The way we communicate has changed beyond all recognition in the past few decades. It may feel as though we’ve always relied on our smartphones for communication but, in the broader scheme of things, the advances in technology that have changed our lives are relatively new – and ubiquitous. This pivot to all things digital presents a fantastic opportunity for schools when it comes to communicating with their families. This week on School Stream, we ask (and answer) the question: how can schools make the most of our collective reliance on technology?
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Who remembers dragging the family phone with its long extension cord into their bedroom to talk to friends without their entire family eavesdropping? Do you remember the first email you sent or the sound of connecting to the internet back in the dial-up days? My, how things have changed! While some of the predictions floating around the web sound like the stuff of science fiction and in all honesty, seem downright terrifying – augmented telepathy, we’re looking at you! – it is likely the changes we will see in the near future operate at the sweet spot of innovation and people power.
1. Schools are already ahead of the curve.
The effect of the pandemic on school communication and the adoption of education tech tools cannot be overstated, with experts saying it accelerated the uptake of education tech by at least five-ten years. An entire multi-generational cohort of school leaders, administration staff and educators are now trained, experienced and preferencing mobile communication with their parents and caregivers.
“You can’t train hundreds of thousands of teachers and millions of students in online education and not expect there to be profound effects.”
2. Our collective reliance on tech is an opportunity for schools.
With close to everyone from teenagers to grandmothers owning a smartphone, schools are well placed to communicate with families via a mobile comms platform. This is especially relevant for ‘millennial-aged parents who have grown up with tech-savvy as part of their DNA. To back this up, studies report 70% of millennials are ‘frustrated’ by receiving irrelevant emails and 55% report a preference for receiving information via their phone.
“Staff shortages in education seem to be a bit chronic right now – I have had a huge number of calls where people are run off their feet or MIA because they are short staffed. School Stream could really help these schools create operational efficiencies. Instead of ten calls to the office about the same thing – schools could be using push notifications to get through. Digital forms are another time-saver that are quick to implement and save so much time.”
3. Utilising tech to build meaningful relationships.
There is a big movement in communication research focusing on building a positive culture, increasing engagement and using tech to support interpersonal relationships. As we all know too well, this has particular relevance for schools seeking to engage families in the important business of school life.
“As we continue to advance technological communication options, we’ll be better able to reach more people in less time, but it means that we’ll rely more and more on technology and less on personal interactions.” ‘These are the major communication trends of the future’
4. Translation leads to Inclusion.
In Australia, 5.5 million people speak a language other than English at home. In New Zealand, there are 160 different languages spoken and Auckland is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. You don’t need us to tell you all the reasons why inclusion for the whole school community is important.
Dedicated, reliable school communication apps can deliver equitable and inclusive school communication, thanks to near-universal access to smartphones and the reliability of messaging apps.
Schools using a mobile communication app already know firsthand how easy it can be when you have the right tool for the job.
“…we received an email from a family, and it was full of gratitude and praise. ‘Thank you so much for thinking of us.’ That kind of thing. There was lots of praise, and they were just so grateful. They were not only thrilled to be able to understand, but it made them feel like they were part of the community. I know it’s a word that’s thrown out a lot, but it was quite empowering for them as members of our community.” Talking Translation & Inclusion with Upper Brookfield State School
5. Schools as communication innovators.
It was only a few years ago that school communication apps were a relatively new concept; now they are the norm at schools across Australia – and the world. It’s no surprise to learn schools are expecting their reliance on mobile apps for communication to increase at a rate of 3:1 while 64% of schools are planning to retire paper in the coming years. We don’t want to brag, but schools tell us that School Stream is the perfect balance of innovation and customer service. But don’t take our word for it. In the words of a school principal we work with: “School Stream has gone from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’. I don’t know how we managed without it!”
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