed concern about the proliferation of communications apps that parents have to download,” said Robert Iskander, executive vice president and general manager of West’s Education group. “We developed the SchoolMessenger app to meet this need. It allows schools to take full advantage of the power of mobile for home-school communication in a more complete app.”
Two advanced, optional add-on modules for the SchoolMessenger app make life even easier for parents and school administrators.
When schools and districts add the SafeArrival module they are providing parents with two powerful ways to communicate about a child’s attendance: notify the school in advance about an upcoming absence, or rapidly respond with the reason for an absence after attendance is taken. In addition, SafeArrival streamlines the school process of following up on student absences, eliminating manual tasks like calling parents, which allows school staff to focus rapidly on true unexcused absences and help ensure that students are safe.
Ted Farrell, superintendent of education for the Niagara Catholic District School Board in Ontario, Canada, said, “We turned to SafeArrival for a convenient way for parents to report absences and, in the process, created more time for school secretaries who were spending up to three-quarters of their day making calls to home. Now we are reporting more promptly and have improved our parent communication.”
The SchoolMessenger app’s Plus module offers parents the ability to view detailed student data, such as grades, lunch balances and absences from within the SchoolMessenger app, as well as to receive grade threshold alerts.
The new SchoolMessenger app replaces and significantly enhances the functionality of the previous InfoCenter app. School staff and parents who have been using InfoCenter will receive automatic updates to the SchoolMessenger app (if automatic updates are enabled on their smartphones). Additionally, districts using SchoolMessenger CustomApp custom mobile apps will be able to take full advantage of the new SchoolMessenger app functionality. App downloads will be available from http://go.schoolmessenger.com.
Teachers, administrators and technology implementers can test drive the SchoolMessenger App at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio, June 25th – 28th, booth #3026 and check out SchoolMessenger online at go.schoolmessenger.com