McKinney ISD students, parents, and staff can now access a wealth of district and school information directly from their smart phones through a new app called misdGO. McKinney ISD began the development of the mobile application over six months ago, and paid for the app by reallocating funds that were traditionally used for publications and mailers.
“We wanted to take critical information from our website and student information system and provide it directly to our students and parents,” said Cody Cunningham, McKinney ISD Chief Communications Officer. “In many cases our parents and students access their phones far more than a desktop computer. Our goal was to go beyond providing convenient items like lunch menus and football scores, and provide students and parents with password protected access to valuable information like student grades, homework assignments, attendance information, and even lunch account balances.”
misdGO is believed to be one of the most comprehensive k-12 apps in the country. The app provides real-time news alerts and information, event calendars, menus, maps, access to library databases, a staff directory, jobs, fine arts information, scores, grades, progress reports, assignments and more. The district partnered with the mobile application developer WillowTree Apps, based in Charlotesville, Virginia. WillowTree clients include the University of Virginia, Shenandoah University, GreatSchools iPhone App, Crutchfield Electronics, Manta, BabyCenter, the Game Show Network and others.
“The initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” added Cunningham. “The vast majority of our parents have smart phones, and that number is increasing on a daily basis. In some cases, we have families with access to a smart phone but not necessarily a home computer. The affordability of the devices and plans is not only driving parents to purchase them, but we’re seeing an exponential increase in the numbers of students using smart phones. If we’re going to engage students and parents in the learning process, we need to be where they are rather than trying to force them somewhere else.”
The district paid for the development of the app by shifting funds traditionally used for print materials and publications. “We can spend between $15,000 and $20,000 on a single publication mailed to parents,” said Cunningham. “In many cases these are thrown away before they are even read, and they have a very short lifespan. We simply invested these funds into something that is much more dynamic and relevant for our stakeholders. The first year the costs will be a wash, but after that we expect the app to save the district between $20,000 and $30,000 in annual printing costs.”
The district still plans on printing a small number of district publications in both English and Spanish for parents without access to a computer or smart phone.
misdGO will be available for download on the Apple iPhone (iOS), Android, and Blackberry. The app is already available in the Apple App Store and the Android Market. The Blackberry version is expected to be available by the end of the month. All versions will be free to the public.
For more information visit: www.mckinneyisd.net/misdgo or view a video introduction of the app at http://blip.tv/met-media/misd-go-app-5463881. You can also visit the McKinney ISD Facebook page to view the video http://www.facebook.com/pages/McKinney-Independent-School-District/24996…