by Mitch Lehman
Perhaps the example Stephen Choi selected to illustrate a new feature that will soon be offered by the San Marino Unified School District provides the best starting point.
“I think back to 2011, when we had the very strong windstorm,” Choi, the SMUSD’s chief technology officer explained. “We had to paste up notes on the front doors of the campuses that morning to inform our families that school was canceled that day. This way, we can communicate with them in a much more efficient and timely fashion.”
“This way” is a new set of mobile applications, or apps, that will soon be available to students, parents and guardians alike which will allow for almost instantaneous communication.
The apps will be available for each of the four school sites with another dedicated to district business. Choi said the technology will be available in the next eight weeks or thereabouts.
“I want to see that it is all tested and working properly,” said Choi, before announcing a dedicated release date.
Choi said that the change in technology reflects a change in the way most people are doing business – or pleasure.
“People used to look at the yellow pages or go to a computer for most of their information, but we now know that they are becoming increasingly more dependent on their cellular devices,” said Choi. “Most people probably use their cell phones more than their home computers. This will make it much easier for them to collect information on a device that is much more accessible.”
Calendar events, teacher contact information…maps. Everything.
“We want our families to have quick access to calendars,” said Choi. “We want families to know at a glance what is happening at each of the sites.”
He also praised the safety advantages of the system.
“As we move forward in a world that can bring danger to school campuses, we will be able to provide timely notifications of safety issues and shutdowns,” Choi said. “In the past, we have lacked an effective manner in which to communicate these issues. But it’s much more than that. It can also be used to highlight a special event or communicate a time change.
“We want to showcase all of the great things that are happening on our school campuses,” said Choi. “Be it using photographs or video or other media, we have a story to tell here in San Marino and we want to do it in the most efficient manner possible.”