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Making the Most of Mobile Technology in School Districts

Frontline

Chances are, you’re within a foot or two of your smartphone or tablet right now – assuming you’re not reading this post on one! It’s not a groundbreaking revelation that the world we live in relies on mobile technology now more than ever. Half of all emails in the United States are opened on smartphones, and half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices.

The shift to mobile has occurred largely over the past decade. According to the Pew Research Center, 96 percent of Americans now own a cellphone of some kind – and 81 percent own a smart phone, up from just 35 percent in 2011. And many school districts are taking advantage of the technology available by leveraging mobile apps and devices for both students and administrators. Here are some of the ways they are using it.

How Districts Use Mobile Technology

Perhaps the most obvious example is that more school districts’ Technology departments are providing tablets for classroom use as part of a 1:1 initiative to support students’ learning experience. And in some districts, students can say goodbye to snow days due to pilot programs that let each student take home a tablet to learn from home.

But mobile investments aren’t just for students. On the administrative side, Corpus Christi ISD used federal funds designated for staff training to purchase 160 iPads for administrators to monitor and evaluate teachers. The number of walk-throughs conducted by administrators jumped from 1,850 to 5,500 after the iPads were in use, attesting to the ease of evaluating teachers on the go. One elementary school principal says the initiative “has been a fabulous way for us to get more involved in the classroom.”

Beyond offering physical devices, school districts are also finding that mobile-compatible software and native apps can be a key component of a district’s overall strategy. For example, DeKalb County School District and Wichita Public Schools took the leap of creating their own mobile apps to improve engagement with parents. Gary Brantley, CIO of DeKalb County School District, explained that “the idea was, parents can’t always come to us, so let’s try to take this information to them.” Apps like these give parents and students easy access to upcoming events, lunch menus, library databases, available jobs, grades and much more.

In addition, mobile technology can be invaluable in managing and supporting school operations. These days, school and district leaders have more than ever on their plates. As a result, it’s become more important than ever for software to ease the administrative burden of keeping schools running smoothly.

Frontline’s Solutions on the Go

Districts using school administrative software should take care to ensure that the technology is mobile-friendly. If your administrators rely on tablets like iPads or Chromebooks, look for vendors with mobile-optimized websites, so administrators aren’t tied to their desks in order to use the software.

Frontline offers solutions that are easily accessible on the go, with mobile-optimized websites and a mobile app.

Districts using Frontline’s school administrative software can also use the Frontline mobile app to keep their schools running smoothly, no matter where administrators are. Frontline Absence & Time, Frontline Professional Growth and Frontline Recruiting & Hiring all have mobile app functionality to keep administrators up-to-date and free up their time.

With the mobile app, administrators can:

  • View and manage absence requests
  • Stay on top of unfilled and absences with a Daily Report, as well as a 3-day trend graph
  • Benchmark their district’s data against national and state benchmarks

Administrators no longer need to drive into work to check the status of absences and make sure all their jobs are filled. It’s easy to see what’s happening across the whole district, without ever leaving the house. In fact, administrators with an iOS device can even use Siri to review filled and unfilled absence counts for the day.

And employees can use the mobile app to save time, too:

  • Request absences and view leave balances
  • Clock in and out
  • View, edit and submit timesheets
  • Check-in to scheduled professional learning opportunities
  • Access the employee directory (in districts using Frontline Central)

* The Frontline mobile app is available for districts using the Frontline Insights Platform. For help downloading and accessing the app, please see this Learning Center article.

Got Mobile?

Whether for students or for administrators, districts are finding a variety of ways to improve operations with mobile tools.

Look at your existing systems to see what mobile websites or apps you could already be using. In future software purchases, look for systems with built-in mobile tools.

Also, consider the cost of mobile devices for your administrators weighed against the time and paperwork that could be saved, especially if the money could be pulled from an existing, relevant federal fund or other source.

Finally, remember you don’t need to go with the most expensive device — districts have a lot of options when it comes to mobile technology!

Allison Wert

Allison (Ali) Wert is the Content Marketing Manager of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She has been writing about education topics for nearly 10 years and specializes in best practices for K-12 strategic human capital management. Under her leadership, the team at Frontline was recognized as the Winner of CMA's 2017 Project of the Year and Best Content Marketing Program. Ali also helps to manage marketing for the Frontline Research & Learning Institute and The Line.