Why an app?
This year our school has decided to forgo the traditional paper agenda for grades 9-12. Instead, we have a smartphone app that students and teachers can use on their phones, tablets, ipods and the computer.
In the last 90 days, the app has been downloaded 1337 times. Asking my students if they have the app, 90% of them raise their hand.
If you are interested in using the Wildcats app with your students, you can do it right from your phone by downloading it or through the web portal, signing in with your Surreyschools account: https://wildcats.appazur.com/dashboard/
How students use the Wildcats app
Students must log into the Wildcat app using their Surreyschools account. Once they have logged in, they can see:
- News – Basically the school wide announcements we hear every morning
- Calendar – Many students are using the app’s news and calendar function to see when the PLC days are for instance.
- Assignments – This is a “to-do” list that students fill themselves instead of writing in their agenda
- Classes – Contains any class specific information or announcements as set by the teacher. Student can also add their own notes.
- Groups (clubs) – Club information/news set by teacher
- School Information – Code of Conduct, Student Handbook, Bell Schedule etc.
How parents use the Wildcats app
Parents can also use the app by signing up with their personal email addresses and access school news, calendars and school information. They can also subscribe to their children’s classes and groups to get notifications from teachers, just as the students get them.
How teachers use the Wildcats app
In addition to the above features, teachers can send out notifications. This is done through the “Dashboard.”
- Notifications can be sent to all users in a specific class with the option of beeping or vibrating for important announcements. Like remind.com, teachers can send students notifications without having to exchange phone numbers,
- This also works for groups – only students who have subscribed to the group will see the notification
- You can forward-date the notifications so that they get sent out at the specified time (ex. Remind students Thursday evening they have a test Friday)
- Add links for class websites to Classes you teach
- Add news feed items (news sources) from your class website (WordPress etc.), Twitter, Facebook, or Email.
Check out the Quick Start Guide for more information.
Concerns with going digital
Some concerns that I have heard voiced are:
- Not every student has a phone/ipod/tablet/computer
- I don’t have a device/ I would rather not use my personal device for a school app
- As a teacher, I have too many things to worry about already and I don’t have time to learn/use this
- I already have a website/blog/group page for my class/club/team
While #1 may be true, I would suggest that most students do have some kind of access outside of school and the app is accessible through computer as well. Your mileage may vary. As for teachers on #2, you can use the app dashboard from any district computer.
Concern #3 is also valid, but if a teacher is already maintaining a website or a blog it is possible to link it as a news source for your class and you never have to open the app again. You can also set up Email as a news source which provides you a special email address to send news updates to. Whatever you send to that email will automatically be added as a news item for your class/club. Again, once this is set up you do not have to fiddle with the app.
#4 as I said above, you can link news sources. You can continue using what works for you but with the added bonus that students can access your content directly through the app. Quick tip! For WordPress, you simply need to add /feed at the end of your URL to turn it into an RSS news feed link.