Swipe into the future: NEISD app plugs parents into classroom

SAN ANTONIO -- Long gone are the days when teachers used to pin notes to their student's shirts to take home. Parents in the North East Independent School District now get messages in the form of a high-pitched ding and a notification that you can swipe to open.

NEISD announced the launch of its new smartphone app on Thursday; it aims to establish a seamless connection between teachers, students, parents and district resources.

Those who download the app have access to the most recent district headlines, including upcoming events and sports scores. Parents enjoy a more robust experience. They gain unprecedented access to their child's grades, classroom assignments, attendance record and even cafeteria balance.

For those who don't have the ability to download the application, the district has made the same resources available on another screen.

"All of the information is already out there for parents on our website," said district spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor. "All of our teachers are already accustomed to entering in this information. It's just another format that we are offering for mobile devices."

The mobile app is mainly a convenience factor for those who are technologically inclined. But NEISD officials are touting a different feature. They believe the built-in anonymous Tip Line will revolutionize the district's Bully Awareness program.

In just a few simple taps, students can use the Tip Line to report their concerns in the form of a text message. The tip tool features a camera option that enables users to upload or take photos with their smartphone. The media is then attached to the tip and is sent off to the proper authorities.

"Anyone can report stuff they have overheard, suspicious activity, graffiti -- it all goes straight to the NEISD dispatch line," explained Chancellor. "We already have the Parent Leap system that lets us communicate with parents through automated phone calls. This app was developed through the same association."

"The NEISD Tip Line will provide a safe way for students to alert district authorities about information that may be useful in preventing school attacks, bullying, and suicidal behaviors," public relations specialist Daniel Segura wrote in a press release.

Chancellor said the idea for an app was birthed by shifting trends in communication. NEISD's newest tool may not directly propel student achievement in the classroom, but Chancellor believes it's the obvious next step towards a connected learning environment.

"We just know mobile apps are how people get information. They want things in a timely fashion," said Chancellor. "We've been working on it for a while and we're now able to give our community access to information that way. It's the way of the future."

The NEISD app is available for both Apple and Android users in their respective app stores. Just search for "North East ISD" and download the app.

Both the Northside and San Antonio Independent School districts have a mobile app available for download; however, they do not enable parents to monitor their child's attendance, assignments or grades. Neither provides an anonymous tip feature.

North East ISD is the second largest public school district in the San Antonio area, just behind NISD, and is the eighth largest in the state.

Email adelgado@kens5.com

Twitter: @ErandeTX


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