School Communications Go Mobile

By Nora Carr

It’s time to go mobile. When it comes to Internet access, smartphones and mobile devices now outpace traditional PCs by a five-to-one margin.

Today’s on-the-go consumers -- including parents, Realtors, employees, and community leaders -- use the mobile web daily and 25 percent are mobile only, according to the Pew Research Center. For African-American and Latino parents, that percentage jumps to 38 percent.

Downloadable applications (“apps”) that act as mobile launching pads to traditional websites simply aren’t sufficient. Watered-down versions of traditional websites also fall flat.

Used to customized approaches designed specifically for smaller smartphone screens, mobile users have little patience for long download times, difficult navigation, hard-to-read text, and oversized photos and graphics. Cost also is a factor as smartphone purchases outpace tablet and laptop sales. In 2011, Nielsen reported that 49 percent of all mobile phone users had purchased a smartphone.

“Parents may not be able to afford a desktop computer and broadband every month, but they can afford a smartphone,” says Roseann St. Aubin, communications director of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). “The cost of mobile devices per month is significantly lower than the cost of a computer, Internet access, plus a phone.”

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