school communications

Text, tweet, email, call—what do parents want in school communications?

What does the research say about how parents and school communicate? Is there an overall preference?

Ideally: How Parents Would like to Receive Information

For communications about individual children, parents favored email, with text messages second. Evans noted that the high texting preference did not change based on demographics like community type, poverty level, or education level, and that 95 percent of the parents surveyed said they had some kind of smartphone. That did not change based on the above mentioned demographics either.

“Parents being interested in text messaging is really about having that access to the devices and having the experience with text messaging in their own personal life as well,” she said. Tech-savvy parents also favored digital communications by almost 2:1 compared to parents with beginner tech skills.

Social Media: Worth it?

Although 69 percent of parents surveyed said they always or often use Facebook (only 12 percent said they never do), this doesn’t mean they believe it’s an effective communications tool. Only 16 percent of parents said Facebook is an effective tool for conveying information about the school or district, while 39 percent of principals and 78 percent of district communication officers said Facebook is effective.

Communications officials should keep in mind their messaging on social media platforms may not be reaching all the audiences they’re interested in; in the survey, mothers were more likely to use Facebook than fathers, while fathers were more likely to use YouTube or Twitter than mothers.

Evans noted that since there is a wide age range and level of experience with social media among parents, one size does not fit all as schools and districts look at different methodologies for communication.

However, there are a few important points to keep in mind: Parents are busy people who need convenient ways to be notified of things. They want information pushed to them, rather than having to search for it, and for it to be timely and current. Last, since they are so busy, they want to receive high priority information such as important information about their child, upcoming events or activities, and news.

About the Presenter

Dr. Julie Evans is the CEO of Project Tomorrow, an internationally recognized education nonprofit organization. Dr. Evans is the chief researcher on Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Research Project, which annually collects and reports on the authentic views of 500,000 K-12 students, parents and educators on education issues. In addition, she leads several other research efforts on the impact of mobile devices, digital content and blended learning models in both K-12 and higher education.

Dr. Evans is a graduate of Brown University and earned her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of California, San Diego. She serves on several boards and advisory councils and is a frequent speaker and writer on K-12 and higher education issues around digital learning. In November 2015, Dr. Evans was named one of the Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers nationwide by the Center for Digital Education.

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This broadcast was hosted by and sponsored by Blackboard.

The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

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Meris Stansbury

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