The mobile revolution has had an incredible impact on education, and much has been written about how mobile technology has impacted K-12 learning. But it has also brought about dramatically improved educational outcomes in another key area: connecting parents to schools.
Parent engagement is a high priority for districts and schools today: According to a recent Gallup poll, only 20 percent of parents reported that they were fully engaged with their child’s school. Mobile enrollment and registration systems are making it easier for families to access a quality education for their children by allowing them to enroll their children from a single app more easily, in less time. This helps to ensure educational equity for all families, regardless of their socio-economic status. Now parents can enroll their children in school using the device of their choice, at the time that works best for them, in their native language.
Ensuring Educational Equity for All Families
Mobile apps allow wealthy as well as low-income families to connect to their schools with smartphones. While lower-income families may not have email addresses, they do have mobile phones. Mobile apps ensure they have the access they need. At a charter school in New York City that now uses SchoolMint for online enrollment, some parents shared that before a mobile app was available to streamline the registration process, they had to take an entire day off from work to register their children at schools. For some parents, getting the time off may simply be a challenge. For others, it may mean the difference between having a job and not having one. No parent should have to take an entire day off work just to ensure that their child can get an education. Fortunately, this is no longer necessary thanks to mobile technology.
Providing mobile access also addresses another reality that many Americans experience every day. Not all American families currently have broadband access to the Internet. According to EdSurge, “1 in 5 Americans are ‘smartphone dependent’ for Internet access, because they either do not have broadband access at home or they have limited options other than their mobile plan.” Mobile apps play a major part in ensuring educational equity for all families by allowing parents to access the necessary resources for enrollment and registration on the device and at the time that best meets their needs.
Connecting Parents to Schools
Before the advent of mobile apps, parents were largely disconnected from schools, with little clarity on the processes that affected their children’s ability to either apply to schools that they wished to attend or, once accepted, fully participate in school life. Mobile apps such as SchoolMint, Remind, and others can connect families to schools in a way never before possible, with powerful results. Parents now have greater voice and view into their children’s education, quickly getting the answers they need on important questions like the status of their child’s application, or the ability to re-enroll their child for the coming school year, all with a simple tap of their smartphone.
Making Parents’ Lives Easier
It’s well documented that today’s parents are overwhelmed with the demands of both work and family, straining to adequately juggle those conflicting responsibilities each day. Though parents consider their children’s education a top priority, they have precious little time to keep up with all the paperwork involved in submitting an enrollment packet, such as immunization forms and the like. Mobile apps for school enrollment and communication have greatly streamlined this process and made the experience much easier on parents. Not only can parents complete and submit their child’s application to a single school right from a smartphone or tablet, they can keep track of multiple applications to multiple schools and, if they have multiple children, they can do all of these tasks for all of their children from within a single, easy-to-use app.
Addressing the Language Gap
When interacting with schools, some parents face a language barrier that can make enrollment, fee payment, and regular communication a challenge. Fortunately, that is changing. Many online school admissions systems now support a large array of languages out of the box, making it easier for parents to complete regular tasks associated with enrollment and registration in their native language. Considering the fact that there’s a growing percentage of children whose parents are immigrants (25 percent of children in 2009 compared to 13.5 percent in 1990, according to the Migration Policy Institute), this issue is more important than ever before. All children should have equal access to “the American dream,” and this is one powerful way to make that possible.
Mobile apps are having a powerful, moving impact on parents’ ability to ensure access to a quality education for their children. Although there have already been many incredible strides in this area, changing families’ lives for the better, the future holds even greater opportunities and possibilities through thoughtfully designed, easy-to-use technology that helps all students get the education they deserve.