I once heard about an elderly lady fainting in the waiting room of her doctor’s surgery. Two people immediately sprang into action despite one being on crutches and the other wheezing heavily. Apparently, the only other individual present was someone on his mobile who was busy updating his online status: ‘Old codge just fainted in dox w8ing rm, lol x’
According to a study commissioned by Nokia most folks can’t leave their smart phones alone for more than six minutes. You’re lucky to find anyone in the street these days actually looking straight ahead (hence an increase in bollard injuries). And then there is apping. Apps for this; apps for that. We make no app-ology for liking them, though, because some can be extremely useful for official school business – for example, Groupcall Emerge, a very powerful and clever app that has been designed so that you can have upto- the minute school data in the palm of your hand whenever you need it.
First impressions are always important, and Emerge hits the spot. It is easy to navigate, with a clean and simple interface, uncluttered with too many design elements. Essentially, if I am considering any new resource then I ask myself three questions: 1) Do I need this? 2) Would I use this? 3) Would this resource improve my life in some small but useful way? If I get a ‘Yes’ to all three, I generally start twitching and shuffling about, and that’s what I’m doing right now.
I need Emerge because I have to take an attendance register. This app lets me do that for any SIMS group and includes classes, lessons, year groups, school trips or any personalised group. All I have to do is choose an appropriate attendance group. I can mark everyone in if that’s the case at the click of a button and those that aren’t are clicked in pink. I can basically take the register anywhere and at any time and data is written directly back to the school’s MIS. PE colleagues take note - this is registration on the go and changing-room friendly. Learning outside of the classroom can be maximised, and even if you are in school it means you don’t have to lug your laptop from gig to gig.
I also need Emerge because I want to be able to find pupils quickly and easily to get an overview of not just their attendance but their timetables, subjects, achievement data, medical and behavioural information, and parent/guardian contact details. Imagine how useful this would be for a fire drill or dread to think, the real thing. It’s a safeguarding angel. It comes with photographic and video capability so I can capture data and save it as evidence, especially behavioural situations and examples of good work; Parents’ Evening will never be the same again.
As for questions two and three, this is going to be something I use a lot and yes, it will certainly make life a whole lot easier in a ridiculously busy day, especially when bumping into ‘lost’ pupils and getting them to the right class. If I want to check what lessons my colleagues are doing and where on planet Earth they are then I can do that too. If you are a member of the senior leadership team, then you will be able to view all staff information and if you subscribe to Groupcall’s Messenger service, you will also be able to send SMS via your Emerge device. And if a member staff loses a device or has it nicked, not to worry, the management console includes a remote wipe feature.
Any reservations? Well, apps need to keep people happy so I’m looking for free updates - not just one or two but double-figures, and regular at that. I want the app to be able to adapt to my needs as a user. Schools are fast moving places and teachers are not short of ideas when it comes to improvements and how things can be changed. Will Groupcall Emerge be able to meet this demand? The latest updates suggest the team is more than on the case; but with the bar set so high, there’s no room for complacency.
According to industry experts, you can assess the success of an app by checking how frequently it’s used. Groupcall Emerge is something I would use daily – and you would too. Let’s be straight; this is a function over fun app and a serious time-saving business tool. It’s an eco-friendly, portable and secure option that runs on a range of devices from iPads, iPhones to Android phones and tablets, so give it a whirl and sign up for a free trial (N.B. if you are on Serco CMIS you can’t record behaviour events so double-check your MIS first).
Find out more at groupcall.com, where you can also sign up to attend one of Groupcall’s free events across the UK, watch ‘how to’ videos, and see which schools are already using the system.