10 Reasons to visit Jigsaw School Apps at EICE 2014

Are you coming to the Education Innovation Conference and Exhibition at Manchester Central on Thursday 27th or Friday 28th February? Then here are 10 reasons why you should come to Stand C31 and see us:

 

1 We can make your app in your school colours with your photos, motto and logos

2 We cover iPhones, Android phones and Windows phones

3 Parents can download the app for free, by searching for your school’s name in their app store

4 Parents can choose which language they read your content in

5 You have complete control of your content – the second you add it the parents receive it

6 You will be able to get instant feedback from parents by including surveys

7 Parents can add your events to their device’s calendar and set reminders for themselves

8 You can add pdf files to include things like lunch menus and school newsletters

9 Reach your parents right away with urgent news – wherever they are

10 We give out free biscuits!

 

So come along to Stand C31 and we will give you a quick demonstration of all these features to improve your school-to-home communication. You’ll wonder how you’ve managed without one!

How to be Innovative

As we are going to be exhibiting at the Education Innovation Conference and Exhibition at Manchester Central ,I have been thinking about innovation in education and what it means.

I came across this wonderful article and blog from A J Juliani, an American educator, about the 5 Things Innovative Schools Do Differently. In it he lists these five things – and the one that caught my attention was:

Innovative Schools are transparent” – he says that all stakeholders should be aware of what is going on and schools should use social networking, such as Twitter and Facebook, to keep everyone informed. What better way to keep parents informed and engaged than via a smartphone app? This is immediate – as most people have their phones with them everyday, wherever they are! You can make sure they have your news and event information as soon as you post it, including any last minute changes. They can also read your newsletters, see the changes to the timetables or school meals and take part in surveys.

It can also improve parent and carer engagement with your school as you can post event information and the users can add them to their device’s calendar and set a reminder so they don’t forget to go. Everyone’s lives are so busy these days that this can be a real boon to set a reminder to pop up the day before – or have an event in the calendar already so if anything else comes up they know they are already booked up for that evening. Also people can share calendars on these devices too – so all the family knows what is booked in for them.

He also stressed that innovative schools use technology the right way and are connected – with their stakeholders and other schools and teaching staff.

If you want to know how apps can help your school innovate – and improve school to home communication – come and see us at EICE 2014, we are on Stand C31 – or get in touch via the website http://www.jigsawschoolapps.com/ You may still be able to take advantage of our free trial.

Gearing up for Manchester

bett3Things have been very busy here at Jigsaw School Apps. We’ve been inundated with orders since Bett2014 and if you are waiting for your apps – they are on their way! If you want to order yours before the end of the financial year – let us know soon. We are expecting even more interest once we have been to the Education Innovation Conference and Exhibition in Manchester on 27th and 28th February at Manchester Central. If you are coming to that – look out for our stand C31 and come and say hello! We have free biscuits – which you can munch while watching the demo!

Meanwhile there have been some very interesting articles in the education press and on social media. Department for Education figures reveal that English is no longer the first language for the  majority pupils at one in nine schools. The Telegraph said “schools have enlisted  interpreters to help at parents evenings and bi-lingual teaching assistants for reception classes.”  This also highlights the need for even better school to home communication so that parents can feel included too. Our school apps can be made available in up to 72 languages. The school decides which languages are appropriate for their needs and can offer those choices to parents. This means the parent can download the app to their phone and choose from the list which language they would like to read the content in.

This means they get the news, learn about the events at the school (and can put them in their own calendar with a reminder) and take part in surveys in their own language. It is another way you can keep up the parental engagement that Ofsted are so keen on – but more importantly it is better for the pupils if their parents are involved in their schooling too.

I enjoyed reading a recent discussion on Storify – a kind of sharing of best practice between Primary Schools on ways of Developing Good Parental Relationships. Click on the link and have a read – there are some great ideas! I like “Having a range of communication strategies in place imperative as parents like to engage in different ways”. It made me laugh when one contributor said that she liked to ring parents and tell them good news – she said they were always suspicious!!

Some good news that came out last week: a Harvard academic had done a study which showed that closing school for occasional days for bad weather did not affect pupils learning. In his article he said “Such a clean break seemed to cause less disruption than trying to stay open, when many pupils might not be able to get into school.”  Although this year it seems they are less likely to be snow days – more like flood days!

Either way – when you need to close in any emergency – your school app will be able to notify parents wherever they are! As one visitor to our stand told us at Bett 2014 – “You have identified all the issues schools have and solved them all!”  That is nice – but we still have innovations in the pipeline – so watch this space!

Welcome to Jigsaw School Apps

bett2Hello!

Welcome to the Jigsaw School Apps blog.

We are a software company based in Staffordshire, England, who specialise in making smart phone apps for schools. We started with a soft launch in our area and currently have our apps in around 70 schools.

This month we decided to launch properly and attend the Bett Show 2014 as an exhibitor. We have been amazed and very happy with the response so far! It was great to meet so many inspiring people from the world of education who stopped by our stand for a chat and a quick demo of our products.

So, what exactly do we do?

Basically we design and create smart phone apps for your school or organisation to keep in touch with parents (or customers!) We brand them to your organisation – with your logos, mottos, colours and photos and put them in each of the app stores for your parents to download for free. We cover iPhones, Android phones and (unlike many other app providers) we also make them for Windows Phones too. We wouldn’t like to leave anyone out!

This means that the parents can go to their app store and look for your name and find your app, download it for free and keep in touch with all your news and events wherever they happen to be. People usually have their phones with them wherever they are – so will not miss any important posts from you.

So, if the boiler breaks down – post a news item and immediately your users will get a push notification – their phones will buzz and there’ll be a pop up message at the top of the screen to let them know that there’s a new message from you. There is no delay while you send info to us and then we post it – you have complete control of all your app content via a simple web-based control panel. So, the second you press send – everyone gets the news.

Say it snows on a Sunday night and you don’t know whether to shut the school the next day. There is no need to go into school to access the control panel – you can access it from anywhere – even your phone. As long as you have your log-in details you can add anything to your app.

Another very cool feature is the survey option. It is a way for you to get instant feedback from your parents. Enter a question, give multiple choice answers, post it and sit back and watch the responses come in. We’ve had some very happy heads who have told us that within minutes of posting a survey they have had twenty responses come in!

As you know parent feedback is very important and this method improves on the original “note sent home that never returns to school” or even a text that asks parents to look at the website and fill in a form. With an app they have the question and responses there immediately wherever they are – and it is as simple as selecting an option and pressing send. The responses are then collated by us and appear as a bar chart in your control panel.

Talking of parent engagement we have a NEW feature which we launched at Bett 2014 – the translation option. If you have parents for whom English is not their first language – then they can choose which language they receive your information in. You decide which of 72 languages you wish to make available to your parents and they choose, in the app, which they’d like to use. We can feed it through a translation service and you include everyone in the school community.

This is proving very popular – it is the sort of thing Ofsted like!

In a nutshell, we feel that smart phone apps are the future of school to home communication. Unlike texts, where you often have to pay per text, there is no limit to the number of items you can post each day. Also, you can make them as long as you like – no character limit, and can even include photos. In fact anything you have on your website can be made available in your app, if you can supply them in .pdf format. This means schools are including lunch menus, newsletters and that sort of thing.

So, down to basics – how much will this cost you? We’ll set up with apps for free, let you test them out, and if you like them then there’s a very simple pricing structure via a yearly subscription. Visit the website below for the price list:

email: info@jigsawschoolapps.com

phone: 01782 305504

website: http://jigsawschoolapps.com/