Convey confidence & competence to school website visitors in just 3 letters – SSL

Here’s something that not a lot of people know.

There’s a goal in mind for the web and that is to enable every website address to begin with https:// instead of http:// so that the data that passes between site and sender/visitor is encrypted.  Google are big supporters of it amongst others.

Here’s something that not a lot of people know either.

This is the how the various web browsers that people use globally compare and yes, back there in the distance is Internet Explore & Edge with Chrome beating way out in front.

browser stats for dec2016

Source: https://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php

Why are these ‘pub trivia’ facts important?

Well, at the end of January this year, Google’s latest version of Chrome (v56) (the dead popular one) will ultimately start telling visitors to your school website whether it’s secure or not.

secure

What are the benefits of going secure?

  1. When you’re logging in to your school website to update it with new content, an encrypted secure connection (Secure Socket Layer Certificate) comes into it’s own.  SSL means that when you enter your username and password to update the site for example, the login information travels securely to it’s destination making access to your website even more secure.
  2. Noone wants Ofsted raising their eyebrows when they visit your site – life is hard enough complying with DfE information requirements – and every little helps. (there is no requirement for SSL from DfE or Ofsted as of 17/1/17)
  3. Your parent & carer community will see ‘SECURE’ being directly associated with the school which has to be good.
  4. In 2011 Google announced that they were making changes to help secure sites do better in searches and to date this has remained the same.

What can your school do about it?

Your web site host will have a very easy and quick method of applying a security certificate to your website thus making it secure for visitors and site managers.   It’s pretty rare that the school tech support would touch this job so unless they’re the person who built and hosted your website we suggest leaving them well alone.  This Google site has a technical guide for how to implement an SSL so if your tech is the person they may want this link.  Schools who have a Blippit Site are already compliant with SSL in place.

 

Our suggestion would be to get the ball rolling tomorrow with a quick email to your provider saying:

“Hi,

We’d like you to apply an SSL certificate to our school website please. We’d like to do this for 12 months initially and need this in place by February or March at the latest.  Can you let us know what we need to do on our part to do this e.g. forward an email from the certificate issuing authority to you when it comes?

Thanks,

<School Who Knows What They’re Talking About>”

What happens if we don’t get a security certificate applied to the school website?

Nothing!

You can carry on as you are and everything will stay the same. The main issue is that the world’s most widely used web browser will start telling visitors that your site is not secure and in this day and age that’s probably not what you want.

Good luck & support a more secure web!

Further Reading:
LetsEncrypt runs the certificate authority that issues free SSL certificates so cost is no longer a barrier to using HTTPS and both Google and Mozilla to actively promote and recommend the use of HTTPS as standard.

Head Teacher Comment: Surveying the parental community on Facebook

As part of our managed and monitored social media service for schools (Blippit Social) we recently ran a fast turnaround ‘end of term’ survey for Lammack Primary School’s Head Teacher, Mrs Paula Duckworth.

We asked Paula to comment on the experience of using Facebook to survey parents as part of the school’s ongoing Blippit Social service.

We are so busy but we didn’t need to worry about sorting the survey – it just happened!

Surveying parents is no small task and with time being so short the challenge was how to do it in a way that may also get a wider range of parents responding.

Lammack agreed to our suggestions that they could

  1. do it in Facebook – familiar environment, save some trees
  2. include a random prize draw

With the survey built we then put measures in place to sanity check the Facebook community responses to ensure that

  • participants were actually parents/family
  • it was easy for parents to accurately and quickly respond

Questions were a mix of 1-5 range type (examples below) and free comment areas.

survey questions

Once signed off by school we looked back at previous months’ parental engagement data (included in Blippit Social) to see when parents would be most likely to respond.  We then scheduled a Facebook Update to go on to the school Page at a specific time on a specific day when we knew, based upon our historic data, that parents would be more likely to engage.

Mobile vs Desktop

On average each participant spent 4mins 14secs completing this Parental Questionnaire – which is quite quick when you see the mobile/desktop split of respondents (above)

We’ve a strong feeling that it’s because the survey was actually within Facebook that parents commented more freely and naturally than they might otherwise do.  The comments were only seen by school.  We need to do many more surveys to establish this for sure but the signs were there based on responses.

pretty chart
Example of how respondent answers are presented.

Only the school could see the responses coming in as they happened.  We got the results in Microsoft Excel  as well as ‘pretty’ PDF documents to share with SLT and Governors which will save me time.

What next?
  1. We’ll do more surveys for Heads through the Blippit Social service because we know just how hard it is to fit in doing them efficiently and effectively.
  2. We’ll be doing hashtag surveys next which are really lightweight, fast and dare we say ‘exciting’?

Fancy trying this approach like Lammack Primary?  Just get in touch with us at Blippit.

Also see:

Improve response rates mid year on Ofsted Parent View Questions & other surveys too!

FlierIf, like us, you know that it’s ‘a bit challenging’ sometimes to get parents to fill in the mid-year Parent Survey that you’ve created based upon Ofsted’s Parent View form, this may be an innovative approach that will go down well.

FREE TO BLIPPIT SOCIAL SCHOOLS!
This is very low friction from a parent point of view because school is already engaging parents via Facebook so delivering and completing the survey actually ‘in’ Facebook makes the process nice and easy.

Data collection and collation is all taken care of too.  The moment a parent hit’s SEND your data is saved and automatically presented for easy interpretation by SLT & Governors.

NOT A BLIPPIT SCHOOL?
Prices for non-Blippit Social schools are listed below.


FAQs

No. This was just an example of a survey that we created.  You can survey parents on any topic you need to at any time
Yes. You can have unlimited space for comments.
Easily done – give out a school code/password to each family by text or letter and make entering that code a part of the survey.
A survey can be set up to cater for either.
We can include a compulsory question for people to enter their full family name so as not to rely on a Facebook profile names which may in the odd case be less helpful. Knowing who has responded and who hasn’t will be much simpler. Participation in surveys can also be incentivised via FB – i.e. we can use a prize draw feature to generate a random winner as a ‘thanks for participating’.
This is a free and ‘on demand’ service to all schools who use our Blippit Social service.  Schools who don’t use our Blippit Social Service can buy in ti Social Surveys at the rates below.  (Small school discount of 20% applies if you’re a Nursery, Infant or Juniors only school)

  • up to 10 questions  £  59
  • 11-20 questions      £  69
  • 21-30 questions      £  79
  • 31-40 questions      £  89

  1. Here’s how it would look on your school Facebook Page timeline except customised to your school
    Parental Survey on Facebook
  2. Below is one version of a survey which would normally just be seen in Facebook so that parents don’t get stressed moving off to another website but for this blog post we’ve placed it here as well.  You’re welcome to fill it in to get a feel for it 🙂

Green Park Primary School – Change for all the right reasons

Yesterday, thanks to a random tweet about Chromebooks by Green Park Primary computing lead Pete Rafferty (@Raff31), I had the great pleasure of spending a morning there with the children, teachers & Head Teacher Mrs Hains.

teachershowing-2

One of the areas I’m always really interested in is how schools make things happen, why they happened in the first place and what’s the outcome at the end of it all.  The time spent in year 3 & 6 was so interesting that many things, though not necessarily in this order, shot through my mind
  • if Ofsted walked in now, unannounced, where would they put themselves & how would they begin to understand what was happening
  • technology is often seen as an isolator of children; a shutting down of a child to those around them. Not so particularly in the Year 3 lesson. The level of conversation leading to division of labour and ongoing review of improvements was really quite special.
  • the children can choose the right tool for them; they use a white board to jot down the essence of information from a web page then the Chromebooks to edit and add it into their work. Less & less copy & paste
  • distributing leadership across the class is a much-hammered phrase down the years but when the teacher ‘believes’ and hands over the reigns it’s a powerful thing in a one-to-one situation
  • shift happens; peer review/AfL is non-threatening here and being shared to the big screen is no biggie
    • children invite others to collaborate on their work including the teacher
  • risk taking is a gradual process but clearly the Head has, with teachers, nurtured a culture with Pete that mistakes happen but that’s life and so long as they’re learned from that’s fine.  The lesson is not to not take risks again.
  • they’ve done it the right way round; network wireless infrastructure is bolstered to take the demands of busy children & teachers
  • lives are touched by tech where it’s advantageous for it to be so e.g. Google Drive enabling job shares to work seamlessly on report moderation

overheadnotes-2

Miss Lewis-Brown (Yr 3) was the guide and the side not the sage on the stage.  Capturing notes on her iPad during the lesson and I believe filing them away using Evernote it was pretty inspiring that though the technology was so conspicuous it wasn’t the star.

On tech note, I’m a big fan of Chromebooks in schools for some practical reasons to do with reducing

  • technical support burden on ICT people i.e. you can forget about updates & antivirus
  • waiting time when people log in to the Chromebooks i.e. you’re talking about seconds
  • cost overheads and worries about ratios e.g. you’re looking at around £160 ex vat per Chromebook
  • the digital divide i.e. some of these children asked for a Chromebook instead of an iPad this Christmas

class-2

Managing ongoing change that leads to the kind of images you see here takes nerve and leadership but it’s definitely achievable.  With the support of the Head, Pete has gently guided his colleagues along a path driven by need and potential which I could imagine influencing the secondary school provision.  One of the feeder schools has in fact recognised this already and is laying the ground with Office 365 where the children’s collaborative working skills will be transferrable.  Just some of the challenges will be in
  • exploiting the opportunities Office 365 this has to offer
  • nurturing digital leadership as a desirable attribute in students
  • ramping up the network infrastructure services in a larger setting (££)

questions-2

By coincidence the BBC published a story today about a campaign by employers that puts a value of £88 Bn on soft skills.  Food for thought.

Blippit Social on BBC Breakfast talking social media and schools

This week I went on to BBC Breakfast’s famous red couch for Blippit Social. I was lucky enough to be invited on to the programme to comment and advise on the use of social media by schools and attitudes of parents to the subject more widely.

The Inflame Game

The context for the piece was the question of whether or not a primary head teacher of a school had done the right thing by sending home a letter essentially telling them not to let their children go on Facebook, they were too young etc.

When Bill Turnbull (my mum’s favourite presenter second only to Michael Palin) asked whether the school had done the right thing I essentially said yesfor that school it was the right thing. Saying anything else would have been wrong and only inflamed the story.  Not knowing or understanding the school’s context and history only the Head himself could say, on reflection, anything else.  Every school is different and that includes it’s community; having worked with as many schools as we have over the years there’s no doubt about that. We do know now that done right, even Ofsted inspectors see huge value in our parental engagement approach.

_40__BBC_Breakfast

Viewers’ comments on the  BBC Breakfast programme Facebook thread on the day show that there is no one single view when it comes down to it.  Parents do share the same essential views on safety but not necessarily the same view on what should be done and how to ensure it. Check the comments out to see what I mean.

It’s pointless to make it into a blame game

It’s a fruitless route to play the blame game in my opinion.  We’re all old and wise enough to know

  • It’s not Mark Zuckerberg’s fault
  • it’s not the parent’s fault
  • it’s not the children’s fault
  • it’s certainly not the Head Teachers’ fault

It’s just where we’re at in our evolution;  ‘learning’ how to use tools for which there are no real rules; only arbitrary age limits and everyone’s common sense.

The End Game?

What options are there then for young people, parents, teachers and companies on the best use of social media platforms linked to education?

  • raise age limits for access?
  • increase reporting tools to expedite action?
  • boycott social platforms?
  • boycott technology like phones, tablets etc?
  • enforce tough technology filters for home access?
  • enforce and introduce new legislation?
  • or support, educate and make users part of the solution?

And finally.  Of course being a very British thing to do I landed lots of stick for being spotted on the TV so if you can’t beat them, join them.

You may remember me...

Want to know what Ofsted thought of one school's Facebook work?

Listen (SHORT VERSION)

Jenny Haunch is the Head Teacher at transformed Washacre Primary School in Bolton which was in an Ofsted Category up until very recently this year.  For the rest of the story just press play and feel free to share this post.
More here on Safeguarding And Download the Ofsted SMSC Guidance (November 2014)here.