Like everything else in our world, the nation’s education system – from K-12 to higher ed. – is slowly but surely investing in technology that improves both students’ performance and the overall student experience.
For example, President Obama recently announced that two federal agencies and a group of private technology companies are making roughly $3 billion worth of commitments to bring better technology to American students.
The commitments come as part of the ConnectED initiative, announced last year, which aims to provide high-speed broadband Internet access to 99 percent of American students within the next five years.
The Federal Communications Commission is allocating $2 billion to go toward better broadband Internet access in 15,000 schools, while the Department of Agriculture is providing $10 million to rural schools for distance-learning grants. Companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Verizon are donating the hardware and wireless access students and teachers need.
But broadband access and hardware devices aren’t the only technologies beginning to transform the student experience. Other tools are available that improve communication between schools and students, decrease long waits at administrative offices and even bolster school safety.
Pagers Keep Students in Class
One such tool is the coaster pager. Most commonly used in restaurants, this type of pager can be used in a number of ways in a school setting. One of the most effective is to minimize the amount of missed class time while students wait in various administrative offices.
Instead of sitting in the office waiting to see the nurse or speak with a counselor, a student can simply sign in, receive a pager and head back to class until he or she can be seen. This is a much better alternative to the student skipping a class and struggling to catch up later, and it keeps the office and hallways from getting congested.
In higher education, pagers could have the added benefit of generating revenue for the bookstore or student union coffee shop. When they’re freed from waiting in queue at the registrar’s office, students can be shopping or enjoying a cup o’ Joe.
Wireless Paging Can Improve Off-Campus Communication
Another common frustration in schools that can be mitigated with technology is the need to communicate with hundreds or thousands of parents very quickly. One of the most common reasons for this is bad weather closings or early releases, although one also can imagine applications for public safety crises.
Schools don’t have the time or manpower to call each parent or student individually. Many public districts solve this problem by alerting local TV and radio stations, but this makes them dependent on a third-party outlet.
Instead, school administrators can put themselves in charge by investing in a wireless paging system that can instantly alert parents via SMS texting or email. A designated official would need only to enter contact information for each student into the system and he could reach every parent with the touch of a button.
This paging solution makes contacting parents faster and much more efficient, freeing up administrators to focus on more pressing matters. And, obviously, the solution works the same way in higher education when similar issues come into play.
Two-Way Radios Ramp Up Security
Efficient communication is just as important on campus during the school day. As schools continue to grow, (some high schools now top 5000 students) it’s more important that all school employees are connected throughout the day.
Instead of depending on an in-classroom phone, which is useless for teachers in hallways, cafeterias, bus stops or playgrounds, school districts are supplying their educators with portable two-way radios.
These tools can be used anywhere on campus, and their lightweight design allows teachers to clip the radio onto their clothes or a school-provided lanyard. They also have different frequencies, allowing administrators to allocate each frequency for a different use to avoid overcrowding the system.
It’s only a matter of time before every school has tech tools to improve safety and communication. Smart schools are staying a step ahead of the pack by investing in these education technology solutions today.
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Skip Cass is the chief executive officer at LRS and an expert in operational efficiency and creating a memorable guest experience.