Broward Schools SmartPhone App: Most Of What We Want, Some Of We Need

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) launched a new app last year. I downloaded it immediately. School information in the palm of my hand? Yes please!

Knowing how my kids did and how schools are doing is important to me… and to all parents. And though no one source can really paint the full educational picture, this app is a powerful tool that can really bridge the gap between parents and school information. And, now that school grades are out and kids’ test scores are in, I decided to revisit the app for any help with deciding next steps in our learning journey.

The BCPS app kept me up-to-date all year with the latest announcements through dings and alerts. But, outside of that I really haven’t engaged with it because I found it a bit clunky (early adopter issues). It kept connecting me back to the main website as opposed to functions adapted for a smart-phone. So I signed off…in my brain, not off the app. Hopefully all that has improved by now.

I’m looking for anything about my child and their school’s performance compared to others. Let’s take the app for a spin and see what this badboy can do!

Launching App

This app is powered by Blackboard, which excites me immediately because I am familiar with it as a college/university tool. Is this the start of bigger things to come for college type access to information and resources? I hope so.

The home screen is very intuitive as it’s set up like a smartphone screen. There are 3 swipe-right pages of apps/links to useful information like calendars, payments, sports, contact directory and links to BCPS’ Twitter and FB pages which do not require passwords to access. Very cool!

Unfortunately, each app/link opens a new browser page connect to the main BPCS site. That means there is no “back” button to keep moving around in the app. I have to close the browser window, then go reopen the app. Clunky.

I see no immediate app/link to anything like “school information.” After poking around a little, and closing many browser windows, I tried the “Resource” button, which links to “Parent Resources.”

Aha, paydirt! I find “What Every Family Needs To Know” and there is a neat drop-down icon menu of stuff like:

  • Anonymous Tips (that’s interesting…oh, it’s making secret complaints. Close browser, back into app)
  • Attendance Policy
  • Chronic Health Conditions
  • Discipline Matrix
  • Financial Aid (FASFA)… again, excited to see that,
  • Florida Standards
  • Etc.

But, nope, not what this parent needs to know today.

Let’s try under “Academics.” Nope, that’s just ESE, High School graduation and Literacy Guide Info. (I’m actually really happy to find that. It has a great list of recommended books by grade and reading level.)

Without comparative school information right up front it’s apparent this app is not for parents considering Broward County Schools; you guys can hopefully find what you need on the website. It’s more a parent resource for current students and parents. So, time to login.

Account Set Up FUN (not really…)

I need an account. There’s a handy-dandy instruction guide to register under the homepage “Help” button. But, oh how painful!

It’s the usual process of setting up any account really. It asks all the right questions and required my kids’ 10-digit student ID# (which luckily I keep handy). But, warning, the whole registration process is not at all built for an app. This is best done on a computer screen.

Let’s just say after lots of expanding screens, rotating my device, reducing the screen to submit, waiting to load, pics cutting off words, blah blah blah, I’m registered. And, I registered both kids at once. Phew! Email confirmation has been SENT to my inbox. YEAH!

Access email inbox. Email says “you are in, lady” (not in those exact words, but you get my drift). But…I have to wait for Blackboard to activate my account and send me another email, which will give me a temporary password.

Oh well…

Creating this app was a smart move by BCPS. The fact that they found it a priority tells me BCPS understands that traditional public education is now a part of a consumer marketplace. Parents have choices and BCPS is a real quality option for many, but not the monopoly.

I LOVE doing everyday school stuff from the ease of my smartphone now. But, BCPS is missing a great opportunity through this app to tell parents (whether they are currently enrolled, but especially if they are not) why, and which, district public schools could be the right choice for them. Worthwhile comparison information should be right up front and important links should be built for mobile devices.

And unfortunately, after 4 days of waiting, still no activation email. We gotta step up our game here BCPS. Hope I remember to try again next week.

Download your BCPS App here.

What do you think?


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