Written by education writer, Gerald Haigh

Taking a register with your mobile device is becoming routine. But what if you are beyond reach of the school’s broadband – at the far end of the playing field, or on a trip? That’s less straightforward – unless, that is, you’re one of the 25,000 teachers able to use Groupcall’s well known ‘Emerge’ mobile app.

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Already well established for IOS and Android, Emerge is now available as an app for Windows 8.1 devices, further extending Microsoft’s support for management and administration.

When my friends at Microsoft said I should take a look at this development, I didn’t need much encouragement. I’ve encountered ‘Groupcall’ numerous times since its beginnings in 2001 as a system for enabling quick emergency contact, by text or call, between schools and parents, particularly important if there’s doubt whether or a not a child is, or should be, in school.

Now, Groupcall has evolved and ‘Emerge’, together with its more recent self-explanatory extension ‘Emerge for Parents’, is part of a portfolio of products focussed on the home-school relationship.

I talked about these developments and particularly about the ‘Emerge’ app to Groupcall Sales and Marketing Director Stuart Abrahams, who pointed out that compared with the huge choice of curriculum-centred apps, there aren’t many designed to help with administration, and yet the speed and flexibility of a mobile app provides great support for a busy teacher. As Stuart says,

‘Schools tell us that it can take up to eight minutes to boot up a laptop to take an electronic register, whereas a mobile device can be ready in thirty-five seconds. If a teacher is taking a register five times a day, this really adds up to a significant time saving.’

So, adding a resource like ‘Emerge’ to a Windows device which already has enormous potential for supporting teachers with management and administration, makes a great deal of sense.

Now, Stuart tells me, he and the Groupcall team are keen to find a school that uses Windows 8.1 devices – ‘Surface’, for example, or similar ones such as Nokia’s 2520 – and are willing to use the ‘Emerge’ app for Windows over a period of time and provide feedback.

See the Groupcall website http://www.groupcall.com for more information on ‘Emerge’ and ‘Emerge for Parents’ – and other Groupcall products. In particular, this piece of video, linked from the Groupcall website is as clear an explanation of ‘Emerge’ as you can find.

It’s well known that Bob Geldof is a co-founder of Groupcall, and this video of Sir Bob at BETT early this year (2014) shows him expressing some great parent-centred ideas about parental engagement and technology.