Does Your School Need An App?

5 Things Every School App Should Include

We live in a world where our mobile devices are extensions of who we are. And when it comes to our smartphones and tablets, most of us find ourselves using apps in order to communicate, consume information and more.

Schools, from elementary to university, are starting to get in on the app trend, giving students, teachers, parents and administrators an easier way to stay in touch. As Linda Erdos, spokesperson for Arlington, VA public schools, says, apps are “the next generation” of communication between parents, students, and schools.

But what do school apps really need in order to work for everyone who uses them? Below, we’ve put together a list of 5 things that every school app should include.

  1. A schedule of upcoming events
    Parents and students alike need to know when important events are occurring at their school. From parent-teacher conferences and picture days at elementary schools to exam periods and spring breaks at colleges, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone knows what’s going on. By including a frequently updated schedule of events (and a way to remind users of these events, such as a text message, email or push notification), parents and students can easily prepare for and stay informed about school happenings.
  2. A lunch menu
    As every parent knows, kids can be picky, and parents want to make sure that their children are getting meals that are healthy and appropriate. By putting the school menu on the app, parents will know days in advance if they need to pack a lunch for their child or make sure they have money to buy. This is helpful for high school and college students who want to plan out their meals, too, especially if there are multiple dining options on campus.
  3. An urgent alert system
    Any school app should also have an alert system for emergencies. From benign alerts like water main breaks or snow days to more serious emergency alerts, it’s important to ensure that parents, students and other people in the community are updated immediately. Not only can parents, teachers, students and administrators stay informed about any school closures or emergencies as they happen, they can also receive instructions on what to do next.
  4. A way to check grades and assignments
    It can also be convenient for parents and students to have access to grades and homework assignments online. This gives parents an opportunity to be more involved in their child's education, and make sure homework is being completed on time. Providing a portal for high school and college students to check grades and assignments online also makes it easier for students to stay on top of their grades and keep up with assignments – without having to constantly email their teachers.
  5. A way to contact and communicate
    The most important thing for any school app to include? Contact information, and a way for users to communicate with relevant people within the school. Make sure important contact information, both for individuals and departments, is accurate and easy to find. You should also include a feature that allows users to send messages directly to the school and staff through the app. You want active engagement to be the primary purpose of your app, after all.

A school app needs to appeal to a wide range of people: parents, students, administrators, staff members and more. What your app needs will depend on your school and your users – but this list is a good place to start.