Information and communication technology is rapidly changing in design, development methods, accessibility, mobility; and with all this, the expectations of our end users and customers are being redefined. The grand and ambitious desires of pumping money into one development basket (e.g. $180M Vic School Ultranet), specifying requirements, putting out a tender and building a software solution is becoming a thing of the past for businesses and schools. The option to ‘adopt’ existing cloud services and solutions is ever appealing, as services continue to pop up providing flexibility, portability and connectedness near impossible to achieve through any custom-built service.
Whenever I visit a school to talk about ‘business focused communication strategy’, I always ask what the school is planning in terms of business process improvement and technology adoption. I hear many responses that appear well intentioned, but lack the informed knowledge of technology capabilities and emerging global tech trends. Comments I hear include:
- We are going to put it all on the website
- We are going electronic with our newsletters by emailing attachement to all parents
- We have found an app for the iPhone to send newsletters and notifications
- We are publishing our forms to the website for parents to access
- We are using google docs
- We are looking at SMS services
Need a form signed by someone? Just email an attachment…don’t you?
What if there was a service that worked much the same way as email, but instead of attaching a document to be opened and completed, the body of the email had a series of form fields to be filled in, with a button at the end for submitting and locking the form and making the response visible to the original sender. What if a copy of this completed (and locked) form were to remain in the inbox of the receiver’s account (just as an email does), with a completed copy residing in the senders outbox. Continue reading
Reflecting on 2013, our ‘aha’ year
The Signmee team has had a great year taking the Signmee network (a consumer electronic forms service) from concept through to production. Along the way we have enjoyed the ‘aha, that makes a lot of sense’ reactions from principals, teachers and parents. The step into a full production both nationally and internationally is very close, making the year ahead an eagerly anticipated prospect. The challenges and rewards from 2013 have been a plenty, and here is an overview of the journey traveled so far.
Old school technology versus new school technology
Managing two-way communications between home and school/business and customer/business and staff is extremely costly-editing and publishing, printing/emailing/distributing, responding, collecting, storing. Schools are using a ‘multi-channel’ approach to collect and share information, for example: SMS for important alerts and notifications (to opt-in parents only); SurveyMonkey for responses; TryBookings for payments; publication to the school website; Skoolbag for one-way broadcasts; emails for updates and responses; eNewsletter for web publishing; and of course the humble piece of paper for consent and response. From an impact point of view, teachers waste an enormous amount of education time managing communications, updating lists, chasing consent and payments.
Questions for parents
- Does your school send home paper consent forms and communications?
- As a parent, do you lose track of what you have signed, paid, returned to school?
- Does your school use many different communication channels for different purposes?
- Do you have to go searching for information at times, on websites, portals, apps?
- Does your school rely heavily on email to send updates and information?
- Are you unsure how you will be contacted during an emergency?
- Does your school website have a lot of information about your internal affairs, taking away the key purpose of the site – marketing brochure for prospective parents?
Do your teachers look like this?
What do you suppose the digital natives make of our schools and workplaces today when handed a form to sign?
A leap to the past? A reminder of times gone by? Or simply a sad reality that is taking far too long to resolve?
For most schools, an emergency drill is carried out on a regular basis to test emergency response procedures and to ensure that students and staff all understand what to do in the event that an emergency occurs. Different emergency situations can be enacted and prepared for. But what about the communication channel? Is this part of the drill and emergency procedure? Are parents and carers receiving an alert message to advise that the drill is or has taken place, and what it means? Or are you sending a paper communication home in the school bag at the end of the day with advice that a drill has taken place?
Do parents even know how they will be contacted during an emergency?
In the event of an emergency (I.e. earthquake, tsunami warning, bushfire, lockdown) how does your school advise parents/carers of the situation, and advise how they can collect their child(ren)?