School Jotter 3 Presentation

Category: eLearning

Published: July 11, 2022

Arthur Howie a solution architect at Webanywhere talks about the launch of School Jotter 3 and the history behind School Jotter’s development. School Jotter 3 is our 3rd generation platform for school communication and community management. You can manage your website and mobile apps with School Jotter 3. We have focused for a number of years on re-writing School Jotter from the ground up. Listening to our customers we have enhanced the user experience to make School Jotter faster and easier to use. School Jotter 3 has adopted some of the latest web technologies to ensure you are ahead of the curve.

Keeping it Mobile – Support

Published: June 10, 2016

Using tech compliments the way I work but I completely understand that it’s not for everyone. Different teachers have completely different (sometimes highly idiosyncratic) ways of keeping on top of things. From extremely tech-centric, to utilising a bit of tech, to forgoing any kind of technology whatsoever, there’s a whole spectrum out there. I tend not to make any kind of value-judgement on the way people work as I’ve seen the most connected teachers be completely useless and those who wouldn’t dream of picking up a mobile to help in their teaching absolutely storm it.

But then again, it’s always nice to have the choice. Whether tech savvy or tech-averse, being able to work in a way that means that you’re at your best is always going to be important. I use my phone to organise my workload, communicate with colleagues, streamline certain mind-numbing admin activities, so what can an institution do to try and smooth the way for someone like me? And they should because I rule.

Firstly, let’s talk a little bit about one of the essentials, one of the building blocks of effective tech use in school; internet access. Undoubtedly the provision of wifi in education establishments in reference to speed and reliability have improved exponentially in the time that I’ve been teaching. But even now, there are places where this central tenet is neglected. Spotty, unreliable or easily maxed-out provision can be a real headache and effectively means that anyone using mobile technology is scuppered before they start (unless they fancy maxing out their 4G allowance, which is always an option but seems a bit like having to buy your own whiteboard markers, exercise books and A4 paper – tools that should really be provided). Decent internet and wifi that reliably reaches every room in every building is pretty much an essential now (and not just for me as a teacher, but for the kids as well.)

The culture in a school and how it views a particular way of working is also something that can either facilitate or discourage being productive with mobile apps. There have been places that have viewed my use of a phone or tablet to sort myself out with something akin to deep suspicion. I can’t really blame them as it’s the same way that I view the kids with something akin to deep suspicion when they’re on theirs. But then again, I’m a professional, and an adult (I won’t go so far to push it and call myself ‘responsible’) and I think we’re now at a point that mobile device use, if not entirely ‘normalised’ in schools, is not as much as an anomaly as it once was. Being comfortable with staff using tech to help with their work, perhaps actively encouraging it (yet not enforcing. I’m still firm in the belief that a professional should be able to make a choice in how they work) can make life a little easier. Establishing an in-house forum where teachers can share some of the tools that they’re using and perhaps demonstrate the apps that are helping them conquer the day-to-day grind can also go some way to removing any possible stigma as teachers convince others that they’re not constantly on the Facebook or happily Snapchatting away as everyone else gets some proper work done.

Because proper work is proper work, no matter how you go about doing it. Recognising that it happens in different ways, and making efforts to try and enable it, whether it be using pen or paper or the shiniest new bit of kit, is key to helping teachers do the best that they can. An environment that identifies how to support teachers in the way that works for them is an environment that values professionals and the work that they do. That value then carries over to the kids as it’s often the case that what’s good for the teachers is also good for the students. Not everyone works in the same way, but by making it easier to work in the way that best suits your teachers, a school can help their workforce reach their potential.

Keeping It Mobile – Workflow

Published: June 2, 2016

Without putting too fine a point on it, I’m not the most organised individual in the world. My working life as a teacher is punctuated by panicked running to half-forgotten meetings, surprise that quickly morphs into heartbreak when the kids turn up to what I could have sworn was a free period and the less I say about my failure to get my bus duty day right the better.

It’s no excuse but I’ve got a lot on my mind (although if you saw me gormlessly wandering the corridors, it may seem like the exact opposite). There’s so much that goes on in school on a daily basis that, for me at least, things can get a little crowded, brain-wise. The sheer volume of tasks that need carrying out and the information that has to be retained means that even as something deceptively easy as prioritisation becomes a chore in itself as I struggle with a to-do list that rolls away into the middle distance and over the horizon.

For a poor unfortunate like me, mobile apps offer the prospect of straightening the looping, meandering tributary of my workflow into something that more closely resembles efficiency. This is no mean feat, considering. Mobile apps can save me effort, time, let me communicate with a wide range of people easily and make me look vaguely competent and less sweaty from all the last-second, panicked corridor dashing to that very important meeting that I’d completely forgotten about until I saw the whole team walking in the opposite direction from me.

The first advantage of using a phone to complete a range of tasks during the day is that it’s always with me. It gives me a central hub where formerly I might have folders, notepads or a pc roughly the size and shape of a back-to-back terrace anchoring me to a certain geographical location. Mobile apps let me be…well…mobile and for someone who doesn’t have their own room (like my good self – I’m assuming they think I can’t be trusted and they’re probably right) travelling light, or at least lighter, is a huge advantage. Of course, I still carry the essential things I need for the class (I dream of one day working in a paperless school and ditching my trusty folding trolley) but it does mean that there is less of a burden to bear.

It’s not just the limiting of physical weight that is an advantage of using mobile apps. They also offer the opportunity to shift and automate some of the more menial tasks that you come across freeing up a bit of cognitive space. Calendar reminders with notifications, to do lists with alarms and other streamlining features act as a digital tap on my shoulder, guiding me to where it is I’m actually supposed to be at any given moment during the day and make my life slightly easier when I get there. It frees me up to concentrate on some of the more in-depth tasks and lessens the ever-constant worry that I may have missed something important.

With the right systems, mobile apps can also make communication in a school or across schools easier. With the current trend in chains and mergers, with institutions over a number of sites with staff in great numbers, making sure you can get in touch with who you need to quickly and easily (especially as there’s no guarantee that they might be within grabbing and shaking distance) is becoming more important. Messaging and mailout services mean there’s easy ways of getting in touch with people, saving time, travel and effort.

Because that’s what me using apps is all about. It saves me an amount of effort in doing certain things and allows me to redirect those efforts into different parts of the job. It makes the way that I work easier and more efficient and also has the added bonus of making me feel a little bit more competent with some of the things that formerly would have left me in a spin. It’s not a spectacular game-changer but in my case, it’s a way of working that really does help me be a little bit better (although with a little less corridor running, I have put on a bit of weight).

In the next post I’ll talk about how school culture can encourage or hinder the use of mobile apps.