Magicbooking: Communication & Parental Engagement
The author of this guest blog is Stuart Abrahams:
Having spent years working in the Education Technology sector, with a focus on parental engagement, I thought I’d write a blog to point out some of the obvious pitfalls schools and clubs often fall into when considering or reviewing their communications technologies.
Firstly, you have to make communication and engagement as clear and straightforward for your parents, after all they are the ‘customer’.
I have noticed that it is not unusual for a school to have multiple systems and platforms of communication. I’ve seen examples of one school using facebook, whatsapp & instagram groups, all posting the same or similar messages. It’s even worse when they all post differing things as parents often get confused by the mixed messages and don’t know which app to open.
As well as the different communication platforms, there are those systems built specifically for schools that also include parental engagement tools. Examples are attendance, library, school dinners, parents evening booking systems, afterschool clubs and separate payment systems.
Of course, let’s not forget traditional email. It’s amazing how many organisations still rely on paper and ‘pupil post’.
If all these differing systems aren’t enough, imagine you have a family with 2 or more children attending different schools and clubs, and they all use differing systems. A few years ago, I carried out some research that showed the average parent with a child at school had 5 differing systems to monitor. If that family had 2 children at the same or different schools meant this number could double. Parents very quickly lose patience and end up ignoring most messages and becoming disengaged.
Push & Pull Technologies
This research also focused on the type and importance of messages as well as the effectiveness of push & pull technologies.
The term push and pull technologies refers to how a message is sent. If a parent has to open an app to retrieve or view a message, they are considered to be pulling it. If it is delivered directly to your parent, then it’s being pushed. Important messages should be pushed, whilst less important, less urgent messages can be pulled.
Text (SMS) is the most effective, and quickest ‘push’ technology, often being delivered and visible in a few seconds. Text can be two way, and auditable.
Finally, the really boring area of data integration and GDPR need to be considered.
You’ll have heard the expression ‘The single moment of truth’. This should also apply to your data. Wherever it’s a fully-fledged Management Information System (MIS) or a spreadsheet, this must be the go-to place that contains accurate information.
Some providers will link their systems to yours, so you only have just one to keep up to date.
People make mistakes, so the thing to avoid is entering the same data many times. This is also one of the most regular GDPR breaches. You get one digit wrong when entering a phone number and a random stranger starts to get messages about a child, that could contain sensitive and confidential information.
When researching for new systems, I suggest you ask these basic questions:
- Can the system be used for more than one unique function?
- Is it specifically written for education / clubs / wraparound care?
- Does it integrate with???
- Is it GDPR compliant?
- Will I get full training and support?
- Can it cope with multiple children?
- If you’re a group of schools / centres, can I merge messages?
- Does it have multiple communications systems (push & pull)?
- Is it an on-line, multi platform systems and easy/logical for parents to use?