Thursday, July 18, 2013

Keeping Parents In the Loop in 4 Easy Steps

I use an app called Remind101 as a way of keeping my parents and/or students informed of our classroom events and activities. You may enjoy this workflow I've created. I use it with only an iPhone to send my parents quick reminders, updates, or messages on their cell phones or computers as email. It's also possible to send them a picture of your class at work on a special project. This helps keep your parents in the classroom loop with very little work on your part, and it requires only a few seconds for your parents, too. Imagine sending a note like this: 
"Our class is hard at work on Back in the Day research. Remember to help your child find 3 sources tonight!"  (add link to picture here)
This is my 4-step workflow for sending notifications, news, reminders, and even pictures to parents via my iPhone and/or laptop. This works on any Mac or Windows computer:

Step 1: I had a single-sided paper-based document I wanted to share with my parents. It was already typed up and printed out. So, I snapped a picture on my iPhone. Using Apple's iPhoto app, I chose the photo, then "Share", then "Open In..." and Dropbox. This assumes you've already installed the iPhoto, Dropbox and Remind101 apps on your iPhone.

Please note that you cannot get your photo directly into Dropbox from Apple's Photos app because it doesn't offer an "Open In..." button. 

Step 2: In Dropbox I created a Remind101 folder for the picture files I wanted to share. I save the picture file in that folder. 

Step 3: When I use my computer I navigate to the folder inside my Dropbox folder, right-click the file, and choose "get link". On the iPhone's Dropbox app I also navigate to the Remind101 folder, find and tap on the picture file, choose the "Share" button; then, choose "Copy Link to Clipboard".

Step 4: Moving to the Remind 101 app I compose a new message to parents, either on my laptop or iPhone. I've already created an account and given parents an opportunity to opt in to email or text notifications from me. Then, I paste the Dropbox link, copied earlier, into the message. Finally, I send the message to my subscribed parents. It shows up as a text on their phone or as an email, or both. It's their choice. They can click on the link and the photo/document pops up for them to view and/or download to their device.

The total time required to do this on an iPhone or computer is about 2 minutes. It's quick and easy, using 3 tools I use often throughout my week: the iPhone (or laptop), Dropbox and Remind101. Check out these apps and see what you think!

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