Customizable and convenient are the adjectives that best describe Tandem for School’s online calendar. The convenience of an online format is ideal for busy modern families, while today’s technology makes it possible to tailor calendars to suit individual needs. What advantages does Tandem offer parents?
Convenience of Access
Accessing Tandem’s online calendar tool is as simple as logging on by computer or any internet-enabled device. Wherever and whenever an internet connection is available, parents can get the latest information on school events without having to rely on harried office staff for accurate updates. Never miss another chance to cheer on your team or forget to pick up your child from an after-school activity because the school’s front desk was closed!
Search, Filter, and Track Options
Whether your busy schedule leaves you short on time or you just prefer simplicity, Tandem’s search, filter, and tracking features are the answer. Tandem takes the headache out of keeping up with multiple schools and assorted extra-curricular activities. From the comprehensive calendar, choose to display just the events that pertain to your child. Need the latest information in a hurry? Simply enter the event you’re seeking into the search bar and you’ll be presented with all matches. Search and sort by keyword, group, school, or event with the option to view by day, week, month, or year.
In addition, it’s possible to access details from the calendar by clicking on an event to get contact and travel information and more. Need directions to an out-of-town game or band concert? Click “get directions” in the event detail display and you’ll be connected to Google Maps with the destination information ready.
Interested in following a particular team or club? Whether your child is a participant or you’re just a fan, use Tandem’s tracking feature to get the latest event information with email updates simply by clicking “track this group”. For even more convenience, choose “set reminder” for a given event and you’ll automatically receive an email notice for upcoming events. Designate a reminder interval and you’ll get an email alert hours in advance – the time-frame is up to you!
Integrate Tandem with your Personal Calendar
Maximize the potential of this helpful technology and enjoy the advantage of being able to export information to a personal calendar format like Google, iCal, or Outlook. Automate the process by synchronizing your own calendar with Tandem and the events you specify will be posted without having to lift a finger!
Added bonuses of online calendar’s like Intand’s version include print-capability and the option to subscribe to receive RSS feeds for updates. As registered users, parents can contribute photos and news briefs for events, as well as upload photos and forward email with event details to friends. Tandem takes some of the stress out of “parent involvement” so you can relax and enjoy these precious school years.
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.
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.
To learn more about what Tandem can do for your school, sign up for a free demonstration or a free 30 day trial.
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.
Streamlined Request and Approval for Trips
Tandem’s transportation module allows for school staff such as teachers or coaches to request transportation online. The request is sent to the administrator in charge of the approval of transportation requests and they can approve or reject a request with a couple of clicks. If rejected, the requester is notified with a reason for rejection. The requester has the opportunity to correct any problems and resubmit the request. If the trip is approved, it automatically goes into the trips section for management.
The transportation module from Tandem Plus allows for the easy management of the vehicles of a school or district. You can enter information of the vehicles and use Tandem to assign them to trips. This will help administrators determine what vehicles are available for use on a particular day and which are already assigned to a trip. You can also organize and track vehicles that your school or district uses from charter bus companies.
Tandem’s transportation module allows the organization of driver information such as expiration of licenses, pay rates, contact information.
Dispatch Reports for Drivers
Tandem’s school transportation management will produce a printable dispatch report for drivers so they can see the location of stops, order of stops, and times and dates of their routes.
Print Out Bidding Sheets
You will be able to print out a bid sheet for available trips that drivers can use to bid on trips. Each bid sheet provides spaces for names so that drivers can write down their names for trips they want to do. If a trip is already taken, the name of the driver that has secured that trip will be filled in.
Manage the Transportation Budget
With Tandem’s transportation tool you can define a budget, calculate costs of trips, manage driver pay rates, and bill transportation costs to outside parties (like parents).
Have questions about Tandem’s school transportation features? Sign up for a free demo or call 866.685.3449.
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
We had a specific situation one spring where there was an end of the school year concert at Redmond Junior High that conflicted with one of the graduation activities at Redmond High School at the same time. That was just sort of my aha, oh my gosh, we really need to find some way of getting a hold of what’s going on at the schools.
Laurie Pelham, Technology Program Manager Lake Washington School District
When we started interviewing schools about their needs for having a good communication from their website, one of their biggest needs was that they needed to have a place to have calendaring available online for their parents.
I’m Communications Director for Lake Washington School District, I have been with the district for about five years now. Last year, we were faced with some very difficult budget cuts and one of the items we looked at was the printed wall calendar that we have sent to parents every year for I don’t know how long. It’s a very traditional thing to do. People put it up in their kitchens and write on it, etc. But what we discovered was, this is something that we could do without now that we have an electronic online calendar and many more parents are relying on electronic calendaring. So they can either go directly to the Tandem calendar or if they have imported it into another electronic calendaring system that they use, they have access to all those dates without having to get a paper printed calendar that was costing us a lot of money. Once we decided that we wanted to look for a calendaring tool, we just went out and looked at what other districts, other schools were using, really just went out and did a search and discovered that there was this wonderful company right in our backyard that was doing a great calendaring program.
My name is Laurie Pelham, I have been a Technical Project Manager for the district for the past 15 years. The project we were working at the time was to build out 15 school websites for each one of our schools. A secondary problem that we were trying to solve was to consolidate them so they communicate to the public or to their community about the events that are happening in their school. In the project that we were doing, it was definitely secondary but it turned out to be something that we could train in Tandem, no pun intended. Because the two worked together so well, it’s that school to home communication that we needed to really improve and I think we did with both. We were implementing on the SharePoint platform and so SharePoint comes with a calendaring program built in out of the box. Our question was should we use that or should we buy something else? And upon looking at what it would cost us to customize the SharePoint calendar and when I say cost us, I mean because we are hiring outside developers to write dot net programming to alter the look and feel of this SharePoint calendar. In order to make this SharePoint calendar do what Tandem already did out of the box, we figured it would cost us more in development than it would be for us to implement a product that was already in place. So, it was a no-brainer for us to go with Tandem.
Shannon Parthemer, Community Relations & Communications Coordinator Lake Washington School District
Before Lake Washington School District used the Tandem calendar, each school was responsible for their own calendar so some may have kept paper and pencil, some may have done newsletters, others just didn’t keep any consistent calendar. That didn’t lead to a whole lot of understanding about what’s happening at feeder schools or nearby elementary schools, junior highs high schools. The complication that I would have if I didn’t have the Tandem calendar is I wouldn’t know what’s happening at all of our schools and we wouldn’t have a good way of displaying the information to parents and community members. The majority of parents that are using the Tandem calendar and using the My Tandem section of the calendar really do appreciate the features and getting notifications when events are added, canceled, changed in any way. We have started training opportunities that we offer about once a month to different staff members or parents depending on who from the school is going to add events. People understand and say, wow, this is easier than I thought it was. So, I would describe the Tandem calendar as intuitive and very easy to use.
How I would describe Tandem is it allows many schools within the same school district or a single school alone to really keep track of what’s going on, have it available in a way that’s accessible to parents and teachers. If you are talking from a district administration standpoint, it makes it much easier for us to be able to schedule district wide events that don’t conflict with some really important event to the school that’s been on the calendar for a year. We don’t always hear about those things, we have 50 schools so keeping track of what’s going on 50 schools from a central standpoint is pretty difficult. Now it’s very easy to just open up a Tandem calendar and see all the things that are going on at those schools on a particular day at a particular time. One of the the things that happened after the Tandem calendar was put in that we didn’t even realize it was going to be a benefit. It was our front desk receptionist at our Resource Center is often the place for parents to go to when they have forgotten what time an event is. They try and call the school, the school was already closed or front desk to staff have left so if they are making that last minute phone call, when they call, Shelley at our front desk has a place to find out where all the school events are and what time they are. She has a reference for all 50 schools, that sometimes means she can get the information to a parent who has forgotten so they can get access on the computer or if they don’t have a computer nearby at the time. Feedback from administrators has been very positive. They are very happy to see all of their items in one place to make it very simple. The office managers and secretaries are the ones that usually would be getting all those phone calls when is this meeting or that event and are not getting so many phone calls anymore and not having to answer the phone over and over again about the time the PTSA meeting and those kinds of things. Parents love it. It’s very simple for them to keep track of what’s going on.
Jenna Robertson, Parent
My name is Jenna Robertson, I have been a parent in the district since 2000 for ten years. Our PTSA brings together the bulletin and I’m pasting a calendar into our bulletin and then our school has a way of sending it out to their database. Having an online calendar that can be up-to-date to the minute, it’s live as soon as you input it and that’s even better. I thought it was really easy to learn and I like the look of it. It looks clean, professional and a PTSA mom can make the calendar look pretty cool. I like how I can choose the different views because when I’m doing our electronic bulletin, I can just choose the list, I can copy and paste that and Tandem looks much more polished than some of the others and to me that’s important because from a standpoint that this is important information, it looks important, I know as a parent I’m really feeling the benefit of having this great tool.
Tandem is a comprehensive event calendar that many different groups or departments across a large organization can use and share and it was tested with a small group of people that gave lots of feedback. So, you are already equipped with the tool that you need to answer the need for schools. The features are for what exactly what we need, a place for parents to be able to subscribe, staff members also, a place for them to interact with their own personal calendars. Those were two of the requirements that were really high for us. We didn’t want to just have an online calendar and not have people be able to interact with it. We needed people to interact with it because that’s the expectation in today’s world. Now on our school sites, we have a space reserved on our homepage for an RSS feed that comes from the Tandem calendar. The district events were on this calendar and so whether the school participated in the use of the Tandem calendar or not, they still had some events that were populating that space on their homepage and those were the district events. Upon seeing that and knowing how easy it was for people to refer people to that space and/or to keep up on what’s actually happening in their building, we started to see more and more schools coming on board. We built a relationship with the company upon implementation partially because they are in our hometown but also because we feel we have a lot of needs in our school district that are universal and might improve the product. So we felt very comfortable giving suggestions to the development team at Tandem, on improvements that we thought might be good for all of their customers. The response was overwhelming. The company is responsive, they are interested in knowing the needs of their customers, they are willing to make changes that everyone can benefit from and we really appreciate that.
With most of the US currently experiencing the coldest temperatures in recent years, Intand’s Tandem event management software can be an effective tool for schools to stay ahead of the curve and “winterize” when the weather turns bad.
To close or not to close? School administrators have to consider many factors – from the weather report to building conditions and transportation resources when making the decision to close or delay school openings due to weather conditions. Tandem can assist in the decision making process by providing an overview of what programs and events will be affected.
Communicate closings and school delays quickly. No more waiting for the local radio or television station to announce your school’s name. By using Tandem administrators can instantly alert parents, students and teachers when school opening is delayed or canceled.
Keep students from being stranded in the cold. After school activity canceled due to weather? Early school closing? Buses delayed? Using Tandem, administrators, teachers and coaches can alert parents quickly, helping to ensure that students stay warm and safe.
Avoid burst pipes and other weather calamities. Using Tandem to identify building and room usage, facilities manager can efficiently plan and direct resources to avoid burst pipes and other potential weather calamities that can be costly and time consuming. In addition, faculty and facilities staff can quickly alert involved stakeholders when there is a problem – so that room changes and adjustments can be made with minimal disruption.
Transportation management. Bad weather often translates to last minute transportation changes and juggling. Tandem allows all stakeholders to communicate rapidly and coordinate transportation resources more effectively so that bad weather doesn’t have to translate into a costly, transportation nightmare.
Avoid influenza and H1N1 outbreaks. Winter usually brings flu season. By utilizing Tandem administrators can keep families informed of community or school resources for vaccination and work together to avoid outbreaks.
Image source http://www.flickr.com/photos/laserstars/
One useful feature of Tandem’s school calendar is the ability to provide directions to school events which can be helpful to parents and students who attend events at other schools or other locations. The school administrator just has to enter the address once when they add new locations to the calendar, and the address information will automatically be available for any event at that location. When calendar users go to a specific event, they can click on “get directions” and they will be sent to Google Map of the location which will show the address of the location. From there the parent or student can get step by step directions to the event, or just write down the address to enter into their GPS device. Having this location information all in one place at the school’s calendar can prevent confusion and help the school better manage event logistics, so everyone is on the same page for team transportation, personnel, and equipment requirements.
The location management functionality of the Tandem calendar also helps school administration manage the high number of school facilities that are used by a lot of different school groups. Tandem automatically checks and alerts the calendar manager(s) of any scheduling conflicts in which two groups may want to use the same facility at the same time. Additionally, anyone can view all the events scheduled at a certain facility, so they know what times are available to request a new event. School administrators can also find out when their facilities will be vacant and offer outside groups to book a facility for a fee.
Using Tandem for Schools, schools can not only improve communications with parents, staff and faculty but also more effectively manage school resources.
Many school facility managers already use Tandem to avoid overbooking facilities or to resolve scheduling conflicts. Knowing when and how often a facility or room is used, Tandem can also help facilities managers better allocate budget dollars and achieve energy and other savings.
Identify New Revenue Opportunities
Many schools have venues which may be underused at different times of the year; by using Tandem, schools can identify these resources and potentially turn them into revenue generating sources by renting them out to outside groups, etc.
How many buses? When? Where? Tandem allows for rapid fire communication to all stakeholders involved in an event. Tandem allows coaches, teachers and administrators to more effectively manage trips and reduce transportation costs. And advanced planning features allow school districts to budget transportation needs more effectively. Translation: more opportunities to save money.
With multiple events at multiple venues going on at all times of the day, one last minute change can often lead to hours of work for staff and managing the calendar can be more than a full-time job. With Tandem, one change doesn’t have to lead to hours of phone calls and running around to parents, staff, etc. With Tandem, the minute the change happens, everyone can be updated instantaneously. One school district even was able to reduce the number of staff managing their calendar from two full time personnel to just one.
Lower Printing Costs
Rather than printing out school calendars and fliers reminding parents and students about upcoming school events, using an online school calendar can save time that is required to print out hundreds of documents and reduce the amount spent on paper and ink.
1. Receive text message updates of specific school events
Users of Tandem for Schools can get updates on school events sent directly to their mobile device via SMS. You can set up reminders for a specific event or updates on a school group like “Varsity Girls Soccer”.
2. Users can request to reserve a facility
Users that have been granted permission can send a request to the calendar manager to request to book an event at a specific time and place.
Members of the community could even be invited to request facilities for community events when the facilities are not in use, and the school can earn extra money.
3. Double booking conflict checking
When events are requested by users, Tandem for Schools automatically alerts the calendar manager whenever there is a scheduling conflict. This simplifies event scheduling for the school administrators and prevents two school groups from accidentally scheduling events at the same venue at the same time.
4. Post pictures and news of events
Anyone can upload photos and text into an event, which can be approved by the calendar manager. This can include action shots of a sports event or statistics from a game. Anyone can also submit reminders before the event like “Admission for non-students is $3”.
5. Manage school bus transportation to events
Tandem for Schools can be used to manage logistics for transportation to school events. Administrators can schedule bus trips, manage trip budgets, and manage requests from coaches.
6. Sync calendar with personal online calendars
Parents, students, and faculty may already have a personal online calendar that they use to manage their schedules such as Outlook, Google Calendar, iCal, or Cozi. No problem! Users of Tandem for Schools can sync the events that are important to them so that they are automatically fed to your existing online calendar.
7. Access the calendar from anywhere you have internet access
With Tandem for Schools, you don’t have to be at your desktop to access the school online calendar. The calendar is available online at a specific URL assigned to a school or district.
8. Filter events/Create custom calendar
You can filter the main school calendar to only show events that you specify. You can also set up a custom calendar that will only show events related to groups that you have chosen to track.
9. Customize calendar with school colors and logos
You can customize the look of your online school calendar to reflect your school colors and school logo.
10. Multiple views of the calendar
You can change the view of the calendar to yearly, monthly, daily, or list of events.
To learn more about the useful features of Tandem for Schools see the following blog post:
8 Things Parents Can Do With Intand’s Online School Calendar
or schedule a free demo on your own computer via Go To Meeting.
Parents, students, and faculty can be away from the computer for most of the day, but many people carry around a cell phone with them at all times. If they have a user account with their school’s Tandem calendar they can change their preferences so that selected updates get sent directly to their phone via text message.
Currently users can log in and set reminders for specific events so that an email will be sent to their email inbox to remind them of an event within a specified time before the start of the event. You can also get email updates sent for all changes or new events for a specific group like Girls Varsity Soccer or Drama Club.
Text integration of a school calendar can improve school communication and save time for parents students and faculty. For instance, say you are a busy parent driving to a school baseball game, which has been canceled due to rain. You may receive a text message on your phone alerting you of this if you have signed up to track events for Boy’s Baseball and have them sent to your phone. Say you are a principal of the school and you want to alert students, parents, and faculty that school will be delayed for 2 hours due to an unexpected snow storm. You can add an event to the school calendar under a group called “Important School Notifications”. Now everyone who has signed up to track this group and receive text updates in their Tandem account can be notified of this important information via a text message.
Interested to learn more about Tandem school calendar software? Set up a free 1 on 1 demonstration on your computer here.