Challenges of Going Online
When we started SchoolSpeak, our mission was very clear: develop a comprehensive and integrated solution for all school needs under a single system. The system should facilitate schools to communicate electronically with parents, teachers to publish homework and grades and provide various tools for the school community. The system should serve like a corporate Intranet that everyone can access any time for whatever they need.
Traditionally, schools have used paper for all their communication. It takes significant effort and cost to operate the paper-based system. However, it has been very effective, if not efficient by today’s standards. The paper comes home with students and families stick it on the refrigerator for immediate look up. Any alternative should be less costly, more efficient, and should not break the system.
Can you replace paper?
Many schools have tried using their website for school communication. It provides an immediate answer to eliminating paper. The school posts the announcements and weekly envelope online and parents can download them.
Your website is a convenient and less costly solution for weekly school communication. However there is a limitation on what you can publish on the website – cannot include any confidential and sensitive information.. It is also difficult to get parents regularly check the website which reduces its effectiveness. All information that needs to be posted on the website usually goes through one person and it becomes a bottleneck. Tech savvy teachers post announcements and homework on the website, but the majority is left out. The web site is also static. “School closed for Winter Holidays” stays on the site, unless someone remembers to change it.
For parents looking for specific information, it is very difficult to find what has changed or what is applicable for today. The more the parents are made to click and read through, the less effective it becomes.
SchoolSpeak is a portal complementary to your website. Your website is your public face. The portal provides experience for a prospective family or visitor. SchoolSpeak handles the day-today operational information – your calendar, announcements, homework, and grades. SchoolSpeak is personalized for each user. So every person receives information relevant for them for the day in a concise manner on a single page. There is just a single place to check and there is no need to search for information. You know exactly where to look.
Many schools have tried using email and email groups. Parents are part of multiple email groups – one for the school, one for each class room that you are part of, one for each team, committee. They receive the email at work or home and many times it is difficult for them to locate the email when they need it. Email spam poses another challenge. To add to the problem, many parents think they need to reply to emails and you have heard enough complaints about the number of emails piling up in people’s inboxes.
Email is a very good communication tool. SchoolSpeak uses a combination of web portal and email for effective communication. If you need immediate attention or need to remind parents, you can easily send an email through SchoolSpeak. You can also forward announcements posted on SchoolSpeak. SchoolSpeak has integrated email. For example, email notifications are sent out automatically when grades are posted or when an activity that someone has signed up is coming up the following day. We guide you on how to use email and you can decide what works best for you.
If you receive one email from SchoolSpeak, you receive all email communication through SchoolSpeak, whether it is a broadcast message or sent by another user.
Simple to use
For the system to be effective, it should be used by everyone. It should be easy for parents to check information as well as for school administrators and teachers to post information.
Parents do not require any training for using SchoolSpeak. Posting content on SchoolSpeak is as easy as sending email. You do not need to know web technologies such as HTML. SchoolSpeak provides a Microsoft Word®-like interface for posting content.
Simple to administer
Most schools do not have the technical resources or the budget to manage yet another system. SchoolSpeak can be managed by a non-technical person. SchoolSpeak is managed by the school administrator or the principal, the computer teacher or even a parent volunteer in some schools. SchoolSpeak is hosted and managed by us. You don’t need any special hardware or software. There is no maintenance, upgrade or back up to worry about. You just need a computer connected to Internet and you can access SchoolSpeak through your browser.
Integrated, seamless and under a single login
SchoolSpeak provides solutions for your communication needs, classroom needs and tools for the school community, all under a single login. SchoolSpeak modules are closely integrated with each other. For example, you can post an announcement on SchoolSpeak as well as send it over email in a few simple steps.
School is a collaborative environment. The school office does the administration, teachers manage the classrooms, committees and volunteers run different programs. SchoolSpeak facilitates this collaboration. You can easily specify who will receive announcements and who manages programs, granting the respective individuals the appropriate privileges in SchoolSpeak.