‘Why do we need an app when we already have a public Facebook page?’ Good question. It’s one we hear from time-to-time and it’s worth investigating the answer. Generally, experts agree that Facebook can work as part of your communication quiver, as long as it’s part of a broader parent-communication strategy, such as a robust school communication app or website. Let’s break it down further and look at a few areas of difference between a purpose-built school communication app and the social media giant.
Who has access to sensitive school communications? It is worth understanding more about Facebook’s Data Policy. (Spoiler alert: you will be shocked by the extent of data they collect and who has access to it). Recent concerns have led the Department of Education to advise caution in using social media for school-parent communication.
Who should own your school content?
You should. An app such as School Stream does not own your content – and we would never, ever sell it to third parties.
As with most social media platforms, anything you upload to Facebook needs to be approved by them and, once uploaded they have a broad license to use your photos or content however they like, without asking your permission. This may be fine for photos of food and sunsets, but does raise some concerns when children are involved.
Reliability and the dreaded algorithm
The key to successful parent communication is reliability. School Stream makes sure parents get the information the first time, every time by sending a notification directly to parents’ phones. Click here to see an online demonstration of how School Stream works.
Relying on social media for parent communication also means relying on variables such as parents having an account, checking the account and then being able to find information in a busy news feed. Facebook also runs something called an algorithm, which means priority is given to advertising-based content.
“Our partners pay us to show their content to you, and we design our services so that the sponsored content you see is as relevant and useful to you as everything else that you see on our Products.” – Facebook Terms of Service
Essentially, this determines what we see on our news feed and when we see it – and if we even see things at all.
Kids on Facebook and the thorny issue of consent
Some parents have very real concerns about their children’s images and details being shared on Facebook. Respected tech journal Mashable had this advice in 2012 :
“Before sharing any information about any student (including pictures, videos, first names, work samples, etc.) school leaders must ensure they’ve obtained consent from the child’s guardian. Additionally, schools should avoid sharing last names of students as this can potentially jeopardize their safety (and in some cases is actually illegal).”
School Stream is very proud of the training and support we provide to schools. Whether you need to call us once a year or every day, School Stream’s support is free and ongoing.
“I can’t say enough good things about the people working for School Stream. I have found the support 100%. I know that I can always ring School Stream and talk something through. It’s fantastic.”
Ros Oates, Principal, Our Lady of the River School, Berri
What works for you?
It’s important to work out what works for you and your school community. Take a five minute quiz to see if a school communication app would work for you.