eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App: An Essential Piece of Columbia Public Schools’ Technology Plan
Columbia Public Schools is a public school district educating many of the students in Boone County. The district’s vision is to be “the best school district in the state,” and its mission is to “provide an excellent education for all students.” The district has approximately 3,000 faculty and staff serve more than 17,000 students at 19 elementary schools, six middle schools, five high schools, three centers, and a preschool. Over the past two years, the district has implemented a technology structure that will enable teachers and administrators to support student
“The eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App has really become a useful tool in our district.”
Walt McManus | Programming and Web Development Leader | Columbia Public Schools
Along with the launch of a Bring Your Own Device program and iPad® initiative, Columbia Public Schools wanted to provide administrators with on-the-go access to student information.
As part of its comprehensive technology plan, Columbia Public Schools was one of the first districts to offer to its administrators the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile Application, which provides anytime, anywhere access to student data and important district processes.
As Columbia Public Schools kicks off another academic year, the school district’s focus is on leveraging its recent technological advances to improve student achievement. Already known for its focus on excellence, the district has launched significant technology initiatives, including implementing a wireless network covering all of its buildings, rolling out a district-wide Bring Your Own Device program, and implementing a one- to-one iPad® initiative at its newest high school.
According to Walt McManus, programming and web development leader, the district’s technology efforts are focusing on putting in place a comprehensive technology strategy in support of student achievement. “We’re really empowering our end users to use technology, along with all of the flexibility it provides them, to re- create how they teach our students,” he says.
When SunGard K-12 Education announced it was seeking districts to participate in a Beta program for testing its eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile Application, McManus says his colleagues in the district were eager to volunteer. “People were hungry for the app,” he says. “I sent an email at 4:20 p.m. on Friday about the Beta program, not expecting any responses until the following Monday. And, I immediately got 20 emails from people asking me to sign them up.”
The eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App puts important student information at administrators’ fingertips via their iPhone®, iPad®, or iPod touch®; Android™ device; or Kindle Fire. The app’s intuitive touch interface connects administrators with student schedules, attendance, medical records, emergency contact information, and other essential data. It also facilitates anytime, anywhere access to the discipline referral process, as well as communications with district staff and student contacts.
An Evolution in Access
The ease of use of the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App, the district’s universal wireless access, and the Information Technology staff’s knowledge and understanding of the network all combined to help the district come quickly up to speed. “When we implemented our iPads®, we rolled out the mobile app. It was flawless,” says McManus. “Everything worked beautifully. People were able to start logging in and authenticating correctly.”
District administrators immediately found multiple opportunities for using the mobile app to make their work more efficient. “Previously with eSchoolPLUS, administrators were tied to their office. now because of the flexibility of the mobile app, they’re free to roam the halls,” says McManus. “And, because we gave every administrator an iPad®, it was like peanut butter and jelly … the two things went hand in hand.”
With the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App, the discipline referral process is available wherever administrators need it—in school hallways, classrooms, or the cafeteria.
“It’s convenient to be able to enter a discipline incident and immediately have it escalated. Then an alert can be posted on the eSchoolPLUS Home Access Center, informing parents of the incident,” says McManus. “In some cases, our parents know before the student knows that the parents know.” In addition, administrators can add documentation, such as photographs and notes, to the referral. The offline mode allows the information to be housed securely on the device until a connection is available.
Already the district is excited about the possibilities it sees for enhancements to school security.
“Today, mobile access is extremely important—that ability to catch students in the hall and look at their schedule
or scan their ID provides for increased security. In reality, you could end up saving lives just by having quick access to that information,” explains McManus. “Some of our Student Resources Officers, who support school security, work in multiple buildings. They’ve said that they now can have all of the student information on their device. And, the mobile app allows them to easily switch buildings while they’re en route so that everything is on their device when they arrive.”
Seemingly overnight, the mobile app has transformed the way Columbia Public Schools administrators do business. “The other day, one of my administrators said that he loves the mobile app, and it really has changed how he handles kids,” he says. “The eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App has really become a useful tool in our district.”
Partnering for Student Success
McManus is appreciative of how responsive SunGard K-12 Education was to the district’s suggestions during the Beta program.
“The support through that process was absolutely fabulous. It was my first experience in a Beta with SunGard K-12 Education. How I really sold it to the district … and the company did not disappoint us … was by telling them that they would have a voice,” says McManus. “The reaction time from SunGard was just so great. We were very impressed with the SunGard K-12 Education team.”
Looking forward, McManus believes technology will provide educators with the tools they need to transform education and achieve student success.
“When I think about how far we’ve come in the past 24 months, it’s amazing to think about what we can accomplish in the next 24 months. Today in our district, it’s a reality that you could have a student who takes all online courses and never sets foot in a classroom. Or a teacher could teach a course in Building A that is video- conferenced to Building B and Building C, where classrooms of students are participating without being bussed between buildings,” says McManus.
“Just what we’ll be able to do thanks to technology, like the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App, is mind-boggling.”