Like almost any educational institution, Stirling Primary School in East London, South Africa faces common challenges in accessing technology. Unfortunately, there aren’t a multitude of effective yet affordable technological tools available to organizations with limited budgets and resources. But as Stirling’s website declares, “the school is blessed with a highly motivated, caring team of teachers who go beyond the call of duty to provide the optimum levels of learning.” So when Grade 7 teacher Wesley Renton saw an opportunity to innovate upon some outdated processes, he jumped at the chance.
Each day, teachers are responsible for taking attendance in all of their classes. Indeed, regular attendance is one of the most important factors in a child’s academic success, so it’s important that careful records are taken to ensure students are meeting their goals-- especially in primary school. In the past, teachers were printing many sheets of paper with students’ names, recording class attendance by hand, and then sending those papers to the school secretary via student delivery.
Not only was the process wasteful due to the multitude of papers the teachers were printing each day, but it also took valuable time away that could otherwise be spent teaching and learning.
As Wesley says, “It was a waste of paper and had the pupils in and out of the classroom.”
He also saw a need for a streamlined system that enabled teachers to contact parents during field trips and external sporting events should there be an emergency. During these outings it’s impossible to haul around papers or address books containing parent information for each student. Wesley wanted to find a way to automate the contact registry and have the ability to share it with the rest of the school staff.
Today, Wesley and his colleagues are using educational mobile apps he built with AppSheet to take attendance records and store important parent contact information.
His attendance app allows teachers to quickly record who’s present and who’s not, as well as instantly share that data with the school administration department. The app also cuts down drastically on costs and significantly reduces paper waste, helping the school to become even more environmentally conscious.
Wesley remarks, “The school has definitely saved money with the use of the app. We’re are also not throwing paper away anymore and have therefore reduced our [carbon] footprint.”
The contact database app helps teachers and administrators easily locate parent information in the event of emergencies. If a student needs to go home for any reason, the app allows teachers to quickly locate her parents and contact them straight from the app.*
“The parent information app has allowed teachers to not have to manually search for the parent details at the school office/back in the classroom should they need to urgently get hold of parents. Any teacher is now able to have access to parent details instantly. This obviously saves time,” he says.