The Clover School District had a problem. The district of about 6,500 students had gobs of information on its websites and social media accounts, yet no easy way for parents and community members to get all of the information in one place. So administrators turned to ParentLink and the creation of a mobile application or “app.”
Part of the appeal of creating a mobile app was simply the novelty of having one, said district spokesman Mychal Frost. Clover is the first district in the region to have such a feature.
“We’re the first in the area doing it, but we’re not doing anything really new,” Frost said.
The app, he said, is a combination of tools other industries are using, such as tourism, banking, business and social media.
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Clover’s app is much more than just a mobile version of the website, Frost said. It’s fully customizable for students and parents.
For instance, parents can choose which school’s calendars appear on the app, so if they have children at multiple schools, they can see all of the specific information about those schools in the same place. Parents can check their child’s grades in real time and sign up for alerts if their grades drop too low.
“A parent could set up an alert every time their child gets a certain grade,” Frost said.
That means if a child does poorly on a test, his or her parent can know about it right away, instead of waiting for that test to come home.
Many of the tools contained on the app, like the grade monitoring and the calendars, are available through the website now, but having them on a mobile device makes all the information more readily accessible, which is important for busy parents, Frost said.
The district also uses the app to collect anonymous or named reports of bullying or other problems with students. In May, Frost said, a mother sent a tip in that another student told her daughter that she was planning on committing suicide. The school’s administrators and counselors were notified instantly and were able to reach out to that student the next morning at school.
Users can also send in photos of things they see at school, good or bad, to report them to administrators.
There have also been some fun opportunities to use the app’s features, Frost said. This summer, for instance, the district asked people to submit their travel photos in a contest through the app.
And Clover isn’t done expanding what they can offer, Frost said. The district is looking to get cafeteria balances, bus routes and even a school zone locator included in the app.
The app, which is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, has been downloaded on nearly 3,000 devices. Several hundred of those downloads have occurred just within the last two weeks, as students registered for classes.
According to the reviews on the Apple App Store, users are big fans of the app’s features. Many reviewers commented on how easy it was to use and were impressed with the amount of information available.
Now that they’ve gotten the bugs worked out since the launch, Frost said the district is pushing to get more people to take advantage of the app.
“We’re making a concerted effort now to get families using it,” Frost said. “We believe it’s going to radically change the engagement between our students and teachers, our parents and teachers, and then as an information source for the community.”