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

When it comes to school communications, parents today want more information from their children’s teachers and schools, but they also want that information to be timely, targeted, and personalized to their children or their interest areas.

The latest data from Speak Up Research Project gives insights on school-to-home communications. In “Text, Twitter, Email, Call—What Do Parents Say About School Communications?” Dr. Julie Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow, shared these insights from parents, educators, and administrators, and discussed takeaways from the research.

Currently: How Most Parents Receive Information…Read More

6 ways texting can improve school communications

SMS texting is the most cost-effective and convenient technology to use in strengthening ties with parents, the author argues

textingA written note home can get lost, “eaten by the dog,” or sit on the kitchen counter to be used as a coaster for weeks on end. eMails get sent to spam, accidentally deleted, or aren’t read in a timely manner. And, honestly, how often do people pick up the phone anymore?

Students touch their cell phones 43 times a day and send about 60 texts, showing that mobile technology is the best way to reach them. And with 91 percent of adults owning cell phones, texting is actually the most efficient means of communication with parents, too—especially for schools.

Here are six ways that SMS texting can help improve your school’s communication with both parents and students.…Read More

TCEA 2013: School network and communication systems

Skyward has introduced a free tool called SkyCoder, giving customers more control over their data management.

An Australian maker of web security software is making a big push into the U.S. education market by offering 10 school districts free one-year licenses of its product.

A Texas firm that designs and hosts school websites discussed how its services—which are 93-percent eRate eligible—are saving school administrators time and money, while improving school communications.

These were some of the many school network and communications systems on display at the 2013 Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference.…Read More

Smart phones require smart communication strategies

When parents perceive a communication void, they will work to fill it, by creating their own mobile apps or alternative social media sites.

With as many as 49 percent of all U.S. adults using smart phones, according to Nielsen reports, it’s time to get smart about school communications as well.

Today’s on-the-go parents, teachers, and principals require fast, easy access to news and information. In most cases, this requires access to stripped-down mobile websites or special applications (apps) designed for smaller screens and sometimes sketchy wireless internet connections.

Smart-phone use is nearly ubiquitous among young American adults. According to Pew Research, two-thirds (66 percent) of young adults ages 18 to 29 own smart phones. This jumps to 68 percent for adults of any age with household incomes of $75,000 or more. At 59 percent, adults ages 30 to 49 don’t lag far behind these top groups in terms of smart phone ownership.…Read More

Using QR codes for school communications

Because creating and sharing QR codes takes little time and no money, experimenting with this technology is low-risk and sends positive messages about your ed-tech prowess.

Quick Response (QR) codes—those black-and-white squares that look like a cross between supermarket bar codes and postage stamps—have real potential for school communications.

Created by a Japanese corporation in 1994, QR codes act like print-based hyperlinks to websites and social media networks. The codes are gaining traction because they allow on-the-go consumers to access websites more quickly from their mobile phones.

Found in newspapers, magazines, local TV news broadcasts, business cards, billboards, brochures, t-shirts, consumer product packaging, and just about anything else that can be printed, QR codes work by encoding URLs, contact information, geography coordinates, photos, and other text—in any language.…Read More

Five tips for digital communication in the new year

It’s important to match social media sites to audience preferences and needs.

With a new year approaching, it’s a great opportunity to re-evaluate what’s working—and what’s not—in your classroom, school, or district communications program. Here are five tips to power better communications and community relations in 2012, plus some thoughts to ponder as we enter a new era in public school choice.

1. Start using QR (quick response) codes for lunch menus, schedule changes, parent-teacher conference reminders, professional development announcements, contact information, website addresses, and other simple communications. Growing in popularity, QR codes—those goofy-looking bar-code squares you’ve been seeing everywhere lately—can be created and read using free online applications and are perfect for today’s mobile generation.

The codes can be distributed via digital and broadcast media as well as fliers, newsletters, and other printed publications. Students, parents, and teachers can then use their camera phones to scan the code and get the content. Only download codes from reputable sources. In some cases, security hasn’t kept up with hackers’ ability to attach malicious code to unsuspecting consumers.…Read More

Schools turn to unified communications to save costs, boost productivity

Schools are increasingly considering unified communications solutions.
Schools are increasingly considering unified communications solutions.

More K-12 schools, colleges, and universities are turning to unified communications as a way to streamline campus communication and save much-needed money in unpredictable economic times, a new survey suggests.

Unified communications is the convergence of enterprise voice, video, and data services with software applications designed to achieve greater collaboration among individuals or groups and improve business processes. Component technologies include video, audio, and web conferencing; unified messaging; and more.

The benefits that education technology stakeholders see in implementing unified communications are the same that executives in the government and business sectors see, according to the second annual Unified Communications Tracking Poll from CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G), which provides products and services to education and other sectors.…Read More