Based on a recent interview with representatives from the large Lake Washington School District, Tandem for Schools online calendar has proven a cost-effective school parent communication tool for the 21st century.
Confronted with the same kind of budget constraints facing school districts across the country, Communication Director Kathryn Reith found Tandem’s cost-saving aspect especially appealing. Eliminating the financial outlay for a printed parent calendar proved a painless belt-tightening measure since Tandem’s online format offers immediate access. Technology Program Manager Laurie Pelham reiterates that point. In a cost-comparison, Tandem’s ready-to-use calendar came out on top, sparing the expense of paying a programmer to tailor the calendar included in the school district’s SharePoint platform.
In her tech role, Pelham dealt with the difficulty of constructing and consolidating numerous individual school websites, while trying to enhance communication with parents and the community. District Community Relations & Communications Coordinator Shannon Parthemer was troubled by the inconsistency of calendar use by individual schools. Tandem offered a solution, with the advantage of instant updates on events across the district and the assurance of keeping parents informed. Providing training for staff and parents responsible for calendar data input yielded positive feedback that highlighted Tandem’s user-friendliness.
Reinforcing the positive reception to the Tandem transition, parent Jenna Roberson – who posts the calendar in her PTSA bulletins – expressed her appreciation for a calendar tool that is simple to use and professional in appearance. Kathryn Reith points out an unanticipated benefit of Tandem in easing the burden of front desk staff and eliminating what was a genuine source of frustration for parents and receptionists alike. Since a school’s front desk is often the place parents turn for last-minute information, having a centralized source for the latest information expedites staff’s ability to respond to requests. Moreover, after office hours, parents can get answers themselves just by logging onto the calendar. The result has been positive for parents, staff, and administration.
Pelham concludes that Tandem’s online calendar possesses all the features that her school district was seeking, including subscription and interactive capabilities. This in turn led to greater calendar participation by individual schools once they discovered they could use the provided RSS feed to add their own updates. She related that the school district enjoyed a working relationship with Tandem’s developers that displayed a willingness to adapt.
See the full video of the interview at http://www.intand.com/district-success.
Although it may seem like a diversion, and as something that could run counter to education, Facebook offers a number of ways in which to enhance educational goals. Facebook’s genesis was actually tied to education—it started its existence as a way for college students to stay connected to each other and has only relatively recently been opened up to the rest of the world.
Facebook can help provide a greater level of group cohesion by creating connections between individuals through common interests. Whether allowing teachers to get to know each other better, or students and parents to get to know each other better, the more each member of any group knows about the other members, the more likely they are to find and develop connections.
A fan page can be an excellent place for school staff, parents, and students to engage in conversation. This can be anything from sharing excellent learning resources to getting feedback from parents and students about new school programs.
A fan page could also be created by teachers for a specific class. Students could post homework questions that other students could help with. Teachers and students could also post useful links or embed videos on the class fan page. However one drawback is that anyone can join a fan page. If you want more control over your community, a Facebook group may be a better option. Administrators of a group can manage who is allowed into the group.
Also Facebook requires users be at least 13 years of age. So students in lower grade levels will not be able to participate. For these grade levels, a classroom blog may be a better tool.
Technology is an amazing tool, with the capacity to complicate or simplify depending on how it is used. Technology for its own sake can be an expensive distraction, but it is hard to find an argument against switching to online school calendars. Web calendars like Intand’s Tandem for Schools are ideal for achieving simplicity and reducing waste and clutter by streamlining information delivery.
Navigating modern life is a balancing act, particularly for busy families with working parents often dealing with multiple kids in multiple schools. Multi-tasking is the order of the day for parents, kids, and school staff. Adopting an online school calendar format helps relieve the burden of coordinating school and extracurricular activities, taking some of the stress out of having to mentally juggle mountains of information. Hosted web calendars like Tandem can be accessed by parents at no charge, with only minimal start-up costs for schools, and no need to install software or buy hardware.
A centralized school district calendar provides parents with a one-stop source for vital, up-to-the-minute information. That information may be accessed from the office or wherever internet is available – a real lifesaver for working parents and a vast improvement over old-fashioned paper calendars posted on refrigerators or bulletin boards. Having that information right at their fingertips with updates by text, e-mail, or RSS feed is also a more surefire delivery system than relying on kids to deliver notes or remember a schedule change. Any parent who has ever fielded a frantic last minute call for a forgotten field trip consent form will really appreciate the convenience that Tandem offers.
Using the MyTandem feature students can even set up their own tailor-made calendars to get updates for groups and activities that they participate in or that interest them. In the process, they will be building essential life and work skills, learning time-management and developing greater responsibility and ownership. At the same time, parents are freed from the thankless role of micro-managing which will help reduce family stress and eliminate the familiar refrain, “but mom, you forgot to remind me!”
This benefit carries over into the school’s front office, relieving harried staff members of the endless task of taking parent calls about schedules and events. With an online calendar, parents can access answers themselves, and staff will have a central location for information. Busy school personnel will also appreciate the automated e-mail update feature that Tandem for Schools includes to communicate schedule changes and other updates. Contrast this with the time-consuming task of composing, printing, and distributing memos during the course of a hectic school day while trying to beat a 3 p.m. deadline. Online calendars can be updated by designated personnel at any time of the day, night, or weekend. And unlike paper notes that often go unread and forgotten at the bottom of a backpack, this information is guaranteed to be delivered. Communication between parents and schools is too crucial to leave to chance, while miscommunication erodes that relationship; online school calendars help bridge that gap.
Today’s educators, many of them baby boomers, have witnessed the dawn of a digital age as part of a generation whose members developed new technologies with the power to transform the world as we know it. Now, these pioneers are turning over the reins to the next generation. These digital natives are the subject of “Grown Up Digital”, Don Tapscott’s latest book and follow-up to his eye-opening 1998 work “Growing Up Digital”. In this sequel of sorts, Tapscott tracks the several hundred students he interviewed earlier as they are poised to become leaders themselves. These book-ended volumes grew out of a larger study that spanned a dozen countries and included thousands of young people born between 1978 and 1994.
This generation, with its unique birthright, relates to technology in a dramatically different way than their parents, who often mistakenly equate internet activity to mindless TV viewing and miss an important contrast. Watching television is primarily one-way entertainment, largely deserved of its criticism as a poor substitute and intellectual inferior to reading. Internet, on the other hand, is interactive, particularly for digital natives who utilize it as a tool to connect, communicate, and extend instead of as a mere data dispenser. This Net Generation of multi-tech-taskers approaches technology from a perspective that baby boomers can only imagine, without constraints or predetermined rules of conduct.
The portrait that emerges from Tapscott’s interviews is mostly optimistic. Standing as we are on the precipice of a new age, Tapscott observes that we are at an unprecedented moment in history. Today’s youth uniquely possess a mastery over us adults, their seniors. There is no turning back, no shutting the lid on this Pandora’s box. But instead of envisioning a future of digital dolts and dullards, Tapscott sees the promise of a generation without limits or global boundaries.
At a recent Consortium for School Networking, Tapscott argued that what is needed is not to merely “throw technology into a classroom and hope for good things” but to rethink the purpose of education and the role of teachers. Instead of teachers serving to transfer knowledge to student receptacles, instilling skills for lifelong learning should be the goal. Teachers don’t just need to get out of the way to allow students to make the most of technology’s amazing tools. Educators, he says, ought to be pioneers in the transformation, spending less time on lectures to allow more time for the kind of engaging tasks that prepare students for their important role as stewards of the future.
Source: Tapscott: Digital natives need tech-rich education from eSchool News
If the fanfare surrounding the unveiling of the iPad seemed familiar, it’s because we’ve become accustomed to the parade of products by Apple’s prodigious genius. As innovator of some of the most iconic and ubiquitous tech tool-toys, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has been hailed as this generation’s Edison.
Portability is one of the iPad’s chief assets, so it’s not hard to imagine the iPad becoming a standard feature in classrooms and backpacks. At a mere pound and a half, with up to 10 hours of battery life and a screen measuring nearly 10” diagonally, the iPad is made for mobility. Simple touch screen navigability and interactivity will appeal to the K-12 set. Having grown up with iPhones and iPods, it won’t be hard for students to make the transition to the iPad.
As a digital media delivery system the iPad has plenty of potential. Publishers are lining up to offer their textbooks as iPad downloads through the iBooks store. But whether the initial cost of the device can be recouped by schools or parents through savings on textbooks will depend on the affordability of those downloads.
Since the iPad utilizes iPhone’s operating system, the device is compatible with iPhone apps- many already in use by teachers- and iPad apps are in development now. But this is also one of its limitations, since it is geared toward Apple app exclusivity.
Some concerns include the iPad’s “virtual keyboard” which isn’t conducive to serious typing. It also fails at multi-tasking because multiple apps aren’t able to be opened simultaneously, limiting the iPad’s use as a convenient research tool.
Still, in many ways the iPad seems tailor made for this generation of students. With its potential to enhance the learning experience through audio, video and touch technology, the iPad holds out the promise of engaging today’s attention-challenged learners. That is, unless it merely adds another layer of distraction. While teachers and consumers will have to wait a little longer until the iPad hits store shelves, some may want to postpone their purchase for the next generation of devices that are sure to follow, or wait to see what Apple’s rivals release in its wake.
More Efficient Planning For School Travel
Field trips, travel to sporting events, and other student travel require the planning and management of costly transportation resources. Tandem Plus offers a robust school transportation management system that simplifies the request and approval process and helps administrators manage transportation logistics and costs more effectively. Tandem’s transportation software also automatically checks for double bookings and driver conflicts. The school transportation module is available with purchase of Tandem Plus.
Tandem’s transportation module allows the organization of driver information such as expiration of licenses, pay rates, contact information.
A 2008 survey by the National Jump$tart Coalition found that less than 50% of high school students achieved a passing grade on a financial literacy test and that nearly 75 percent of young American adults lack the skills needed to make beneficial financial decisions.
The nation’s economic troubles have increased focus on how to better prepare today’s youth for making better financial decisions in the future, parents and teachers can enhance learning through online tools designed to teach financial literacy. Some highly recommended tools include:
MoneyU provides a game-based environment to teach high school and college students about making sound financial decisions. The course consists of 120 three-to-five minute lessons incorporating videos, cartoons and simulations to cover a wide range of personal finance topics, including banking, savings, financial planning and credit card use. Individuals can purchase it for $14.95 or schools can purchase the course for $4 per student. The website also includes free online tools for assessing your child’s financial literacy in the areas of money management, savings, spending, credit, and income.
Stock Market Game this free, web-based game teaches students to work in teams to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in the stock market. Students learn to evaluate and track stocks and bonds using Internet research and news updates. An independent study showed that this game not only increased students’ financial literacy scores but that it improved students’ math skills and increased student participation.
Financial Soccer, developed by Visa and following on the success of its 2005 Financial Football game, this free web-based game uses the World Cup soccer format to teach children about personal finance. Players answer questions about credit and debt, savings, and other personal finance topics to advance down the field and score goals.
See also Games Evolve as Tools for Teaching Financial Literacy Education Week
We recently talked with faculty at Lake Washington School District a 50 school district in Washington state and asked them what they thought about Tandem. Watch the full video.
Kathryn Reith, Communications Director Lake Washington School District
Shannon Parthemer, Community Relations & Communications Coordinator Lake Washington School District
As your child gets older and closer to going away to college, it’s important that they learn how to manage and organize their time and resources wisely. Here are a few tips to empower your child toward lifelong habits of good time management and organization:
Establish a family calendar and planning center
Use Tandem to help your child plan their own calendar
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