Paper Losing Stride in School Communication

Paper Losing Stride in School Communication

- in April 2016
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Most schools would agree that keeping parents and students connected to day-to-day activities in and out of the classroom is important. With modern technology, effective communication is becoming increasingly more convenient.

“Technology makes communication with parents faster than ever,” says Scott Stephens, executive director of communications and public relations for the Shaker Heights School District. Parents have more options than ever to stay abreast of school news while it happens. “We do a lot of social media, particularly on Twitter and Facebook,”

Stephens says. “We find that those methods work in getting folks the information that they need.”

Rachel DeGirolamo, the admissions coordinator at Padua Franciscan High School says Padua students each have Chromebook laptops and use school email addresses to communicate with teachers and counselors.

“With parents, we email and do something called phone blasts, which leaves voice messages or text messages on their phones,” DeGirolamo says.

Teachers can send emails to parents and guardians through Infinite Campus, says Scott Wortman, who works in the communication department for Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District.

These kinds of methods also help parents find out if there is a school-wide emergency or a snow day.

“We can communicate about emergencies within minutes,” Stephens says.  “While that is beneficial, it also has its challenges. Social media can repeat information that is inaccurate or untrue, and it can spread like wildfire.”

“Overall, parents seem to be more in the loop,” Stephens says, “But we must be careful not to assume that all parents have access to technology on a regular basis. We try to make sure everyone is in the loop by communicating through a variety of methods: website, social media, texts, printed publications and regular live question-and-answer sessions with the superintendent and other school leaders.”

While technology has not replaced some traditional communication — such as take-home fliers or papers — the new systems are more cost-effective.

“Because social media is free, it enables the district to communicate with parents and others without spending a dime,” Stephens says. “Printed publications — especially when they are mailed — are extremely costly, and using social media and electronic communication enables schools to reach a large group of people at very low cost.”

The students at Franciscan Padua High School use a search tool called LibGuides. The school’s online database provides students with academic content to help with a range of subjects, with links to tutorial websites that are accurate and approved by teachers. “We use TurnItIn.com, where students can turn in work electronically. For grades we use Net Classroom, where parents can check up on report cards and teachers upload updates once a week,” DeGirolamo says. “We also have a program called Schoology, which is used by our guidance department to communicate about standardized tests and college application information.”

Among many great apps that come in handy,
here are a few considered must-haves:

Google
Drive
share documents  and projects

InClass
note-taking app

Audible
audiobooks

iFormula
math formulas

Sparknotes study guides

Remind.com

student-teacher connection

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