Tag Archives: apps

Parents and schools connect

Developed by MGM Wireless Limited in Adelaide, South Australia, School Star is a secure mobile phone app that keeps parents in the loop about attendance, functions and other school news.

MGM Wireless invented the world’s first SMS based automated communication solution for schools in 2002.

Almost 1300 schools from around Australia use MGM’s communications system and half of them will be active users of the new School Star app within the next six months.

MGM Wireless CEO Mark Fortunatow said the company plans to take the app internationally after its success in Australia.

“We are formulating plans and strategies and hope to move in to the United States and Canada by the end of the calendar year,” he says.

“We also have partners and people in Shenzhen and Singapore that we have been working with for some time and have a network in place there already.”

School Star has a Facebook-styled news feed that can be regularly updated and is the only school app that allows direct two-way messaging between parents and schools with an SMS failover.

“Parents need a feedback loop. School Star does that and a number of other things that no other school app does,” Fortunatow says.

“Communication through other school apps gets to about 40% of the intended recipients at best.

“School Star will automatically send messages and content by SMS instead if parents run out of mobile data or don’t have access to Wi-Fi – so schools will reach almost 100% of parents.

“It is also unique because it promises a secure environment where only approved users can access school information.”

Schools install MGM’s content management system and enter in relevant news and information for parents.

Parents and students then register themselves using a secure two-factor verification process and once complete will allow users access to school information.

Only registered users from the current school database can use the school specific School Star app. It also allows the schools to ‘lock out’ unwanted users.

MGM ensures that sensitive information like names, photographs, dates, and places are kept secure at all times.

“Schools are loving School Star – they can publish news and send messages with a smooth interface and easy integration path,” Fortunatow says.

“News articles are easy to create, and parents love keeping in touch with what’s going on at the school.”

“School Star includes an engagement dashboard with state-of-the-art analytics so schools know which content is working best.”

School Star is available to download for free in the App Store and Google Play in Australia and will be available in the United States and Canada later this year.

– Caleb Radford

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia on 27th April 2016. Read the original article here.

Apps for youth mental health

Last month, the Young & Well Cooperative Research Centre (Young & Well CRC) launched Goalzie, a smartphone app designed to promote positive social networking for young people aged 12–17. The game-based app gets young people to set challenges for each other and help their friends achieve the set challenges. Consequences for not achieving these goals include things like washing the family car.

“Young people are far more likely to seek help if they feel supported by their peers and are in an environment which makes help-seeking normal,” says CEO of Young & Well CRC, Associate Professor Jane Burns.

Mental health disorders haven risen dramatically for this age group in the last 16 years, with a recent report showing a jump from 2.9% to 5.0% in major depressive disorders among 12–17-year-olds.

Tim Sloane, a teacher at a secondary school in Sydney, says that during his six years as a student year advisor dealing with student welfare issues, he encountered cases of anxiety, depression, bullying and low self-esteem.

At his school there are different strategies in place to support student mental health and wellbeing, including mentoring programs.

Sloane says the use of online youth mental health tools would be an effective way to help young people take control of their own mental wellbeing, particularly with issues they may find difficult to discuss.

School authorities are legally required to report any cases involving child or drug abuse to police and government authorities. While this mandatory reporting is intended to protect students, Sloane says it may create a hurdle to getting help, and online technologies can be beneficial to starting a dialogue.

National surveys conducted by Young & Well CRC with Beyond Blue, and by Mission Australia found that young people turn to technologies for answers or solutions, ahead of general practitioners, psychologists, teachers or chaplains, adds Burns.

“We think about online tools as support systems for early intervention for preventing mental illness,” says Burns.

Youth mental health online

The Young & Well CRC has launched a number of online campaigns and apps, addressing issues, from cyberbullying to healthy habits and managing day-to-day stress.

Apps for youth mental health
Goalzie smartphone app developed by Young & Well CRC

Created by PhD candidate Sally Bradford in collaboration with the Young & Well CRC, myAssessment is an app aimed at helping young people assess their own mental health, to reduce obstacles in getting appropriate treatment. Trials of this app at headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation, showed the app increased the rate of disclosure of sensitive issues to clinicians by up to 10 times.

Together with online youth help service ReachOut, the Young & Well CRC also launched the app NextStep earlier last month, which aims to connect young people with the right mental health support for their situation.

“We see technologies as part of a holistic support system of care, and we think that professions have been far too slow in recognising that this is an incredibly important resource and tool available to them,” says Burns.

Sue Min Liu