FCPS unveils new app to community

Targeting students who increasingly connect with friends, teachers and resources through their phones and computers, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) unveiled an app last month for cell phones and tablets.  This app was created for easy use of everything on the FCPS website. Having apps like this is just the start of a broader embrace of instructional technology taking hold county-wide.

The app is an alternative way to go on the website on a tablet or cell phone. Lunch menus, sports scores, superintendent or school board information, and county contacts can be found on the app. Students can follow their school to get calendar events and news updates. So far, there have been no reported glitches such as crashing or freezing.

“The app is really good for news as far as getting alerts and finding out what is going on at your school,” said School Based Technology Specialist Barbara Brand. “It is gotten excellent reviews from parents and students and I think it is been a very positive addition to our communication tools.”

The app can be downloaded on almost every smartphone. It can be found on the app store for Apple products and Google play for Androids. It works best on the newer models of smart phones since it is a newer app.

There are two features that cannot be found on the FCPS website, but they can be located on the app. Students and parents can add money to lunch accounts using “My Lunch Money” on the app instead of having to go online to the My Lunch Money website. This makes this process much easier because it can be done anywhere at any time.

Another feature on the app is that several of the schools have their own calendars and updates. School calendars, events and news can be synced with the general news and events going on at that particular school. Some schools have added calendar events, news and Twitter feeds as options, but currently our school only has Twitter feeds as an option.

“We will see more and more features getting added on to the app,” said Brand. “Luckily, I do not see any real glitches in the way that it is functioning.”

The FCPS Twitter and Facebook pages can be accessed through the app. Having these present can make finding news updates easier because both forms of social media are accessible through one app.

“I think the new FCPS app is extremely helpful and a really nice tool for students and parents,” said senior Caroline Snare. “It is so much easier to get a hold of information this way.”

Superintendent Karen Garza discussed the 21st century learning concept as one of her broader long-term goals. The 21st century learning concept is based in part on having students and teachers use technology more in the classroom, eventually helping students become more globally competitive. This app is one of the first steps into integrating the county, parents, and students into this new concept.