Top 10 Coolest Reasons for an A+ Mobile Parent App


Parental involvement matters in education, and recent research confirms it. In a field study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, researchers found that parent-teacher-student communication increases homework completion by 42 percent and decreased teacher redirects by 25 percent.

Parent-teacher communication is clearly key to a student’s success and labs108 can help. This is one of those rare instances where there is a relatively simple answer to a complex problem. It’s not necessary for Mom and Dad to get overwhelmed with school activities or change their lifestyle dramatically. All they need to do is have a better idea about what’s going on with their kids education, even a few times a month. Improving the lines of communication between parents, their kids and their schools can have an enormous and long-lasting impact on the world.

The National Education Association states that, “State and district leaders should encourage schools to use technology in more creative ways,” in a new NEA’s policy brief. The NEA and parent-teacher groups around the country support the rise of mobile as an integral part of EdTech.

Mobile apps put the power of massive supercomputers into the palm of your hand, quite literally. Data centers running software on massively parallel processing servers can deliver innovation over the cloud and put it right on our phones. Instead of wasting all that computing power on games, why aren’t we devoting it to solving real world problems?

That’s exactly what we are doing at labs108. We are committed to improving K-12 education by stretching the potential of the latest technology. We organize our design and development around the principles of “Communication Increases Engagement,” and “Guided use of mobile devices increases Engagement, Focus, and Learning.”

Not only can our K-12 Mobile App, called Skool Commute, improve communication between parents, students, educators and administrators, it can establish a new environment for higher educational achievements. Here are 10 reasons why, listed in order of coolness.

10 Coolest Reasons for Skool Commute

Here’s our top 10 list of reasons why we think our app is the cutting edge of cool.

1. Parent-to-parent communication – Coordinating your kid’s activities with other parents is super important. The next time something unexpected happens, such as a delay on the bus route or a teacher in-service day or discussing curriculum or parenting topics, a quick chat with other parents could save you hours of anxiety and help build a better supportive atmosphere.

2. Location-assisted school pickups – In the news, kids and parents in Delaware schools are just the latest to suffer from buses that never arrived. If this happened in your neighborhood, you would need a way to communicate with everybody involved so that you or a neighbor could swing by to pick up the kids.

3. A personalized app for each school – With all the different ways to communicate, it’s too easy to miss messages between administrators and parents or kids and teachers. A vertical messaging platform, tailored to each school, keeps all critical communications on one open channel.

4. Field trip location tracking – Every kid’s dream and every parent’s nightmare is a field trip full of surprises. Depending on the destination and the level of supervision, there can be too many unknowns. With location aware App, lost or unaccounted-for children never have to be a problem.

5. Monitoring of student-to-student communications – October is National Bullying Prevention Month. We are doing our part to raise awareness of this serious issue. There are too many stories of bullying in-person or over social media and there is no reason for it.

6. Messaging role and privilege control – Who says class is canceled? Parents could be more involved and teachers could be better prepared if everyone was able communicate clearly and directly. Administrators should be able to talk to parents directly instead of sending a message home with the child. All of this depends, however, on system users being able to rely on the secure identity of every online party.

7. Central calendar for volunteer sign-ups – Many, if not most, school events need volunteers, either from students or parents. Too much time and other resources are wasted in creating a sign-up sheet and printed reminders. A central calendar specifies who is doing what when, with no more excuses.

8. Access to advanced technology – By the time the current generation grows up, there may be no more keyboards. Many students have no idea what ancient terms such as “cursive letters” or “DVD” refer to. Communication by mobile app should be considered part of their critical education for surviving in this new world.

9. Grades, attendance and assignment tracking – Parents have enough to keep track of between work, family responsibilities, sports and school events. They can’t be expected to keep detailed records of trends in grades over the years, current homework assignments and which days their kids missed class. There is no reason they should when it is all inside the app.

10. Connecting with your kids in a new way – Chat is way cool. So cool that chat apps are the fastest growing sector of the mobile web and worth over $48 billion so far. Go where your kids are and be cool with them. Learn to appreciate them on their own terms. Maybe their cool list will include “my parents” some day.

Get the App

Our Skool Commute Pilot App is available right now and there is no reason why schools can’t start using Skool Commute to foster educational achievement today. You and your kids may never completely agree about what is cool, but at least you can disagree over online chat while you stay up to date on all their assignments and schedules.


Communication at the Core of K-12 Education

It is crucial for school districts to create a distinct brand identity that will resonate throughout school districts. The K-12 education system has a number of entities that include the school staff, administrators, students and their families as well. Over the years, efforts in creating seamless communication between all entities within the school system have been lacking across the board. This has created an influx of systemic problems within the core. All constituents of the system also have a vested interest in the progression of technological innovation that is important. Without a cohesive system to enhance communication within entities, school districts continue to fall behind in creating innovative solutions to address growing communication gaps.

Although the focus on strengthening the efforts of communication are challenging yet being addressed from time to time, the lack of cohesiveness in the K-12 education setting is unsettling. School districts need to show a concerted effort in meeting the needs of all parties involved, while bridging other communication efforts across districts to make a significant difference.

labs108 is launching a product that will enhance the user experience while creating a centralized system for all involved entities to communicate and interact through mobile devices and a cloud based platform. The software design is user-friendly, engaging and is sensitive to the fact that each school district is unique thus the system should be able to scale to the needs of every school district to disseminate information in a timely and useful manner. Through detailed engineering and a push for innovation, school districts will now have the leverage to play a direct role in the achievement of their students.

The platform creates an opportunity for cross-communication where everyone will be on the same page. Having a system based on a mobile platform creates cohesiveness, parent engagement, user interaction, higher attendance as well as student enrollment, and new revenue streams. Studies have shown that consistent content and user engagement are a priority in communicating with students and parents. With a mobile platform, parents will be able to address questions directly to school district members, teachers and administrators without the lag in wait time for an official meeting. Being able to directly respond in real time is an asset that is much needed among schools.

The platform will also create communication at the core, engaging parents and teachers without interpretations from students. Parents will be able to solicit information that is accurate and reliable. Students will also be able to get information they need whether on or off campus which will help them in excelling in their studies. With the addition of mobile device technology to the classroom environment, using software to enhance this model is beneficial and creates a way for students to become competitive partners in a changing global educational environment.

The days of regular two-way communication are gone. Every facet of the educational system has changed, and school districts, school IT professionals and administrators must find a way to bridge the gap. Today’s environment deals with “right now” users, which must be integrated into the current communication model. A personalized platform will make tailored messages easier to receive and can be specifically designed for students, improve parent communication, notification dates of meetings and grade reports, alerts of system-wide changes and more.

Being aware of the growing changes in how students, parents, teachers and other constituents communicate is the first step in embracing the evolution of a new catalyst of change. By integrating this platform, parents will have a better sense of what is going on within the K-12 environment, will be more aware and receptive of the needs of the school district, and can assist teachers in keeping their students engaged. In addition, this will help students remain abreast in the fast changing and evolving technology advancements and help them excel. Although technology is at the forefront, the formula has not changed. Student success is dependent on communication at the core.

Beyond One size fits all – A need for Integrated Messaging platform for K-12 Education

Technology has made keeping in touch with children both easier and strangely difficult. Having more ways to talk to each other leaves more room for missed messages and increased confusion. This is especially true in K-12 education environments where students, parents, teachers, and the administration must be on the same page. With a multitude of messaging options, it has become far more difficult to maintain a straight line of communication.

The Rise of “Vertical Messaging”

Recent decades have seen the rise of standard one-dimensional messaging platforms using standard technologies, regardless of the context for its need. Today, our options include a variety of proprietary messaging systems, IMs, Email, SMS etc. As messaging has evolved, it has come to mean different things to different people. One thing is certain, however. The success of WhatsApp and Snapchat indicate the rising popularity of vertical messaging apps. It is clear that there are tremendous benefits for a K-12 education system that can leverage the new mobility by using its own messaging platform. This platform can connect all stakeholders involved, ensuring educational success of students and improving their overall emotional connect with learning.

A Tailored Messaging Platform for K-12

Labs108 is committed to improving K-12 education through our products. Our platform provides an engaged and effective means of keeping a clear communications channel for parents, students, educators and administrators to cooperate more effectively for improved educational achievement.

Skool Commute helps create a personalized, student-focused environment built on a foundation of mobile and cloud based solution. It is a cross-platform integrated messaging system with several innovative features such as:

  • role- and privilege-based messaging access
  • parent-to-parent communication
  • inappropriate content monitoring for student-to-student communications
  • real-time volunteer calendar and signup
  • field trip signup and location-tracking services

This vertical messaging app encourages educational advancement with improved overall engagement. Versions of the app are available on both iOS and Android.

The app also creates a simple and pleasant user experience. Not only can parents connect with educators regarding their children, but schools can also inform parents immediately when there is an emergency. Options allow messages to be sent selectively or broadcast to hundreds of recipients at once when necessary.

A Platform for K-12 Education with Communication at the Core

Skool Commute from labs108 represents a suite of secure and integrated applications that leverage the existing IT infrastructure of school districts while providing distinct branding for higher student engagement. The platform has adapters to connect with third party LMS, SIS, HAC, and CMS solutions to store and manage data from every stage of business, including system-integration services to accommodate the unique needs and interfaces of various school districts.

The LMS integration with the integrated messaging systems provides an easy dashboard for reporting to parents on what their children are learning. Parents will be aware of any homework the child receives and where their children may be having educational difficulties. This cuts down on confusion and allows parents to take a more active role in their child’s education, even when the parents hold down busy schedules.

There is no question that better educational performance can come from a closer cooperation between parents, teachers, and students. Certainly, with all the concerns for student safety in schools these days, a dedicated messaging system could speed up response time to emergencies and provide faster, more accurate access to information for parents.

Overall, the need for an integrated messaging system within local K-12 schools is critical. With the onset of smartphone applications and the availability of such a platform, the concept has moved from being far-fetched to becoming an attainable and desirable reality.

Android E-book Reader in K-12 Education

There has been a revolution in education led by schools that have embraced, rather than banned, new technology that is popular with the students. There has been a great deal of press about the “flipped classroom” and similar tech-based learning concepts. The idea is that it is a more efficient use of the teacher’s time to record a video or app that students watch at home, then answer questions and solve problems in the classroom. Essentially, the low-cost and reliability of Android-based e-book readers are turning lectures into homework and homework into schoolwork now.E-readers like the Kindle, iPad or Nook are better suited for schools as effective learning tools than text books because they can change, grow and adapt to the needs of particular classes or even individual students. A well-designed suite of mobile apps can build an early ease and natural interaction with computing devices. E-book readers offer practical ways to enhance learning, student and teacher productivity besides bring down the rising costs of school materials for administrators.
The costs that are reduced include the purchase of paper, the cost associated with cleaning up and recycling paper, lost and broken pencils or pens, erasers, markers, and other display materials such as felt or white board accessories. The savings far offset the cost of providing e-readers and the necessary ebooks or apps. Changes in curriculum and testing standards can be implemented instantly with a new app download from the app store instead of the vast administrative burden of changing text book providers.
Although the next generation of school children prefer the user experience of apps and mobile e-readers, parents tend to think of e-readers as expensive. Educators have found that the average cost of an e-reader is 50 percent of that of all the textbooks that it can contain. As a matter of fact, e-readers running cloud-based software effectively pays for themselves in the first school year that they are used. Lesser known and less expensive e-readers like Ectaco and Kobo earn back their investments even more rapidly.
There is no more time to waste when the need so clearly exists for a suite of mobile apps on an Android e-book reader that can perform essential education functions. These apps could provide a framework for enhanced learning for gifted children, monitor progress with benchmarks that both schools and parents can agree on, generate instant reporting data that can be presented visually and generally improve both collaboration and communication between homes and schools.
Along the way, these apps will also encourage more healthy interactions between all the stakeholders, including between students. The time has come to help children prepare for the next great leap in knowledge by teaching them mobile computing skills early and letting them experience classic education in a new way.
Education means preparing for the future. For children to succeed in this new world, they need to be prepared for a future where communication operates at light speed and technology offers original solutions to seemingly intractable problems of the past.

A Wolf Shall Devour the Sun: Are Traditional Design Firms Losing It?


Labs108 Design Code Mobile Software

Norse mythology (1909)

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

A few months ago, modern day Vikings celebrated Ragnarok, the end of the world for the old gods. Ancient Nordic mythology says that after the great horn blew and the wolf devoured the sun, it was pretty much curtains for Thor, Loki and the whole crew up in Asgard. The legends say that no matter how many people they have in Asgard, it will feel like too few when the wolf comes. The end of the world is still a good ways off for the rest of us but the Ragnarok of traditional design firms is at hand.

Design + Tech

Although the convergence of design and Internet technology is a moot point, many design firms still refuse to recognize this global shift in productive innovation. They continue to act as though design and software engineering represent separate fields, each with their own market leaders. This is critical error and it will truly transform the landscape of the design industry because the wolf is getting hungry. Old world design firms are about to discover that their days in the sun are numbered if they can’t adapt to customer expectations in the new world driven by consumers.

Crafting the User Experience

There are now a burgeoning number of new firms that specialize in the integrated design and engineering of high tech projects that can create a great overall user experience. Clients are flocking to these firms because they can design, build and deliver well-designed and well-built software projects from concept to reality. Over the past four to five years, many of these all-in-one production firms have grown equal in size to the traditional design firms of two decades. These new firms are growing much faster than their design-only competition. They are stealing talent, business and, most importantly, market share.

Deceptive Industry Growth

There are a few reasons why the older design firms are not yet feeling the approaching eternal winter. Partly it is due to the fact that they just can’t believe that they are fast becoming obsolete and partly because the industry itself is growing so fast that there are still plenty of clients to go around. Industry growth can’t absorb the impact for long, though. The great horn has already been blown. The new firms incorporating design and software engineering are going to eat their competition’s client base for breakfast, sunny side up. The old world design firms don’t have much time left to either acquire new capabilities or resign themselves to irrelevance. After all, even the gods have to face their twilight someday.

From Prototypes to App Store

Honestly, there is still time to stop the wolf from devouring anyone’s sun, we intend to create a close creative and technology partnership to tide the imminent industry shakeout. In order to stay relevant in the market and protect their market share, design firms will need a way to build out high quality mobile technology from prototype to app store placement. We specialize in mobile application development have proprietary framework for Hybrid Apps and are passionate about solving difficult problems for our customer. Firms can feel free to concentrate on the design while we create new and emerging innovations, technologies and products faster and with highest quality. The world wasn’t built in a day, but thanks to Ragnarok, it’s going to end that way for too many firms that can’t or won’t adapt to the new world.

​The labs108 Philosophy


What we live by…


labs: The lab is where the future happens first. Working with our forward-thinking customers, we create new and emerging innovations, technologies and products. We dream it together, we prototype it faster, design it creatively and understand its engineering thoroughly. From mobile to the cloud to the Internet of Things, our lab is prepped and ready to start building the improbable.

108 (One-Zero-Infinity):

One – We have a singular focus on our customer. We know how innovation works and any of our customers could be the next Facebook or Apple or SpaceX. Every new mobile product, every piece of enterprise software, every new download in the App Store has the potential to change the world. We want to be there when it does.

Zero – We are minimalists in terms of both design and engineering. Nothing should stand between the customer and what they want to achieve. The best design makes itself invisible, guiding the user experience intuitively.

Infinity – In the ancient world, seven signified the unchanging cosmos. Eight went beyond that to encompass the eternal return and perpetual rebirth. The symbols for eight and infinity ( 8 and ∞ ) share with their 3D counterpart, the Möbius band, the distinction of visually suggesting both eternity and movement. From sketch to prototype, we cycle back through the original concept in unique and creative ways. We iterate improvement and stay disruptive for a more powerful approach to innovation.


Who We Are…

labs108 is a boutique consulting firm that puts all of our future-forward design and engineering technology to work for our clients. We can help you discover new revenue opportunities, gain a foothold into original or underserved markets and present you with compelling avenues for engaging your users. We design, code, prototype, and build products and services with an emphasis on the highest quality, the most creative functionality, and the most captivating user experience. What kind of world do you want to build today?