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5 Ways an App Can Inspire Your School

An app Can Inspire Your School

Keep parents and students informed

An app platform allows teachers and faculty to send immediate alerts and updates. It ensures that parents and students are aware of any changes or important deadlines. A study by the Michigan Department of Education found that children of involved parents are more likely to do better in school. Most parents must be informed of how and why they ought to become involved. The app is a simple and easy way for schools to reach out to parents and keep them continually involved in their child’s education and aware of what they can do.

Reduce paper usage

Using a mobile app would allow schools to provide parents and students with paper-free updates. This could potentially allow schools to completely eliminate their use of paper flyers. The app notifications can also reduce the risk of information not reaching parents.

Schools making the change to a paperless system have reported saving about $418,000 in less than a year by cutting out almost 17 million sheets of paper!

stack of white paper

Access information easily

Simple information such as deadlines and notifications would become readily available to parents and students in an instant. The more accessible the information can be, the less time administrators must spend answering simple questions. School apps can provide parents with a sense of security because they are able to stay well involved within the school.

Personalized notifications and updates

Notifications can be sent to any group! Whether you have a district-wide or class-only reminder, it will reach the correct audience. 

Notifications and alerts can be released to parents and students based on the information that would be relevant to them. Alerts sent to the right group would create relevant news updates and eliminate junk mail and wasted resources.

Eliminate SMS text alert costs

Decrease the cost of using alert services by converting to a mobile app! Many schools are using SMS text message alert systems to keep faculty, parents and students informed. The cost of these services can add up quickly, especially for larger schools sending various types of notifications. A mobile app would allow a school to send out a notification through the app using data or the internet rather than paying a phone company per text message. It may be extremely helpful for schools to convert either fully or partially to an in-app notification system depending on the needs of the parents and students. Either way, the cost of an app can reduce the costs acquired from sending SMS alerts and notifications.

iClass CMS provides a fully integrated website and mobile app solution for schools all over the world. Learn about how we can help your school here. 

by Megan
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Tech Tuesday: Makerspaces

3d print of a dinosaur

What are they?

The popularity of the maker movement has created a large push for students to learn about the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in their early education. Schools among all levels of the education system are implementing an area for students to explore the STEM field. The areas are known as makerspaces, which include different forms of technology for students to develop their own idea. The space promotes creative ways of thinking as well as collaboration with their peers. The spaces can be located in one designated area or spread throughout the school as an integrated system.

a person draws with a sharpie on a blank page

 

The Technology

Makerspace technology will typically include computer stations, multimedia editing software, 3D printers, video game creation software, laser cutters and similar systems. While the technology in a makerspace is typically quite complex, it does not need to be. The space can include simple creative stations with basic building tools such as wood carving, sewing machines, and even legos. A makerspace will be successful as long as the technology, regardless of the complexity, allows students to think independently and transform their ideas into realities.

3d print of a dinosaur

 

The Response

Educators supporting the maker movement have seen the positive impact it has on their students in terms of personal and educational growth. Most resistance towards the movement is from skeptics believing it wastes money and distracts from education. However, when implemented effectively in a school’s education system, makerspaces will foster learning rather than inhibit it. Educator and blogger John Spencer has witnessed the successes of the maker movement and urged individuals to promote it in their own classroom. In “Why Every Classroom Should Be a Makerspace”, Spencer writes “these aren’t “soft skills.” Rather, they are vital for success in life. These are the critical skills they need for the creative economy. But it’s more than that. They are a deep part of the human experience. When kids embrace a maker mindset, they experience the sheer joy of creative work.”

paintbrushes in jars

 

The Benefits

Makerspaces are conducive to establishing a basic understanding of STEM in a student’s early education. It is with this basic understanding that they can build upon their knowledge of the field to discover new interests and potential career paths.

Additionally, makerspaces mentally prepare our students to creatively solve new problems and adjust to challenges in their own way. As problem solvers, students will gain a greater understanding of themselves and what makes them unique. Educators who implement some level of the maker movement in the classroom will see their students grow as an individual and team member. In the makerspace, students will gain valuable collaboration experience as they work with others and learn to embrace teamwork. The ability to work well with others is a life skill that can be utilized to help themselves and others achieve their goals.

a neon rubik's cube

 

How to start?

The definition of a makerspace is nearly limitless. There is no one correct way to create a makerspace. If you find yourself wanting to start a makerspace at your school, there are some ways you can start the movement within your own classroom. A makerspace does not require large amounts of funding, instead, you can start just by promoting a maker mentality. This can consist of small projects or activities in the classroom that encourage your students to think outside the box to solve problems. But if you are looking to seek funding to create a completed makerspace for your school, start small and build the program as your school witnesses how it is beneficial to the students. A makerspace used effectively will foster its own growth through the students that represent the success of the investment.

 

By Megan

Getting Smart With Community Engagement

People

Schools can’t do it alone! The people and businesses in the surrounding community can be a valuable (but often overlooked) resource to help students succeed.

According to this report, schools with the highest number of community and parent volunteers have the highest test scores. Community involvement with a school promotes real-world learning and a broader perspective for students.

How can you make community members key partners in student achievement?

Share your Success

A newsletter is a great vehicle to share school stories and successes with the community. Even community members who don’t have children enrolled in the school will enjoy reading about what’s going on in the neighborhood. It’s also a great way to inform community members about upcoming events, service projects, and volunteer opportunities. Check out our tips on how to create a newsletter that is both interesting and informative here.

Be Visible

When your school participates in community events, people will notice! Seek out opportunities for students to volunteer around town or host service projects to benefit local charities. A great way to do this is to create or partner with a service club on your campus.

Share enrichment opportunities with students. Many museums or performing arts organizations will offer student discounts. Students can enrich their day to day learning experience while getting out in the community and having fun.

Make the Most of Your School Site

Your website is a powerful tool for community engagement. An integrated and intuitive website will encourage everyone to keep up to date with happenings at school. With iClass’ website solution, schools can even make community members partners in content creation. An integrated mobile app will keep functionality at parents’ fingertips!

 

5 Ways Classrooms Have Changed in the 21st Century

Classroom with rolling chairs

Lifestyles have changed dramatically since the beginning of the new millennium. Similar changes have occurred in our classrooms. As the first generation to grow up with smartphones, social media, and more, today’s students have different expectations and needs when it comes to education.

 

Graphic via Open Colleges

Collaboration

Pupils expect fewer lectures and more interaction with classmates. Teachers act as facilitators of learning rather than distributors of information.

 

Tech in the Classroom

Instead of competing with phones, tablets, and laptops, try incorporating them into your teaching! There are many advantages to using devices for school activities including engagement, instant feedback, and enhanced cooperation.

 

Project-Based Learning

Put simply, Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a method of inquiry where students identify a problem, then synthesize information to solve it. PBL engages students and allows them to learn about more than one topic at a time.

What is Project-Based Learning?

 

Organic Layout

Visit any school today and you’ll notice that classrooms that were once laid out in orderly rows are now full of tables, bean bags, and rolling chairs! Classrooms should be designed in a way that reflects learning goals – facilitating collaboration and meaningful discussion as well as independent learning and problem solving.

 

Classroom with rolling chairsImage via Smith System

 

Remote Access

Students have resources available on their cell phones constantly. The standard of constantly available information impacts education – learners want to be able to access homework, grades, and reminders on the go. Make sure that class website is adaptable so it can be seen on a phone and provide a channel for instant communication with teachers

 

iClass CMS provides websites that are completely interactive and adaptable. Our custom website and mobile app solutions are designed to meet the needs of a 21st century school. Learn more here.

How One Teacher Used Tech to Transform Student Learning

a child reads a book

The increased use of technology in the classroom has made some parents and educators nervous about the negative impact it might have on their students’ education. There is always the chance that these devices may distract students if they are not used properly. Recently, parents and educators alike are seeing the overwhelming benefits of using technology in the classroom.

 

 

A study done by Lieberman Research Worldwide called “Parent’s Attitudes Towards Education Technology” showed very positive feedback from parents regarding “technology for school”. The study found that 67% of parents agree with the statement “I don’t mind my child spending more screen time if he or she is learning” and 79% feel that technology “Allows my child to learn at his or her own pace”.

 

Technology in schools, such as personal devices, can be used to adapt the learning environment to better suit the educational needs of each unique child. For instance, a device can make a previously boring subject interesting to a student by changing their perspective on it.

 

 

An article written by teacher Bryan Rossi discusses the success his students found when reading with the help of technology. In one case, a student was lacking the reading skills common for students her own age. The student began reading on a device using a read-to-me feature provided by EPIC! It was not long before she became so confident in her ability to read that she wanted to read the book on her own in physical form. The device allowed the student to alter the way they were learning and succeed in a previously difficult area.

 

In another case, a group of Mr. Rossi’s students that once disliked reading was able to discover books that interested them using the EPIC! online catalog. The search for books through the traditional library became discouraging for them, but using technology simplified the process. The group managed to find a fun and exciting book collection that made reading interesting and unintimidating. Mr. Rossi’s students are prime examples of the positive impact that technology integration can have on education. Read more about their experience here. 

 

Students may find some forms of learning mundane, but the use of edtech presents a new and exciting perspective. In some cases, students may lack confidence and consequently interest in a subject area. Edtech can help these students find their independence and gain enough confidence to explore an area of learning. It goes beyond a simple task or lesson! Technology in the classroom will open up many doors for students to explore as they grow and discover themselves and their interests.

 by Megan

Hibernia Introduces Robots to Irish Classrooms

Swivl robot

An interesting new project from teacher education provider Hibernia College has seen the introduction of robots to a number of classrooms across the country.

However, these robots are not there to help children learn but instead monitor trainee teacher performances for the purpose of assisting new teachers in improving their interactions with students.

The Swivl is a video observation robot that connects to an iPad or smartphone and can rotate and tilt, ensuring it captures every interaction between students and their teacher.

Trainee teachers must review their own performance in class as part of their training, something which can be a bit difficult to do at the best of times.

Swivl greatly simplifies this task by providing trainee teachers with a video log of every class, enabling them to efficiently and effectively review their own performances and find any areas of concern that require improvement.

Generally, when we think of EdTech we imagine education technologies that are designed specifically for the benefit of students, so it’s great to see an EdTech company working on solutions for teachers instead.

The Swivl robot is quite an innovative idea and one that could not only benefit trainee teachers but teachers in general, providing them with invaluable information they might miss during class e.g. which students are responding well to lessons, which are having trouble concentrating etc.

Hibernia College introduced Swivl robots to Irish classrooms just over three months ago so the project is still in its early days, but a quick visit to the Swivl website shows the robot is in use in more than 30,000 classrooms and universities across the world.

Hopefully we’ll start to see the implementation of other innovative EdTech projects in Irish classrooms in the near future.

The Importance of Parent-Teacher Communication

Header FAQs

One of the most important elements of a child’s educational journey is clear and regular communication between parents and teachers.

It’s vital for good communication to exist between both parties in order to guarantee that a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development is progressing naturally and without any issues.

Similarly, a parent’s involvement in their child’s education can greatly benefit the child, resulting in happy and curious kids who look forward to the challenges of school.

Parent involvement also helps to keep kids on track and make sure they’re reaching their full potential in all areas, from homework to exams, afterschool hobbies and more.

Regular communication between teachers and parents encourages parents to take an active role in their children’s studies, so it’s a good idea to start off on the right foot and make parents feel welcome in bringing any concerns they may have to your attention.

Parent-teacher meetings are obviously a great opportunity to discuss student performance and improvement, but they typically only take place a few times during the school year.

This can be detrimental to the student, particularly if they’re having difficulty in certain areas as problems may go unreported and become more of an issue as time goes by.

While many schools now offer a variety of methods for parent-teacher communication including by phone or email, only the iClass platform provides a completely free-to-use mobile app for parent-teacher communication.

It simplifies the entire communication process and ensures parents and teachers can get in touch with one another when needed.

The iClass Mobile App also allows for the dynamic publishing of news and events, both of which will help parents feel that they are fully informed of all related school activity.

Get in touch with us today to request a live iClassCMS demo or brochure.

2018’s Biggest EdTech Trends

Learning

Educational technology is set for another stellar year in 2018 and we will hopefully see further adoption of EdTech processes and resources in schools throughout Ireland.

To help you prepare for any new technology you may introduce to your school in the coming year, we’ve rounded up the biggest EdTech trends of 2018.

  1. Mobile Learning

Mobile learning simply refers to education and teaching conducted through use of portable computing devices such as smartphones and tablets.

It will possibly be the biggest EdTech trend of the year thanks to the increased use of smartphones and tablets in classrooms both in Ireland and the rest of the world.

Mobile learning empowers students by providing them with access to high quality learning materials and encourages learning through use of different media (text, video, audio etc.)

Mobile learning also greatly benefits educators as it generates large amounts of data on students’ studying behaviour and habits, data which can later be analysed and used to improve curricula.

  1. Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, or IoT as it’s also known, is the name for the network through which various computing devices are connected.

This includes everything from a smartphone to smart home appliances, and is generally used to describe the ‘system’ that allows devices to communicate with one another.

In the educational setting, the Internet of Things aims to simplify much of the learning process so teachers can spend more of their time engaging with students and preparing classes and less time on repetitive tasks such as correcting homework.

  1. Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is an alternative method for delivering IT services and one that utilises web-based tools and applications retrieved from the Internet as opposed to a physical server.

Cloud computing enables a great deal more of flexibility when it comes to IT services in addition to reducing the time it to takes to retrieve data and minimising IT costs.

It benefits schools by providing teachers and students with access to the Internet’s infinite repository of information for a very small fee and should see widespread adoption in 2018.

  1. Augmented and Virtual Reality

It may be a few years yet before augmented and virtual reality becomes commonplace in the school, but a number of Irish companies are exploring how this technology can be used in an education.

Augmented and virtual reality technology supports active learning as opposed to passive learning and is particularly useful in combatting limited attention spans.  

It can also increase a student’s understanding of complex theories and subjects through use of an immersive and visual experience that illustrates the information being conveyed to the student.

Tips: Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for Schools

Phone

When used correctly, social media can be an extremely effective tool for promoting schools and generating interest among parents.

It can also be used to update students, parents and teachers about school news and facilitate communication between parents and teachers.

Keep in mind the following when setting up a social media profile for your school and you will soon be enjoying the benefits that come with this type of promotion tool.

Do:

  • Consider your audience: there are a few different social media platforms but schools generally only need a Facebook and Twitter account, as these are the services chiefly used by students, parents and teachers.
  • Assign roles: it’s a good idea to assign one or two teachers or staff members to overseeing the school’s social media profiles, as daily activity is recommended for maintaining a positive image.
  • Implement routines: the person in charge of the school’s social media profiles should implement a daily routine consisting of reviewing comments and replying where needed, as this will ensure a consistent and respectable image.
  • Post pictures: post pictures of the school, sporting events, student activities and anything else that could help reinforce a positive image of the school.

Don’t:

  • Give students control: avoid allowing any student direct access to the school’s social media profiles, as this can understandably lead to issues down the line, but encourage them to interact via their own profiles.
  • Post inappropriate content: this may seem obvious but it does unfortunately occur from time to time, which is why it is so important to assign a teacher or member or staff with control of the profile.
  • Respond directly to posted issues: avoid responding directly to serious issues posted on the school’s social media profiles and instead acknowledge the comment and inform the user they will be contacted through traditional avenues (phone, letter etc.) to discuss the issue.

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iClass Owl Newsletter Issue 1 is Now Live!

Owl final logo

The first issue of iClass Owl, our brand new newsletter focused on educational technology (EdTech) and its impact on Irish schools, is now live!

iClass Owl is a free monthly publication that aims to keep teachers, administrators and educators up-to-date with the very latest happenings in the world of EdTech and how these new technologies will transform classrooms.

iClass Owl Issue 1 covers the latest school tech news, reviews the biggest EdTech trends you can expect to see making ground in 2018 and features a detailed look at STEM Workshop, CoderDojo.

Click here to sign up to the iClass Owl Newsletter.