This article was first published on http://blog.schooladvisor.co.za/
It can be a nightmare choosing the best option for communicating with parents, but there are options that work. We put the new kids on the block, My Community, up against some of the others to see how they fare.
Research indicates that parental engagement is key to a pupil's success. Every school wants to convey vital information to parents, sometimes on a daily basis, but the traditional models don’t work.
SMS is expensive and limited to 140 characters. Facebook and Twitter are cluttered. Parents are receiving too many emails and school newsletters are ignored. We all know that WhatsApp has it challenges too.
Tailored apps pave the way
Apps are the perfect solution for schools. Apps that can be downloaded and personalised allow the school to talk directly to parents. All school information is easily found in one place on your smartphone or tablet.
Apps are ‘opt-in’, which means that you are not annoying anybody. Schools are guaranteed a receptive audience that can be tracked and analysed. There is even the option of sending push notifications.
Comparison of the most popular communication platforms
Locally, there aren’t many options, with the d6 School Communicator being the biggest player. But we can see some new exciting entrants into the market, such as My Community.
Today we put My Community up to the test and are pleasantly surprised by its well-thought-out functionality.
A stand-out functionality that sets My Community apart
We find it very useful that one can easily create, edit, and publish messages from the app on your phone.
For instance, a teacher can publish daily homework straight from her own smartphone or a sports coach can easily set up a parents lift group for the weekend's game, invite the parents, and then keep them up to date.
This stand-out functionality opens up communication and speeds up the time it takes to get your message out. It also decreases the burden on admin staff. We believe this functionality is the key next step in improving communication with your parents.
Compatibility and community
Although a web portal is available, all the same functionality is available on your phone. You can: manage all your user groups, approve messages, create groups, manage members, and even nominate an advertiser.
My Community allows you to have multiple communities in one app. Communities can be created that are public (anyone can join), secure (members can request access but must be approved) and private (members can only be invited). These options greatly increase how you communicate.
You can have a secure community for your preschool. You can have a public community for your school. You can have a public community for your alumni. You can have a private community for your teachers and school governing body. You decide.
If you are looking to raise funds you can share in the revenue from your app if you nominate advertisers.
My Community is the choice communicator for more than 10 schools
All in all, we think they have hit it on the head. If you are rethinking your communication or are looking for a new communication app, we recommend that you check them out. More than 10 schools currently use My Community and they currently hold a 5-star rating on SchoolAdvisor.
My Community is free for the school and the parents.
3) Create your first community (it is completely free)
Note: Peter Morgan, the CEO of SchoolAdvisor, was the co-founder of d6 Technology (developer of the School Communicator) - which is now in over 1,500 schools worldwide. As part of his ongoing research, Peter stays on top of international trends in the area of communication with schools.